Liberal arts and humanities are known as generalist areas of study that allow the student to focus on a particular area of interest or develop their own unique plan of study. Humanities is similar in that it also allows a general approach to a major but also includes specific disciplines such as English, foreign language, history, and other fields considered non-scientific. Because the degree options are so broad, admission guidelines vary by department. Generally, the student will apply for bachelor’s degree admission once they have completed nearly all of their general education requirements through coursework taken in their freshman and sophomore years.
Admission requirements to a liberal arts or master’s degree program in humanities vary by institution and department. Most master’s programs in liberal arts or humanities result in a specific degree and major such as English, history, political science, and the like. For individuals seeking a true liberal arts education without a specific designation, many institutions offer a master’s in liberal studies that allow students to take master’s level coursework from many different academic disciplines. To apply, students will need letters of recommendation, GRE test scores, statement of purpose, minimum GPA of at least 2.5, and a completed bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.
A Ph.D. in liberal arts or humanities requires the candidate to submit several application components including transcripts demonstrating a minimum GPA and completion of a bachelor’s degree. Other components include GRE test scores, writing samples, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose.
Doctoral programs are for those interested in earning an applied degree designed for workforce promotion. Most programs allow GRE test scores to be waived. Applicants should be mid-career professionals with management experience. Many programs require the applicant to possess a master’s degree. Other application requirements include resume, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and statement of purpose essay.
With a degree in liberal arts and humanities, there are many career paths one can take. From journalism to law, we’ve listed a number of possible career choices that benefit from a foundation in the humanities or liberal arts. A recent survey completed by Hart Research Associates indicated business executives and hiring managers highly value a liberal arts or humanities education as they imbue students with the capacity to critically think, effectively communicate, and solve problems – transferable skills that can be applied to any career path.
Account executives are salespeople that typically work for corporate entities and are responsible for growing the number of accounts as well as managing existing clients. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates account executive positions should grow by 5% through 2024. The average annual salary is $68,000, well above the national average of $39,000.
With a degree in communications, you will gain practical writing and speaking skills. Communication managers engage in crafting messages for both internal and external audiences. They typically work closely with upper management and are often part of an organization’s executive staff. The median salary as of May 2019 is $125,510 per year. The job is expected to increase by 8% through 2028.
High School Teacher:
Many liberal arts and humanities majors end up in the classroom. Teaching at the secondary level it a good fit as it allows liberal arts and humanities graduates to share their passion for a particular subject with students. In addition to a bachelor’s degree, a teaching certificate and valid teaching license are also required. The median pay for a high school teacher is $61,660 per year as of May 2019. The job is expected to grow by 4% through 2028.
Human Resources Specialist:
Human resources specialists spend their time recruiting and placing workers as well as overseeing employee relations, training, benefits, and compensation. The position requires a bachelor’s degree and characteristics such as high emotional intelligence and excellent interpersonal skills. Writing and business communication are also highly valued skills. The median salary is $61,290 per year. Employment of human resources professionals is expected to grow by 5% through 2028.
Journalists include reporters, news writers, news correspondents, and columnists. These professionals can work for a wide array of organizations, including newspapers, media organizations, radio stations, and corporations. They must be able to communicate well, both verbally and in writing. They often work non-traditional hours and must work well with deadlines and a fast-paced work environment. The median pay is $42,260. Individuals with internship experience as well as a journalism specialty such as health or politics should have increased employment chances.
A liberal arts and humanities degree teaches individuals to be effective communicators, problem solvers, and critical thinkers. These qualities make for especially sound managers. The ability to adapt and see problems through various lenses are all things graduates from liberal arts and humanities programs are able to do. Management jobs are expected to grow by 7% through 2028 and pay an average of $105,660 annually. This salary figure is the highest among all other major occupational groups tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Marketing specialists, especially those who perform market research, are expected to be in high demand through 2028. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the occupation is expected to see growth of 20%, which is much faster than the 5% rate of growth for all other occupations. The average salary is $63,790 annually. Typical entry-level positions require a bachelor’s degree.
Public Relations Specialist:
Public relations specialists work to maintain a positive impression in the minds of an organization’s stakeholders, including both internal and external parties. They engage in work including long-term public relations strategies as well as crisis management. A liberal arts bachelor’s degree in communications or mass communications is preferred, along with a specialization or minor in public relations. Those with internship experience will have increased employment odds. The average salary for a PR professional is $61,150. The occupation is expected to grow 6%, slightly faster than the average 5% for other occupations.
