Bachelor of Arts degree

Bachelor of Arts degree students sitting under yellow umbrellas on a sunny day

Want the flexibility to study several subjects? Thinking of pursuing specialized professional and graduate studies such as law school, teachers college, master's degree, or an MBA? A Bachelor of Arts degree may be the perfect fit for you.

You'll gain expertise in your chosen major as well as a breadth of knowledge in many subjects – and learn to apply age-old knowledge to today’s most important problems. It’s also the best way to become a free thinker and life-long learner.

What is a Bachelor of Arts degree?

A Bachelor of Arts (BA) is an undergraduate degree that focuses on subjects within the liberal arts, humanities, social sciences, languages and culture, and fine arts. A bachelor’s degree consists of 30-40 university-level courses and is usually the first degree you would earn at university upon completing high school. Many programs give you the flexibility to choose many of your courses to suit your interests.

It's one of the most frequently-awarded degrees. Similar degrees include Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Mathematics, and Bachelor of Environmental Studies.

Many BA programs provide a lot of flexibility, allowing you to study a range of subjects or to really focus on one or two subjects.

What do you study in a Bachelor of Arts?

You’ll normally have a "major" or main subject of interest. A large portion of your courses will be in that subject, but you’ll have the freedom to take courses in other subjects of interest that help you build important skills like thinking critically and conducting research.

Many BA programs provide a lot of flexibility, allowing you to study a range of subjects or to really focus on one or two subjects. If you have several subjects you’re passionate about, many programs allow you to choose two majors (a double major) and/or a minor – a subject requiring less courses than a major that still allows you to demonstrate a strong level of knowledge in that subject.

If it sounds overwhelming, don't worry! You'll have an advisor who can help you select your courses and any minors or specializations you'd like to include as part of your degree.

What majors are in a Bachelor of Arts?

Majors can range from anthropology to women’s studies, depending upon the university. At Waterloo, most Arts majors are offered by the Faculty of Arts, but the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences also offers four BA degrees.


You can view all BA programs offered by Ontario universities by visiting the Ontario Universities Info website.

What can you do with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree?

With a Bachelor of Arts, you’ll have a ticket into careers in business, theatre, teaching, recreation, writing, history, design, and more. You can explore potential jobs and gain experience through Waterloo’s co-op program, and you can also take your degree onwards to law school, medical school, business school, or graduate school. 
Arts graduates have become archeologists, interior designers, financial planners, and technical writers. They’ve landed positions as animation artists, members of legislative assemblies, teachers, marketing officers, translators, music therapists, child care workers, intelligence officers, lawyers, nurses, executive directors, and stage managers. They’ve gone on to do great things, both big and small, and so can you. The possibilities are endless, the potential limitless. 
You’ve got the ticket to ride. Where will you go?

Common questions

How long is a BA program?

It normally takes three or four years to complete a BA degree as a full-time student. Many universities also offer a part-time degree. How long it takes to complete a part-time degree depends on how many courses you take each term.

What are the prerequisites?

For many BA programs, you'll usually need a Grade 12 English or equivalent. However, admission requirements vary by program and by university and for more specialized programs, you'll need additional courses in math or science. View Waterloo's admission requirements.


What does Bachelor of Arts (Honours) mean?

An honours degree, which normally takes four years to complete, requires more courses and a higher average than a general degree, which can be three or four years in length. At some universities, students "graduate with honours," meaning they graduate with an impressively high grade point average.

What is the average tuition for a BA?

In 2018/19, Waterloo's tuition for a BA was approximately $7,800 a year (two terms) for first-year students. For international students, tuition is approximately $35,600 for two terms of school.


What financial aid is available?

If you're starting first year, you'll be eligible for a number of entrance scholarships. Once you're here, there are many upper-year scholarships, bursaries, and awards you can apply for.

What is the abbreviation for an honours Bachelor of Arts?

The common abbreviations are BA or HBA.


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