What Does it Mean to Study Liberal Arts?
A liberal arts major offers a broad overview of the arts, sciences, and humanities. Within the context of a liberal arts degree, you can study modern languages, music, English, anthropology, history, women's studies, psychology, math, political science or many other disciplines.
The versatility of a liberal arts degree allows you to continue to a more specific degree program--or you can use the communications, reasoning, and thinking skills you've developed to enter into a wide choice of careers. Like general studies, an Arts & Humanities degree in liberal arts major is appealing to employers who are looking for a generalist - someone who has the proven ability to think about different topics and has not been trained to work in only one mindset. Any professional needs to understand the world and society in order to be a contributing citizen - from interior designers to clergy. The liberal arts add to your quality of life by fostering an ongoing investigation of your own environment and the global and historical cultures that complement and conflict with it.
You'll see that some of the potential job titles that we discuss here fall under the educational domain of other degrees listed on World Wide Learn's site, such as teacher or communications specialist. In these cases, further training and education may be required to practice in these fields.
Types of Liberal Arts Degrees
Similar to a general studies or a humanities degree program, an online liberal arts degree program covers such a broad base of disciplines and options that you can likely qualify for a variety of more specific programs down the road, if you so choose. Critical reasoning abilities, effective communication skills, and understanding of relationships between differing fields of study are focal points of this field. Some core courses in designated subjects are required, but there is generally freedom to choose which classes you take within those core subjects, such as fine arts, social sciences, natural sciences, mathematics and foreign languages.
Associate Degrees in Liberal Arts
An Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts can serve as the basis for entry-level work or for further study at the bachelor's degree level. This program trains you to write effectively and think analytically through your exploration of the various fields of liberal arts study. You'll enrich your existing world knowledge and develop a broader framework for understanding social change in a global context.
Bachelor's Degrees in Liberal Arts
Bachelor's degrees in liberal arts consist of an integrated core curriculum in the arts and sciences, combined with student directed specializations. It's popular for those with higher career ambitions--many future lawyers and foreign services professionals find that getting a liberal arts degree such as political science is a great starting off point in their academic pursuits. A BA in liberal arts can also form a foundation for a career in medicine and/or business.
Online Degrees in Liberal Arts
Despite the traditional association of liberal arts programs with ivy-covered, brick-and-mortar campuses, many liberal arts students today are choosing to attend college online. As more and more employers require associate's or bachelor's degrees from their entry-level employees, getting a degree online has become the popular choice of working professionals who want to advance their careers.
What Can You Do With a College Degree in Liberal Arts?
A liberal arts degree can be applied to a wide variety of careers. Because of this, you may find more opportunities open to you because you have a broader base of knowledge than a candidate who has specialized in only one discipline. On the other hand, your initial job search may be difficult, but your prospects will grow as you move up the corporate ladder and become more able to apply your collegiate skills to a specific industry. As with any career pursuit, the answer lies in your own preparation, previous experience, and perseverance.
Your career choices can include teaching, communications, media, advertising, marketing, public service or law. You might work in the business, government, nonprofit sector, science, social science, music, or language sectors. Your job opportunities can be as diverse as labor relations specialist, women's rights advocate, or planned donations officer at a museum.
Growing Your Liberal Arts Career
Many higher-level professionals start their careers in liberal arts degree programs, which may seem unusual at first glance. Think about it, however. A future lawyer can begin her education with a liberal arts curriculum in English, public speaking, government, philosophy, history, economics and computer courses. A human resources specialist can take courses in psychology, sociology, political science, economics or statistics, and organizational behavior that put him ahead of candidates with a strictly business background.
Look beyond the obvious choices for careers when choosing a liberal arts degree specialization. For example, a modern languages degree can lead directly into translation and interpreting jobs, but can also apply to international concerns such as foreign services, immigration, non-profit or international aid agencies, or even locally, in organizations that deal with ethnic communities, such as neighborhood medical services. Developing the skills to work in different languages can also lead to careers in areas as diverse as computer programming and ciphering work with intelligence agencies.
Liberal Arts Certification, Licensure, and Professional Associations
You'll need to apply your newly developed research skills to determine which professional organization you should join and how that group can help you advance your knowledge and career opportunities within your field. There is no one "liberal arts" certification program.
One example of a professional organization is the American Political Science Association (APSA), which offers membership to individuals and organized groups in the field. You'll receive access to information, conferences, job listings, advocacy groups, and consumer products and services. You can also join any of their Interdisciplinary sister associations at a reduced cost:
- American Academy of Political and Social Science (AAPSS)
- American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC)
- American Historical Association (AHA)
- American Society of International Law (ASIL)
- American Sociological Association (ASA)
- International Political Science Association (IPSA)