Bachelor of Arts


A Bachelor of Arts (BA or AB, from the Latin baccalaureus artium or artium baccalaureus) is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, sciences, or both. Bachelor of Arts programs generally take three to four years depending on the country, institution, and specific specializations, majors, or minors. The word baccalaureus (from the Latin bacca, a berry, and laureus, "of the bay laurel") should not be confused with baccalaureatus (translatable as "gold-plated scepter" by using the Latina bacum and aureatus), which refers to the one- to two-year postgraduate Bachelor of Arts with Honors degree (Baccalaureatus in Artibus Cum Honore) in some countries.

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), type of degree conferred, conferring authority, and location at which the degree is conferred. Diplomas generally are printed on high-quality paper or parchment; individual institutions set the preferred abbreviation for their degrees.[1]

Australia, Canada, India, Nepal, New Zealand, South Africa

In colleges and universities in Australia, New Zealand, Nepal and South Africa, the BA degree can be taken over three years of full-time study.[3] Students must pursue at least one major area of study, and units from that subject are usually studied in each year, though sometimes students may choose to complete upper-level classes in the same year and as a result, can leave space for elective subjects from a different field. At some universities students may choose to pursue a second major; alternatively, the remainder of the degree is taken up with a minor area of study (in the first two years) and other individual or stream-based subjects make up the degree.

Unlike in other countries, students do not receive an overall grade for their Bachelor of Arts degree with varying levels of honours ("honours" is a distinction but not part of the degree itself). Qualified students may be admitted, after they have achieved their (general) Bachelor's program with a high overall grade point average, to a further one year Bachelor (with) Honours degree program ((with) Honours is part of the degree itself). Thus, to achieve a Bachelor (with) Honours degree (abbr. e.g. BA (Hons.) or BA hons.), an extra "postgraduate" year and a high research honour's thesis must be completed; see Honours Degrees. A student who holds a (with) Honours degree is eligible for direct entry to either a Doctorate (Ph.D.) or a very high research master's degree program.

Education in Canada is controlled by the Provinces and can be very different depending on the province in Canada. Canadian universities typically offer a 4-year Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degrees. In many universities and colleges, Bachelor of Arts degrees are differentiated either as Bachelors of Arts or as honours Bachelor of Arts degree. The term "Honours" is an academic distinction, which indicates that students must achieve their Bachelor of Arts degree with a sufficiently high overall grade point average; in addition, some programs may require more education than non-honours programs.

The honours degrees are sometimes designated with the abbreviation in brackets of '(Hon(s))'. It should not be confused with the consecutive Bachelor of Arts degree "with Honours", Latin "Baccalaureatus in Artibus Cum Honore", abbr. 'BA hon.' de jure without brackets and with a dot. It is a "postgraduate" degree. Going back in history, a three-year Bachelor of Arts degree (also known e.g. in Québec as grade de bachelier ès arts) was also called a pass degree or general degree.

A student who first achieves a general Bachelor of Arts degree with a sufficiently high overall average may be admitted to a "postgraduate" Baccalaureatus cum Honore degree in the same field; it requires a minimum of one year but may also take longer; it typically does not exceed two years. Students may be required to undertake a long high-quality research empirical thesis (Honours Seminar Thesis) combined with a selection of courses from the relevant field of studies. The consecutive B. cum Honore degree is essential if students ultimate goal is to study towards a two- or three-year very high research master's degree qualification. A student holding a Baccalaureatus Cum Honore degree also may choose to complete a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program without the requirement to first complete a master's degree. Over the years, in some universities certain Baccalaureatus cum Honore programs have been changed to corresponding master's degrees.

In general, in all four countries, the B.A. degree is the standard required for entry into a master's programme. In science, a BA hons degree is generally a prerequisite for entrance to a Ph.D program or a very-high-research-activity master's programme. As such, for example the UK awarded honours are designed and should not be confused with Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and South African awarded BA hons/BA (Hons) degree.

For further clarification, in other countries the so-called honours bachelor may not be an actual degree, but the name of a (vocational) programme which can be completed through specified course work, a high grade average, and the completion of possibly a short paper or project; students who completed such a honours BA programme sometimes style themselves by '(Hon)' after the degree abbreviation without a space, in parentheses and after the 'Hon(s)' without a dot, for example 'B.A.(Hon)'. The 3 and 4 year B.A. degree is also accepted for entry into graduate professional programmes such as law or an M.B.A. program.

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