Bachelor of Applied Arts

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The Bachelor of Applied Arts, often abbreviated as BAA or B.A.A. is an undergraduate degree, with different meaning in different countries. The term 'Applied' means that the degree is vocational in nature, and not research-oriented, (depending on the country of origin).

The term "applied arts" have been used since the late 19th century to differentiate it from the pure arts, fine arts or a regular humanities subjects, since it consisted of technical applications or a physical product or outcome. The term Bachelor of Applied Arts was used in a similar manner as Bachelor of Applied Science.


The BAA is most often awarded in the Commonwealth of Nations, especially in Canada and New Zealand. For example, the BAA is awarded by Mount Saint Vincent University for child and youth study, information technology and family studies and gerontology.[1] Northland Polytechnic in New Zealand offers the BAA for the visual arts.[2]


In the past in Canada a Bachelor of Applied Arts was slotted into fields that were both technical and creative in nature, or did not fit any of the tradition molds of a classic structure of a "humanities" style degree. Program areas included Radio and Television, Media, Journalism, film and photography, Theatre, fashion design and merchandising, Interior Design, Graphic Design and many others. Prior to 2002, most Applied Arts degrees were interchangeable with regular degrees, or their 4-year counterpart B.A. in a similar fields, if it was a 4-year degree that was completed.

An example of the contrary nature of the designation can be seen when an applied food and nutrition program that was slotted in as a BAA at Ryerson University for over 25 years was changed to an Applied Science degree, because it always had more than enough physical and applied science courses to be part of that field, and the cultural perceptions about certain fields of work. The preparation of food in the past was seen as "women's work", therefore it couldn't have consisted of scientific applications.

In Canada, the BAA is now being awarded by Ontario public colleges (CAAT). Theses degrees started to be offered around 2002 by Ontario colleges in Toronto, with the highest quantity being offered by Humber College. How they compare to other regular degrees 4-year Bachelor of Arts or Science degree from a "University" but is still to be scrutinized, especially in the liberal studies area, due to the high education standards of Ontario. A counterpoint to this is that many 2 year programs (called associate degrees in the U.S. and some parts of Canada (equivalent to an Ontario college Diploma) have straight pathways to degree completion at regular 4 year universities. As of 2013, most recent four year BAA programs from Ontario Colleges would meet the 4 year honors requirement for entrance into a masters programs. All B.A.A.'s are academically oriented, and one can only earn credit for course work completed in the program from a similar program or from higher academic institutions.


On 20 February 2009 the Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Ronald Plasterk, proposed to replace all the existing degrees offered by Dutch vocational universities, such as the BBA, BEd and BEng, with the BAA and the BASc.[3]

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