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What is a Liberal Arts Degree? Careers and Salary

Learn more about the professions that a liberal arts degree qualifies you for. Continue reading to find out more about career opportunities, employment responsibilities, and prospective salaries.

What is a Liberal Arts Degree?

An undergraduate degree in liberal arts that incorporates a number of fields, such as the humanities and social sciences, is referred to as a “liberal arts major or degree.” Liberal arts degrees are granted as Bachelor of Arts degrees by the institutions that offer them. For this choice, some schools use the term “liberal studies.”

Students frequently take courses in a wide range of subjects, from philosophy to foreign languages, to finish a liberal arts or liberal studies major. You often have the option to select electives from almost any subject area, and once you’ve completed the necessary number of credits, your bachelor’s degree will be awarded.

Additionally, the term “liberal arts” can apply to a grouping of many subjects. Many colleges provide a liberal arts college where you can major in a certain field that falls within the liberal arts category. Though many more subjects are possible, this group often includes the following: English, philosophy, music, journalism, and history. One liberal arts discipline where a Bachelor of Science degree is frequently granted is psychology.

Work Options

A liberal arts degree can be used to pursue a variety of vocations. If you’ve selected a university that grants a liberal arts degree, you’ll have the freedom to select the specific course of study that interests you. Liberal arts majors can pursue chances in business, education, mass media, and government because there is no predetermined career route for them.

Liberal arts and liberal studies graduates might work in occupations that don’t require a specific academic background. For instance, a lot of people who major in liberal arts go on to become certified teachers and work in primary or secondary school. Others hold positions as copy editors, journalists, law enforcement officers, nonprofit organization directors, administrative assistants, and more. You can frequently find work that is relevant to the elective classes you chose because your undergraduate liberal arts education is heavily influenced by your personal interests.

Salary

The field you chose will affect your salary. For those with a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree, PayScale.com provides pay data broken down by career. According to data from the website from 2022, executive assistants made one of the highest hourly median yearly wages among these graduates, at $20, while preschool instructors made one of the lowest, at $15. At $19, administrative assistants were sort of in the middle.

The BLS reports that the median annual compensation for elementary school teachers of most courses in 2020 was $60,940, with slightly higher pay at the middle school level ($60,810). The median yearly pay for high school teachers was $62,870. The figures were $49,300 and $67,290, respectively, for reporters/correspondents and policemen/detectives. It was anticipated that employment for teachers in elementary, middle, and high schools would increase by 7% to 8% on average. Police officer employment is expected to expand on average by 7%. According to www.bls.gov, there will be a 6% growth for journalists.

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What Can You Do With a Major in the Liberal Arts?

You can be prepared to work in a range of sectors, including education, journalism, and law enforcement, with a liberal arts degree. Teachers give lessons to their pupils in a variety of areas in order to better their lives through learning, lesson planning, and testing. To inform the public of happenings that could affect their life, reporters look into what’s occurring in the world and report on important stories. Police officers investigate crimes and write reports about what happens during work hours in addition to enforcing the law and responding to emergencies when they arise.

Although the world’s greatest Greek and Roman philosophers—think Plato, Hippocrates, and Aristotle—pioneered the liberal arts more than a thousand years ago, modern universities now have general education requirements that complement subject-specific courses because their goal is to offer a mix of practical and intellectual training.

A variety of schools and universities offer liberal arts programs, while some put a greater emphasis on the subject than others. Some colleges completely ignore the liberal arts in favor of developing students’ professional skills. The many institution kinds and how they relate to the liberal arts are listed below.

  1. Public and Private Colleges: Liberal arts and multidisciplinary courses are among the many general education requirements in the extensive curriculum offered by public and private colleges. Business majors might be mandated to take courses in ethics, history, or language, for instance, with the goal of influencing how they perceive their career-oriented courses.
  2. For-Profit Colleges are privately held establishments that provide career-specific training, typically in the business, healthcare, and culinary arts. The program does not include liberal arts because the emphasis is solely on practical training.
  3. Community Colleges: Students will finish their general education (and liberal arts) studies before continuing on to a larger university because they are usually utilized as stepping stones toward a bachelor’s degree.
  4. Vocational/Technical/Trade Colleges: Unlike for-profit institutions, vocational/technical/trade colleges do not contain liberal arts courses in their curricula; instead, they provide students with career-specific training in a single field.
  5. As the name implies, Liberal Arts Colleges place a major emphasis on giving all students, regardless of their field of study, a liberal arts education. These are typically four-year, private colleges that cost more than other universities. History, linguistics, math, physics, and philosophy are all common courses.

What Are Some Jobs That Are Similar?

