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Computer BA vs BS

Computer science majors may experience a strong return on investment. Computer and information science professionals earn a median $97,430, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This figure surpasses the median annual wage of $45,760 for all occupations.

Aspiring computer science professionals should first choose between a BS in computer science or a BA in computer science. A BS stands for bachelor of science, and a BA stands for bachelor of arts. Not every college offers both of these degree types for computer science majors.

Prospective students should thoroughly research computer science programs before applying. This guide explains the similarities and differences between a BS in computer science and a BA in computer science. This page also includes potential careers for computer science degree-holders and links to outside resources.

Questions About Computer Science Degrees

Do Employers Prefer a BA or BS in Computer Science?

The answer usually depends on the position. Most employers view the degree types as equals. Computer science jobs that require more creativity, like user experience design, may best suit BA graduates. Employers hiring for jobs that require problem-solving and strategic thinking may prefer BS degree-holders.

Is a Computer Science BA Harder Than a Computer Science BS?

Both degree types compare in difficulty. Students who excel in math and science may find a BS easier. Learners who enjoy creative courses may find BA electives easier.

What Is the Best Computer Science Degree?

The answer depends on the individual. Learners should explore accredited programs that offer specializations that fit their career goals and interests. We rank computer science degrees based on affordability and graduate success rate.

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What Is a BA in Computer Science?

A BA in computer science usually requires about 120 credits. Full-time learners can complete the degree in four years.

Students take general education and major-related classes. General education classes may cover humanities topics like religion. Major-related classes may focus on computer coding, web design, or software development. Learners who prefer the creative side of the computer science field often choose a BA.

Bachelor's degrees cost an average of $35,330, according to EducationData.org. However, the cost of a BA in computer science varies by school and learners' residency status.

What Is a BS in Computer Science?

Some BS in computer science programs require slightly more than 120 credits. However, most full-time enrollees can still finish the degree in four years. Accelerated programs help students graduate sooner.

A BS requires general education classes that primarily focus on STEM subjects. Most schools let learners select a computer science specialization or minor.

A BS costs about the same as a BA. However, colleges that require additional credits for a BS may charge more for that degree type. Learners can save money by enrolling in an online or in-state program at a public school.

What Is the Difference Between a BA and a BS in Computer Science?

Typically, a BA requires more electives that cover humanities and liberal arts topics. A BS focuses more on math and science topics. Other differences vary among colleges.

For example, Rice University offers BA students a broad overview of the computer science field. Its BS learners choose one computer science topic to focus more on through a minor. At Maryville University, computer science BA students complete literature and social science classes. BS students take classes that focus more on the technical aspects of the computer science discipline.

Fortunately, most employers do not prefer one degree type over the other. Learners should focus on earning a good GPA to impress employers. Students who find math and science easier than other subjects may perform better in a BS program. Learners who thrive in the creative disciplines may excel in a BA program.

The two degree types may also feature varying general education requirements. BA programs normally require foreign language credits and public-speaking classes. BS programs usually include general education requirements that relate more closely to computer science.

Some schools require more credits for a BS than a BA. Degree-seekers should check with their prospective schools to learn more.

Sometimes, graduates pursue jobs unrelated to their major. For this reason, a BA may appeal to learners who do not feel fully committed to the computer science field. This multi-subject degree produces a well-rounded student. However, degree-seekers who feel confident in their career choice can benefit from pursuing a BS with a specialization.

Both options present pros and cons. Fortunately, most employers do not prefer one degree type over the other. Learners should focus on earning a good GPA to impress employers. Students who find math and science easier than other subjects may perform better in a BS program. Learners who thrive in the creative disciplines may excel in a BA program.

Computer Science Career and Salary Outlook

Earning a degree in computer science can lead to many opportunities. The BLS projects jobs for computer science professionals to grow 13% from 2020-2030. This could add around 667,600 new jobs.

See below for some potential careers for computer science degree-holders.

Careers for Graduates With a BA in Computer Science

These professionals use coding to create functional and aesthetically pleasing user interfaces. They use computer language and marketing knowledge to build websites, apps, and software. Web developers and digital designers earn a median $77,200 annually. The BLS projects jobs for these professionals to grow 13% from 2020-2030. These creatives use advanced computer and design knowledge to create graphics for movies and games. They earn a median $78,790 annually. The BLS projects jobs for these artists and animators to grow 16% from 2020-2030. These artists use computer software to generate designs for digital and print purposes. They earn a median $50,710 annually. The BLS projects jobs for these professionals to grow 3% from 2020-2030, which is slower than the average for all occupations. Professionals in the film industry use computer science knowledge to operate cameras and editing software. They earn a median $60,360 annually. The BLS projects jobs for these editors and operators to increase 29% from 2020-2030, which is much faster than average for all occupations.

Careers for Graduates With a BS in Computer Science

These professionals oversee an organization's computer activities. They perform routine maintenance on computers and make suggestions on possible upgrades. These managers earn a median $159,010 annually. The BLS projects jobs for these professionals to increase 11% from 2020-2030. These engineers conduct research on operating system components. They create modifications to enhance computer performance. They earn a median $128,170 annually. The BLS projects jobs for these engineers to grow 2% from 2020-2030, which is slower than average. These professionals work with local area networks and wide area networks. They design these data communication networks. Computer network architects earn a median $120,520 annually. The BLS projects jobs for these professionals to grow 5% from 2020-2030. These workers write and test code for computer programs. Some programmers focus on websites' user sides. Others specialize in back-end development. Computer programmers earn a median $93,000 annually. The BLS projects jobs for these professionals to decrease 10% from 2020-2030.

Computer Science Resources

The University of Oregon created this list of computer science professional organizations. Many of these groups let students join at discounted rates. Students can network with successful computer science professionals by attending conferences. The Association for Computing Machinery offers a substantive list of job boards. Many of the jobs are remote, so graduates can live anywhere and apply. The organization also provides computer science news updates. This job board lets users search for multiple types of computer science jobs at once. CSU publishes this career roadmap to help learners navigate the choices.

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