A liberal arts degree is not short! Most four-year colleges offer at least one or two such degrees, so it is very common to find students who are juggling job applications, college courses, and house hold responsibilities while pursuing an additional academic credential.
Liberal arts majors typically take many more courses per semester than other major areas like business or science. This is because they focus less on specific disciplines and more on educating people through reading and studying different subjects and concepts.
Overall, most professors will have you read a few pages of a book every week with a lot of assignments built around that topic. These topics often relate to each other, making it easy to connect ideas from one field to another.
These connections help you understand how things in one area apply to others. For example, if there was no understanding of physics, then you would probably be stuck learning about cars for the rest of your life! So, knowing some basics about energy and matter helps unlock new insights into the nature of propulsion.
Similarly, when you learn about history, you can apply those lessons to economics, sociology, ethics, politics, and even religion. This makes your knowledge broad, important, and versatile.
There are lots of ways to get these benefits without having a bachelor’s degree in something related to education, but this special category of professional degree still looks good on your resume. It also comes with prestige and financial rewards, which make it worth your time and money.
Reasons students pursue a liberal arts degree
A liberal arts education cultivates in you many things, not just knowledge but also understanding of yourself and the world around you, creativity, problem-solving skills, communication skills, patience, diligence, flexibility, and more.
Many employers look for these qualities in job candidates. Therefore, after college graduation, your career can really take off depending on what you choose to study.
Furthermore, studies in the humanities (read: talking about literature, history, philosophy) teach you how to think analytically and logically, which are two very important skills that it is difficult to develop later in life. These disciplines also promote self-reflection and awareness of oneself and others.
A liberal arts education can be quite expensive depending on how much money you spend on tuition, living costs, and student activities. However, even investing in cheap food or transportation vouchers is worth the cost because these things help you focus more effectively on your courses.
Popular degree programs
An increasingly popular option is to pursue an undergraduate liberal arts or general studies degree. These are typically not focused in any one field, but rather in topics such as philosophy, religion, politics, literature, art, and music. Others may be more specific like business, marketing, or education.
Liberal arts degrees emphasize studying concepts and theories from many different areas, therefore helping you develop your understanding of the world. This also gives you opportunity to learn about things that influence people, and how power works.
It can help prepare you for almost anything – including career opportunities. Many employers look at educational backgrounds when hiring someone, so this adds value to their job.
A liberal arts degree does not necessarily focus on achieving only a bachelor’s degree, though. Some students choose to go onto graduate school after they earn their bachelors.
Trends in the job market
As more people choose to go into professional fields such as medicine or business, higher education levels have become increasingly important. Employers look at educational achievements, particularly for positions that require a degree.
Many employers also expect candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree to show they can navigate around workplace issues by doing self-study or reading academic materials. This is especially true of leadership positions like president of a company or department.
Another reason why having a college degree is so important is because it sets you up for success after graduation. Many successful professionals did not graduate from college, but many still achieved great things later in life.
These include changing their career paths, taking advanced courses outside of school, and learning skills beyond what was taught in college.
Greater career opportunities
A liberal arts degree is not just about learning to read, write, and do math well. It’s about understanding concepts that are connected to each other, applying those concepts in different contexts, and thinking critically about issues related to culture and life.
Liberal arts degrees focus less on specific fields like English or history and more on fundamental skills such as reasoning, analysis, and communication. Because of this, they can help you pursue almost any career — even ones outside of academia.
You may be surprised by how many employers look at a liberal arts degree as a plus rather than a drawback. In fact, according to one survey, over half of all employers considered an advanced education (defined as bachelor’s or higher) important in determining whether someone was qualified for employment.1
In addition to providing valuable workplace expertise, an advanced degree can also signal to potential employers that you have invested in yourself by getting additional training and qualifications. This shows leadership, self-confidence, and motivation, all qualities most employers seek out when hiring.
Faculties across the world recognize the importance of educating students broadly, and studies show that graduates with wider academic backgrounds are better prepared for the workforce2,3.
