Many careers in the field of psychology such as psychiatrist and psychologist require graduate school and certification beyond the bachelor degree. (See Reference 1) While many schools offer an undergraduate psychology degree, the decision to pursue a BA or BS in psychology should be based on many factors, including the college you want to attend and your future career plans.

Similarities

Since both the BA and BS are undergraduate bachelor degrees, both require many of the same general education courses for all majors, such as composition, math, science, social sciences and humanities. They also share foundational psychology courses to explain psychological theories and research methods, develop analytical abilities, practice oral and written communication skills and gain a general understanding of psychological fields and specialties. (See References 2-5) In fact, some schools offer only one or the other. (See Reference 5)

Differences

In general, a BA degree in psychology requires more basic coursework focusing on arts and humanities as well as psychology classes that cover more of the social and cultural behavior aspects of the field. In contrast, a BS degree in psychology may require more general education courses in math and science, with psychology courses more aimed toward research and the biological connections to behavior. (See Reference 2) According to the American Psychological Association, since most careers in psychology require graduate education, these differences in undergraduate education are not typically significant. (See Reference 5)

BA Concentration

A BA may be more appropriate if you intend to go on to graduate school and work as a therapist, school counselor, or focus on industrial, organizational or developmental psychology's applications. (See Reference 2) If your interest lies in studying how groups function, the effects of culture on individuals, what motivates people, how psychology is used in education, why prejudice occurs or how people develop their attitudes, a bachelor of arts in psychology may be the better choice. (See Reference 4)

BS Concentration

A BS may be more appropriate if you intend to study neuroscience and behavior, physical therapy, genetics counseling, biochemistry, pharmacology or any medical aspect of psychology. Since working as a psychiatrist requires a medical degree, the BS may give more appropriate background. (See Reference 2) A BS program may include more courses in psychology, math and science, which are more appropriate for preparation for medical school, as opposed to humanities or other social sciences such as foreign language. (See Reference 3)