Sociology, the study of human society and social behavior, is a broad discipline featuring a variety of different methodological approaches. Many universities offer two different undergraduate sociology degrees: a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Arts degree. Although the B.S. and B.A. degrees share many common requirements, there are a few significant differences.
One of the biggest differences between a B.A. and a B.S. degree in sociology is math. Most schools require several more math classes for students to earn a Bachelor of Science degree. At Eastern Tennessee State University, for example, B.S. candidates are required to take social statistics and data analysis. Students in the B.A. program are only required to take statistics. The data analysis course encompasses advanced statistical methods like linear regression and ANOVA, while the introductory statistics course focuses on simpler techniques.
Students hoping to earn a B.S. degree in sociology typically have to take more laboratory science than students in a B.A. program. The science classes usually don't have to be directly related to sociology because the intent of the requirement is to educate students about the scientific method. At Clemson University, for instance, students in the B.S. program can fulfill their science requirements with courses like zoology, chemistry and biology. Students pursuing a B.A. usually avoid the science classes in favor of courses in the humanities or foreign language.
While most B.S. degree programs require students to take science and math classes, most B.A. programs expect students to complete extra courses in foreign language. At Colorado State University Pueblo, the only difference between the B.A. and B.S. degrees is a foreign language requirement; B.A. students must earn a certification in another language while B.S. students do not. Fluency in a second language is extremely valuable for sociologists because it allows them to research other cultures.
Some universities require undergraduate students to complete a thesis, capstone or research project before awarding them a degree. Typically, the topic studied and the methods used in completing the final project varies according to the degree. At Millikin University, for example, B.A. students are more likely to conduct critical or qualitative sociological research. Students in the B.S. program often use quantitative research methods like surveys or questionnaires to complete their projects. The idea behind the final project requirement is to give students the chance to use the skills they have learned throughout their course of study.
- Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images