What Is a BS Degree?

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In life, times of transition often bring many questions. If you’re getting ready to head off to college, you surely have many questions: Where should I enroll? What is a BS degree, and is it better than a BA degree? Which is the best choice for me? Let's take a closer look to bring greater clarity to your decision-making process.

In This Article:

Understanding a Bachelor of Science Degree

A Bachelor of Science degree, or BS degree, is a type of baccalaureate degree (also known as an undergraduate degree). A BS degree is one of the main types of baccalaureate degrees, along with Bachelor of Arts (BA) degrees and Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degrees. 

Baccalaureate programs require 120 or more credits for completion. It’s best to speak to a university counselor to discuss how long it may take you to complete your degree.

What is the main area of focus for a Bachelor of Science degree? It depends on your specific major. Generally, BS degrees focus on a branch of science, engineering, technology, mathematics or business.1

What Does Having a Bachelor of Science Mean?

If you have a Bachelor of Science degree, it means that you have completed all the necessary requirements to graduate within your major. You are now officially a college graduate. Congratulations!

Next, it’s time to update your resume to reflect your academic credentials. You may then decide to apply to jobs that are relevant to your field of study. Alternatively, you may decide to pursue a graduate-level education using your BS degree as a springboard. (Or you may enroll in graduate school part-time while working.)

Which Is a Better Degree: BA or BS?

Before you enroll in college, you may be wondering whether a BS is a better degree option than a BA, or vice versa. In truth, neither of these degrees is better than the other. Earning any type of baccalaureate degree can provide you with invaluable opportunities to expand your knowledge base, acquire new skills or become qualified to pursue careers relevant to your area of focus.

Instead of trying to figure out whether a BA or BS is better for you, consider what your career aspirations are. Then, look for a degree program — whether BS or BA — that aligns with your intended career outcome.

In many cases, you won’t be able to choose whether to enroll in a BA or BS for any given major. For example, if you want to pursue a career in nursing, athletic training or chemistry, you’ll have to enroll in a BS in one of those fields. Similarly, if you wish to explore the humanities, such as history, you’ll enroll in a BA.

In a few cases, however, you may have a choice between a BA and BS program for a certain field or subfield. For instance, let’s say you intend to pursue some sort of career in marketing. Any of these BA and BS degrees may align with your career goals:

Some of these degrees are quite similar, but there are differences between a BS in Marketing and Advertising and a BA in Advertising and Graphic Design. For instance, the former includes courses in accounting, business statistics and economics alongside marketing-specific courses, whereas the latter emphasizes the fundamentals of design, methods of production and copywriting.

If you have a choice between a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree in your intended field, you should know that one path isn’t necessarily better than the other. To guide your decision, take a closer look at the curriculum for each degree program to figure out which degree best fits your needs, goals and interests. You might even download the school’s academic catalog to get more detailed descriptions of courses and academic programs.

What Are Some Examples of BS Degrees?

There is a veritable laundry list of Bachelor of Science degree options covering the vast breadth of academic disciplines and subfields. Although there are too many options to list here, you may find BS degree options in the following academic areas:2

  • Accounting
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Computer science
  • Engineering
  • Forensic science
  • Nursing
  • Behavioral health

These are just a few examples. A world of possibilities awaits you in college! If you’re feeling slightly overwhelmed by all the choices, consider talking to your parents or legal guardians, high school counselor and perhaps one or two teachers with whom you have a good rapport.

High school job shadowing experiences and internships can also be a way to narrow down your choices, as these give you behind-the-scenes glimpses of what certain professionals do at work.

What Do You Do in a Bachelor of Science Degree Program?

Although every BS degree program is a little different, you can generally expect that most of your required courses will align with your chosen major. You’ll also be expected to complete some general education courses — such as humanities classes that are intended, in part, to teach communication skills, critical thinking and other soft skills.

As a BS student, some of your classes may have lab components. For example, you may take a general chemistry lecture course associated with a general chemistry lab course. These are treated as separate classes, but they go together. (Lab classes typically require fewer credit hours than lecture classes.)

Can I Switch From a BA to a BS, or Vice Versa?

Most of the time, yes. You can file a request to change your major if you have a change of heart. Bear in mind, however, that if you wait too long to change your major and degree after beginning college, this may change your degree completion timeline because you’ll need to have enough time to meet the requirements for your new degree and major.

If you're thinking of switching to a different degree, schedule an appointment with your student services counselor to discuss it. You should also research your school's relevant policies and deadlines. If switching means that you'll need to extend your graduation timeline, or lose credits that no longer apply, then you'll need to seriously consider your college funding options.

Is a BA or BS Better for Grad School and Professional Schools?

Some students enter a baccalaureate degree program already knowing that they intend to pursue further education after graduation. For instance, you might want to earn a graduate degree to enhance your employability and potential prospects of career advancement. Or, alternatively, your top career choice may require a master's degree or doctoral degree for licensure.

In addition to master’s and doctoral programs, students may choose to go on to a professional school after earning a BS, such as medical school, pharmacy school, law school or dental school. No matter your ultimate destination, it’s best to research admissions requirements before enrolling in a baccalaureate program. Ensure that your chosen bachelor’s degree will allow you to meet the admissions requirements for your intended graduate or professional school.

Earn Your Bachelor of Science Degree From GCU

Grand Canyon University, a private Christian university, offers a wide selection of BS and BA degrees in areas ranging from healthcare and nursing, to engineering and technology, to humanities and social sciences — and beyond. Explore our degree offerings and find your fit at GCU. Fill out the from on this page to learn more about joining our Christian learning community. 

DeVry University. (2023, May 13). What is a Bachelor’s Degree? DeVry Educational Development Corp. Retrieved on May 16, 2024.

Indeed. (2022, June 24). 15 Common Bachelor of Science Degrees. Retrieved on May 16, 2024. 

Approved by the assistant vice president of the Office of Academic Records on May 22, 2024.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.