Bachelor of Arts

Bachelor of Arts

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A Bachelor of Arts (B.A., BA, A.B., or AB), from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree
Bachelor's degree
A bachelor's degree is usually an academic degree awarded for an undergraduate course or major that generally lasts for three or four years, but can range anywhere from two to six years depending on the region of the world...

 awarded for an undergraduate
Undergraduate education
Undergraduate education is an education level taken prior to gaining a first degree . Hence, in many subjects in many educational systems, undergraduate education is post-secondary education up to the level of a bachelor's degree, such as in the United States, where a university entry level is...

 course or program in either the liberal arts
Liberal arts
The term liberal arts refers to those subjects which in classical antiquity were considered essential for a free citizen to study. Grammar, Rhetoric and Logic were the core liberal arts. In medieval times these subjects were extended to include mathematics, geometry, music and astronomy...

, the sciences, or both. Bachelor of Arts degree programs generally take 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
University
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

 as well as the secretary or dean of the component college
College
A college is an educational institution or a constituent part of an educational institution. Usage varies in English-speaking nations...

), 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
Paper
Paper is a thin material mainly used for writing upon, printing upon, drawing or for packaging. It is produced by pressing together moist fibers, typically cellulose pulp derived from wood, rags or grasses, and drying them into flexible sheets....

 or parchment
Parchment
Parchment is a thin material made from calfskin, sheepskin or goatskin, often split. Its most common use was as a material for writing on, for documents, notes, or the pages of a book, codex or manuscript. It is distinct from leather in that parchment is limed but not tanned; therefore, it is very...

; Individual institutions set the preferred abbreviation for their degrees.

Regional differences


The Bachelor of Arts degree is usually attained in four years in Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

, Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

, Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

, Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 and the rest of Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

, Serbia
Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

, Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

, the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

, Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, the Russian Federation, Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, South Korea
South Korea
The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

, Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

.

In contrast, the Bachelor of Arts degree course generally lasts three years in nearly all of the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 countries. It also takes three years in Albania
Albania
Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina , sometimes called Bosnia-Herzegovina or simply Bosnia, is a country in Southern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula. Bordered by Croatia to the north, west and south, Serbia to the east, and Montenegro to the southeast, Bosnia and Herzegovina is almost landlocked, except for the...

, Croatia
Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

, Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

, Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

, the Caribbean, South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, and the Canadian province of Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

.

Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa


In universities in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, the B.A. degree can be taken over three years of full-time study. Students must pursue at least one major
Academic major
In the United States and Canada, an academic major or major concentration is the academic discipline to which an undergraduate student formally commits....

 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 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. Thus, to achieve an honours degree, an extra "postgraduate" year must be completed; see Bachelor's degree: Honours Degrees and academic distinctions.

Canadian colleges and universities typically offer a 4 yr B.A. At most universities an honours designation can be earned through specified course work, a high grade average, and the completion of a thesis or dissertation. On graduation, students are permitted to append the post-nominal letters
Post-nominal letters
Post-nominal letters, also called post-nominal initials, post-nominal titles or designatory letters, are letters placed after the name of a person to indicate that the individual holds a position, educational degree, accreditation, office, or honour. An individual may use several different sets of...

 "B.A." to their name and 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.

In general, in all four countries, the H.B.A. or BA (Hons.) degree is the basic qualification required to pursue higher degrees by research, including the M.A.
Master of Arts (postgraduate)
A Master of Arts from the Latin Magister Artium, is a type of Master's degree awarded by universities in many countries. The M.A. is usually contrasted with the M.S. or M.Sc. degrees...

 and Ph.D
Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as Ph.D., PhD, D.Phil., or DPhil , in English-speaking countries, is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities...

 degrees. In Canada, however, a B.A. with a high grade average is also sufficient for graduate studies. For entry to professional programs such as law, or to the MBA, a B.A. is typically accepted (provided that the grade average is sufficient).

