BA vs BSc vs BBA: What’s the Difference and Does it Matter?

In General, University by Think Student EditorLeave a Comment

There are lots of different abbreviations when it comes to degree types and classifications in the UK, and these can get confusing. When you are choosing which degree courses to apply for, it can be hard to get used to all the new terms, and work out which ones are actually important for you to consider. Specifically, if you are applying for a business-related course, you might have noticed that universities have courses with lots of different abbreviations: BA, BSc, and BBA. What is the difference between these types of degrees? Does it make it a difference which one you choose?

BA stands for Bachelor of Arts, BSc for Bachelor of Science, and BBA for Bachelor of Business Administration. They are all types of undergraduate degrees in the UK. Normally, the only key difference is in course content. BSc degrees tend to focus more on the financial and technological aspect of business, BA degrees on more humanities-based aspects of business, and BBA degrees on general business. Additionally, while BBA is just used for business degrees, BA and BSc degrees are offered in a whole range of other subjects.

Keep reading for plenty more information about these three degree types, including more detail about the differences, and how to choose between them.

What is a BA degree?

A BA stands for a Bachelor of Arts degree. This is a type of degree in the UK, normally for courses that fall under humanities subjects.

This includes, for example, English and History courses, as well as some social sciences. Of course, there are a huge number of degree titles, and we can’t list them all here, but generally speaking, if the course is a humanities subject, it will be a BA.

Degree abbreviations like these are more flexible than you might think. For example, you may see some courses like psychology offered by some universities as a BA, and by others as a BSc.

In this case, while both courses will likely have the same foundation, the focus may vary. The BSc course will tend to prepare you more for a career in research and neuroscience, while the BA will prepare you more for work in education or the social sector.

Additionally, as already mentioned, different business courses may give you a BA, BSc, or BBA degree. It clearly isn’t the case that a certain subject always corresponds to a certain bachelor’s classification!

What is a BSc degree?

A BSc means a Bachelor of Science degree. As the name suggests, this degree type is normally for scientific degrees, such as Chemistry or Mathematics.

However, all scientific subjects don’t necessarily use this abbreviation. While BA and BSc are the most common, there are actually quite a few more degree abbreviations used by universities.

For instance, if you are doing an engineering degree, you will most likely graduate with a BEng – a Bachelor of Engineering degree. You can check out this article from The Complete University Guide for plenty more information about degree types in the UK.

Additionally, some subjects that might not be purely scientific can use the classification BSc. A business BSc degree won’t involve any chemistry! However, it will teach you about the financial and mathematical side of business – more so than a BA in business.

What is a BBA degree?

The final classification you might have seen for business degrees is a BBA, which stands for Bachelor of Business Administration. This is a less common degree type in the UK, and most of the business courses you will come across are either a BA or a BSc.

However, BBA degrees are still offered, for example, by the University of Coventry. You can have a look at their specific Business Administration course on their website here.

As this page shows, these degrees are often a wide-ranging education on lots of different aspects of business, from accounting, to marketing, to management.

What are the similarities between a BA, BSc and BBA degree?

Now we’ve gone through these three abbreviations, we can start comparing the differences, and how much they actually matter to you as an applicant or student. Firstly, though, it’s worth bearing in mind that these three types of degrees have more in common than not.

All three are undergraduate degrees in the UK, meaning you can complete them straight out of school, without any previous university-level experience. You can read more about what exactly is meant by an undergraduate degree if you check out this article from Think Student.

They are all normally three-year courses, although they can take four years if, for example, you do a placement year in industry as part of the degree. You can have a look at this Think Student article for more about placement years.

Additionally, universities may use any one of these abbreviations to classify a business degree. We’ve mentioned that the University of Coventry offers a BBA degree in Business Administration.

But you can also do, for example, a BA in Business Management from the University of Sheffield, or a BSc in Business Administration from the University of London. You can check out these individual course pages from the official university websites here for Sheffield, and here for the University of London.

What are the differences between a BA, BSc and BBA degree?

You might be wondering about the point of different classifications if they can all refer to such similar business degrees. The differences usually lie in the exact topics and modules studied.

Of course, as discussed, BA and BSc classifications are used for a whole range of degrees, not just business. In this case, there will obviously be different subject content taught!

However, even within the subject of business, there are slightly different focusses, which we’ve touched upon in this article. BA degrees will probably have more modules surrounding things like marketing and team management, whereas BSc degrees may go more in depth about areas like accounting and analytics.

You can read more about this distinction on this page from the UBI Business School website.

Official university websites will have specific information about the modules and focuses of the business course(s) they offer. This can be a good way to compare BA and BSc business degrees you are interested in, especially as each university will have a slightly different approach.

How do you choose whether to do a BA, BSc or BBA degree?

Ultimately, which type of business degree you choose to do depends on which specific areas of this subject interest you the most. For example, if you know you want to go into the economics side of business, you might be best off researching BSc degrees.

Many students aren’t sure of what exactly they want to do when they graduate, which is completely normal. In this case, you might want to look at BBA degrees, or BA or BSc courses that offer a range of general business modules. Once again, the best place to look for this information is on specific university websites.

Another important thing to consider when choosing a degree is where you want to do it. While BA and BSc business degrees are offered at most universities, BBA degrees are comparatively much rarer.

You get five choices on your university application, which you can read more about in this Think Student article. If you want to do a general business course, making all five of these BBA courses will definitely limit the universities you have to choose from. You may want to apply for a couple of BBA degrees, and a couple of more general BA or BSc choices.

Do employers prefer a BA, BSc or BBA degree?

Another thing that might factor into your decision about what degrees to apply for is how they are viewed by employers. Generally speaking, whether you have done a BA, BSc or BBA will not be the main factor employers look at, so it isn’t something to worry about.

However, there are cases in which a certain degree may help a job application, even if it isn’t the most important factor. For instance, if you are applying for jobs in the finance sector after graduating, a BSc degree might be more suited.

Overall, though, there is other information about your degree that employers will focus more on. For example, a first-class honours degree will be more appealing than a third-class degree.

These degree classifications depend on your marks and grades during the degree itself, not the overall title or type. They can be just as confusing as degree abbreviations, so for more information, have a look at this article from Think Student.

Are there other types of degrees to consider?

You may have heard of other degree abbreviations, and wondered if these are also relevant here. In short, BA, BSc and BBA are the only three degree abbreviations for an undergraduate business degree.

However, for other subjects and degree types, there are plenty more abbreviations. For instance, LLB is often used for Law, and you may see MB ChB to refer to a medicine degree.

Additionally, postgraduate degrees use different terms, as they are no longer bachelor’s degrees. For example, the University of Birmingham offers a master’s degree in International Business, linked here.  This is an MSc – Master of Science degree.

You can have a look at this page from the University of Portsmouth if you are looking for information about other abbreviations used to talk about university degrees.

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