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How do I get a Liberal Arts Degree?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 05 December 2016
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A liberal arts degree might be defined by what it is not. The students who pursue studies in liberal arts do not focus on science, mathematics, or business. They are also usually not obtaining degrees that dwell on production or creation of fine arts like playing music, or creating visual arts (though this may vary in definition). Instead these degrees tend to focus on what are traditionally considered liberal arts and these are things like psychology, philosophy, history, literature, languages, or appreciation of the arts (film studies, art history). A liberal arts degree also suggests that people have acquired a broad base of knowledge in a variety of subjects and are well-rounded learners.

Most people who pursue a four-year college degree will study the liberal arts to some extent. They’ll take some literature and writing classes, some history, and some philosophy as part of requirements for graduation. However, when the study becomes more intensive and people choose to focus on one art in particular, such as philosophy, history, or humanities, they may obtain liberal arts degrees.

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Many colleges offer Bachelor of Arts (BA) degrees and some offer Bachelor of Science (BS) degrees too; if interested in pursuing one of the hard sciences as a career, a BS degree may be preferable. Some colleges don’t offer this choice, and any one graduating receives a BA degree. This is usually only thought to be liberal arts degree if the focus was one on one the liberal arts. Another route that may be offered at a few colleges is a Bachelor’s degree in liberal studies, which may take a broad-based view of the liberal arts and focus on all of them or how all them apply to viewing the world. In general, though, unless science, business, or mathematics have been the main subjects studied, most people who graduate earn a de facto liberal arts degree.

Thus, the way to get a liberal arts degree is by choosing to major in a subject considered one of the liberal arts, and the choices may be broad or narrow depending on the college and what departments it has available. Typically, most larger colleges and state schools will offer majors in subjects like foreign languages, history, philosophy, humanities, psychology, and literature (which would commonly be called English). These are all interesting majors that will require good skills with writing especially, and obviously interest in the field being studied. People who maintain this interest may want to pursue a higher level degree in a liberal art, and they can go on to gain Master’s degrees or PhDs in their chosen field.

One of the things that most people who pursue a liberal arts degree need to consider is how this degree leads to a career. People may go on to take teacher training so that they can teach their passion in schools. Gaining the higher degrees may be a route toward teaching at colleges. Some use their significant writing skills to then study law or continue to pursue counseling degrees so they can become therapists.

However, by itself, a four year liberal arts degree may not qualify people for much, unless they find ways to translate what they’ve learned to other fields. This is certainly possible, English students might become book publishers and editors, for instance. There are some professionals who argue that liberal arts degrees tend to mean people have learned to communicate effectively and they might find entry level work in many businesses and environments that only remotely focus on major, or don’t focus on it at all. Some advantages can exist for the well-rounded student, but it may sometimes be difficult to find work without having specialized first in a specific field.

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icecream17
Post 2

Sunny27- I agree with you, but I think that the writer was suggesting that some degrees are more marketable than others. Therefore one should consider the course of study carefully.

I agree that most companies just want to hire a college graduate, but if the person with the Liberal Arts B.A. wants to go into a field that requires a more defined background than additional schooling is the only way to fix that problem.

Sunny27
Post 1

Good article- But I have to disagree that a Liberal Arts degrees does not qualify people for much. Many employers seek college graduates with various types of degrees.

Many businesses want to hire a college graduate because they feel that a college graduate took the initiative to get a degree and such initiative is attractive to employers. For example, the staffing industry requires a B.A. for entry into this field. It does not mean that a person with fewer credentials could not do the work, but firms in this industry prefer college graduates. The discipline that the college graduate studied is immaterial.

However, if a person with only a B.A. in liberal arts wants to go on to teach college courses, than an advanced degree with a finer specialty is needed.

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