Liberal Arts: Range of Classes Could Lead to Variety of Jobs

Liberal arts degrees have taken a hit the past few years as the United States climbs out of a recession, but graduates often are well prepared to head into a variety of fields, including education, law, business, intelligence, and public policy.

Liberal arts, or humanities degrees, are designed to help students become thinkers. They’re designed to build a student’s ability to communicate through both speaking and writing and prepare them for a wide range of settings by improving their social skills, their ability to solve problems, adapt to change, and apply both critical and analytical thinking sills to real-world situations.

J.P. Hansen, author of “The Bliss List: The ultimate Guide to Living the Dream at work and Beyond!,” told “The ability to comprehend, communicate, and conquer problems is the name of the game and is implied with a liberal arts degree.”

Careers in Liberal Arts

A liberal arts degree should prepare you for a variety of jobs, even though you don’t specialize in a particular field of study.

These courses often lead to jobs in business, public relations, marketing, education, the arts and entertainment, including specific job titles as counselor, social worker, technical writer, sales, and translator, to name a few.

For example, translators with bachelor’s degrees made an average of $43,300 in 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The job outlook from 2010 to 2020 is 42 percent, or much faster than the national average, according to the BLS.

People with liberal arts degree sometimes work as curators, technicians and conservators in museums and galleries. They earned an average of $42,310 in 2010, according to the BLS, although sometimes those jobs require Master’s degrees.

Types of Liberal Arts Degree Programs

Degrees in liberal arts can be found at many colleges and universities, both online and in traditional schools. They can range from two-year to master’s degrees, with most occupations requiring at least a bachelor’s degree.

U.S. News & World Report assembles an annual list of the top liberal arts colleges, basing it on factors such as freshmen retention rate, graduation rates and class size.

Williams College (Williamstown, Mass.), Amherst College (Amherst, Mass.), Swarthmore College (Swarthmore, Pa.), Middlebury College (Middlebury, Vt.), and Pomona College (Claremont, Calif.) were the highest ranked liberal arts schools in the country by the magazine in 2012.

Classes usually range from English, history, religion, psychology, sociology, philosophy, music, foreign language, theater, music, cultural and gender studies, and political science, but also include general math and science courses.

Graduate school can be an option for graduates with liberal arts degrees seeking to specialize. Graduate programs often look favorably on grads with liberal arts degrees, experts say, because they often have the ability to write and communicate better than other, more specialized, graduates.

Some schools offer master’s degrees in liberal arts or humanities.

Steve Jobs, who co-founded Apple, dropped out of Reed College, but not before taking a calligraphy class he called “fascinating.” If he hadn’t taken that class, “personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do,” Jobs said in his graduation speech at Stanford University in 2005.

Let’s Talk About a Degree in Communications

Are you mesmerized by the inner workings of the media? Do you live to tell stories (yours or other people’s), share perspectives, and yearn to make a difference in the world by getting people to see things in a whole new way?

Today’s communications degrees, at the associate, bachelor, master or doctorate level, can open a whole new world of career possibilities in film, TV, print or the Web. From advertising or public relations, print journalism or video production, even social media marketing, let’s take a look at the many degree options and career choices available when you pursue a degree in communications.

Undergraduate Degrees in Communications

Undergraduate communications degrees are offered as Associate of Arts (A.A.) or Associate of Science (A.S.) or Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degrees. Some programs are offered by the school of business, while other communications programs offer liberal arts degrees.

In addition to the core curriculum, a communications degree focuses on writing and speaking skills, team building and working with others in a group setting. A communications degree today places a large emphasis on technology and the many, seemingly ever-expanding forms of media. Students will learn how to create interactive multimedia presentations, build websites, and learn the hardware and software frequently used in communications today, from video editing to Web development.

Additionally, students will explore legal and ethical issues in communications, including copyright laws, and the challenges the internet presents in terms of protecting intellectual property.

