Humanities and Humanistic Studies

By building a solid foundation in English, history, literature and the arts, students are better prepared for more in-depth studies or career choices. A humanities and humanistic studies degree is a launching pad for various careers. Read on for employment and education information.

Are Humanities and Humanistic Studies for Me?

Career Overview

Humanities and humanistic studies are considered to be two different fields, with humanistic studies looking forward while the humanities concentrate on the past. For instance, the goal of a humanistic studies program is to develop analytical, contextual and critical thinking skills that will enable graduates to go forth and create innovative and unique work by exploring the human condition.

A degree program in the humanities would involve subjects such as cuisine, art history, the culture of various regions and literature of various societies. Creative writing may also play a prominent role in your degree program. Possible careers for a graduate include teacher, writer, anthropologist, consultant or lawyer, to name a few.

You may need advanced degrees for most career paths. For instance, you will need a master's or doctoral degree in order to work in a postsecondary institution. You will also need a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree to practice as a lawyer, in addition to other licensing requirements. To teach in a public high school setting, you'll also need to obtain a license.

Employment

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2012, lawyers earned a median annual wage of $113,530, writers and authors earned median pay of $55,940, anthropologists and archeologists earned $57,420 and management analysts or consultants earned $78,600 (www.bls.gov). That same year, secondary school teachers earned a median annual wage of $55,050, and postsecondary teachers of area, ethnic and cultural studies earned $67,360. Professors who taught foreign language and literature earned a median salary of $58,670 that year.

The BLS also reports that lawyers can expect job growth of 10% from 2012-2022, which is about average when compared with all other occupations. Job growth is projected to be 3% for writers and authors during that same decade, and 19% for anthropologists, archaeologists and management analysts. High school teachers can expect job growth of 6%; the rate of increase is predicted to be 16% for area, ethnic and cultural studies professors and 15% for foreign language and literature professors.

How Can I Work in Humanities and Humanistic Studies?

Undergraduate Education

The curriculum for a humanistic studies degree program might include seminars on being human, writing and global perspectives on political science and history. The field is considered to be multidisciplinary, involving philosophy, feminism, film, ecology and art. You may need to complete a research-oriented project and produce a unique thesis in order to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in humanistic studies. Degree plans may allow you to choose a focus in various studio arts, such as ceramics, photography, painting or graphic design. You could also pursue a bachelor's degree in humanities that would explore language, literature and culture over the course of history. There is also the potential for your degree program to be enhanced by visits to art galleries, concerts, plays and museums.

Graduate Education

A Master of Arts in Humanities degree program may give you the opportunity to focus on a specific field within the humanities. For example, you may be able to concentrate on cinema and media studies, the classical languages, cultural policy studies or creative writing. After earning a M.A. degree, you could then pursue a doctorate degree (Ph.D.) in a specific field related to the humanities or humanistic studies. For example, you could focus on the classics, linguistics or art history, to name a few. Depending on your focus, you may need to demonstrate proficiency in one or more languages. You would be required to defend a dissertation in order to earn your Ph.D. in humanities or a related field.

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