If you think that philosophy is a degree option best suited to those willing to pay off their student debts while working at a gas station, consider this: Surveys by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) affirm that hiring managers are more concerned with applicants' skills than with their subjects of study. And as the New York Times reports, the number of students choosing to pursue philosophy majors is booming, in part because of the important skills the subject cultivates--namely, writing, analysis, and critical thinking.
Whatever your intended profession, the ability to communicate well and employ problem-solving skills is key to securing a good job. This is one central reason that pursuing a campus-based or online master's degree in liberal arts and humanities can be an excellent career move. Liberal arts degrees are known for offering a broad-based education that fosters skills valuable to employers, preparing students for a wide variety of careers.
On-Campus and Online Master's Degrees in Liberal Arts and Humanities
Philosophy is only one of many disciplines offered in the liberal arts at the master's level. Liberal arts and humanities are broad areas of study that generally encompass history, English literature, foreign languages, philosophy, women's studies, anthropology, art history, and more. Some universities include math, basic sciences, and economics as well.
The degree usually conferred upon graduates of liberal arts and humanities programs at a master's level is a Master of Arts (MA). Both campus-based and online master's degrees in the field range from general (such as an MA in Liberal Arts) to specific (such as an MA in Cultural Anthropology). The following list provides a snapshot of a few of the more common degrees.
Master of Arts in Liberal Arts and Master of Arts in Humanities
Whether in campus-based or online master's programs, students pursuing a master's degree in liberal arts or a master's degree in humanities--the titles are generally used interchangeably--enjoy a broad education that can include a wide range of topics, such as religion, literature, music, philosophical underpinnings of modern science and technology, and more.
Career opportunities. The epitome of a multidisciplinary degree, an MA in liberal arts can prepare students to become teachers at public and private secondary schools or at two-year colleges, or hold one of many jobs at publishing companies, advertising agencies, social service organizations, financial and banking companies, federal institutions, and more.
Master of Arts in Political Science
Building expertise in topic areas such as government, international relations, comparative politics, and political philosophy is one of the typical aims of a master's degree in political science (sometimes offered as a Master of Science in political science).
Career opportunities. An MA in political science is ideal for students intending to work in fields such as foreign service, government service, journalism, or non-profit work, particularly in the area of public policy.
Master of Arts in History
A master's degree in history is sometimes offered as a general degree that includes study of American history, European history and culture, world history, and society and culture. Conversely, some master's programs in history are highly specialized, such as jazz history, military history, oral history, or history of decorative arts.
Career opportunities. An MA in history can prepare you to teach, work at a museum or as an archivist, or function as a public historian. Historians also tend to have highly developed skills in gathering and organizing information and evaluating multiple points of view--skills that are highly valued in a wide range of professions.
Master of Arts in English Language and Literature
Whether you're smitten by Chaucer or Chekov, a love of literature is a must for any student pursuing a master's degree in English language and literature. Master's students typically specialize in a particular time period, genre, or even author, though there are also numerous degrees available that offer a more general education.
Career opportunities. With writing skills the primary competency fostered by an MA in English, graduates are well qualified to work in publishing, editing, public relations, and businesses, or in virtually any other industry that requires skilled writers.
Other Master of Arts Degrees in Liberal Arts & Humanities
The following is only a partial list of other MA degrees available in the liberal arts and humanities:
- African studies
- American culture
- Art history
- Chinese studies
- Classical studies
- Communication studies
- Comparative literature
- Islamic studies
- Religious studies
- Women's studies
For more information, visit WorldWideLearn.com's Liberal Arts and Humanities Degree Programs directory. Additional information about subjects in the liberal arts and humanities can be found at WorldWideLearn.com's Guide to College Majors.
Earn a Master's Degree Online or On Campus
Online degree options in the liberal arts and humanities have ballooned apace with the increasing availability of online degrees. The question is not whether you can earn a master's degree online, but rather which format offers you the best fit.
Students pursuing master's degrees as stepping stones to a teaching career may be best served by campus-based degrees. Campus-based degrees tend to be more academic in their orientation, preparing students for careers in teaching and academia.
Online schools, on the other hand, usually tailor their programs to meet the needs of busy adults, whether working professionals or parents at home with young children. If you earn a master's degree online, you can usually study on a part-time basis and from home. Students benefit from the real-world experiences brought to the table by their classmates and the professional expertise held by instructors.
WorldWideLearn.com's directory of online master's degrees provides an excellent starting point for assessing the options available in the world of online education.
Master's in Liberal Arts: A Jumping Board to a New (or Improved) Career
Whether you earn a master's degree online or on campus, your degree signifies that you are well-rounded, able to adapt to changes and meet challenges, and in possession of the communication and critical thinking skills necessary for a high-level occupation. With a clear career vision and the passion to pursue it, an MA in liberal arts and humanities can be the ticket to a career you'll never want to leave.
- CityTownInfo.com, Rutgers Career Director Interview: Liberal Arts Degrees Also Attractive To Employers
- Johns Hopkins University Center for Liberal Arts, Master of Liberal Arts
- New York Times, In a New Generation of College Students, Many Opt for the Life Examined
- University of California Santa Cruz, History Masters Program
- University of Minnesota Duluth, Career Opportunities in English
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Quarterly, What Can I Do With My Liberal Arts Degree?, by Diana Gehlhaus
- Villanova University, Master of Arts in Political Science