MA, MBA, BS, MS, MSW, PhD, PsyD: What Does it All Mean?

What do these letters stand for?

There are two parts; one can classify the educational level of the degree: "B" stands for bachelor's degree; "M" stands for master's degree; and "D" stands for doctoral degree. The second part denotes the discipline of the degree, like "S" for science, "A" for arts, or "Ph" for Philosophy.

Breaking it down: the acronyms

Here's a breakdown of some of the acronyms you'll find out there:

B.A. Bachelor of Arts. The usual degree path for majors in liberal arts, humanities or social sciences such as English and political science.
B.S. Bachelor of Science. The bachelor's typically awarded to graduates in science and technical fields.
B.F.A. Bachelor of Fine Arts. Awarded to majors like art history, theater, film studies and photography.
B.B.A. Bachelor of Business Administration. A business-oriented bachelor's path, typically associated with management, accounting, marketing, etc.
B.Arch Bachelor of Architecture. A bachelor's degree geared towards the architecture field.
BSN Bachelor of Science in Nursing. A degree path oriented towards the technical and hands-on training necessary to obtain a nursing license.
B.E. Bachelor of Engineering. Concentrates on engineering fields like electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and computer engineering.
M.A. Master of Arts. The basic graduate-level degree granted to grad students in fields in the humanities, social sciences or fine arts.
M.S. Master of Science. Typically awarded to graduate students in scientific or technical fields.
Ph.D Doctor of Philosophy. Despite what the name might suggest, a Ph.D is the doctorate-level degree granted in a variety of different fields.

What are the distinctions between arts and science degrees?

Depending on the school you attend and the kind of courses you take, you could earn an arts degree or a science degree. Typically, an "arts" degree means that you focused on a wide area of learning and discussion, while a "science" degree implies a deep, technical understanding of your subject.

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What kinds of designations exist for doctoral students?

The highest degree you can earn in most liberal arts disciplines is a PhD, or Doctor of Philosophy. However, clinical and counseling psychologists earn a PsyD, Doctor of Psychology nomenclature; medical students earn M.D. degrees; and law students can earn J.D. (Juris Doctorate) degrees.

What about some of the other specialized degrees?

Distinctive nomenclature are named after applied disciplines, include Master of Social Work (MSW), Doctor of Social Work (DSW), Master of Education degree (MaEd), Master of Business Administration (MBA), or Doctor of Business Administration (DBA).

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