Difference between Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Applied Science

Updated on February 3, 2017

It is no secret that these undergraduate programs have similar technical requirements focusing on Mathematics and the Sciences. However, there a few distinctions that separate these two degree programs. Let’s highlight the differences and find out more.


Bachelor of Science
A laboratory researcher hard at work

A Bachelor of Science (BS) degree is largely focused on critical analysis and applied knowledge. It is an undergraduate program based in the sciences and places huge importance on technical studies such as aviation, engineering, chemistry, and social sciences. A BS degree is awarded to a student who has completed courses that typically take three to five years to finish. In the US, a BS degree is generally a four-year undergraduate course. It is typically applied in the areas of engineering, mathematics, computer science, and the natural sciences. Currently, there are universities offering accelerated BS programs that take only 3 years to complete.

Many science-based professions (e.g. lab researchers, engineers) require comprehensive post-graduate training on top of the undergraduate degree. However, a BS degree holder can work in various fields without investing more time and money on post-graduate studies. Depending on the major, a BS degree holder may be hired as an engineer, nurse, science technician, or forensic scientist.

Bachelor of Applied Science
A network administrator working on server hardware

A Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) degree is regarded as a highly specialized professional undergraduate degree program. Most students who pursue this degree have finished an associate degree in a particular course.

This undergraduate program is characterized by advanced technical training in the sciences. A complete BAS program includes liberal arts studies, which is something traditional degrees lack. As programs vary depending on the school, credits may vary as well. Thus, a BAS student is required to take upper-division coursework in addition to traditional bachelor’s degree courses or associate degree programs.

A Bachelor of Applied Science degree is designed to develop professional management skills and to satisfy the ever-growing need for leadership among highly technical professionals in the industry. In addition to an Associate of Applied Science degree (AAS), classes in an equivalent field are typically prerequisites to earning a BAS degree. This also includes approved military training or professional certifications and a 2-year upper-level college course. Some students who already have considerable work experience apply their expertise toward their chosen degree.

The level of professional development and specialized skill level requirements makes BAS degrees longer to finish. People who pursue these degrees are usually experienced adults looking to acquire an advanced graduate degree. These are typically skilled professionals working their way up the ladder. A graduate of a Bachelor of Applied Science degree can be a project manager, network administrator, operations manager, and scientific researcher, to name a few careers.

Bachelor of Science vs Bachelor of Applied Science

So what’s the difference between Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Applied Science? While both undergraduate degrees may offer seemingly identical courses, they are completely different undergraduate programs. In places like the US, a Bachelor of Science degree is centered on the sciences and technical studies. Its coursework is heavy in Math and Science, which students are required to fulfill. A Bachelor of Applied Science degree program usually leans towards professional development and advanced technical training in the sciences. A graduate of a Bachelor of Science degree is not required to possess a post-graduate education in order to work in his field of specialization. A student who wishes to pursue a Bachelor of Applied Science is typically required to have earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in a related 2-year degree program, equivalent coursework, and approved professional certifications.

Comparison Chart

Bachelor of ScienceBachelor of Applied Science
Graduates are not usually required to complete post-graduate studies to work in related fieldsStudents are required to have taken associate degree programs or equivalent courses
Geared towards the sciences and technical trainingGeared towards professional development and advanced technical training
Graduates may work as engineers, laboratory researchers, nurses, forensic scientists, etc.Graduates may work as project managers, network administrators, operations managers, business managers, etc.
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