Is A Liberal Arts Degree Worth It?

The short answer is: YES!

This is a question that pretty much every liberal arts or humanities major faces at some point during their education.  A liberal arts degree has a lot of value – more than you might think at first.

Let’s take a look at what this major includes and why this question is such a common concern.

What Are Liberal Arts?

In a broad sense, Liberal Arts are an overview of the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Some of the most common majors that fall into this category include the following:

  • English
  • History
  • Languages
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Sociology

The Value of a Liberal Arts Degree

The benefits of pursuing a liberal arts degree may not be very obvious in the beginning. But a deeper look at different kinds of exposures and experiences during this degree will make you understand the true value of a liberal arts degree. Here are some skills that you might pick up with a liberal arts or humanities degree:

The Writing Skills: Liberal Arts majors are usually required to write a lot of essays. You might not think that writing a 2000 word essay on Hamlet is ever going to help you in life, but the exercise of writing a research paper will help you sharpen your communication and logic building skills. These skills come in handy when you have to file reports, document experiments and compile data in a workplace. Writing and paperwork are an integral part of pretty much any business out there, and being able to communicate well on paper is a huge skill in the job market.

The Speaking Skills: A Liberal Arts degree is dotted with presentations and classroom participation. This helps build confidence and public speaking skills along with developing clear and concise communication within students. As with writing, this is also a very sought-after skill in a workplace. People who can speak well are hired by all kinds of firms, in different capacities – sales, marketing, customer relations and so on.

Cultural Sensitivity: While pursuing a liberal arts or humanities degree, students are exposed to several courses in history, religion, philosophy and culture. This helps them develop a greater understanding of the different kinds of people in the world and their respective cultures. This is a highly valuable skill since it can help you in everything ranging from small talk in networking activities and closing major international sales deals.

Development of Empathy: The amount of reading that is involved in a liberal arts degree ensures that the students are exposed to different kinds of emotions, anecdotes, stories and so on. Studies have shown that reading fiction in particular, helps develop empathy by forcing readers to put themselves in other people’s situations. This plays an important role in developing interpersonal skills, which are really important in nearly all kinds of jobs today.

Liberal Arts Majors in a Workplace

A workplace, irrespective of the nature of the business, requires employees of all kinds. Chemists, mechanical engineers, technicians, mathematicians etc are all important in places of business. But what bring all of these together are usually liberal arts graduates. When building a team, it is important to hire individuals from all different kinds of academic backgrounds. The best plans, strategies and solutions are devised when unique perspectives are brought to the table to solve a concern. For instance, a chemical engineer will see an issue differently as compared to an art major. Both perspectives will be equally important in making a well-informed decision that takes into account all relevant factors.

Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, Inc. thought on the same lines as well. He talked about how, “it is in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough – that it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our hearts sing.” He said that “the broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design [users] will have.”

Clear thinking and writing skills have also been noted as important concerns by other well known top managers. For instance, Jeff Bezos, the CEO/founder of Amazon requires senior executives to submit a six-page long memo, to be read at the beginning of meetings. He believed that there is no way someone can write a six-page memo and not have clear thinking.

So, the next time someone asks you about the value and future potential of your liberal arts degree, you have all the answers you need to give them.


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