A liberal arts degree can therefore prepare you for nearly anywhere you want to go.
More job opportunities
A liberal arts degree is not just about learning how to read, write, and do math well, it’s also about knowledge of humanities like literature, history, or philosophy. These studies look at the past and present to get insights into what makes up society and why things have changed over time.
This way of thinking helps you understand other people and cultures. You will learn about concepts such as democracy, liberty, equality, and justice which all societies need to survive and thrive.
These qualities are built in to most modern-day nations, but sometimes people lack them. It can be difficult to find someone who values these ideals enough to fight for them consistently.
A liberal arts education teaches students to evaluate sources and information critically, and to think outside the box. This gives you the ability to come to your own conclusions, even if they are different from others.
It also prepares you to work with diverse groups of people, whether in business, social settings, or both. Many top leaders were educated in the field of liberal arts, so this skill is definitely valuable.
In fact, according to Business Insider, one in every five Fortune 500 CEOs had an undergraduate degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM). But only 20% held a bachelor’s degree in any field beyond that.
It’s important to have a broad range of knowledge
A liberal arts degree does not set you up for success as a professional in any field- it sets you up for success anywhere. You are prepared to deal with diversity, different issues, and situations that don’t easily fit into categories or patterns.
This is valuable in many ways. As mentioned before, one of these ways is career development. A college education teaches you about other fields, so you can explore those areas more closely by creating relationships and incorporating what you learn from them.
Another way is understanding how people think about things. We all have our favorite theories and positions, and we usually feel very strong about them. But beyond just personal beliefs, there are sometimes frameworks or rules used to analyze information. By learning how to apply this theory to new experiences, you come away with new insights.
You also get some much needed mental relaxation– studying anything outside your area of expertise requires consistent effort to stay focused, and sifting through pages and pages of material can be exhausting. Learning how to evaluate sources, form conclusions, and use reasoning tools helps achieve both of those goals.
Liberal arts degrees emphasize reading, writing, and listening skills along with academic subjects like math, science, and social studies. Because they teach students how to process and understand complex ideas, they are valued in almost every walk of life- even if no one else has their specific major.
Learn to be creative
A liberal arts degree does not teach you how to make things, it teaches you how to look at things as materials for creating new things. You are being trained in the art of appropriation – taking pieces from many sources and incorporating them into something new that has never been done before.
Liberal arts degrees focus more on educating students about humanity’s vast history full of examples of innovation and creativity. These histories include literature, philosophy, music, art, and so forth. All of these areas have rich veins of ideas that can be mined for inspiration and education in other fields.
The classic example is reading voraciously and writing frequently. Writers take ideas mostly unconnected with each other and meld them together to create stories and novels. Artists use different mediums to express themselves through painting, sculpture, or whatever else they choose to work on.
These artists are constantly re-evaluating their tools to see what works best for them. It is their ability to evaluate and change their approach to media that makes them special.
That is one reason why having an artistic background is considered important for most careers. People in business use marketing strategies and theories all the time. Having a solid understanding of aesthetics will help you identify your competitors’ weaknesses and find ways to better yourself.
Marketers who learn how to do graphic design or fashion recognize how powerful images and color can be.
Learn to be adaptable
A liberal arts degree does not set you up for only one career, it is designed to prepare you for many. You may want to teach, work in business, or become an artist.
A liberal arts education gives you the tools to do any of these things, but more importantly it teaches you how to apply what you know to whatever position you take in life.
This educational approach comes from the ancient Greeks. They believed that knowledge was important, so they gathered together information from all areas and studied them.
Their students were trained in rhetoric, poetry, literature, music, and other such fields. These days we call this general academic study.
General academic studies are crucial as we live in a connected world where everything is technology-based. You need to understand how to use technology effectively, and you will always needed to know basic math and science.
But beyond those three subjects, the rest of your curriculum should focus on educating you through different learning styles. You also learn about history and philosophy, which help explain the basics of good leadership.
Liberal arts degrees can be longer than two years like most undergraduate programs. Some even have much shorter certificates that still require a lot of courses.