Theology or Ministry:
Theology and ministry positions generally require a master’s degree in theology, philosophy, or ministry. Theology and clergy positions may be tied to a specific religion or doctrines, like Christianity or Islam, or they may be asked to support the spiritual needs and growth of people from all backgrounds and types of faith. These individuals work in healthcare, criminal justice, social services, religious organizations, and more. The job is expected to increase 1.9% through 2028. The average salary is $55,190 per year.
Writers come from all academic backgrounds, including the liberal arts and humanities. Writing jobs come in many forms including writing novels, technical writers, journalism, magazine writing, and more. A bachelor’s degree is preferred, as well as quality writing samples. The competition for writing occupations is always strong, as many people are attracted to this occupation. The median salary for a writer is $63,200. They may work for a specific organization, or may serve as independent contractors.
With higher education costs on the rise, it is critical for students to be smart consumers. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the national average for an undergraduate liberal arts education is $17,000 at state colleges and universities (in-state tuition rate), $43,000 at private institutions, and $24,000 at private, for-profit colleges and universities. These costs reflect tuition and fees only. Students also need to consider other costs such as food and housing. And while private institutions are nominally more expensive, they often have much more aid to give, which can result in the net cost of attendance being lower for the student compared to for-profit and state institutions.
Careers & Pay
Many people believe that liberal arts degrees and the institutions that administer them do not provide a solid return on investment in terms of career earnings. A recent study released by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce found the data does not support such a claim. In fact, the study showed students who graduate from liberal arts institutions achieve a 25% higher return on investment ($918,000) than their peers who did not attend a liberal arts institution ($723,000). These numbers back up similar findings from a Georgetown study completed in November of 2020.
Many people are choosing to attend graduate school in order to attain their educational and career goals. Data from 2015 shows that approximately 12% of the United States population has a graduate degree, a 10% increase from data collected in 2005. Of that 12%, approximately 75% of those individuals were conferred master’s degrees. With several degrees to choose from in the liberal arts, individuals can easily find an on-campus or online degree that meets their needs. Many working professionals find an accredited online degree the best option as they can continue their education without interrupting their careers. A master’s degree allows the liberal arts graduate to specialize in a career or area of study and takes anywhere from 1-6 years to complete, depending on the candidate’s situation and the parameters set forth by the program.
Aside from learning about a wide array of subjects, a liberal arts degree imbues students with many qualities that are highly sought after by employers in today’s thought-based economy that values transferable skills and personal characteristics that all quality employees possess. In short, the liberal arts provides students with critical foundational competencies important to career procurement and advancement.
Communication is the most sought-after skill among employers. That means individuals must be able to communicate and listen in many contexts, including group and individual settings.
Many liberal arts degrees value creativity and innovation. This skill is particularly valued among employers as they are looking for individuals who can solve complex problems.
Critical thinking refers to analyzing and evaluating an issue. Liberal arts degrees teach students this important skill by evaluating and analyzing course content giving them the ability to transfer this ability to the workplace.
Interpersonal communication involves the capacity to communicate with others in one-on-one contexts or in small groups. Employers have always sought personnel with the ability to work in dyads or teams.
With a globalized economy gaining more complexity and competition, the ability to problem solve is more important than ever. Students from liberal arts backgrounds are able to solve complex issues and see opportunities where other cannot. The liberal arts teach students to think in non-linear ways by using creativity, focus, and innovation.
The most popular liberal arts career paths include communications, economics, English language and literature, political science and government, and psychology. All of these career paths are expected to grow through 2028 at or above the average of five percent for all occupations through 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
African American Studies
African American Studies is an interdisciplinary field focusing on history, politics, art, and culture that can lead to several careers including teaching, historian, teaching, research, writer, and more.
Anthropology is dedicated to the study of societies and cultures. Anthropology majors work in several career fields such as law, education, research, and government. The field is interdisciplinary and includes courses in biology, culture, history, psychology, and sociology.
Criminal justice is one of the largest employment sectors in the United States. Graduates have several career paths, and courses cross several disciplines including economics, history, psychology, public policy, and statistical methods.
English majors take courses in literature, social sciences, communication, and creative writing. An English degree parlays into several career paths, including education, entertainment, government, and writing.
History majors work in occupational fields such as teaching, library science, political consulting, information archiving, and museum curation. Courses include anthropology, English, history, social sciences, and more.
