What Are Humanities Degrees?What Are Humanities Degrees?What Are Humanities Degrees?

A staple in higher education, the study of humanities dates back to classic Greek scholarship in the 5th century B.C. that delved into the arts, culture, and the study of human beings. The humanities explore ideas and human expression, helping students build an appreciation for what makes us unique through the many forms of art and culture that we create. In modern universities, humanities degrees are composed of topics such as history, art, language studies, literature, and philosophy.

While the study of the humanities has some of the longest and richest history in our society and educational traditions, arts degrees have been mislabeled as “impractical” in recent years, with many encouraging a shift toward the sciences or business. In reality, degrees in the humanities have the potential to prepare students for rewarding, lucrative careers, providing them with a well-rounded education and the ability to think critically on a variety of subjects.

Versatile enough to be applied toward a multitude of industries, degrees such as a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies can be a fantastic opportunity for students looking to build a foundation in higher education before specializing in their chosen career.

What Are the Humanities?

Those interested in what humanities degrees are focused on within higher education today should know they include programs that study how people function and interact with one another, their art, culture, and history. This includes subjects such as:

  • History and art history
  • Classics and philosophy
  • English and literature
  • Language studies
  • Gender and cultural studies
  • Religion and mythology

What ties degrees in the humanities together is their theoretical nature and roots in the study of human beings, daring to ask the question why instead of focusing solely on what. It is their ability to solve problems creatively that makes many humanities graduates excellent candidates for jobs in a variety of industries, proving that there is still great value in investing in the future of liberal arts.

Why Pursue a Degree in Humanities?

Many students use the study of the humanities as a springboard toward a lucrative career in another industry. While an explanation of what liberal studies is can vary from one institution to the next, what humanities degrees are able to teach students functions as a foundation for all their learning, instructing them on how to think critically and formulate their own opinions.

This process of examination and introspection prepares arts graduates with important skills that they can apply in their future careers. These core competencies include:

  • Critical thinking and creative problem-solving: Programs in the humanities encourage students to examine topics such as art, cultural traditions, philosophy, and history, and to theorize on the value and intention of the subject matter, teaching students to be introspective and think creatively.
  • Communication skills: Between group projects and independent theses, degrees in the humanities require students to build both written and interpersonal skills, teaching them how to formulate and express their thoughts and opinions in a professional manner.
  • Time management: Graduates with humanities degrees have gained extensive experience managing their time and meeting deadlines.
  • Leadership skills: Strong leadership skills include delegating, planning, active listening, organization, and inspiring others through messaging or communication — skills that humanities students develop throughout their studies, presentations, and collaborations with other students.

Many arts graduates use these skills to go on to advanced degrees in areas such as law, business, and education. With the combination of practical skills, experience, and independent thinking at the core of the coursework in humanities degree programs, future professionals can take on any of a variety of rewarding careers, competing for coveted roles and the lucrative salaries that often accompany them.

Careers in the Humanities

Choosing a professional direction can be a daunting and challenging prospect. For many students, the direct and clear path for a career in medicine or engineering is reassuring. For others, however, the versatility and the option to transfer skills between industries available to humanities graduates offer an exciting realm of possibilities. What humanities degrees are able to provide for artistic and curious graduates is the ability to challenge themselves and build fulfilling careers in any of a multitude of fields.


From public or government institutions to private organizations, careers in management span nearly every industry. Through the study of humanities, students are able to cultivate an understanding of how cultures, societies, and individuals function, allowing them to combine theory with practical work experience to become successful managers.

Director of Human Resources

Human resources managers are involved in the planning, coordination, and administrative functions of an organization. The median annual salary for human resources managers was $126,230 as of May 2021, according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Nine percent growth in the field is projected between 2020 and 2030 by the BLS, providing well-educated and experienced graduates with a positive outlook for their future careers.


In the modern marketplace, the value of a strong business reputation cannot be overstated. What humanities degree graduates are able to contribute to an organization’s public perception is vital to not only attracting strong employees but encouraging investment and support from customers as well.

Social Media, Promotions, or Brand Manager

With the rise of social media and push toward ethical marketing and business practices, a company’s policies and reputation can make all the difference in their bottom line and long-term success. As of May 2021, the median annual salary for advertising, promotions, and marketing managers was $133,380, according to the BLS, with an individual’s specific salary depending on their level of education, job location, and work experience. Ten percent growth in the field between 2020 and 2030 is projected by the BLS.

Information Technology

In the field of information technology, programs and strategies are constantly changing to meet market demands and innovation. While many experts working in information technology may not be interested in advertising or coordinating these projects themselves, graduates with experience in the humanities are able to bridge the gap, managing an organization’s communications and aiding with public relations.

Project Managers and Program Directors

Working on the creative side of information technology, many project managers and program directors are tasked with generating ideas, overseeing project launches, and managing growth and business strategies. Often qualified with an advanced degree such as a Master of Business Administration, project management specialists have a median annual salary of $94,500 as of May 2021, according to the BLS.

Create a Bright Future

The study of the humanities allows graduates to look to the future with an appreciation and understanding for the past. By examining our history, culture, and philosophy, students can gain a valuable new perspective on the world while building the practical skills they need to become well-rounded and capable members of society.

Pursuing a higher education degree such as the online Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies from Maryville University can help students build valuable knowledge and skills within the arts. Maryville University’s fully online program was designed by experienced faculty. With the flexibility to start early, in the fall, spring, or summer, the program was created with the busy, modern student in mind. Discover how a degree in the humanities can provide you with skills that are valuable in nearly any industry — and prepare you for a bright and versatile future.

Recommended Reading

From Blogs to Books: Exploring the Versatile Careers in Writing

Future Education Technology: How Digital Trends Are Shaping Teaching

Trends and Skills for the Future of Research


BBC, “Why ‘Worthless’ Humanities Degrees May Set You Up for Life”

Britannica, Humanities

Business Insider, “The 25 Humanities Majors with the Highest Salaries”

Fortune, “No, Humanities Degrees Don’t Mean Low Salaries”

Indeed, 25 Humanities Jobs with a High Salary

Indeed, What Are the Humanities and What Types Can You Major In?

Payscale, Best Jobs for Humanities Majors by Salary Potential

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Human Resources Managers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Project Management Specialists

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