Today, we take a look at the realm of subjects that fall under the liberal arts degree umbrella. Liberal arts covers a vast array of fields and courses. In fact, it may be more easily understood by first looking at what it does not include, such as the “hard” natural sciences, engineering, medical sciences, and business studies. Beyond these subjects, liberal arts covers everything from language, literary studies, philosophy, sociology, and psychology, to mathematics, economics, art, art history, and graphic design. Some colleges, known as liberal arts colleges, specialize in these areas of study, and typically offer a “liberal arts core” designed to give students a well-rounded foundation in the humanities.
At the associate level, liberal arts degrees typically prepare you for entry-level careers and for further study. At the bachelor’s level, you will gain more specialized knowledge, necessary for specific career paths, such as social worker, writer, editor, anthropologist, or political scientist. A degree at the master’s level will give you a greater depth of knowledge and insight into particular fields, which can allow you to advance further in your chosen field and career. At the doctoral level, you will have earned the highest level of education in your field, and will be qualified to pursue a tenured career in academia and research.
A liberal arts degree can be the grounding for a well-rounded, interdisciplinary knowledge base alongside more specific areas of study. The liberal arts approach allows you to focus on an area that you are passionate about, to “go down the rabbit hole” and fully explore your path of study. Because of the many different fields represented by liberal arts, degrees in this area can prepare students for a diverse selection of careers. And your career need not always be directly related to your areas of study. A liberal arts degree helps you develop flexibility and versatility, two valuable qualities in today’s job market.
If you’re ready to get started, take a look at The 50 Best Online Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts Programs.
Check Out These Fun Facts
- Who says you can’t succeed with a liberal arts degree? Plenty of famous individuals — including Oprah Winfrey, Natalie Portman, Conan O’Brien, Madeleine Albright, Clarence Thomas, and Toni Morrison — have spent time studying liberal arts subjects.
- Why pick just one? Majors in liberal arts often lend themselves to an interdisciplinary approach, which makes earning a double or triple major much simpler than in other areas of study.
- Want to become a lawyer or a doctor? You might start by studying liberal arts. In recent years, students with undergraduate degrees in areas such as English, philosophy, history, and sociology have become more attractive to law schools and medical schools because of their firm grounding in a wide variety of human issues.
- Hang out with the cool crowd. Liberal arts programs are often the largest and most popular programs at universities, and for good reason.
Five Things I Wish I Had Known
While liberal arts can be a rewarding field of study, it isn’t always easy. Below are five things that many liberal arts students wish they had known before entering the field:
- Liberal arts gets a bad rap as a field of study that doesn’t lead directly to job placement. While finding a job can be tricky, it’s not true that there are no jobs for liberal arts majors. You just may need to get creative with your job search, and you may need to start with jobs you don’t intend to stick with.
- Many people enter liberal arts undergraduate programs with the intent of going directly into graduate programs after earning their bachelor’s degree. If you fall into this camp, make sure to start the search for grad schools early. Figure out what you must have in a graduate program, and work on building your academic résumé as much and as soon as possible.
- Regardless of your specific major, liberal arts programs require you to be proficient (or at least competent) in a range of areas. Written communication, oral communication, critical thinking, scientific literacy, foreign languages, and mathematics are standard requirements of all liberal arts programs, so don’t expect to get out of learning the fundamentals.
- Liberal arts programs are offered by community colleges and expensive private schools alike. While you may be tempted to assume that price equals quality, a point of diminishing returns exists. Be sure to shop around for the most affordable, sensible options, because you might be able to get the education and degree you want without paying six figures per year and descending into debt.
- Not everyone will understand what you are studying or why you are studying it. Criticism and negative pressure from your family can range from a minor annoyance to a real problem. Study what you want to study, but be prepared to defend your choices.
For an idea of what you can do with a degree in liberal arts, and how much you can earn doing it, check out the following data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS identifies common careers for liberal arts degree holders, as well as median annual salaries for 2017, and job outlook growth predictions for the period 2016–26:
|Anthropologists & archeologists||$62,280||4% growth|
|Graphic designers||$48,700||4% growth|
|High school teachers||$59,170||8% growth|
|Mathematicians & statisticians||$84,760||33% growth|
|Multimedia artists & animators||$70,530||8% growth|
|Political scientists||$115,110||3% growth|
|Postsecondary teachers||$76,000||15% growth|
|Public relations specialists||$59,300||9% growth|
|Social workers||$47,980||16% growth|
|Writers & authors||$61,820||8% growth|
Find the Best Schools!
Looking to get started on your degree program? Check out the enormous range of subjects below to learn more about your options under a liberal arts degree program:
|# Featured||Degree Type||Program Type|
|6||Master’s||Art & Art History|
|15||Bachelor’s||Human & Family Development|
|10||Master’s||Human & Family Development|
|30||Bachelor’s||Social Work (online & on-campus)|