Selection of an undergraduate degree program is important to students. The choice between a Bachelor of Science, or BS, degree program or a Bachelor of Arts, or BA, degree program can be crucial for specific careers or graduate school hopes. Both degree programs culminate in the awarding of a university degree at the undergraduate level. However, students need to know the differences in the two programs so that the correct course of studies is selected.

Balanced Components

According to the Chancellor's Office at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, undergraduate degree programs must balance components that include a major that deeply prepares the graduate for either an academic or professional field; a university-level course of general studies in mathematics and science, arts and humanities, social sciences and human communications; and electives selected to fit the individual student's needs. Both the BA degree program and the BS degree program must meet this balanced approach.

BA: A Broad Based Program

The University of Texas characterizes the BA as a broad based program of studies. Many universities require more elective hours for the BA than the BS, but fewer hours in the major field of studies. In this manner, students seeking a BA degree have the opportunity to sample a variety of fields. Graduates are more well rounded in their knowledge of the field studied, and courses of study can be customized to the individual student.

BS: A Concentrated Major

The BS degree programs provide more technical background in the field studied. Many universities, like The University of Texas and The University of Kentucky, require students seeking the BS degree to concentrate more studies in sciences and mathematics. Increased focus within a field of study characterizes students obtaining a BS degree. Graduate programs often highly appreciate that BS degree recipients have a firm foundation for intense study.

Reasons for Selection

Schools often award the BS degree in the sciences, in engineering and in agriculture. Literature, history and languages are frequently awarded within the BA degree. Many universities offer both the BA and the BS in some fields of study. Reports from a 2012 survey posted in The Chronicle of Higher Education indicate that many employers prefer to hire graduates with a BA degree because the degree indicates effort on the part of the student. Many employers in sciences, like biology, prefer to hire graduates with a BS degree.

Graduate schools afford preference of accepting graduates with a BA or a BS depending on the subject to be studied. Schools in the humanities prefer graduates with a BA degree, while programs in math, the sciences and computer technology prefer graduates with a BS. Before deciding on which type of undergraduate degree to pursue, students need to research the jobs or graduate programs they might consider after they receive their undergraduate degree.