Students who know what field they want to enter after graduation, or are already working in the communications industry, may want to include a concentration in their degree program to enhance their knowledge and hone their skills. Specific concentrations or majors within a communications major include:

– Sales & Marketing
– Technology
– Journalism
– Media Studies
– New Media
– Organizational Communication

Many online universities, as well as traditional universities, offer distance learning programs in communications. Students can earn a communications degree entirely online while balancing the demands of work and family life.

Master’s Degrees in Communications

A Master of Arts (M.A.) or Master of Science (M.S.) degree improves an individual’s hire-ability and salary potential in a highly competitive yet, in-demand, field. Students who are already working in communications may prefer to earn their  M.A. or M.S. in communications online, or take a combination of online and on-campus classes, in order to continue working while earning their degree.

Careers in Communications

A communications degree focuses on the fundamentals of communicating with others through traditional and new media.

Depending on their concentration, expertise and areas of interest, graduates will find a number of career paths well-suited to a communications degree. A degree in organizational communications prepares graduates to work with government organizations, not-for-profit institutions, or in small businesses or larger corporations.

The U.S. has shifted to a service-based economy, and individuals who know how to share messages in concise, engaging and entertaining ways, whether that message relates marketing, advertising or news, play valuable roles in companies and organizations.

Some examples of careers for communications degree graduates include:

– Sales and marketing
– Public relations
– Publishing
– Website development
– Politics
– Human resources
– Advertising
– Film/TV/Radio

English Degree – There’s Lots You Can Do with a B.A. in English

A popular Broadway musical from last decade featured the tongue-in-cheek number: “What Do You DO With a B.A. in English?” But the fact is (and English majors will learn not to use that phrase!) an English degree opens many doors for graduates with a love for the written word, who wish to educate and entertain people through all media formats in today’s increasingly connected world.

A Bachelor of Arts in English degree can put you on the career path for teaching, publishing, writing or copywriting, public relations, marketing, and a number of other fields.

The broad-based skills, including communications, taught in English at the undergraduate and graduate levels prepares students for careers in a variety of fields. The biggest challenge for an English major is determining what they want to do.

Undergraduate English Degrees
In a Bachelor of Arts English degree program, you will hone the skills necessary for a career in teaching, marketing, publishing and any number of other fields related to communications. Learn critical thinking and effective writing skills in a number of disciplines. If you have a passion for the written word, an English degree can get you started on a career path you will love.

A B.A. in English is a prerequisite for many jobs in journalism, publishing, marketing, not-for-profit organizations and more.

It’s easy to earn a B.A. in English, online, in your own time, if you are a working professional looking to enhance your earning potential, change fields, or simply get an education in a field you love.

Graduate Degrees in English
A Master of Arts in English degree can be tailored to a number of specialties, including Teaching, Creative Writing, Literature, or Composition and Rhetoric. Students may also specialize in more specific fields, which incorporate anthropology, gender studies and other topics in to the English degree program. In most MA English degree programs, students are required to complete a master’s thesis.

A Master of Fine Arts in English will prepare students to teach creative writing or poetry, or to work in a publishing company as an editor. An M.F.A. can also pave the way to a Ph.D in English, required to teach writing at the college level.

Many MA and MFA – English degree programs take between five and seven years for completion. A handful of schools offer a fully online option for graduate English degrees, permitting students to work at their own pace from convenient locations. Some colleges and universities offer hybrid programs, which offer some courses online and others on campus.

A Ph.D. in English provides students with the knowledge and credentials necessary to teach English or writing at the postsecondary level, opens opportunities in research, and can increase earning potential in a variety of fields related to writing, editing, law, marketing and public relations.

Careers with an English Degree
Many top fields today require strong writing and communications skills. According to Payscale’s 2010 College Salary Report the median annual salary for a copywriter with an English degree is $68,900. Paralegals earn an average of $53,100, and professional copywriters earn just under $50,000. Other top fields include journalism, publishing, editing, history, public relations and anthropology.

English majors who wish to take the next step and earn their master’s or Ph.D. can find jobs teaching at the secondary or postsecondary levels.