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A certificate or diploma evidencing the granting of a bachelor's degree

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.

The liberal arts focus of a Bachelor of Arts degree is usually contrasted with the Bachelor of Science, which typically requires a greater focus on coursework in mathematics and science. The academic focus of a Bachelor of Arts occasionally overlaps with the Bachelor of Fine Arts, with the latter placing greater emphasis on studio and performance experience.

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.[1]

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Regional differences

The Bachelor of Arts degree program generally lasts three years in nearly all of the European Union countries as well as 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. In contrast, the Bachelor of Arts degree is usually attained in four years in Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Canada (outside Quebec), Brazil and Latin America, Egypt, Japan, Pakistan, the Russian Federation, Scotland, Tunisia, Turkey, and the United States.[2][3]

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Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa

In universities in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, the single degree B.A. can be taken full-time over a period of three years.[4] To achieve an honours degree, an extra year must be completed. It is a requirement that students pursue at least one major area of study and that subject area is undertaken at all three year-levels of the degree (first, second and third year). Depending upon the individual university's course structure, students may choose to pursue a second major; alternately, the remainder of the degree is taken up with a minor area of study (study at first and second year levels) and other individual or stream-based subjects make up the degree.

Unlike other countries, students from these countries do not receive an overall grade for their Bachelor of Arts degree with varying levels of honours. Instead, students have the option, at the conclusion of their third year of study and provided they possess a grade average of 65 percent or higher in their major area, to undertake an honours (or fourth) year. The honours year generally comprises a coursework component (including seminars or tutorials) and an original researched thesis or dissertation of ten thousand to twenty thousand 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 "B.A. (Hons)".

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. is typically accepted for entry to professional programs in law.

United Kingdom and Ireland

In the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, usage varies: 19th-century universities and later usually distinguish between arts and sciences subjects through awarding either a B.A. or B.Sc. depending on field of study. However, the 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), Schools (Oxford), Moderatorship (Dublin)) in most subjects including the sciences. The degree of M.A. can be claimed for a nominal sum, usually twenty-one 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 by secondary schools (when the school system developed). The name of the final secondary school exam in France comes from this, Le Baccalauréat.

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

A Bachelor of Arts graduate in the UK or Republic of Ireland receives the designation B.A. for an ordinary/pass degree and B.A. (Hons.) for an honours degree.

United States

In the United States, the concept of "years" is based on credit hours and full-time study. The "four years" expected to complete a B.A. degree is an estimate of time it should take to complete the required number of credit hours. Thus, a B.A. could be achieved in less time if the student "overloads", that is, takes more classes than expected. It could also be achieved as "on time" in most institutions if completed within a 6-year period.

B.A. degrees are most commonly awarded for successful completion of a "liberal arts" programme (in majors such as English literature, humanities, history, philosophy, communication arts, and political science). In rare instances, some schools like Saint Anselm College, and Morehouse College award B.A.'s in non-liberal arts subjects like business administration, and biological sciences because they require a strong liberal arts emphasis throughout the delivery of their course content.[5][6]

The credibility of a degree depends on the accreditation of the institution granting the degree. In the United States, a number of regional non-profit groups accredit undergraduate instruction. In addition, state and federal governments impose requirements on degree-granting institutions, typically by limiting financial support to the institution or the availability of loans to its students based upon specified standards of quality. In the United States, unaccredited degrees may not be acceptable for financial aid, civil service or other employment purposes. Criminal penalties sometimes apply should such a degree be presented in lieu of one from an accredited school. The use of unaccredited degree titles is legally restricted or illegal in some jurisdictions.[7]

See also

References


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