Bachelor of Science (BS) Degree: What It Is and How to Earn One (2023)


Professional Development

Bachelor of Science (BS) Degree: What It Is and How to Earn One

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Learn more about what majors you can study for a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree, what’s involved, and where a BS can lead you in your career.

Bachelor of Science (BS) Degree: What It Is and How to Earn One (1)

A Bachelor of Science (BS) degree is a four-year undergraduate degree offered by many universities and colleges in various subjects. A BS degree is often a requirement for some of the most in-demand and competitive jobs, and earning one can open doors to all sorts of careers and further study options.

What is a BS degree?

A Bachelor of Science is one of the most common degree types offered, along with the Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree. While you can earn a BS degree in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, or mathematics) subject, it's also possible to major in non-scientific fields with a BS.

(Video) Easiest Online Bachelor's Degrees in 2022! Graduate in less than 1 year?!

During the four years it takes to study for a BS degree, you'll undertake a combination of general education and core subjects, followed by coursework for both a chosen major and an optional minor.

Common BS majors

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, business has been the most common undergraduate major from 2009 through 2020[1]. These were the top 10 most popular majors for undergraduate students as of 2020:

You can study the majority of these majors as part of a BS degree, even if the major itself may not fit nicely into a STEM subject box. At some universities, a degree in visual arts or psychology, for example, may be available as either a BA or a BS, each with a slightly different focus.

BS vs. BA: What's the difference?

Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts (BA) degrees are widely available and the most common undergraduate degree types.

Sometimes the major you want to take will dictate the type of degree you study. For example, art is usually a BA major, and engineering is usually a BS major. However, it isn’t always this clear-cut, and many subjects are available as both BS and BA majors, depending on where you choose to study and whether you want your degree to have a humanities or science grounding. A BA is typically more humanities-based, while a BS is more science-based.

BS degrees typically give you a high level of knowledge in the subject you're majoring in. Coursework may lean more heavily toward science, technology, engineering, math, and lab studies and research, all of which you can tailor to complement your major.

BA degrees, in comparison, tend to be less specialized and include a range of humanities-based subjects, which include philosophy, history, literature, art, social sciences, and foreign languages. A BA generally allows you to cover a broader range of subjects and pick electives that aren’t necessarily related to your major.

(Video) Degrees: Bachelor of Science

Bachelor of Science (BS) Degree: What It Is and How to Earn One (2)

Read more: What Is a Bachelor's Degree?

How to earn a BS degree

Once you’ve decided that a BS degree is right for you, you'll research schools that offer the program you're interested in. Earning your degree involves meeting the entry requirements, applying, being accepted, and completing your required credits.

Programs vary, so you want to ensure that the ones you're looking at offer your chosen major. As well as choosing a major, you will complete core subjects, which vary according to where you study, and you will have the option to select minors. It’s important to check these subjects, too, to make sure that you can choose topics that complement your major and the career you’re looking to pursue. For example, if you are taking a BS in biology, but you think you might like to work in zoology, it is beneficial to take a minor related to animals.

You can choose between studying at a college or university in-person, online, or in a hybrid setting. Take the time to consider the pros and cons of each to find out which option suits you best. Whenever possible, visit the campus to see how you feel about it.

BS degree admission requirements

Application processes will vary from place to place, but typically you will need to prove you meet the educational entry requirements and submit a college essay or statement of purpose and pass the SAT or ACT admission test. Some colleges and universities will also ask for letters of recommendation and a resume.

Degree completion requirements

Once you’ve been accepted into the college of your choice, you will choose your BS major and typically complete 120 credits over four years if you attend full-time. You'll also pick classes that relate directly to your major. The courses in your major will account for one-third to one-half of your total credits.

Read more: What Are College Credits?

Typical timeline for earning a BS degree

A BS degree typically takes four years of full-time study to complete, but there are ways to speed up or slow down the process to suit your needs. Some institutions offer accelerated courses that are quicker than the traditional route. These can take anywhere between two and four years. Other online courses allow you to study at your own pace, so you can take longer to complete your BS degree to accommodate work and other commitments.

