Difference between Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts

Updated on July 17, 2015

When looking at undergraduate programs, one will come across a Bachelor of Arts or BA program, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts or BFA program. What distinguishes these two degrees from one another? This article will help explain.

Definitions

Bachelor of Arts

A Bachelor of Arts or BA/B.A. degree is a degree awarded for completing an undergraduate course of study in the liberal arts. These degrees will typically take 3-4 years to complete. The focus of these degrees can be in disciplines like the humanities, which includes the classics, philosophy, and literature; social sciences, such as political science, sociology, and certain aspects of psychology; or subjects like business and economics. These degrees will usually consist of the following requirements: a core requirement, which are the courses mandatory for anyone pursuing a B.A. degree; a major requirement, which are the courses a student will take in the main discipline on which they focus; and a minor requirement, which are the courses a student will take in the secondary discipline on which they focus. B.A. degrees will also include things like language requirements and elective requirements.

A Bachelor of Fine Arts or BFA/B.F.A. degree is a degree awarded for completing an undergraduate course of study in the visual or performing arts. Similar to a B.A., these degrees usually take 3-4 years to complete. A B.F.A focuses on more creative, performing, or visual fields e.g. music, acting, drama, painting, or graphic design. B.F.A degrees will also have a core requirement, and the major and minor components will include both practical studio time, as well as lecture and discussion time.

Comparison chart

Bachelor of Arts (BA)Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)
Focuses on fields such as humanities and the social sciences.Focuses on fields in the visual and performing arts.
More “academic”.More “creative”.

Bachelor of Arts vs Bachelor of Fine Arts

What are the differences between a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree? The main focus is on the disciplines that are covered in each degree.

A Bachelor of Arts degree is awarded for study in fields such as the humanities and the social sciences. Specific disciplines in these fields include literature, philosophy, history, sociology, and economics. A Bachelor of Fine Arts, on the other hand, is awarded for study in fields such as music, theater, or visual design. The primary difference is that B.A.s are awarded for what may commonly be called “academic” pursuits, and B.F.A.s are awarded for what may commonly be called “creative” pursuits, though of course there are elements of both in each type of degree.

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