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Students interested in earning a psychology degree have the choice of whether to work toward a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree. Both are undergraduate degrees, and both are offered in the field of psychology. Deciding between a B.A. and a B.S. hinges on how a student wants to study psychology and depends on their ultimate career goals.
The primary difference between a B.A. and a B.S. is the focus of the coursework necessary to graduate. A Bachelor of Arts entails psychology-focused courses; students earning a B.A. will take more courses in the social sciences. A B.S. degree has a course load emphasizing technical studies in science, math and statistics.
Students best suited to pursue a B.A. in Psychology are those who are interested in a career in the psychology field. For instance, students considering specialized psychology fields such as child psychology, forensic psychology or organizational psychology would do well to work toward a B.A. degree, as they’ll have the flexibility to take classes on those topics. Earning a B.A. in Psychology can lead to careers in law, social work, counseling, journalism, political science, education or business. This freedom to choose is typically seen as one of the chief benefits of choosing a B.A. over a B.S. — the B.A. allows students the option to tailor their experience based on specific interests.
This degree is a great choice for students preparing for careers in science. It also is the path to take if a student plans to go to medical school or attend graduate school for psychology or a related field. Students earning a B.S. in psychology should expect a course load that includes classes in biology, chemistry and calculus. People with a B.S. in Psychology typically pursue graduate school or entry-level positions in mental health facilities, government or business.
Academically, the two degrees are both valued. Each degree has advantages, so students trying to decide which to pursue should consider their post-graduation plans. For example, students who want to join the professional workforce immediately upon graduation should choose a Bachelor of Arts. Those who enjoy math and science, who want to go on to graduate school and who tend to be more technical and analytical will probably find the Bachelor of Science to be the better option.