If you’ve ever wondered what the difference between a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of science is, you’re not the only one. Undergraduates everywhere have asked themselves this question for decades, and the answer is relatively simple. As far as undergraduate psychology degrees go, a bachelor of arts will equip you with the practical skills necessary to fulfill social work roles in active, hands-on environments. In contrast, a bachelor of science will prepare you to carry out clinical research and lab-based practices.
As an undergraduate student, you may not have it all figured out just yet, and that’s okay. However, it’s essential to understand which direction you’re headed in sooner rather than later. Below we’ve compiled some information to help you sort it all out and hopefully make your decision that much easier.
Psychology BA and BS Differences
Typical BA and BS in psychology curriculums fluctuate, but both generally teach psychological principles, practice, and theory. So, choosing between a BS or a BA in psychology largely depends on students’ interests and professional goals. Specializations within each bachelor’s program also allow students to distinguish between curriculum so they can choose the degree that best fits their needs.
Differences in Curriculum
Students in both programs study general theories and basic research methods out in the field. The BA option typically involves taking fewer psychology-specific courses and more elective-type courses–meaning it can be an excellent option for students that may have interests in psychology but also want to explore other disciplines. A bachelor of arts program may have classes in behavioral, cognitive, and social psychology while also taking history, political science, and sociology type classes. Many BA programs may also include options for students to specialize in things like forensics or social work, further personalizing the program and training up students for related careers.
Alternatively, a BS in psychology includes similar coursework but has more advanced neuroscience, statistical analysis, and clinical psychology classes. Concentrations in workplace, developmental, and addiction psychology prepare students for graduate work and research in the field, while many such BS programs offer BS-to-MS options.
Differences in Careers & Salary
Bachelors of arts and bachelor of science psychology degrees give students the opportunities necessary to acquire careers in psychology or its associated areas.
For BA in psychology graduates who also finish graduate school and become professionals in psychology, estimated job growth is 14% by 2026. And because the curriculum for a BA offers coursework in the arts, humanities, and social sciences, it opens up professional opportunities in business, criminal justice, journalism, and law. A bachelor of arts program provides students with the communication and critical thinking skills applicable to nonprofit program associates, social service caseworkers, and human resource specialists.
In contrast, a BS in psychology allows students to gain the analytical and research skills required for careers like rehabilitation caseworkers, psychiatric technicians, laboratory assistants, and career counselors. But both BA and BS degrees train students to express empathy to others, evaluate and understand client needs, and more. Therefore, many psychology students may enter into market analysis, customer service, and teaching.
Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology Advantages
A bachelor of science in psychology degree highlights the sciences alongside statistics and mathematics. Thus, students whose end goal is psychiatry often earn a BS in psychology, as do learners that want to pursue healthcare or other such careers. THEREFORE, many BS programs have degree tracks in business with additional coursework in human resources, leadership, and management.
A BS program is a stepping stone to graduate programs in psychology by training students in data analysis and research. Learners may also have the opportunity to observe psychological professionals, allowing them to gain insights into the field.
Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology Advantages
A bachelor of arts in psychology consists of social sciences, humanities, and courses in the arts, and many also require a foreign language element. BA’s typically allow students more flexibility than a BS, as it requires fewer psychology-specific courses and more classes in related fields. BA’s in psychology also prepares students for graduate school and to work in a setting that requires knowledge of human cognition, behavior, and psychology. BA in psychology programs also provide students with the communication and analytical skills applicable to journalism, human services, social work, and law.
Undergraduate degrees in psychology are great starting points for a plethora of postgraduate work. If they want, BA students can continue to graduate school with a continued emphasis in psychology. Still, they are just as prepared to earn a master’s degree in another discipline, such as education, social work, or the law. In contrast, BS students may continue their work in a psychology-specific subfield or may choose to apply their science skills in medical school.