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What is a Bachelor of Applied Science Degree - and Is It Right For You?

Mar 4, 2013 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 0 Comments

The most common undergraduate degrees in the US are Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. Both degrees include a general liberal arts component including courses in both the sciences and humanities, in addition to a number of major-aligned courses and electives.

At some colleges, there are more significant differences between Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees; for instance, the BS is more likely to appear with pre-professional academic majors than those that focus on the humanities or more academic subjects. However, at many schools, the designations are more or less interchangeable.

A Bachelor of Applied Science degree is more unusual than both the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. The BAS degree is typically found in majors such as engineering, and is designed to be a terminal professional degree that leads to immediate work in a specific science- or math-oriented field.

Because of this, most Bachelor of Applied Science programs do not require as many liberal arts and general education classes as you’d find in a normal Bachelor of Science degree. With the BS, even though the focus is on a scientific field, the aim is still to give graduates a well-rounded liberal arts education. This focus is less important for a Bachelor of Applied Science, which typically requires students to take the large majority of their courses in the area they’re majoring in.

In addition, some Bachelor of Applied Science degrees don’t meet requirements for graduate school—so if you plan on continuing your education in a Master’s or PhD program, it may be better to consider a Bachelor of Science.

Typical areas of focus for Bachelor of Applied Science degrees include engineering, nursing, applied physics, applied chemistry, accounting, and IT-related subjects. Some subjects can be more focused on vocational subjects, such as electrical or computer engineering; while others might lead to more corporate positions.

In the US, many students earn a Bachelor of Applied Science degree after earning an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree. These degrees take only two years to complete, and students earning them can work immediately after graduation; some students work for several years before going back to school to earn the Bachelor-level designation, while others enroll in a Bachelor’s program as soon as they earn an AAS. Many Bachelor of Applied Science degrees are designed for students who have already earned an Associate’s.

However, it should be noted that the Bachelor of Applied Science designation can change from school to school, among both traditional and accredited online colleges—and not all BAS degrees share these characteristics. In addition, the Bachelor of Applied Science has a different connotation abroad.

For instance, in some countries, particularly in Europe and Asia, the Bachelor of Applied Science designation is more or less interchangeable with the Bachelor of Science—often in engineering fields. In these areas, the Bachelor of Applied Science often qualifies students for graduate-level education and is not considered a vocational or professional degree.

As for whether a Bachelor of Applied Science is right for you, it depends largely on what country you’re living in. If you plan to live and work in the US, the BAS degree is often best for students looking for a practical, vocation-oriented degree that will lead to work immediately after graduation—as opposed to those interested in graduate school. It’s also an excellent choice for those with an Associate of Applied Science, looking to raise the level of their credentials. However, programs vary considerably between schools—so it’s important to check with your school to learn about their degree programs before signing up.



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