Read more: How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's Degree?

(Video) Is A Bachelor's Degree in Health Science Worth It?

Is a BS degree right for you?

To start, consider your major. What you want to major in might mean that your options for a BS degree are limited, or it might mean you have a wealth of choices available to you. If your major is widely available as both a BS and BA degree, think about what you are looking to learn.

A BS degree route is likely to include hands-on experience, such as the opportunity to conduct research in your major. With a BA, you may be able to take a more comprehensive array of subjects with less opportunity to specialize.

Also, think about the career you are looking to enter. The type of role you are looking at will impact how you approach your degree. For example, if you want to major in environmental science, a BS will provide you with lab and research experience. However, if you're going to focus on writing policy and campaigning, a course like a BA might suit you better.

What can I do with a BS degree?

Employers generally do not look at whether you've earned a BS or BA degree but instead look at the subject area you studied. As such, both types of degrees typically carry equal weight. Many careers expect a certain level of experience and education, and for STEM careers, a BS is often required.

Next steps

If you have decided a BS degree is for you, it’s time to find the right program of study. Think about whether you want to attend school in person or prefer the flexibility of getting an online bachelor of science degree. If you’re still unsure about what to major in, you can check out this article for more tips.

Related articles

  • What Is a Major in College?

  • What Is the Difference Between a BA and a BS Degree?

  • Should You Go Back to School? 7 Things to Consider

  • What Is a Bachelor’s Degree? Requirements, Costs, and More

Article sources

1. National Center for Education Statistics. "Undergraduate Degree Fields," Accessed May 19, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

(Video) ETEEAP- Earn your Bachelor Degree in just 1-2years. CHED Program

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.


How to earn your bachelors degree? ›

Requirements for a Bachelor's Degree
  1. complete a minimum of 120 semester hours of credit towards graduation.
  2. satisfy the UI and CLAS residence requirements.
  3. complete the requirements of the CLAS Core General Education Program.
  4. complete a major.
  5. meet the College's academic standards.

What makes a degree a Bachelor of Science? ›

What Is a BS Degree? A Bachelor of Science degree is a type of undergraduate degree that's focused on math, science, or technology. In contrast to a Bachelor of Arts degree, a Bachelor of Science typically features more specialized classes with an emphasis on technical skills that can be applied directly to jobs.

What is the best BS degree to get? ›

Unsurprisingly, the list is dominated by bachelor's degrees in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), as these degrees tend to have a better payoff compared to others (Day & Martinez, 2021).

What is the easiest BS degree to get? ›

The 16 Easiest College Majors – 2023 Rankings
  • Psychology.
  • Criminal Justice.
  • English.
  • Education.
  • Religious Studies.
  • Social Work.
  • Sociology.
  • Communications.
Nov 1, 2022

How can I make 100k a year with a bachelor's degree? ›

Jobs that pay over $100,000 per year with a bachelor's degree can be found in several industries and sectors.
Best jobs with a bachelor's degree that pay over $100,000 per year
  1. Sales executive. ...
  2. Compensation manager. ...
  3. Economist. ...
  4. Actuary. ...
  5. Risk manager. ...
  6. Strategy manager. ...
  7. Chief financial officer. ...
  8. Loan officer.
Feb 8, 2021

Is it hard to earn a bachelor's degree? ›

A Worthwhile Degree Isn't Easy

While you can't expect bachelor degree classes to be a breeze, it's important to remember that college classes are difficult for a reason. If your courses felt easy, you wouldn't be adequately prepared for your future career.

How many years is a Bachelor of Science degree? ›

The Bachelor of Science (B.Sc. degree) is an undergraduate academic degree offered by universities and colleges worldwide. The study duration of a B.Sc. programme is three to four years.

