If your academic and career interests are broad or undefined, or you're interested in multiple fields of study, a liberal arts or humanities program may be a good fit for you. Read on to learn more about areas of emphasis, career options and potential earnings for humanities and liberal arts graduates.
Humanities and liberal arts are closely related fields of study that are designed for students with a wide range of interests. They may be particularly suitable if you're interested in a variety of career options or are undecided about what you want to do after college. Successful completion of a program may lead to a bachelor's degree in humanities or master's degree in liberal arts. Doctoral degree programs in the liberal arts are rare, but they can help you prepare for a career in higher education.
If you enter a liberal arts program, you'll most likely choose two or more areas of emphasis or design a curriculum according to your interests. Depending on the program, these areas may include literature, American studies, religion and global studies. You might also pursue concentrations in philosophy, arts and media, psychology and business. Some programs may allow for specializations in pre-law or biomedical science.
While a humanities or liberal arts program is not designed to prepare you for a specific career path, depending on your education and talents, you may pursue work as an actor or actress or a human resources manager. If you took studied communications and wrote for the school newspaper, you might consider a career in media or as a writer. If you focused more on business courses, you could be on your way to a career as a corporate executive. If your liberal arts or humanities program allowed you to focus on art and computer classes, you may be qualified for a position as a graphic designer.
Upon completion of an undergraduate program, you may decide to apply to law school or train as a medical doctor. You could also pursue an alternative master's degree program in education and earn your teaching certification.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for human resource specialists and top executives are expected to increase by an average rate nationwide from 2012-2022. A slower-than-average growth in opportunities was projected for actors and graphic designers during the same 10-period. Opportunities for reporters, correspondents and broadcast news analysts were expected to decline through 2022 (www.bls.gov).
As of May 2013, the median hourly salary for an actor was $22.15, while graphic designers and reporters earned $44,830 and $35,600 a year respectively. In the same month, the median annual salary for a human resource specialist was $56,630, while chief executives earned $171,610 a year (www.bls.gov).
Whether you're considering a bachelor's or master's degree program in humanities or liberal arts, you'll most likely work with an academic advisor to develop an interdisciplinary curriculum, which can provide you with the opportunity to sample a number of fields. A varied curriculum may help you stand out during the hiring process, as many employers look for applicants with diverse academic backgrounds.
Graduate humanities and liberal arts programs can be used to supplement your undergraduate education or prepare for advanced research or writing careers. One of the most important things to remember about a liberal arts or humanities program, specifically at the undergraduate level, is that it is designed to accommodate your own academic interests, and further study or certification may be required for specific careers.
A liberal arts program can help you develop your communication, critical-thinking, interpersonal and organizational skills. You'll also learn how to conduct research and develop your writing abilities. Learning outcomes might also include the ability to work with information management or supervise lower-level staff members.