Where to Go With Your Liberal Arts Degree
Many people have never even heard of a liberal arts degree, and some erroneously believe it is a dead-end field of study. While it’s true that there really is no specific “liberal arts career,” unless perhaps you teach at the university level, this is not the whole story.
There are other fields of study, such as law, computer science, or business, that seem to more obviously lead to a career. But the liberal arts have been an important part of higher education for centuries, and for good reason. The liberal arts are about far more than just preparing you for one job: they are about preparing you for life.
What are the liberal arts?
A liberal arts degree, also sometimes referred to as a humanities degree, is a broad term. It covers studies in the natural sciences, languages, arts, social science, reasoning, and communication. A liberal arts degree is designed to help students become better thinkers, better reasoners, better communicators, and more competent all-around people.
While other fields of study aim to prepare students for a particular career or job, a liberal arts degree is designed to prepare students for a broad array of possible careers. With both on-campus bachelor’s degrees and online liberal arts associates degree, students develop the kinds of skills that are valuable in every career.
What soft skills will you learn in the liberal arts?
There are many effective, real-world skills that you will pick up as a liberal arts major, and employers increasingly understand that these skills are as important, if not more so, than degrees and job-specific training. Some of the important things you will learn include how to:
- communicate ideas effectively
- ask the right questions
- respect others’ ideas and views
- be concise
- give constructive feedback
- find answers to difficult problems
When you graduate with a degree in the liberal arts, you will be ready to work in a team, and you will be on your way to developing the leadership skills necessary to lead teams yourself. Whether you go on to further education or into the workforce, leadership and team collaboration skills will be extremely valuable.
What exactly do you study when you major in the liberal arts?
Even within the liberal arts, you are free to specialize in areas that interest you. In general, you will study languages, philosophy, history, music, literature, sociology, geography, political science, religion, and communications.
Each school will have a particular set curriculum of required courses, but one of the benefits of a liberal arts degree is the freedom to explore your passions within those courses. There will be many electives to choose from, and students can broadly choose to specialize in the arts or the sciences.
If you choose an arts specialization, you will take more classes in a foreign language, a broader range of history, and in philosophy, sociology, logic, and the fine arts. If you choose to specialize in the sciences, you will choose more courses in the physical, social, and biological sciences. Within those broader specializations, you can choose to focus even more narrowly.
What narrow specializations are available if you study the liberal arts?
Your narrow specialization can be whatever interests you or ignites your passion. The list is broad. Some people specialize in communications, learning to become effective in both speech and writing. Specialists in this field often go into social services and politics.
Another possible specialization is art and graphic design. In this field you will learn artistic skills that allow you to express your passions and ideas effectively through various forms of media. This could be film, drawing or painting, music, or sculpture.
Other liberal arts students will specialize in economics, English, journalism, psychology, government, or even in history, just to name a few! With these specializations, you could go into politics, become a teacher, work in the news industry online or in print, or became an archivist or research assistant in a museum, library, school or work with. If you want to work for a city organization such as LAN150, you can likely move directly from your liberal arts degree into such a career.
What kinds of jobs can you work with a liberal arts degree?
One of the greatest benefits of a liberal arts degree is the way it prepares you for nearly any career you can imagine. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has compiled stats on the careers that people in the liberal arts end up pursuing, and these statistics reveal just how well a liberal arts degree prepares students for a wide variety of professions.
People who study psychology, for example, frequently become social workers, teachers, nurses, managers, and counselors. Those who major in history become teachers, superintendents, and paralegals. Those with a degree in English often end up as teachers, managers, or in sales.
And while many people with a liberal arts degree become teachers or other professionals within the areas of communication or philosophy, others will use their degree as a springboard to enter other fields of study. Many people who begin in the liberal arts go on to pursue advanced degrees in the STEM fields, in business, in medicine, or in law.
Professionals such as sexual health specialists and lawyers are among those who may have begun their careers with a liberal arts degree. If you hope to become a Medicaid attorney, the liberal arts are great preparation for law school.
What skills do you need to succeed in the liberal arts?
A key skill to develop as you seek to earn your degree is good time-management. You need to be able to get enough sleep, juggle classes from a variety of core subject areas at once, and keep up with the commitments and requirements for each course. You will do better in your courses if you are organized and able to plan out your day effectively.
Another important skill for your college success will be self-motivation. In high school, most of us were motivated primarily by parents and teachers. We didn’t have a lot of choice about how to use our time. In your college studies, you will have to actively engage with the courses to stay on track.
Finally, it will help you a great deal to develop a consciousness of your health. Pursuing a degre can be exhausting. It can be easy to lose yourself in all the work and keep pushing until you have pushed too hard. Be aware of how you feel and keep up with good sleep, exercise, and eating habits.
Can you make any money with a liberal arts degree?
Financial concerns are important to everyone, and naturally an important reason to get a degree in the first place is to set yourself up for a job and career that can support you. Many people worry that graduates with liberal arts degrees do not go on to earn a reasonable salary.
The truth is that while many people with a liberal arts degree do not make as much money in their first job as their peers in business, computer science, or STEM majors, this gap narrows quickly; and those with liberal arts degrees will typically outstrip their peers later in life. This is because of the many valuable soft skills that liberal arts majors learn in school.