Why is it called a Bachelor of Science? ›

The word bachelor is derived from the Medieval Latin baccalarius and originally referred to someone of low rank in the feudal hierarchy. Over time, the meaning was extended to denote persons of subordinate position in other systems, including those holding a preliminary degree from a college or university.

What are the 3 main types of Bachelor degrees? ›

The three most common bachelor's degrees offered by the universities in the US are:
  • Bachelor of Arts (BA degree)
  • Bachelor of Science (BS degree)
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA degree)

Is getting a BS worth it? ›

Earning your bachelor's degree also increases the likelihood that you will be considered by future employers for career advancement opportunities. An undergraduate degree is also an obvious prerequisite for earning a master's degree or PhD, if you aspire to pursue a graduate education in the future.

Is a BS degree worth it? ›

Higher salary potential

Speaking of higher salaries, data from the BLS shows that graduates with a bachelor's degree earn a median annual US salary of $67,860. That's significantly more than associate degree holders ($48,776) and high school diploma holders ($40,612) [7].

Which BS course has highest salary? ›

50 Highest Paying Bachelor's Degrees
  • Information Technology.
  • Engineering Management.
  • Petroleum Engineering.
  • Finance/Financial Management.
  • Physics.
  • Pharmacy.
  • Computer Engineering.
  • Aerospace Engineering.
Nov 30, 2022

Can I do BS in 2 years? ›

Finishing a bachelor's degree in two years with online accelerated degree programs, transfer credits, and degree completion methods is possible. Many students would choose to fast-track graduation to save money and time and explore careers.

What's the hardest degree to get? ›

What are the hardest degree subjects?
  • Aerospace Engineering. Aerospace Engineers study the design, manufacturing and testing of aircrafts. ...
  • Architecture. Architecture is one of those degrees that we wish was easy. ...
  • Pharmacy. ...
  • Psychology. ...
  • Statistics. ...
  • Nursing. ...
  • Physics. ...
  • Astrophysics.

What is the hardest bachelor degree? ›

Top 15 Hardest College Majors Table of Contents
  • Chemistry.
  • Environmental Economics and Policy.
  • Environmental Earth Science.
  • American Studies.
  • Nuclear Engineering.
  • Energy Engineering.
  • Astrophysics.
  • Applied Mathematics.

What degree gets the most jobs? ›

Most In-Demand Degrees
  1. Pharmacology. For a lucrative career helping people, pharmacology is at the top of the list for in-demand degrees. ...
  2. Computer Science. ...
  3. Health Science. ...
  4. Information Technology. ...
  5. Engineering. ...
  6. Business Administration. ...
  7. Finance. ...
  8. Human Resources.

What is the most paid degree? ›

The No. 1 spot goes to electrical engineering and computer science. The early-career median pay for majors is $119,200 annually.

What job earns the most money? ›

Here are the highest paying jobs of 2023:
  • Anesthesiologist: $208,000.
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon: $208,000.
  • Obstetrician and Gynecologist: $208,000.
  • Surgeon: $208,000.
  • Orthodontist: $208,000.
  • Physician: $208,000.
  • Psychiatrist: $208,000.

Can you get a job with just a bachelor degree? ›

A bachelor's degree is typically enough to help you qualify for a variety of entry-level and mid-level positions across many fields, including business, finance, social services, psychology, computer science, healthcare and more.

What are 2 year degrees called? ›

An associate degree is a two-year degree typically offered at community colleges, technical colleges, and career colleges. However, some four-year universities offer them as well.

How much can you make a year with a bachelor's degree? ›

While ZipRecruiter is seeing annual salaries as high as $96,500 and as low as $25,000, the majority of salaries within the Bachelors Degree jobs category currently range between $38,000 (25th percentile) to $60,500 (75th percentile) with top earners (90th percentile) making $79,000 annually across the United States.