Detectives work for police departments, looking into crime scenes and gathering data to apprehend and prosecute perpetrators. Before educating the audience through radio or television, news correspondents take the information gathered by reporters and interpret it in a way that is simple to understand. Broadcast news analysts are experts who are relied upon to examine certain news events and offer their well-informed perspectives in order to aid the audience in developing more informed opinions.

As their name implies, liberal arts colleges place a major emphasis on offering a liberal arts education to all students, regardless of their subject of study. These are typically four-year, private colleges that cost more than other universities. History, linguistics, math, physics, and philosophy are all common courses.

Liberal Arts Degrees and Examples

The humanities, social sciences, physical sciences, and mathematics are only a few of the many subfields that make up a liberal arts degree. Students who are enrolled in higher education can choose majors from any of these groups.

Academic disciplines known as the humanities concentrate on human civilization. Language acquisition (Spanish, Greek, Mandarin), English, Creative Writing, Linguistics, History, Literature and Composition, and Geography are among the majors offered in these programs.

Social sciences are primarily concerned with human civilization and interpersonal interactions. They use the scientific method to arrive at their results and include components of hard science, such as data and statistical analysis. Psychology, sociology, anthropology, political science, and economics are among the social science majors.

Math and physical science can be categorized as liberal arts if they are taught in a way that combines theoretical and applied knowledge. Both state-run schools and institutions with a liberal arts emphasis have this combination of courses as part of their general education requirements. Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Geology, Physics, Geophysics, and Mathematics (broadly embracing algebra, geometry, calculus, and other related topics) are among the physical science and math majors.

Whether or not the content is deemed a liberal art, liberal arts teaching methods are frequently employed in classroom settings to promote group involvement and debate. For instance, the Socratic Method is a style of instruction where students present and defend points while teachers speak sparingly and serve as the judges of the discussion. This approach aims to improve your ability to think critically and analytically.

Best Colleges for Liberal Arts

In general, liberal arts colleges are small, private institutions with low teacher-to-student ratios and significantly higher tuition costs than other four-year colleges and universities, particularly in the United States. However, they rarely impart specialized knowledge in a single field and frequently have strict general education requirements. Students that follow this higher education paradigm receive a broad education and develop a strong moral compass. Successful liberal arts colleges should generate graduates with a strong foundation in the humanities, mathematics, hard and soft sciences, and soft sciences.

The following colleges are consistently rated among the finest liberal arts colleges in the United States by Forbes, the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education, and US News and World Report:

1. Williams College (Berkshires, Massachusetts)

Williams College (Berkshires, Massachusetts)

Students at Williams College are required to enroll in three courses, one each in the social sciences, science, and mathematics, as well as the arts and humanities. There are no prerequisite classes, but before graduating, every student must show proficiency in writing, thinking, and arithmetic. One of the top universities for producing Fulbright and Rhodes Scholars is Williams.

2. Amherst College (Amherst, Massachusetts)

Amherst College (Amherst, Massachusetts)

The open course schedule at Amherst College enables students to select the classes in which they are most interested. There is no mandatory core curriculum in Amherst. Students have a choice of 40 majors or the option to create their own.

3. Swarthmore College (Swarthmore, Pennsylvania)

Based on a Quaker tradition, Swarthmore emphasizes close ties between educators, learners, peers, and the environment. The student-to-teacher ratio is low (8:1), and Swarthmore is a major source of Fulbright Scholars in the United States. Unlike the majority of liberal arts universities, Swarthmore provides an engineering degree.

4. Pomona College (Claremont, California)

Claremont College, which is only one hour from Los Angeles, has a low student-to-teacher ratio of 8:1, offers over 600 courses and 48 distinct majors. Regardless of their ability to pay tuition, Claremont admits all applicants and provides full financial aid to all approved students who can demonstrate financial need.

5. Bowdoin College (Brunswick, Maine):

Bowdoin College prioritizes diversity, social responsibility, and need-blind admissions while encouraging original thought. A majority of Bowdoin students conduct substantial independent study before graduating, and more than half finish additional honors and summer coursework.

Liberal Arts Degree

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a liberal arts course defined as?

A liberal arts education provides a broad intellectual foundation for any humanistic research. You will develop your ability to read critically, write persuasively, and think extensively by examining themes, ideas, and methodologies in the humanities, the arts, and the scientific and social sciences.

What distinguishes the liberal arts from the arts?

While teaching someone to think critically is the primary objective of the liberal arts, teaching someone to think humanistically is the primary objective of humanity. The humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and mathematics are further split into the liberal arts, whereas art is humanity itself.

Is Harvard a college of liberal arts?

Yes! Harvard affords you the opportunity to design your own path of study and the resources to see it through as a liberal arts and sciences college tucked inside a top-tier research institution.

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