Netherlands / Europe


In the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, 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
Doctorandus
Doctorandus is a Dutch academic title according to the pre-bachelor-master system. The title is acquired by passing the doctoraalexamen, traditionally a matriculation exam for admission to study at doctoral level....

 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.
A similar practice has been introduced in other EU countries, according to the Bologna Process
Bologna process
The purpose of the Bologna Process is the creation of the European Higher Education Area by making academic degree standards and quality assurance standards more comparable and compatible throughout Europe, in particular under the Lisbon Recognition Convention...

.

United Kingdom and Ireland


In the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 (excluding Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

) and Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

, 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
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...

, Cambridge
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a public research university located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest university in both the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world , and the seventh-oldest globally...

and Dublin
University of Dublin
The University of Dublin , corporately designated the Chancellor, Doctors and Masters of the University of Dublin , located in Dublin, Ireland, was effectively founded when in 1592 Queen Elizabeth I issued a charter for Trinity College, Dublin, as "the mother of a university" – this date making it...

 traditionally award B.A.s to undergraduates having completed the final examinations (e.g. Part II Tripos
Tripos
The University of Cambridge, England, divides the different kinds of honours bachelor's degree by Tripos , plural Triposes. The word has an obscure etymology, but may be traced to the three-legged stool candidates once used to sit on when taking oral examinations...

 (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
Matriculation
Matriculation, in the broadest sense, means to be registered or added to a list, from the Latin matricula – little list. In Scottish heraldry, for instance, a matriculation is a registration of armorial bearings...

. 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
Baccalauréat
The baccalauréat , often known in France colloquially as le bac, is an academic qualification which French and international students take at the end of the lycée . It was introduced by Napoleon I in 1808. It is the main diploma required to pursue university studies...

 and el Bachillerato, respectively.

Scottish Universities award a Master of Arts
Master of Arts (Scotland)
A Master of Arts in Scotland can refer to an undergraduate academic degree in humanities and social sciences awarded by the ancient universities of Scotland – the University of St Andrews, the University of Glasgow, the University of Aberdeen and the University of Edinburgh, while the University of...

 degree to humanities or arts graduates, but a B.Sc. to science graduates. This course takes 4 years for an honours degree and three for an ordinary (in Scotland it is possible to opt to take an ordinary degree rather than this simply ranking below a third class honours).

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
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, 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
Bachelor of Science
A Bachelor of Science is an undergraduate academic degree awarded for completed courses that generally last three to five years .-Australia:In Australia, the BSc is a 3 year degree, offered from 1st year on...

. 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, physical sciences, and social sciences. At Eastern Michigan University
Eastern Michigan University
Eastern Michigan University is a comprehensive, co-educational public university located in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Ypsilanti is west of Detroit and eight miles east of Ann Arbor. The university was founded in 1849 as Michigan State Normal School...

, 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

  • Associate of Arts
  • Lady Literate in Arts
    Lady Literate in Arts
    A Lady Literate in Arts or LLA qualification was offered by the University of St Andrews for more than a decade before women were allowed to graduate in the same way as men, and it became popular as a kind of external degree for women who had studied through correspondence, or by attendance at...

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts
    Bachelor of Fine Arts
    In the United States and Canada, the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, usually abbreviated BFA, is the standard undergraduate degree for students seeking a professional education in the visual or performing arts. In some countries such a degree is called a Bachelor of Creative Arts or BCA...

  • Bachelor of Science
    Bachelor of Science
    A Bachelor of Science is an undergraduate academic degree awarded for completed courses that generally last three to five years .-Australia:In Australia, the BSc is a 3 year degree, offered from 1st year on...

  • Educational attainment in the United States
    Educational attainment in the United States
    The educational attainment of the U.S. population is similar to that of many other industrialized countries with the vast majority of the population having completed secondary education and a rising number of college graduates that outnumber high school dropouts. As a whole, the population of the...