“Sustainability is more than just a major,” said Dean Chris Boone of the Arizona State University School of Sustainability. “It is also a value — a set of principles by which to live one’s life, treating humankind and the Earth in a way that helps create a prosperous future for everyone.”
But which program is right for you? Let's take a closer look at each path.
How do BA and BS degrees compare?
BA and BS programs, in general, are similar in that they can be completed in four years at most educational institutions. Both degree types are valued by employers and provide you with professional qualifications in your areas of study.
- As the name implies, BS programs are rooted in science and involve more technical knowledge and skills.
- BA programs take a humanities-focused approach to the subject. The curriculum may involve examining materials through historical and social contexts.
How a sustainability BA and BS are similar
Sustainability BA and BS programs are typically similar in their goals of educating you on the issues facing a sustainable world and how to overcome them. In both programs, you'll examine what economic, environmental and societal solutions are viable for improving global sustainability. You'll learn how to engage a variety of stakeholders who make decisions and explore what the most effective and beneficial paths toward progress may be. Furthermore, these programs aim to teach you how to create future projections and anticipate challenges to sustainability.
In terms of courses, both types of programs generally start with an introduction to sustainability courses, followed by classes that explore sustainability in more detail within various settings, such as urban, governmental and business settings.
How a sustainability BA and BS are different
The primary difference between the programs is the contrast in tracks or challenge areas. Typically, the courses included in the BS program have more of a scientific, specialized and technical focus than the BA program, which is more centered on the broader, interdisciplinary impacts and contexts of sustainability in today's world.
Students enrolled in a BS typically have to complete additional math courses compared to their BA counterparts. While the BA students may have to complete more communication courses. Overall, the Bachelor of Science aims to educate students in areas of quantitative skills, while the Bachelor of Arts leans toward verbal communication proficiencies.
- The BS is best suited to you if you're more interested in natural sciences, economics, engineering or related fields and you want to gain hands-on experience in these areas. You'll learn concepts that are relevant to the sustainable use of environmental resources and to the evaluation of sustainable technologies, environmental regulations and policies.
- The BA is best suited to you if you aspire to work with people, policy or planning and who are most interested in social sciences, humanities, planning and related fields. Students learn material that is relevant to the sustainability of environmental resources and social institutions and to the evaluation of legal frameworks, property rights and culture.