What kind of jobs can you get with a bachelors in Science? ›

  • Clinical Research Assistant. ...
  • Clinical Laboratory Scientist. ...
  • Clinical Laboratory Scientist - Per Diem. ...
  • Research Associate. ...
  • QA Coordinator (1st shift)(6:00A-2:30P)-Emerald Starting Pay $28.45. ...
  • Research Seasonal Employee. ...
  • Research Associate - (Training provided)

Where can I work with Bachelor of Science? ›

1,000+ Bachelor Of Science Jobs in South Africa (27 new)
  • Biologist/Physical Scientist. ...
  • Biologist/Physical Scientist. ...
  • Supervisory Biologist/Physical Scientist/Ecologist. ...
  • Hydrologist. ...
  • Research and Development Incentives Manager. ...
  • Online Education Head. ...
  • Supervisory Biologist/Physical Scientist/Ecologist.

How do you put BS on a resume? ›

Bachelor's Degree on a Resume

It's advisable to put the full name of your degree on a resume, but if you're economizing on space, you can use an abbreviation instead. Bachelors degrees on a resume are commonly abbreviated to: BA (Bachelor of Arts) BS (Bachelor of Science)

Is it called a Bachelor of Science? ›

A bachelor of science degree, in particular, is a four-year undergraduate degree with common majors such as science or psychology. Students with a B.S. degree often go on to work in more research-based fields.

What is Bachelor of Science called? ›


The Bachelor of Science (B. Sc.) is a type undergraduate degree that focuses on combining theoretical knowledge with research practice. The Bachelor of Science is mainly awarded to students of Natural Sciences, Engineering& Technology, Mathematics, Computer Science& IT.

What do you call someone with a Bachelor of Science? ›

you would call the person a college graduate.

How many bachelors can you get? ›

Yes, you can get two bachelor's degrees from two different schools. As long as you gained your first degree from an accredited institution, most schools that offer second degrees will allow you to enroll.

Do employers prefer a BS over a BA? ›

The short answer is no. Employers and graduate school admissions officers rarely care which type of Bachelor's degree you were awarded. They care far more about which major you pursued, where you went to school, the fact that you have a bachelor's degree at all, and how you performed in your classes.

Is it easier to get a job with a BA or BS? ›

In short, no. There's no type of bachelor degree that's seen as "better" or harder to earn by all employers and grad schools. Both BA and BS degrees require hard work and skills across multiple areas.

Do I need a bachelor's degree to get a masters? ›

Before pursuing a master's degree, you must complete your bachelor's degree. During your bachelor's degree program, which is typically four years, you take general education courses and several courses aligned directly to your major.

Is a BS degree 4 years? ›

Bachelor's degrees in the USA typically take 4 years to complete. The first 2 years include common required courses, such as math, history, literature, and communications.

Which job is best after BS? ›

Following are the career opportunities you can choose from:
  • Oil Industry.
  • Agriculture Industry.
  • Educational Institutes.
  • Food Institutes.
  • Space Research Institutes.
  • Hospitals.
  • Health Care Providers.
  • Chemical Industry.
Jan 18, 2023

How long does it take to earn a bachelors degree? ›

Personal preferences, goals, academic progress, transfer credit eligibility, cost and time considerations are all factors that may impact how many years it takes to earn a bachelor's degree, but 4 years is the traditional timetable to earn the 120 credits you need.

Can you get a bachelor's degree in 2 years? ›

A bachelor's degree will typically take 4 years of sitting in class. But testing out of classes (credit by exam) and 8-week online classes are the turbo-boost needed to finish your bachelor's degree in 2 years. You still complete a freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year. You just do it in half the time!

How many years should it take to earn a bachelor's degree? ›

Traditionally, it takes four to six years to earn a bachelor's degree. Accelerated programs can speed up this timetable, while students who take minimal credits each semester or who change their major partway through their education may spend longer on their degree.

What are the 4 types of degrees you can earn? ›

There are generally four categories of college degrees: associate degree, bachelor's degree, graduate degree, and doctorate or professional degree.

