The whole purpose of education is to equip you with the abilities and skills needed to lead a happy and satisfying life. To be able to achieve this, one needs to be multidimensional and have vivacity about oneself. A career in liberal arts courses has much more to offer than just arts, sciences, medicine, business, or humanities. It gives you a broader and more versatile view of all these streams.
Liberal arts is scaling heights of popularity, especially in societies and countries that have come to accept that getting placed in a well-paying job is not the solitary aim of education. Job opportunities are no more considered the ‘be all and end all’ and people have thrown away the rose-tinted glasses and accepted the reality of why work satisfaction is important.
Therefore, a career in Liberal arts is lucrative precisely because it trains an individual with the technical as well as the academic knowledge base to excel in whatever field they pick and simultaneously elevate their knowledge base and skill set. Diversity is a necessity in liberal arts and not an ‘add-on’. Instead of teaching about ‘what to do’, a liberal arts course focuses on teaching about, ‘what all can be done’.
When it comes to a liberal arts degree, you can go to studying Modern Languages, English Literature, Music, History, Psychology, Math, Anthropology, Political Science, and many more disciplines. This blog talks all about a career in liberal arts and how you can pursue one!
What is liberal arts?
Liberal Arts mean Arts or Arts education that liberates one’s mind. To make it simple, a Liberal Arts education broadens your horizon wide; meaning widens your general awareness about the multiple issues that humans and this world face. Liberal Arts develop your knowledge in multiple academic disciplines which are often essential for one to become an individual who can think logically and with reason, who can understand the issues which are critical for modern and future human societies and the world, and who can apply her mind to solve several social, economic, political, and environmental issues and problems.
A career in liberal arts exposes you to many fields – Philosophy, Social Sciences (such as Sociology, Economics, Psychology, History, Social Studies, Political Science, and International Affairs), Natural Sciences (Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geography, Earth Sciences, etc.), Mathematics, Computer Science, Environmental Studies, Music, Visual Art, Performing Arts, Public Affairs, Gender Studies, etc. You may not be studying all these subjects together, but you may choose any of these papers during your first couple of years of undergraduate studies in Liberal Arts.
What does liberal arts scholar do?
Now let’s understand what differences a Liberal Arts education could make when you start working and pursue a career in your chosen field:
- You will be to understand and analyze the global and national issues in several walks of life very well, such as in politics, international relations, business and economy, social life, culture, etc.
- You will be able to develop a good level of critical thinking and reasoning, which will be useful for you as you pursue your chosen career.
- You will be able to take better decisions in many business and personal situations as a Liberal Arts education helps you to think from different perspectives and appreciate the concerns of others.
- You will develop good reading skills, which is very essential for success in various fields like Science and Humanities.
- You will be able to develop various universal 21st Century work skills such as communication, working in a team, interpersonal relationships, leadership, and so on.
Popular specializations in Liberal Arts career
Here are some of the popular specializations you may wish to consider while building a career in liberal arts-
- English Literature: A specialization in English literature can lead to careers in writing, editing, publishing, journalism, and teaching.
- Psychology: A specialization in psychology can lead to careers in counseling, social work, human resources, research, and education.
- History: A specialization in history can lead to careers in teaching, research, writing, museum curation, and public policy.
- Political Science: A specialization in political science can lead to careers in government, law, lobbying, campaign management, and international relations.
- Philosophy: A specialization in philosophy can lead to careers in law, education, journalism, research, and consulting.
- Anthropology: A specialization in anthropology can lead to careers in research, education, social work, international development, and public health.
- Sociology: A specialization in sociology can lead to careers in research, social work, human resources, marketing, and policy analysis.
- Communication Studies: A specialization in communication studies can lead to careers in public relations, marketing, journalism, media production, and corporate communications.
- Fine Arts: A specialization in fine arts can lead to careers in painting, sculpture, photography, graphic design, and art education.
- Linguistics: A specialization in linguistics can lead to careers in language teaching, translation, interpretation, speech therapy, and research.
Eligibility criteria to build a career in liberal arts
In this section, we reviewed the Liberal Arts requirements. Admission requirements for Liberal Arts are very comparable to those of many other fields. You can get admission to some of the most famous colleges and universities in India if you meet the requirements. Admission requirements for the undergraduate and graduate programs are described below.
