Career Information for a Degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences

A liberal arts and sciences degree is an interdisciplinary degree that studies human concepts. Continue reading for an overview of the career options for graduates.

A degree in liberal arts and sciences can include a major in literature, philosophy, theater, history, or political science, among others. Elementary school teachers, film and video editors and administrative service managers can all prepare for their career by completing a bachelor's degree in liberal arts and sciences. Teachers are also required to be licensed by the state, and management experience may be needed for a career as an administrative service manager.

Essential Information

The liberal arts and sciences involve the study of human concepts, inquiries and pursuits, such as literature, history, philosophy and theater. Students might be attracted to these subjects because of their intellectual appeal or range of subject matter. A degree in the liberal arts and sciences can help students prepare for a number of career options or continue their studies to focus on more specific education. Students are encouraged to choose an emphasis while obtaining their degrees in order hone in a specific skill set. The table below lists some examples of occupations that can be awarded to those who possess this degree.

Career Elementary School Teachers Film and Video Editors Administrative Service Manager
Required Education Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements State licensure (varies by state) Knowledge of editing software Related experience demonstrating managerial potential
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% 18% 8%
Median Salary (2015)* $54,890 (excluding special education teachers) $61,750 $86,110

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Liberal arts and sciences is an extremely broad field that often encompasses many disciplines. Those who earn a degree in liberal arts and sciences often appeal to employers who seek job candidates with analytical and communications skills. However, according to the 2010 Student Survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), liberal arts and sciences majors had fewer employment and lower salary offers than those who chose field-specific majors. Liberal arts and sciences graduates could continue their education in a number of fields, such as medicine, law or education. A liberal arts and sciences curriculum usually contains courses, such as communication, technology and math that can apply to numerous careers in business, academia, government or the nonprofit sector.

Education

Many schools offer associate's degree programs in liberal arts and sciences. These programs frequently award transfer degrees to 4-year universities allowing students to complete the requirements for a bachelor's degree. The curricula are traditionally rooted in a foundation of communication study and the development of critical-thinking skills, but can include a myriad of subjects, including philosophy, anthropology, political science and mathematics. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reported that 55% of associate degrees awarded were in liberal arts and sciences during the 2007-2008 academic year.

Many schools also offer bachelor's degrees in liberal arts and sciences. However, even these are not always intended to lead to one career path but rather to provide a broad and extensive interdisciplinary education. Students might have the option of choosing a single concentration, such as history, linguistics or sociology, or choosing multiple areas of focus that complement one another to develop a broader knowledge base. Several law and medical schools recommend liberal arts and sciences majors for students interested in becoming lawyers or physicians.

Job Outlook

Because of the diverse array of careers available to liberal arts and sciences majors, job outlook varies based on a graduate's chosen profession. With an associate's or bachelor's degree in liberal arts and sciences, one might qualify for teaching, business management or film editing positions. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that job opportunities for kindergarten and elementary school teachers would increase about 6% overall from 2014 to 2024. Similarly, an 8% job growth for administrative services was expected during that time period (www.bls.gov).

Salary

Salaries for liberal arts and sciences professionals also vary depending on the selected career. NACE's Spring 2015 Salary Survey reported that graduates of liberal arts and sciences bachelor's degree programs earned starting salaries of $48,127, on average. The highest-paying majors for liberal arts and science professions were liberal arts or general studies, at $41,605, and history, at $37,557.

Since liberal arts and sciences is a broad field that includes many different disciplines, there are many career options for those with a liberal arts and sciences degree. Some options include becoming a teacher, a film and video editor, or an administrative service manager. A degree in liberal arts and sciences can help develop communication and analytical skills that are an asset to many professionals in fields as varied as mathematics, political science and philosophy.

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