Is a bachelor's degree worth it? ›

Yes, a degree in information technology is worth it for many students. Common information technology careers in this field include information security analyst, computer programmer, network and computer system administrator, computer support specialist, and computer and information systems manager.

Is a Bachelor's degree really worth it? ›

More career opportunities

A bachelor's degree has become a minimum education requirement for many jobs, especially for knowledge workers—or those whose job requires more thinking than manual labor or service labor [1]. As of 2020, 35 percent of jobs require a bachelor's degree [2].

How long is a master's? ›

Master's degrees typically take two years to complete, but the timeframe can vary from person to person. Depending on your degree program and whether you're going to school full-time or part-time, it could take you less time to get your master's degree – or more.

Is a second bachelor's degree faster? ›

For some, pursuing a second bachelor's degree can be quicker, easier, and cheaper than pursuing a master's degree. Also, it can allow professionals to switch career paths or earn college credit for skills they developed in an area other than their first degree discipline.

What is the 2 year degree called? ›

Different types of associate degrees, such as an Associate of Science (AS) or Associate of Arts (AA), are 60 credits and can be completed in 2 years or less, and are a great first step toward earning an entry-level job or promotion.

Does it really take 4 years to get a bachelor's degree? ›

A bachelor's degree generally takes about four years to complete, but several factors can affect this timeline. If you've already started to take college courses or even taken Advanced Placement (AP) units during high school, your college of choice may recognize these units towards your degree at their institution.

Can a bachelor's degree get you a good job? ›

A bachelor's degree is typically enough to help you qualify for a variety of entry-level and mid-level positions across many fields, including business, finance, social services, psychology, computer science, healthcare and more.

Why get a bachelors degree? ›

There are several benefits to getting a bachelor's degree. These include a higher potential income, increased job prospects, and new and enriching life experiences. If you've been working for a while, a bachelor's degree may also help you launch a new career or advance in your current one.

How to get a bachelor's in 3 years? ›

You can zip through college faster by taking online classes in conjunction with your regular classes, taking heavier course loads during the academic year, and studying during the summer months. The more classes you pack into each school term, the quicker you'll power through your studies.

What is the lowest degree to get? ›

College Degrees in Order: Levels of Education
  • Associate Degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree.
  • Master's Degree.
  • Doctoral Degree.

Which degree is easiest to get a job? ›

8 Easy Degrees That Pay Well
  • Business Administration. Business administration is one major that is usually considered “easy.” Some programs will also only take 3 years to finish! ...
  • English. ...
  • Human Resources. ...
  • Criminal Justice. ...
  • Marketing. ...
  • Supply Chain Management. ...
  • Psychology. ...
  • Communication.
Dec 22, 2022

What is the lowest paying degree? ›

Worst-paying college majors
  • Family and Consumer Sciences. $32K.
  • General Social Sciences. $34K.
  • Performing Arts. $34K.
  • Social Services. $35K.
  • Anthropology. $36K.
  • Early Childhood Education. $36K.
  • Theology and Religion. $36.6K.
  • Psychology. $37K.
Feb 12, 2022


1. Should You Get a Second Bachelor's Degree?
(Ashley Cabrera)
2. Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS)?
(Drew Koch)
3. How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor’s Degree?
4. Earn your bachelor’s degree from a world-class university online
5. What Can You Do With Your Biology Degree? (Psst! You Don't Need to Be Pre-Med!) | College & Careers
(The Princeton Review)
6. How to earn your Bachelors degree in a year! Purdue University Global
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Patricia Veum II

Last Updated: 02/24/2023

Views: 6107

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (44 voted)

Reviews: 83% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Patricia Veum II

Birthday: 1994-12-16

Address: 2064 Little Summit, Goldieton, MS 97651-0862

Phone: +6873952696715

Job: Principal Officer

Hobby: Rafting, Cabaret, Candle making, Jigsaw puzzles, Inline skating, Magic, Graffiti

Introduction: My name is Patricia Veum II, I am a vast, combative, smiling, famous, inexpensive, zealous, sparkling person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.