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Bachelor of Arts
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Bachelor of Arts

A Bachelor of Arts is an undergraduate academic degree awarded for a courses taken that generally lasts three years in the United Kingdom (four in Scotland) or four years in North America, except for Quebec where the degree takes three years after graduation from a provincial CEGEP programme. This was also possible in Ontario until the elimination of OAC.

In North America, a Bachelor of Arts degree usually requires a student to take a majority of their courses (usually 1/2 or 3/4) in the arts, namely social sciences, humanities, music, or fine arts. The curriculum of a traditional Bachelor of Arts degree is centered around providing a well-rounded, liberal arts education.

In the United States, colleges and universities often award Bachelor of Arts degrees even to those who pursue a majority of their coursework (i.e., major) in traditional, "hard" science fields such as biology and chemistry. This is particularly common at prestigious American universities, such as Yale University and Princeton University.

In the UK, usage varies: most universities maintain an Arts/Science distinction but some, e.g. Oxford and Cambridge traditionally awarded BAs (which automatically leads to an MA after 4 years) to undergraduates regardless of subject. Most of the ancient Scottish universities award an MA to arts undergraduates but a BSc to science undergraduates.

A Bachelor of Arts receives the designation BA or AB for a major/pass degree and BA(Hons) or AB(Hon) for an honours degree.

EU harmonisation

European Union members states' ministers of education have agreed on a harmonisation of the education cycles within the EU. One part of this agreement is the division into an undergraduate and a graduate level of higher education.

Following this so-called "Bologna/Berlin declaration", universities in the EU are now in the process of reorganising their courses in order to offer Bachelor and Master degrees. Many universities have already changed to the bachelor/master model, and the others soon will. Subjects of the humanities and social studies can be completed with a BA at an increasing number of universities in Germany already, for example. This means EU countries are giving up their traditional magister or diploma courses to make switching and comparing universities easier.

The BA is supposed to last three/four years, the MA one/two years, but altogether no longer than five years.

See also: