The Value of a Humanities Degree
A humanities education can foster creativity, social engagement, and career prospects.
Are you someone who's interested in philosophy, literature, religion, art, music and/or history? Are you however, hesitant to pursue a degree in these subjects because you aren’t sure they’ll help sustain a good career and pay?
Here are a few reasons to dispel your fears and showcase how a humanities degree can be a great academic choice and a profitable one as well.
Humanities Could Lead to a Successful Business & Career
Most successful businesses are generally those that utilise the skills of humanities graduates: those who study arts, history, language and philosophy are not only creative, but also have the ability to process a lot of information, understand human nature and cultivate different perspectives. Moreover, for a modern company to have a better chance of engaging with its audience, cultural awareness is essential.
Apple is a great example of an organisation that holds the humanities in high esteem. The company’s success comes both from scientific innovation and understanding what makes people ‘tick.’ The founder, Steve Jobs, is quoted as saying, “Technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities...yields the results that make our hearts sing.” This mode of thinking has now become a corporate standard.
Such degrees are also shaking off the false reputation of having limited career prospects. It’s estimated that 60% of American CEOs have humanities degrees, according to a 2012 research survey in the US. A similar research undertaken by New College of the Humanities states that 60% of the UK’s leaders have humanities or social science degrees.
Creative Opportunities in STEM Degrees
Humanities degrees are recognised as being essential to making sciences understandable to the general public. Criticisms of the arts being overfunded are still common, although this is gradually being counterbalanced by increasing collaboration between STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) degrees and the humanities; this means you can incorporate creativity into STEM programs. Many engineering degrees are adding creative stages, for example the University of Bristol (UK) Engineering PHD has a public engagement component that encourages students to incorporate artistic skills into their research. Just as scientific innovation is driven by evidence obtained through research, art adds context to these discoveries and makes them accessible to the public. Artists and other humanities graduates specialise in finding social, ethical, even emotional interpretations that brings this data to life.
Where to Study the Humanities
If you’ve developed a body of work in painting, sculpture or filmmaking for example, you may wish to study at one of the internationally prestigious art schools in US, such as University of California - Santa Cruz or Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota. These schools, however, look for the best and most interesting artists and there is a lot of competition. There are smaller art universities that also offer many opportunities for international scholarships. Falmouth and Northumbria in the UK are two such examples; they are regarded as prestigious places to study the arts, music, writing, media, and so on. Both are renowned for their open-mindedness and welcome students from a diverse range of backgrounds.
The goal of a humanities degree is to both enhance life experiences and facilitate tools to understand and interpret the world. Successful humanities students learn the importance of being reasonable, well informed and good at debating, which makes them prepared to become professionally and economically successful after graduation.
So, if you’re talented in the arts or other humanities subjects, don’t give up on the hope that a great—and well paid—role exists for you!
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About the Author: As well as being a published author, Dan Petley has worked in the education sector supporting students with emotional and behavioural difficulties. He also works with freelance artists in building a recognisable public identity through writing statements, biographies and funding applications.;