If you rule out earning your undergraduate degree from a liberal arts school just because some critics argue that a liberal arts degree isn’t “useful,” you could be making a big mistake. A degree in the liberal arts can prepare you for a wide range of jobs. In fact, the well-rounded background and versatile skills you get from studying in a liberal arts degree program could even help you work your way up to top leadership roles.
Plenty of Academic Majors to Choose From
A liberal arts degree isn’t one-size-fits-all. Most liberal arts schools include core requirements that equip students with a broad educational background in the arts, natural sciences, social sciences and humanities. However, these institutions still allow students to study a major of their choice in-depth and earn a specialized degree.
Some liberal arts schools offer just a few degree programs, like majors in various branches of science and technology. Other liberal arts colleges may offer dozens of possible degree programs, including interdisciplinary programs that combine studies from various academic subjects.
Liberal arts degree programs commonly include academic majors in various foreign languages, disciplines of physical science, literature and art media, social sciences and humanities. Some have strong STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs.
What jobs a liberal arts degree program will prepare you for may depend strongly on what you choose to study. While there may not be much of a job market specifically for a candidate with a degree in American studies, philosophy or gender studies, there are plenty of degree options in the humanities and sciences that can prepare students for excellent job opportunities, like chemist, biologist, sociologist, economist, historian and mathematician.
Cultivating Generalist Skills Through a Liberal Arts Degree Program
The main focus of a liberal arts degree program is often on developing generalist skills that aid in a lifetime of learning, thinking and communicating, rather than the specialized skills that prepare students for one narrow type of job. Many liberal arts degree programs include courses with a strong basis in discussion and writing. Students learn not only about the arts and sciences, but the skills of thinking critically, writing and speaking eloquently and processing information quickly and thoroughly. In a sense, liberal arts students learn how to learn – a skill they can use in any number of jobs, and that won’t become outdated just because technology and society are evolving.
There’s certainly a job market for generalists who can use these and other skills to adapt to new industries and roles. Some of these jobs, like those in real estate, business, management and sales, can be very profitable, according to job search website Monster.com.
Preparation for Graduate School
If your desired job requires a graduate degree – if, for example, you want to be a doctor, lawyer, librarian or high-level engineer or scientist – then a liberal arts degree program could be a great place to start. Liberal arts schools often have rates of alumni who go on to graduate school degree programs. Additionally, many liberal arts schools offer advanced research opportunities to undergraduate students, so they enter grad school prepared for the high-level work.
Achieving Career Success with a Liberal Arts Degree
The right liberal arts degree will help you do more than just get your first job. In fact, the CEOs of such high-performing companies as Starbucks, Disney, HBO, Hewlett-Packard, Whole Foods, YouTube and Chipotle earned their degrees in the liberal arts, TIME Magazine reported. There’s no reason you, too, won’t be able to become a leader with a liberal arts degree.