A Bachelor of Arts (BA, B.A., AB or A.B. from the Latin artium baccalaureus or baccalaureus artium) is a bachelor’s degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both. Bachelor of Arts degree programs generally take three to four years depending on the country, academic institution, and specific specializations, majors or minors. The word baccalaureus or baccalarium (from the Latin bacca, a berry, and laureus, “of the bay laurel”) should not be confused with baccalaureatus (translatable as “gold-plated scepter” by using the Latina bacum and aureatus), which refers to the one- to two-year postgraduate Bachelor of Arts with Honours degree (Baccalaureatus in Artibus Cum Honore) in some countries.
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; individual institutions set the preferred abbreviation for their degrees.
Unlike in other countries, students do not receive an overall grade for their Bachelor of Arts degree with varying levels of honours (“honours” is a distinction but not part of the degree itself). Qualified students may be admitted, after they have achieved their (general) Bachelor’s program with a high overall grade point average, to a further one year Bachelor (with) Honours degree program ((with) Honours is part of the degree itself). Thus, to achieve a Bachelor (with) Honours degree (abbr. e.g. BA (Hons.) or BA hons.), an extra “postgraduate” year and a high research honour’s thesis must be completed; see Honours Degrees. A student who holds a (with) Honours degree is eligible for direct entry to either a Doctorate (Ph.D.) or a very high research Master´s degree program.
Education in Canada is controlled by the Provinces, and can be very different depending on the region in Canada. Canadian universities typically offer a 3-year Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degrees. In many universities and colleges Bachelor of Arts degrees are differentiated either as Bachelors of Arts or as honours Bachelor of Arts degree. The term “Honours” is an academic distinction, which indicates that students must achieve their Bachelor of Arts degree with a sufficiently high overall grade point average; in addition, some programs may require more education than non-honours programs.
The honours degrees are sometimes designated with the abbreviation in brackets of ‘(Hon(s))’. It should not be confused with the consecutive Bachelor of Arts degree “with Honours”, Latin “Baccalaureatus in Artibus Cum Honore”, abbr. ‘BA hon.’ de jure without brackets and with a dot. It is a “postgraduate” degree, which is considered to be the equivalent of a corresponding maîtrise degree under the French influenced system. Going back in history, a three-year Bachelor of Arts degree (also known e.g. in Québec as grade de bachelier ès arts) was also called a pass degree or general degree.
A student who first achieves a general Bachelor of Arts degree with a sufficiently high overall average may be admitted to a “postgraduate” Baccalaureatus cum Honore degree in the same field; it requires a minimum of one years but may also take longer; it typically does not exceed two years. Students are required to undertake a long high quality research empirical thesis (Honours Seminar Thesis) combined with a selection of courses from the relevant field of studies. The consecutive B. cum Honore degree is essential if students ultimate goal is to study towards a two- or three-year very high research masters´ degree qualification. A student holding a Baccalaureatus Cum Honore degree also may choose to complete a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program without the requirement to first complete a master’s degree. Over the years, in some universities certain Baccalaureatus cum Honore programs have been changed to corresponding master´s degrees.