Computer Science BA vs. BS – What’s the Difference?

Comparing the differences between the Computer Science BA vs BS? See how they stack up and decide which degree is the best match for you.

computer science ba vs bs

The two different types of degrees, which are the Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science and the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science essentially lead to the same careers and salary. But let’s discuss the key differences between both computer science degrees to help you choose the most suitable program for your needs.

Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Computer Science

A Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science is more of a humanities track. You can expect to have more elective course options, the ability to double major or minor and gain a broader education in the computer science field. Most BA in computer science programs require at least nine credit hours of humanities courses as well as electives.

Bachelor of Science (BS) in Computer Science

The Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree is more of a science track. The majority of individuals who choose a BS program are interested in the engineering and science aspects of computer science.

With a BS program, you can expect to select a concentration or specialization, take more technical courses, and learn in-depth about a specific area. Some examples of courses offered in the BS track are calculus, physics, analysis of data structures and algorithms, and theory of computation.

Comparing Computer Science BA vs. BS Degrees

Comparing Computer Science BA vs. BS Degrees

A BA typically provides students with a broad understanding of computer science. The program features courses in computer science but also provides a balancing foundation in humanities. For example, you may be required to take courses in social sciences, communications, history, foreign languages, English, and more.

If you decide to pursue a BA program, you may also have the option to study other subjects that interest you through your elective courses.

Pros of a BA in computer science:

  • This degree is good for students who know that they want to study computer science but are not sure on a career path in the field yet.
  • The extra courses in humanities may help you a lot. For example, you may be able to communicate better, improve your creativity and critical thinking, and gain exceptional problem-solving skills. These skills are all effective in any career path you may choose upon graduation.
  • You can double major or select a minor by using your elective courses to meet the requirements to do so.

Cons of a BA in computer science:

  • You may have fewer credit hours in computer science.
  • You may not have the option to specialize in a specific area of computer science.

A BS in computer science is usually more specialized. If you choose a BS track, you may be able to concentrate or specialize in a certain area of computer science, which would replace your electives.

The program may be more technical, which means there will be advanced courses in computer science as well as in-depth knowledge provided in the concentration you select. A BS program may also consist of all required courses, which means you may not be able to choose any courses in other subjects to study.

Pros of a BS in computer science:

  • This degree is good for students that know the exact type of job they’d like to pursue after graduation. With specializations, you can focus on one specific area of the computer science field.
  • This degree is also a great option for students that like a more defined path with required courses. The BS program usually contains an outline of required courses with no room for electives in other subjects.

Cons of a BS in computer science:

  • A clearly defined degree program means not much flexibility or electives of your choice.
  • Courses in advanced mathematics may be required, which may not be suitable for individuals who lack strong skills in math.

As we said, however, there generally is not a distinction in earning potential, so it’s up to you to decide strengths and interests when choosing a computer science BA vs BS.

Computer Science Careers

Computer Science Careers & Salaries

Companies’ use of technology continues to grow at a fast rate. Therefore, graduates of the computer science program are highly sought after to help fulfill the computer and technology demands to keep companies running. The following list are a few common career paths typically chosen by graduates with a traditional or online bachelor’s degree in computer science.

  • Computer and Information Systems Manager: This career path is responsible for planning, coordinating, and leading all computer-related duties of a company. The average annual salary for computer and information systems managers is $142,530.
  • Software Developer: Individuals in this career path are responsible for creating various applications and systems that run on computers, tablets, smartphones, or other devices. Annually, a software developer makes an average income of $105,590.
  • Web Developer: This is a great career path for individuals interested in creating and designing websites for companies and clients. Yearly, web developers make an average income of $69,430.

According to PayScale, the average overall salary of an individual with a BS in computer science degree is $84,000, and the average overall salary of an individual with a BA in computer science degree is $83,392, meaning there is no significant salary difference between these degrees. However, these numbers in general are what makes a computer science degree worth it.

It all depends on what you are looking for when it comes to your educational goals, your interests, and future career goals.

Accreditation

logos of 6 Regional accreditation boards

It is important to look for accreditation before applying to a program. The college or university must have been accredited by an agency to be accepted by other educational institutions and future employers. This is a way of letting them know the program met the standard educational requirements for you to succeed in the field.

Regional accreditation is the most common type of accreditation to look for. There are six different regional agencies throughout the country, and these agencies provide accreditation to colleges and universities based on their region and location. For example, colleges and universities in the Northwest may be regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Financial Aid

screenshot of FAFSA website

Many college students benefit from some type of financial assistance to attend or complete their studies. The different options of financial aid that students usually receive are scholarships, grants, awards, work-study programs, and student loans.

To find out if you qualify for any financial assistance and how much, fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), then follow up by looking into scholarship opportunities from private organizations and universities.

Questions Related to Earning a BS or BA in Computer Science

Here are our answers to a few more questions you might have.

What Is the Difference Between a BS and BA in Computer Science?

There is only a slight difference between a BS and BA in computer science. The main difference is that a BS allows you to specialize in a certain area for your prospective career, whereas a BA allows you to take electives in other subjects which could lead to a minor or a double major.

A BA is a good option for an individual that is not sure what kind of career path they are interested in, but a BS is a good option for an individual that knows exactly what they want to do after graduation.

Is a BS in Computer Science Worth It?

Yes, a BS in computer science is worth it. After graduation, you can expect to earn an average of $84,000. The BS in computer science is not much different from the BA track and may certainly serve you well if you are interested in computers and technology and plan to make a lifelong career out of it.

A BS in computer science is worth it for individuals that know exactly what kind of career path they plan to pursue after graduation, are interested in the engineering and science aspects of the field, and like a clear-cut path of required courses.

What Jobs Can You Get with a BA in Computer Science?

You can get the same types of jobs with a BA in computer science as you would with a BS in computer science. For example, both tracks lead to excellent careers as software developers, software engineers, web developers, and many more. It depends on your interests and career goals.

What is a Better Degree BA or BS?

web developers working in the office

There is not one degree better than another. It depends on your individual interests, career goals, and educational goals. Both degrees prepare students for employment in the same career paths, and both essentially lead to the same average salaries.

Therefore, it depends on what you are looking for when it comes to a computer science program. You can determine this by analyzing and researching various schools and their curriculum, tuition, specializations, and program requirements.

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Joy Cromwelle
WRITTEN BY
Joy Cromwelle
Joy is pursuing her Ph.D. in Public Policy & Foreign Policy and holds a Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management, as well as a Bachelor's in Business Administration. Joy's focus is helping non-traditional students find accelerated degree options and credit for prior learning opportunities.