BA vs. BS in Computer Science: What’s The Difference?BA vs. BS in Computer Science: What’s The Difference?BA vs. BS in Computer Science: What’s The Difference?

Students interested in computer science are likely to have questions about the differences between the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree tracks. Although graduates with either degree are eligible to pursue jobs in the field, choosing between a B.A. vs. B.S. in computer science largely depends on two key factors: whether a student wants to focus solely on science or also study a wider curriculum, and whether they want to develop specialized skill sets in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, cybersecurity, and data science.

Those who take the time to identify the similarities and differences between a B.A. and B.S. in computer science program can make an informed decision as to which study track best aligns with their career goals.

Students leaning toward a computer science program will find that an online program, such as Maryville University’s online B.S. in Computer Science, can provide them with problem-solving, technical, and critical thinking skills to pursue rewarding careers in the field.

Definitions: B.A. vs. B.S. in Computer Science

Although B.A. and B.S. in computer science degree programs share some similarities, they also have several key differences. Before delving into the distinctions, let’s define the core of each study track.

B.A. in Computer Science

A B.A. in computer science is a degree program for students interested in exposure to both computer science and humanities. In addition to studying the core curriculum, which includes classwork in programming, software development, and other computer science fundamentals, students pursue a variety of other subjects, such as foreign languages, literature, and social sciences.

B.S. in Computer Science

A B.S. in Computer Science program curriculum is more narrowly focused. For example, in a B.S. program, students focus less on liberal arts and instead concentrate on gaining knowledge and expertise in the practical and technical aspects of the field. Along with a core curriculum that includes classes in programming, database design, and operating systems, students may concentrate on fields such as machine learning, blockchain, ethical hacking, and data analytics. Graduates often find that the knowledge and experience they’ve gained in a B.S. in computer science program provides them with enhanced skill sets and improved job prospects in highly technical fields.

A computer scientist works at her desk.

Similarities between a B.A. and a B.S. in Computer Science

Among the similarities the two programs share is flexibility. Students in either can opt for on-campus learning or enroll in an online degree program. Additionally, in most cases students can complete their bachelor’s degree in four years whether online or in person, depending on if they are attending part or full time. Most significantly, the core curriculum in each program is largely similar, and graduates of either are prepared to pursue careers in software development, computer programming, and web development.

Differences between a B.A. and a B.S. in Computer Science

As stated previously, the primary distinction between a B.A. and B.S. in computer science is their academic focus. A B.A. provides students greater exposure to liberal arts subjects, while B.S. programs are more directed to the finer technical aspects of computer science.

For example, possible electives in a B.A. program may include classes such as psychology, public speaking, and history. Electives in a B.S. program are more computer science practice-oriented, including classes such as DevOps, cybersecurity principles, digital forensics, and blockchain cryptocurrencies. B.S. degrees are more likely to attract students who want to go on to pursue an advanced degree or a more specialized computer science career.

Possible B.A. vs. B.S. in Computer Science careers

Students who complete either computer science degree program can pursue a variety of career paths. Some popular careers include web developer, database administrator, software developer, and computer programmer. Although the median annual wage for each of these positions is listed below, annual earnings vary based on a variety of factors, such as experience, education level, and job location.

Web developer

Web developers design and create websites. They create and test web applications, write code, and work alongside other designers to map a website’s layout. Web developers need to have extensive knowledge of HTML programming and multimedia publishing tools. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data predicts employment of web developers will grow by 8% between 2019 and 2029, much faster than the labor market as a whole. The BLS further reports that as of May 2019, the median wage for professionals who choose this career path was $73,760.

Database administrator

Database administrators use software to organize and store an organization’s data, such as customers’ financial information, shipping records, and more. They also make sure that data is secure, that information and records are backed up to prevent data loss, and that databases operate without error. The BLS projects employment of database administrators will grow by 10% between 2019 and 2029, which is much faster than the expected average for all occupations. BLS data reports that as of May 2019, the median annual salary for database administrators was $93,750.

Software developer

Software developers design and create software. They analyze users’ needs, determine the software’s core functionality, and provide instructions to the programmers who will code and test the program. The BLS projects employment in this field will grow by 22% between 2019 and 2029, which is much faster than the forecast for the average occupation. As of May 2019, the median annual salary for developers was at $107,510.

Computer programmer

Computer programmers write and test code. Where software developers are the creative minds behind new applications, programmers assemble the software that produces the desired results. The BLS reports employment prospects for computer programmers will be best for applicants who possess at least a bachelor’s degree and are experienced in a variety of programming languages, such as Python, Java, and C++. The BLS also reports that as of May 2019, the median annual salary for programmers was $86,550.

Your path toward a computer science career starts at Maryville University

The path toward a career in computer science starts with the right education. Individuals interested in developing the technical background to pursue jobs in the field would do well to explore Maryville University’s online B.S. in Computer Science.

With a comprehensive curriculum that includes a built-in certificate in Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Cybersecurity, Data Science, Software Development, or User Experience, Maryville University prepares students to become industry leaders of tomorrow.

Are you ready to take the first brave step toward achieving your career goals? Discover how we can prepare you for the job you want.

Recommended Reading

A Future in Tech: Software Development vs. Computer Science

Understanding the Differences: Data Science vs. Computer Science

The Role of Blockchain Technology in the Sports Industry


Maryville University, Online Bachelor’s in Computer Science Curriculum

Money Inc., “BA vs. BS: What Are the Differences and What Do You Go For?”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Computer Programmers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Database Administrators

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Software Developers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Web Developer

U.S. News & World Report, “Understand the Difference Between a B.A. and B.S. Degree”

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