You may have heard classmates or friends say they’re considering studying liberal arts, but depending on who you ask, it seems that everyone has a different definition of what it is.
Liberal arts is a broad degree that can cover a number of different subjects. In fact, it’s considered one of the oldest subjects you can study in the world, with its origins tracing all the way back to the Ancient Greeks.
So, just what is liberal arts? If you’re interested in pursuing this degree or just curious to learn more about it, keep reading.
What is the Definition of Liberal Arts?
Before we get into more detail about what are liberal arts degrees, it’s important that we establish a clear liberal arts definition.
Liberal arts is a broad term that covers a few different fields, but just what are liberal arts classes? This degree encompasses programs and classes that fall into different categories, like history, psychology, English, mathematics, economics, and more. It may seem like a very broad subject, however, these fields all have something in common.
When taken individually, these different subjects are meant to provide you with better general knowledge. Studying these different fields helps you think critically and helps you understand how to learn a variety of other subjects. When compared to other fields that are more technical and only focus on one set of skills — like computer sciences, for example — the liberal arts subjects help you improve your overall knowledge by teaching you skills like research, problem-solving, critical thinking, and writing.
Essentially, liberal arts degrees teach you how to think more broadly. This gives you an advantage when you enter the job market since you’ll have a variety of different skills that can be useful in any situation.
What Are Liberal Arts Colleges?
There are some colleges in the US that are dedicated solely or primarily to the study of liberal arts programs. There are some notable differences between liberal arts colleges and other colleges.
For starters, while most universities place a great deal of importance on research, liberal arts college professors are more focused on teaching. Additionally, there’s a lot more importance placed on student-teacher interactions in different forms, such as mentorships and collaborating on projects.
Liberal arts colleges are typically smaller than other schools so the classes are also smaller and a lot more intimate. This allows teachers to develop better educational relationships with their students so that students get to work much more closely with experts in their chosen field.
Should You Get a Liberal Arts Degree?
If you’re interested in studying courses that typically fall into the humanities or natural sciences, then you might be choosing to study liberal arts by default.
When it comes to finding a job, liberal arts programs and schools approach the job search with a different mindset. Liberal arts colleges look at the job you get after school as a vocation that is meaningful to your life instead of just a job that’s a means to an end. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for liberal arts students to already have a general or even specific idea of what they want to do as a career after college.
Even if you’re not certain of your career after college, a liberal arts degree can still be a good choice. Since liberal arts degrees are broad and teach you important skills that transfer well to any field, liberal arts graduates often have a lot of career opportunities upon graduation. While studying liberal arts, you’ll be able to hone in on subjects you’re interested in and pursue those as a possible career path.
Finally, it’s worth noting that liberal arts students usually aren’t in it for the money. On average, liberal arts majors make around $40,000 annually. The specific field you work in might lead to a higher salary, but generally, liberal arts students are more passionate about their own personal interests and career fulfillment.
Benefits of a Liberal Arts Degree
There are a number of different benefits to studying liberal arts, and some of them might not be entirely obvious to you. Here are some of the ways you can benefit from pursuing a liberal arts degree:
Prepares You for Work
Since you won’t be studying just one specific skill or trade, you’ll have a diverse set of skills that can translate well to different types of jobs and positions.
Great Foundation for Graduate School
Many liberal arts graduates have a strong education foundation to allow them to apply to grad school in a wide variety of subjects.
Allows You to Think Creatively
Not only will the subjects you study during your degree help you think critically and outside the box, but you’ll also be able to apply this sort of thinking when it comes to finding a job and applying your skills to explore different industries.
Liberal Arts Degree Appeals to Employers
Many employers see the value in a liberal arts degree because of the transferable skills you learn, and this translates well into fitting into a new workplace.
Explore Different Career Choices
During your liberal arts studies, you’ll be exposed to different subjects, which can help you expand your career options by trying out different opportunities and narrowing them down to find something you’re truly interested in.
What Jobs Can You Get With a Liberal Arts Degree?
A liberal arts degree can lead to jobs in many different fields, such as communications, history, education, political sciences, and more. Here’s a brief overview of the type of jobs you can get in different fields as a liberal arts major:
Depending on what level you want to teach, you’ll likely also need additional training and certification to become a teacher, but your vast knowledge and skills are excellent tools to teach students.
If you want to work in law, public policy, or even for NGOs, the skills you learned in your liberal arts degree do a good job of laying the groundwork for these types of jobs.
If your liberal arts classes included communication courses, then you’ll be a prime candidate for marketing positions such as public relations, advertising, or copywriting. The subjects you learned help you to understand people and how they think, which is an asset to jobs in marketing.
It goes without saying that if you studied liberal arts, you can probably find a job in the field of arts. Whether you studied English and you want to become a writer, or you want to transition into visual arts, the skills you learned will surely take you far in this field.
Psychology and Sociology
If either of these subjects were your core focus, then you likely have a firm understanding of human behavior. This can lead to jobs in counseling, human resources, and even education and community management.
When it comes to finding jobs with a liberal arts degree, these jobs are only the tip of the iceberg. Since the field encompasses such a big variety of subjects, you can also find jobs in business, healthcare, finance, and many more fields.
The Bottom Line
Hopefully, you now have a better idea of what is liberal arts and whether or not studying this degree is the right choice for you. If you really want to learn transferable skills and study a variety of topics that interest you, then liberal arts can be a fantastic option for you.
However, if you are certain that you want to study a specific program or trade, then liberal arts may not be for you. At University of the People (UoPeople), we offer tuition-free online degree programs in fields like business administration, health science, and more. Instead of studying broad subjects, these programs will teach you the set skills you’ll need to succeed in these specific fields.