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A certificate or diploma evidencing the granting of a bachelor's degree

Bachelor of Arts (B.A. or A.B.), from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences or both.

A Bachelor of Arts degree program generally lasts three years in nearly all of the European Union countries as well as in Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker, Croatiamarker, Indiamarker, Iraq, Israelmarker, New Zealandmarker, Icelandmarker, Norwaymarker, the Canadian province of Quebecmarker, Singaporemarker, the Caribbeanmarker, South Africa and Switzerlandmarker, whereas it usually lasts four years in Azerbaijanmarker, Bangladeshmarker, Canadamarker (outside Quebec), Brazilmarker and Latin America, Japanmarker, Pakistanmarker, Scotlandmarker, the Russian Federationmarker, Tunisiamarker, Turkeymarker and the United Statesmarker.

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), the type of degree conferred, the conferring authority and the location at which the degree is conferred. Degree diplomas generally are printed on high quality paper or parchment, use ornate lettering and often include archaic terminology or languages. Individual institutions set the preferred abbreviation for their degrees.

Australia, New Zealand, South Africa

In universities in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, the single degree B.A. can be taken full-time over a period of three years.. To achieve an honours degree an extra year must be completed. It is a requirement that students pursue at least one major area of study and that subject area is undertaken at all three year-levels of the degree (first, second and third year). Depending upon the individual university's course structure, students may choose to pursue a second major; alternately, the remainder of the degree is taken up with a minor area of study (study at first and second year levels) and other individual or stream-based subjects make up the degree.

Unlike other countries, students from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa do not receive an overall grade for their Bachelor of Arts degree with varying levels of honours. Instead, students have the option, at the conclusion of their third year of study and provided they possess a grade average of 65 percent or higher in their major area, to undertake an honours (or fourth) year. The honours year generally comprises a coursework component (including seminars or tutorials) and an original researched thesis or dissertation of 10,000 to 20,000 words.

On graduation, students are permitted to append the post-nominal letters "B.A." to their name; those who have successfully completed the honours year may style themselves "B.A. (Hons)".

The honours degree (or its equivalent international degree) is generally the basic qualification required to pursue higher degrees by research, including the M.A. and Ph.D degrees.

Britain and Ireland

In Britainmarker and Irelandmarker, usage varies: 19th-century universities and later usually distinguish between arts and sciences subjects through awarding either a B.A. or B.Sc. depending on field of study. However, the older or ancient universities, such as Oxfordmarker, Cambridgemarker and Dublinmarker traditionally award B.A.s to undergraduates having completed the final examinations (e.g. Part II Tripos (Cambridge), Schools (Oxford), Moderatorship (Dublin)) in most subjects including the sciences. The degree of M.A. can be claimed for a nominal sum, usually 21 terms after matriculation. For many centuries, the bachelor's degree was an intermediate step and was awarded for much of the work carried out in later times by secondary schools (when the school system developed). The name of the final secondary school exam in France comes from this, Le Baccalauréat.

The ancient universities of Scotland award a Master of Arts degree to humanities or arts graduates, but a B.Sc. to science graduates.

A Bachelor of Arts graduate in Britain or Ireland receives the designation B.A. for an ordinary/pass degree and B.A. (Hons.) for an honours degree.

United States

In the United Statesmarker, the concept of "years" is based on credit hours and full-time study. The "four years" expected to complete a B.A. degree is an estimate of time it should take to complete the required number of credit hours. Thus, a B.A. could be achieved in less time if the student "overloads", that is, takes more classes than expected.

B.A. degrees are most commonly awarded for successful completion of a "liberal arts" program (in majors such as English literature, humanities, history, philosophy, communication arts, and political science).

See also


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