Liberal Arts

A liberal arts degree is one of the broadest degrees you can get1, encompassing fields such as philosophy, history, literature, psychology, and some sciences. What exactly can a liberal arts major expect in the workplace?

The answer: it depends. Liberal arts degrees lead to arguably the widest range of career opportunities out of any of the degree paths. Whereas a degree in medicine will almost always lead to a medically related career, the liberal arts are so varied that it can be nearly impossible to pin down the career a graduate will have.

Types of Degrees

As the liberal arts encompasses such a wide variety of options, it's only natural that several different degrees fall under the category of liberal arts. These degrees include majors in literature and English, philosophy, history, psychology, and other social sciences.

Admission Requirements

The admission requirements for a liberal arts degree changes depending on which exact degree you want. However, in general, you'll be expected to have a high school diploma with high marks in English, particularly if you pursue the philosophy program. You'll likely need math as well, though the required math course will change depending on which liberal arts degree you attend to earn. For example, if you major in English or literature, it's unlikely you'll need the highest level of math available.

Strong marks in social studies will be required for those thinking of majoring in History, and a base knowledge of science will be helpful no matter what degree you pursue.

Career Prospects

A liberal arts school is designed to give students a general knowledge of many things, which enables them to take on many careers. This is both a benefit and a drawback. A degree in a specialized field will automatically give that individual an advantage over the liberal arts major - but only for that field. A liberal arts education allows students to cast their net wider than those with specialized degrees, giving them the opportunity to compete for many careers. Certain employers also look upon a liberal arts education as favorable, as it means the potential employee is likely to be more intellectually balanced.

Those with liberal arts education may have a wide variety of career opportunities2. Teaching is a popular choice for students attending a liberal arts school. Other career opportunities include acting, real estate, sales, design, and interpretation.

Potential Salary

The median annual salary for historians is $55,800 and median wage of $26.83 an hour. In 2014 there were 3,500 jobs for historians, with an expected increase of 2% between then and 2024. The median annual salary for journalists is $60,250 and median wage of $28.97 an hour. In 2014 there were 136,500 jobs for journalists, with an expected increase of 2% between then and 2024.

Note that while these salaries are typical, as a liberal arts program can lead to a wide variety of careers, it's difficult to pin down an exact salary. Liberal arts degrees do not translate to salary as easily as more specialized degrees, such as engineering.


1 "A Liberal Arts Degree is More Valuable Than Learning Any Trade," Forbes, November 2012,  http://www.forbes.com/sites/vivekranadive/2012/11/13/a-liberal-arts-degree-is-more-valuable-than-learning-any-trade/

2 "Statistics of the Program," Harvard University, http://www.extension.harvard.edu/degrees-certificates/master-liberal-arts/overview/statistics-program"

3 "The Top Paying Liberal Arts Degrees," Forbes, February 2013, http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2013/02/06/the-top-paying-liberal-arts-degrees/

http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/historians.htm

http://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/writers-and-authors.htm

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