Student Info & Guide

Bachelor Degrees – What's in a Name?

by StudyMalaysia.com on June 2, 2015 | Top Stories

bachelor degree

BA, Bsc, BEng, LLB – Hons or without – major, minor and specialisations? Do the names of degrees confuse you sometimes? Knowing what the degree offers can help you decide between two (or more) similar courses.

A bachelor’s degree is also known as a ‘first’ degree or ‘ordinary’ degree. This higher education course generally leads to a qualification known as a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BSc). A bachelor’s degree usually takes three or four years to complete full-time, with some degrees like medicine taking five to six years. A four-year degree is usually called an honours degree.

The BSc is awarded mainly in the areas of natural sciences, humanities, business sciences, engineering sciences, mathematics and informatics. The BA is qualification is awarded in the areas of social sciences, linguistics, cultural sciences, and informatics and business sciences. In addition, there are first degrees in specialised areas such as: law (LLB), engineering (BEng), medicine (MBBS), and others.

That said, there are also subject areas that are offered as both BA or BSc, for example, psychology, business, geography, architecture, accounting, economics and many more. Generally, whether you study a subject as a BA or BSc course, you will cover similar core topics. The difference is that with a BA course, your minor or electives are liberal arts courses (e.g. philosophy, writing, language, etc.) while a BSc course would require you to make up the rest of your curriculum with scientific disciplines (e.g. mathematics, statistics, science, research methods, etc.).

In Malaysia, a bachelor’s degree is placed at Level 6 under MQA’s qualification levels. To be awarded a bachelor’s degree certificate, students need to complete a minimum of 120 credits, which will take a minimum of 3 years.

When exploring bachelor degree courses, you may sometimes wonder what a particular qualification means. As an example, the qualification ‘Bachelor of Science (Economics)’ shows:

  • the qualification level – bachelor’s degree, Level 6
  • area of study – science
  • subject/major – economics

You may come across different names in for a particular study area, for example: Bachelor of Economics; Bachelor of Economics (International Economics); Bachelor of Economics and Business; Bachelor of Economics with Finance. If you’re wondering what the differences are or what it all means, here’s a brief description:

  1. Major: Bachelor of Economics – in this qualification, 70% of the knowledge is covered under the major which is economics in this example. This degree course has single major.
  2. Major with specialisation: Bachelor of Economics (International Economics) – in this programme, the major is economics while 25-30% of its knowledge focuses on the specialisation, that is, international economics.
  3. Double major: Bachelor of Economics and Business – there are two main majors in this programme, that is, economics and business. These are two different fields of study with an academic workload of 50%-50% for each major. The duration of study is usually longer than a course with a single major.
  4. Major-minor: Bachelor of Economics with Finance – this programme consists of one major (economics) and a minor (finance) which is from a different field of study. The academic workload for the minor will make up 25-30% of the overall programme.

Generally, the entry requirement for a bachelor’s degree programme is a pre-university qualification (with the exception of those applying for an American Degree Program). Some institutions may require proof of English proficiency, for example, TOEFL 550 (paper-based), 213 (computer-based), 80 (internet-based), IELTS 6.0 or MUET Band 4. Do confirm the entry requirement before you apply as it differs from one institution to another and also from course to course.

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