BA degree

Bachelor of Arts

Bachelor of Arts (B.A. or A.B.), from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both. Bachelor of Arts degree programs generally last three to four years depending upon the country, academic institution, and specific majors or minors.

Diplomas generally give the name of the institution, signatures of officials of the institution (generally the president or rector of the university as well as the secretary or dean of the component college), the type of degree conferred, the conferring authority and the location at which the degree is conferred. Degree diplomas generally are printed on high quality paper or parchment, use ornate lettering and often include archaic terminology or languages. Individual institutions set the preferred abbreviation for their degrees.

Regional differences

The Bachelor of Arts degree is usually attained in four years in Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Brazil and the rest of Latin America, Canada, Egypt, Japan, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Romania, the Russian Federation, Scotland, Tunisia, Turkey and the United States.

In contrast, the Bachelor of Arts degree course generally lasts three years in nearly all of the European Union countries. It also takes three years in Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, India, Iraq, Israel, New Zealand, Iceland, Norway, Singapore, the Caribbean, South Africa, Switzerland, and the Canadian province of Quebec.

Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa

In universities in Australia and New Zealand, the B.A. degree can be taken over three years of full-time study. However, to achieve an honours degree, an extra year must be completed. Students must pursue at least one major area of study, and that subject is studied in all of the three years. At some universities students may choose to pursue a second major; alternatively, the remainder of the degree is taken up with a minor area of study (in the first two years) and other individual or stream-based subjects make up the degree.

Unlike in other countries, students here do not receive an overall grade for their Bachelor of Arts degree with varying levels of honours. Instead, students have the option, after their third year of study and provided they have achieved a minimum average grade in their major area, of a further one year honours course.

In Canada, at most universities excluding Ontario, the B.A. course lasts 4 years, and the honours designation is earned through more demanding course work, a minimum grade average, and the completion of a thesis or dissertation of 10,000-20,000 words.

On graduation, students are permitted to append the post-nominal letters "B.A." to their name; those who have successfully completed the honours year may style themselves "H.B.A." or "B.A. (Hons.)" depending on the style the granting university chooses.

The B.A. (Hons) degree (or its equivalent international degree) is generally the basic qualification required to pursue higher degrees by research, including the M.A. and Ph.D degrees. However, the general 3-year B.A. in Ontario, or 4-year degree outside of Ontario, is typically accepted for entry to professional programs, such as law and medicine, provided the grade average is sufficient.


In the Netherlands, the Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees were introduced in 2002. Until then there was a single program which led to the doctorandus degree. This comprised the same course load as the Bachelor and Master programs combined. (The title doctorandus was used in almost all fields of study; other titles were used for legal studies (meester) and engineering (ingenieur).) Those who had already started the doctorandus program could, upon completing it, opt for the doctorandus degree (entitling them to use "Drs." in front of their name), or could use the Master’s degree (post-nominal letters) in accordance with the new standard.

United Kingdom and Ireland

In the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, the first degree course normally lasts 3 years, but nomenclature varies: 19th-century and later universities usually distinguish between arts and sciences subjects by awarding either a B.A. or B.Sc. degree. However, some older or ancient universities, such as Oxford, Cambridge and Dublin traditionally award B.A.s to undergraduates having completed the final examinations (e.g. Part II Tripos (Cambridge), Final Honour Schools (Oxford), Moderatorship (Dublin)) in most subjects including the sciences. The degree of M.A. can be claimed for a nominal administrative fee, usually 21 terms after matriculation. For many centuries, the bachelor's degree was an intermediate step and was awarded for much of the work carried out in later times at secondary schools. The names of the final secondary school exams in France and Spain (and increasingly in Britain - the International Baccalaureate) come from this: le Baccalauréat and el Bachillerato, respectively.

The ancient universities of Scotland award a Master of Arts degree to humanities or arts graduates, but a B.Sc. to science graduates. This course takes 4 years.

A Bachelor of Arts is entitled to the designation B.A. for an ordinary/pass degree and B.A. (Hons.) for an honours degree (but the latter is often abbreviated to simply B.A.).

United States

In the United States, the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Artium Baccalaureus (A.B.) is one of two basic undergraduate degrees. The other is the Bachelor of Science. At most institutions, the B.A. and B.S. have all but identical requirements of 120 semester hours or 180 quarter hours for a basic undergraduate degree. Curricula leading to the B.A., however, often require a certain minimum number of the total degree credits be drawn from coursework in topical areas historically associated with the liberal arts - such as language, literature, humanities, mathematics, history, and social sciences. At Eastern Michigan University, for example, 75 of the minimum 124 credits must be earned in these subject areas - whatever the student may choose as a major or minor subject - including one year of study over two consecutive semesters of one foreign language.

See also


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