What is a Bachelor of Arts Degree?

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A Bachelor of Arts degree is a common undergraduate degree awarded to students all over the world. For many students, it is the first step towards specializing in a particular area of study and beginning a career. It differs from vocational school in that students don't just study one particular subject, but also learn about a wide range of other topics. The goal of a Bachelor of Arts is to get a well-rounded education with a good grounding in one particular subject.

Significance

  • A Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree is a three to five year undergraduate degree. It usually requires a certain number of courses in mathematics, social sciences, physical sciences, and humanities. A Bachelor of Arts degree usually involves a heavy focus on one subject, called a major. For example, you can get a Bachelor of Arts in Literature, Math or Music. BA students may also have a minor, another study which they study quite a bit, but not as extensively. The BA is distinguished from a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree, which tends to emphasize the sciences more heavily.

Function

  • Possessing a Bachelor of Arts degree has become extremely important in our society. People who have BA degrees have an easier time finding employment, and make more money than those with less education. In addition, a Bachelor's degree is necessary if you want to get a Master of Arts or Doctorate.

    There are also other important, less tangible benefits to possessing a BA degree. A BA gives you a basic understanding of the humanities and sciences, helping you understand the issues that effect our society.

Time Frame

  • A Bachelor of Arts degree usually lasts three to four years, depending on the country you are in and the particular course load you take. The expected number of years is based on the number of credit hours you need to graduate, and the number you are expected to take each semester. A typical course load is 16 credit hours per semester. A student who takes 18 or 20 credit hours each semester or enrolls in classes over summer break will usually be able to graduate earlier.

Features

  • Every college and university department has its own course plan for a Bachelor of Arts degree. Typically, students take introductory and survey classes during the first year that work towards distribution credits. For example, all freshmen at a particular college may be required to take a classic literature class as part of a BA program. Students usually declare a major within the first year or two of college, and work towards advanced courses in that major. Usually, students need to take certain prerequisites before they can take the advanced courses they need to graduate. Once a student has taken all the required courses in his major and several general courses in sciences and humanities, he can graduate.

Types

  • There are many different types of BA degrees. Obviously, there are many different subjects a student can receive a Bachelor of Arts degree in, but beyond that there are different philosophies of education. Some colleges emphasize a very strong classics education. They focus on Latin and Greek, classical literature and history, and a grounding in the physical sciences. More commonly, colleges try to answer the question, "What does a student need to know to be a citizen of the modern world?" Most BA programs emphasize modern concerns such as technological literacy and multiculturalism. In general, smaller colleges allow the students to have a more personal experience and benefit from smaller class sizes, whereas large universities have a greater range of resources and opportunities at the expense of a feeling of anonymity.

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