What is a Bachelor of Science?

A.E. Freeman

A bachelor of science is an undergraduate degree usually awarded to a student who completes a certain number of college-level courses. The requirements for a bachelor of science vary from college to college and from country to country. As its name implies, the degree is typically earned by students studying a scientific field, such as chemistry, mathematics, or engineering. Students who study liberal arts or social sciences typically earn a bachelor of arts degree, though some schools award science degrees to students studying fashion or graphic design.

A science student may gain experience working at a lab.
A science student may gain experience working at a lab.

In the United States, students in an undergraduate program typically must take at least 120 credit hours or about 40 classes before they can earn a bachelor's degree. In some cases, a student can earn an associate of science degree after completing two years of study and then go on to complete a bachelor of science degree. Most students work straight through and earn only the bachelor degree, though.

Students that earn a bachelor of science degree are generally qualified to fill certain positions in their chosen field.
Students that earn a bachelor of science degree are generally qualified to fill certain positions in their chosen field.

A student in a bachelor of science degree program usually does not take only science courses. Most colleges in the United States require that students take a certain number of general education or core courses. These courses are usually taken in the first two years of study, before the student begins to focus on a chosen area of interest. Many schools require students to take writing intensive courses, such as a freshman composition course, as well as a few courses in civilization, history, or the humanities.

After a student earns the degree, he is qualified to work in certain positions in his field, such as working as a registered nurse if he majored in nursing or working as a research assistant in a laboratory. In some cases, earning a bachelor of science degree is the first step on the ladder toward a student's desired career. Students who wish to become lawyers or doctors will need to attend law or medical school after they receive their bachelor degree. Other students may find that enrolling in graduate school for business helps their job prospects as well.

The cost of a bachelor's degree varies depending on where the student attends school and how long she takes to complete the degree. Private institutions are more expensive than state or public institutions in the United States. Many universities in Europe offer free courses. A student who earns his degree part-time in the United States will pay per credit and may end up paying more over time. Students who are pressed for time may benefit from earning their degree through an online program.

A bachelor of science generally takes four years.
A bachelor of science generally takes four years.

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Discussion Comments


@pleonasm - I still think it's incredible that they've acknowledged the value of knowledge in that way. It's always been difficult to separate the purposes of a university education. There are plenty of people who say they do it for the love of knowledge, and don't care about the piece of paper.

Now those people can get their dose of knowledge without having to fulfill all the bachelor of science requirements. I think it's wonderful, as the price of a degree has gone up so much in the last few decades it seems almost impossible to get a degree for some people and they certainly couldn't dream of getting one for no other reason than because they want the knowledge.

Now they can study to their hearts content without having to shell out their money. And I think the more people who learn about science and how it works, the better.


You can actually take just about an entire degree in science over the internet now, as several prominent universities are offering their courses online for free. There's no real catch, although of course you won't have the help of the lecturers and the tutorials and access to school resources that you would if you were on campus or even taking the course officially online.

It does mean, though, that even if you are completely qualified and able to pass the exam with flying colors, you won't have the piece of paper needed to say that you have a bachelor of science from that university. Because no one is assessing your knowledge, it doesn't count.

I suppose in theory you could take one of those online courses and then get yourself tested by one of the independent testing agencies for graduate courses, like the GRE test, but I don't think anyone would accept your ability at face value even then.


I really like the fact that people taking bachelor of science courses in the United States are also required to take courses in other topics in order to round out their education. That's not the case in my country and I think that can lead to students who don't have a good grounding in the world outside their own subject.

I mean, I think students will usually take papers in other topics of their own accord, because there is usually room to do that, but it's up to them what they take. And if a student is taking a double degree, say in science and business, they won't be able to spare the papers in other topics unless they want to be stuck in school for an extra year.

I just think that it makes for a better employee and a better all around person if they have a wider base of knowledge than just their own field.

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