Literary majors take a wide spectrum of courses across the many sub-fields in literature as well as cross disciplinary courses in the social sciences and humanities. Careers include archivist, college professor, editor, librarian, literary critic, and writer.
Studying philosophy involves analysis of some of the world’s most empirical and existential questions. Philosophy majors end up in careers such as business professionals, lawyers, marketing directors, public policy analysts, and teachers.
Political science is a popular liberal arts major that can lead to a wide variety of high paying jobs. Careers include legal analyst, marketing research analyst, political consultant, public policy analyst and think-tank researcher.
One of the top liberal arts majors, psychology majors take courses across the liberal arts, humanities, and social sciences. The versatility of the field leads to careers in nearly all sectors of the economy. A graduate degree typically leads to a specialization in counseling and therapy.
Religion majors not only work in houses of worship, but within the healthcare, criminal justice, and social services sectors. Courses include anthropology, general education, literature, philosophy, and theological studies.
Rankings in Liberal Arts & Humanities
- Journalism Degree Online: In an age where newspaper subscriptions are practically non-existent and many say that print media is a “dying industry,” what use could there be for a journalism degree? Fortunately, there are still plenty of reasons to study journalism in college. Plus, many schools are adapting their curricula to address the industry’s shift toward web-based content and social media.
- History Degree Online: History is one of the most traditional subjects that a student could choose to study. Grounded in the liberal arts, broadly focused, and lacking a specific career focus, history might not seem like the most obvious choice for online learning. After all, most distance ed. programs emphasize vocational training and practical industry skills – like IT or nursing. But because history programs don’t typically require internships, practicums, or lab courses, they don’t often require any face-to-face meetings or campus visits. This makes them an especially convenient choice for online learners!
- Online English Degree: As a traditional liberal arts degree, English is one of the most versatile academic programs you could choose. It might not offer the same career focus level as some more industrial programs, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t useful in the job market. On the contrary! English majors excel where so many professionals struggle; with excellent communication and writing skills and an impressive ability to communicate their ideas, these students are uniquely talented. And like other liberal arts programs, English degrees typically don’t require internships, labs, or practicums.
- Online Theology Programs: Most people pursuing careers related to theology degrees aren’t concerned about how much they’ll be making. Spiritual return on investment is more of a concern for them than monetary return on investment. But devoting your life to ministry or academia can be much more difficult when mired in debt. It’s worth it to consider the value of an online theology degree, especially if your plan is to earn advanced degrees.
- Communications Degree Online: Communications is an incredibly versatile major that combines traditional studies with practical, modern career applications. Students can focus on liberal arts topics – like English, creative writing, and psychology – while in school.
- Master’s History Online: Graduate students may be interested in pursuing an online master’s in history for a variety of reasons. Working professionals with a bachelor’s degree in the field may find that advanced study can position them for promotions and raises, while aspiring teachers may wish to become qualified to teach history to high school or community college students.
- Online Doctor of Ministry: Church leaders, missionaries, and other faith-based workers looking to advance their ministry effectiveness can now consider a Doctor of Ministry online. Many D.Min. programs have been distance-based for quite some time. What is changing is the possibility of completing a 100% online D.Min.: no travels, only online studies that will enhance your present ministry context when it is convenient for your schedule.
- Master of Divinity Online: This ranking features 30 affordable master of divinity degrees from a wide range of Christian denominations. Here you will find schools affiliated with denominations like Lutherans, Roman Catholic, Church of Christ, Assemblies of God, Baptist, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Mennonites, as well as many multi-denominational evangelical schools.
- Online Master’s Communication : Today’s networked society requires professionals in a wide variety of positions to have top-notch communication skills. One never knows when a customer interaction at any level in a given organization will be live-streamed on Facebook or posted to Youtube. Thus, more and more companies are listing strong communication skills as one of their most sought-after traits in new hires. These online communications master’s degrees are designed to help you meet the demand for strong communicators in the modern business landscape.
- Associate’s in Bible Online: Whether or not you plan to earn a bachelor’s degree in the future, an associate’s degree in biblical studies can transfer into most bachelor’s programs and ensure that you have a firm understanding of biblical truth. Unlike most associate’s degrees, the 2-year degree in biblical studies is often offered by private Christian universities instead of public universities and community colleges.
- Affordable Linguistics Degree: College can be expensive, and people who pursue a degree in linguistics often wish to pursue study at the graduate and even Ph.D. levels, so it’s not a bad idea to start out at one of the more affordable linguistics programs available. That’s where our ranking of the top 45 most affordable linguistics degrees comes in.