Economics is the study of behavior and decision-making based on limits and scarcity of resources. Universities typically offer a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree in economics. Differences between the two degree programs vary according to the university, and each degree has its own advantages. The degree that is best suited for you depends on what you are interested in studying and on your plans after graduation.


Universities typically require you to complete 120 credits to receive a bachelor's degree in economics. Both B.A. and B.S. degrees in economics require a certain number of general education and elective courses and approximately 30 to 40 credits related to the major. The foundational courses of an economics major are principles of microeconomics and macroeconomics as well as intermediate microeconomics and macroeconomics theory and/or analysis. These courses are required for both the B.A. and B.S. degree.

B.A. Benefits

A B.A. degree is better if you are interested in getting a broad liberal arts education and in approaching the study of economics from the theoretical perspective. The B.A. gives you a comprehensive view of economics with a focus on theory instead of its applications to business and finance. The B.A. is also typically less mathematically rigorous, requiring courses in statistics rather than calculus. Nevertheless, most universities still require you to take one or more courses in mathematics to ensure that you have the proper tools to analyze data.

B.S. in Economics Benefits

A B.S. degree in economics is the better choice for you if you are interested in studying more real-world problems and/or pursuing graduate-level work. Depending on the university, the B.S. program might be focused on teaching applications of economic theory and solving real-world problems in business and finance. As a result, a B.S. in economics typically requires additional courses in mathematics beyond those required by the B.A. program. For example, the bachelor's degree program at the University of Texas at Dallas requires you to take one math course -- statistical decision-making -- while the B.S. program requires you to take three math courses -- statistical decision-making and Calculus I and II.

Post-Graduation Goals

If you are interested in beginning a career right after graduating, a B.A. in economics might be a better choice for you because it gives you a broader liberal arts education. A B.S. in economics is a better fit if you are interested in a more rigorous academic environment or if you are planning on pursuing further studies either in graduate or professional school.