What is a Bachelor of Science Degree and What Will I Study?

Science student using equipment

There are several different kinds of undergraduate qualification, one of the most common is the Bachelor of Science (BS) degree.

Over the four years it usually takes to gain a BS, students complete a combination of general education and core subjects, followed by coursework for a chosen major and an optional minor. A BS doesn’t mean you’ve necessarily studied science. While many people who receive a BS do study a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics) subject, there are other avenues available, such as completing a Bachelor of Science in Business, Economics, or Finance.

If you’re not used to the American education system, there’s a lot to learn—including what you’ll study, how you’ll study, and what your qualifications can be used for. In this article you’ll find everything international students need to know about studying for a BS in the US.

Common Bachelor of Science Majors

With so many choices available, it can be difficult to decide which Bachelor of Science major to commit to. If you enroll in the JMU International Study Center, you will earn credits you can carry into your major, or you may enroll directly into the University if you meet the requirements. Either option puts you on a path to earn a BS in one of JMU’s seven colleges.

Arts and Letters

It would be understandable if you thought studying on the Arts and Letters program meant you would automatically receive a Bachelors of Arts degree.

However, by choosing to enter the College of Arts and Letters, you can also complete a BS in:

  • Anthropology
  • Communication Studies
  • Justice Studies
  • Sociology
  • Writing, Rhetoric & Technical Communication.


Business is just as much of a science as it is an art, which is why students at the College of Business can choose various majors that will provide them with a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Business Administration or Bachelor of Science degree. Regardless of which major they choose, students will learn how to become the kind of engaging, principled leader that all businesses need today.

In the College of Business’s undergraduate programs—ranked number 103 in the USA in 2024 by US News and World Report—students can choose BS degrees in:

  • Economics
  • Quantitative Finance

Health and Behavioral Studies

Students who choose to study on the Health and Behavioral Studies program gain the crucial leadership, scholarship, and professional skills that help keep society progressing. The programs available explore personal, social, and institutional wellbeing, looking at how the decisions we make today can help make a better world tomorrow.

Students go onto successful careers in areas as diverse as human services, business, government, and continued academia. The BS majors available include:

  • Communication Sciences and Disorders Psychology
  • Dietetics
  • Health Sciences
  • Health Services Administration
  • Kinesiology
  • Psychology
  • Social Work

Integrated Science and Engineering

The College of Integrated Science and Engineering brings a hands-on approach to learning. Across a wide variety of scientific and technological fields, students learn how to identify, analyze, and solve critical societal problems. 

Students who decide to major in a College of Integrated Science and Engineering degree are change-makers, developing intellectual curiosity to become pragmatic, resourceful members of society. BS majors include: 

  • Biotechnology
  • Computer Science
  • Engineering
  • Geography
  • Information Technology
  • Integrated Science and Technology
  • Intelligence Analysis 

Science and Mathematics

Students who choose a College of Science and Mathematics major enter the fascinating world of scientific discovery. This is achieved through rigorous, research-based learning, which develops the knowledge, skills, and habits scholars of the field require.

With state-of-the-art laboratories, and leading academics as their teachers, students at JMU’s College of Science and Mathematics can study a range of BS majors, including: 

  • Biology
  • Biotechnology
  • Chemistry
  • Geology
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Statistics

Visual and Performing Arts

The College of Visual and Performing Arts comprises the School of Art, Design, Art History, School of Music, and School of Theatre and Dance. It is the epicenter of creativity and arts at James Madison University, combining artistic training with entrepreneurial action. 

Majoring in Visual and Performing Arts means more than just learning how to master your craft. It also provides students with the skills to foster successful careers and create their own opportunities as problem-solvers that make a difference in their communities. These majors include: 

  • Industrial Design
  • Studio Art

Hart School of Hospitality, Sport & Recreation Management

Students at the Hart School of Hospitality, Sport & Recreation Management receive a grounding in a range of essential skills, including marketing, leadership, and project management. 

You’ll learn through practical, applied programs, alongside seasoned professionals and you’ll use new technology that will also earn you a general business minor. Students in the Hart School can enroll in the Sport and Recreation Management BS program.

What is the purpose of a BS degree?

Bachelor of Science degrees have a range of uses that extend beyond the classroom. While receiving a degree like a Bachelor of Science in Accounting can set students up for a particular career, they also provide plenty of other skills that are useful throughout life:

  • Preparation for Further Education: Serves as a foundation for advanced education and specialized careers.
  • Career Opportunities: Opens doors to diverse professional fields, including technology, healthcare, and research.
  • Versatility: A BS degree can provide a versatile foundation that opens doors to various career paths. Many graduates find employment in research, education, healthcare, technology, environmental science, and more.
  • Adaptability: This skill can be valuable in a dynamic job market where new technologies and methodologies are continuously emerging. 

What can you do with a Bachelor of Science degree? 

Students who complete a BS open themselves up to a very broad range of possible careers within their chosen fields. Some are more straightforward than others—for example, studying for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing most often leads to a career in nursing. Whereas, a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science or a Bachelor of Science in Biology can lead to many different options.

There are new roles being created every day, but among the extremely lucrative careers BS students open themselves up to are: 

  • Data scientist
  • IT manager
  • Cybersecurity analyst
  • Technical writer
  • Design manager
  • Athletic director

Bear in mind this is only an excerpt from a long list of careers, all of which are made possible either directly or indirectly from the knowledge and skills students gain from completing a BS.

Study for a Bachelor of Science Degree from James Madison University

Each year, international students choose to join us and begin their incredible learning experience. We provide all of the advantages of a large public university—excellent facilities, leading faculty, a broad range of programs—but with the feel of a small, friendly community.

This has helped the University to place at number 124 in the national university rankings, according to US News and World Report, 2024, who also ranked James Madison University as number 64 in its list of top public schools. But more important than anything else, students voted the University as the number 1 recommended public university (Times Higher Education / Wall Street Journal, 2021).

If you’re considering studying at James Madison University, you can choose to either apply through direct admission or enter one of our Pathway Programs. For more information, visit our website to learn about entry requirements, fees, and visa information.


Is Bachelor of Science a good degree?

Yes, a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree is valuable, providing a strong foundation in specific principles and opening doors to various career opportunities.

How long does it take to complete a BS degree?

It typically takes four years to complete a BS degree.

How much does a BS degree cost?

All fees for international students are available on International Study Center website.