--B. F. Skinner
What Is Humanities?
The humanities - also referred to as social sciences - are part of the liberal arts. They are defined by Webster's Dictionary as "the branches of learning having primarily a cultural character."
The emphasis is on languages, literature, art, music, philosophy, and religion. Degree programs in humanities can include art history, classical studies, liberal arts, English, history, modern languages, philosophy, religious studies and writing. They are all classified as humanities degrees, despite the fact that many colleges and universities have separate faculties for these studies.
In the humanities, you'll study all aspects of society - from past events and achievements to human behavior and relationships among groups. You learn how to learn, developing your skills in researching, reading, writing, and thinking your way through abstract problems.
Your humanities degree should match your own range of personal characteristics and interests. Excellent written and oral communication skills are necessary. Since your career could involve constantly seeking new information about people, things, and ideas, intellectual curiosity and creativity are important personal traits. Open-mindedness and adaptability are important in all kinds of humanities disciplines, where the central tenet of study is that humans are incapable of ever being objective, and all research must reflect that.
College Degree Programs in Humanities
Like a general studies degree or a liberal arts degree, a humanities degree provides such a broad base of disciplines and options that you'll find it rewarding at any level. It is also one of the most flexible online degree programs, offering a convenient method of obtaining the educational background you need if you decide to continue further.
Associate Degrees in Humanities
More associate degrees are earned in the humanities than in any other area. An associate in Arts, for example, is designed for students with broad interests and can be completed by taking a combination of courses in the art, drama, languages, literature, music and philosophy of various cultures through the ages. It is designed to prepare students to transfer to bachelor's degree programs in communications, literature, communication/journalism, music, art, philosophy, religion and more. An associate degree can qualify you for entry-level professional work, and it will allow you to easily continue taking advanced courses while at work to improve your career opportunities (online associate degrees are particularly useful in this situation).
Bachelor's Degrees in Humanities
The bachelor of arts in humanities introduces students to a broad perspective on human behavior, thought, and values through selected topics across the arts and humanities. You'll develop skills in communication, writing, problem-solving and critical thinking.
This concentration is ideal for those who seek flexibility and wish to broaden their cultural awareness and critical thinking skills. In many humanities degree programs, you can develop your own course of study which best meets your education goals and career aspirations. You may choose general study, which integrates study in humanities from across the world, or you might focus on a particular geographic area through a more structured track in American studies, European studies, or Asian studies.
A BA in humanities can often lead to future studies in law, medicine, and business. Teaching certification is often preceded by a liberal arts or humanities degree. The bachelor's degree provides a suitable background for many different kinds of entry-level jobs, such as research assistant, administrative aide, or management or sales trainee. If you want to study and work at the same time, consider taking online college courses to get the most out of your career and your education.
What Can I Do With a Major in Humanities?
With the diversity of humanities disciplines, pinpointing a specific job path for humanities graduates can take a while. Many jobs in policy, research, or marketing are good choices for a well-rounded humanities grad. Your humanities degree will train you to communicate clearly, think critically and make reasoned choices--skills that will be in demand in just about any job. Here are a few popular choices for humanities majors:
Advertising. Your study of human culture and society can prove very helpful when trying to figure out how people might react to a certain kind of ad--and your specific background, be it music, philosophy or beyond, can enable highly creative thinking.
Foreign Service. Especially if you've majored in the study of a particular culture, your ability to understand the workings of human society are invaluable when trying to work in a foreign country.
Journalism. Good communicative skills and the ability to think analytically are the most important qualities for a journalist. Many top journalists have humanities and liberal arts backgrounds instead of journalism school degrees.
Law. Humanities majors are the most common prerequisites for law school. It may seem to require a lot of rote memorization of court cases and laws, but by far the most crucial attribute for any lawyer is the ability to think critically and to relate current issues to past ones (history is a popular undergraduate degree for law students).
Public administration. If you've studied how societies work, you're probably qualified to help make them work.
Publishing. This is a good choice for literature and communications majors, who must be able to recognize quality writing when they see it and champion it to publishers and the reading public.
Teaching. If you're passionate about your subject, pass it on to others. The skills you learn in your own degree program can be taught to the next generation.