As you look ahead to starting a career in the business world, whether your plan is to work in a corporation or to strike independently and start your own business, you know that getting the right education is going to be key. But when it comes to earning a business degree, do you know whether a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree is the right one to choose? Did you even know that you had a choice? Well, you do.
Some colleges and universities offer both kinds of undergraduate business degrees and some offer only one, so deciding between a B.A. and a B.S. is one of the first decisions you’ll have to make when choosing a school. Here are the differences, the benefits, and the drawbacks of one degree over the other.
Bachelor of Arts in Business
A Bachelor of Arts in Business provides a broad business education that also includes a variety of classes in the liberal arts. As with a Bachelor of Science, you’d select a major in management, marketing, finance, or another business school concentration. But in addition you would supplement the coursework that the major mandates with required and elective credits in the social sciences (psychology, sociology, history, and political science, for example), humanities (philosophy, literature, art, music, and the like), and languages. In other words, with a B.A. you graduate with a wider base of knowledge about the world in general than you’re likely to gain with a B.S. degree. While not as tightly focused on business, a B.A. gives you an understanding of other subjects that are useful for a lifetime, whether or not they’re explicitly applicable to the career you have in mind. (If you haven’t had the revelation by now, though, you can be pretty much assured that nothing you learn is ever wasted.)
Bachelor of Science in Business
A Bachelor of Science is focused more specifically on core subjects in a business major. The required course of study is fairly strictly determined, with most classes focused on the major and fewer requisite and elective options for exploring subjects in other fields. As with B.S. degrees in general, the curriculum drills down to the technical details and is designed to give you an intensive analysis and understanding of the subject matter. That’s the science in Bachelor of Science. It will give you a solid working knowledge of the disciplines important in the business world.
What the degrees have in common
They’re both created as four-year courses of study though you can accelerate or take a bit longer to complete your degree whether on campus or online. In academic terms, the degrees are equivalent and completion of either one will qualify you for continuing on to a master’s degree if that’s what you want to do.
Why you would choose one over the other
Particularly if you intend to go on to an MBA or a more specific business school master’s in a subject like accounting, where you will get an in-depth education in your chosen career field, you might do well to begin with a B.A. in business that offers you a wider scope of learning opportunities and opens your horizons to options you may not even have thought of. If you’re already laser-focused on a specific career goal, on the other hand, a B.S. might be a good choice for you.
One more thing is that a B.S. degree will require more advanced math courses than a B.A. will. That’s something to consider if you’re not great at math to start with and you intend a career in a field like marketing, communications, or human resources, where calculus, for example, is not going to be a necessary part of your skill set. Conversely, if you are looking toward a career in information technology, finance, or economics, you might be better served with the hardcore math that’s part of the study toward a B.S.
What employers think about a B.A. versus a B.S.
Anecdotal reporting shows that most employers don’t make much or any differentiation between the two degrees as long as you have one or the other and are otherwise qualified for the job you’re seeking.