For UG courses
Candidates can pursue Liberal Arts soon after they complete 10+2 in any stream. Several institutions of higher learning offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in the humanities. Below are a few key aspects of the admissions process.
- Candidates must have completed class 12th in any discipline from a recognized board with a minimum of 50 percent in aggregate.
- Social and natural science subjects should be familiar to students.
- Candidates must pass an entrance exam for admission.
For PG courses
Individuals interested in a Liberal Arts career can apply to a variety of institutions and universities. Some important factors to be considered for eligibility criteria for postgraduate study are listed below.
- To be awarded a Master’s degree in humanities, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in humanities from a recognized university.
- Applicants must also meet the percentage criteria of their university or college.
- Candidates must pass an entrance exam for enrollment.
Job Opportunities in liberal arts
After a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts, most students continue their higher studies and enroll for a Master’s degree or an integrated Master’s and Ph.D. program. Typically, many students go abroad for higher studies. Some students take up job opportunities. Some of the job roles in which they get jobs are
- Project Assistant or Project Fellow (with Non-Governmental organizations or NGOs in social sector projects in various areas)
- Project Assistant or Research Assistant in Thinktank organizations in various areas such as Gateway House Indian Council on Global Relations, Centre for Civil Society, Dr. Ambedkar Foundation, Centre for Asian Strategic Studies, Institute of Peace & Conflict Studies, etc.
- Trainee with advertising agencies
- Trainee Reporter/ Journalist with Print media and television companies
- An analyst with consulting companies such as Capgemini, Ernst & Young, Deloitte, etc.
Salary after liberal arts
The salary one can expect after completing a liberal arts degree in India can vary greatly depending on several factors such as the field of work, location, level of experience, and employer.
In general, liberal arts graduates can find employment opportunities in a variety of fields such as education, journalism, advertising, public relations, research, publishing, and more. Entry-level positions may start with a salary of around INR 20,000 to INR 30,000 per month, but with experience and skills, one can earn more
Graduates with a background in liberal arts may also choose to pursue higher education or specialize in a particular field, which can lead to higher-paying job opportunities.
It’s important to keep in mind that while a liberal arts degree may not directly lead to high-paying jobs in India, it provides a solid foundation of skills that can be applied in a wide range of fields, making it a valuable degree for those looking for a versatile career path.
Career progression in liberal arts
After a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts, most students continue their higher studies and enroll for a Master’s degree or an integrated Master’s and Ph.D. program. However, if you decide to take up a job and get opportunities in the kind of job roles mentioned above, you may grow as per the roadmap given below:
- If you join as a Project Assistant or Project Fellow with a Non-Governmental organization or NGO in a social sector project, you will grow through positions such as Project Manager – Senior Project Manager – Project Head – Associate Director – Director, etc.
- If you join as a Project Assistant or Research Assistant in a Thinktank organization, you may grow through positions such as Research Associate, Research Fellow, Research Scientist, Senior Scientist, Lead Scientist, Associate or Deputy Director, Director, etc. Remember for all these higher positions you will need higher degrees.
- If you join as a Trainee with an advertising agency, then you may grow through positions such as – Creative / Client Servicing Executive / Copy Writer – Senior Executive / Senior Copy Writer – Lead Creative Executive / Senior Manager Client Servicing / Senior Manager – Brand Services / Senior Manager – Account Planning and Branding, etc. – Creative Head / Creative Director / Account Director, etc.
- If you join as a Trainee Reporter/ Journalist with Print media and television companies, you will grow through positions like – Reporter / Journalist – Senior Reporter / Copy Editor – Sub-Editor – Associate Editor / Correspondent – Deputy Editor / Senior Correspondent – Editor – Editor-in-Charge / Managing Editor, etc.
- If you join as an Analyst with consulting companies then you may grow through positions such as – Associate Analyst – Senior Analyst – Lead Analyst – Senior Manager – Associate Vice President – Vice President – President, etc.
What do industry trends say – future prospects
Those who want to study Liberal Arts or Humanities may look forward to an encouraging future over next the 10-30 years horizon. With rapidly advancing technologies in robotics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, many experts believe that many of the routine office work and repetitive tasks that we humans do, and even analytical tasks that we do will simply disappear from the job market as more and more companies will employ robotic automation and artificial intelligence to do these tasks.
Besides, increasing complexity in the world of business, increasing dependence on technologies, increasing complexity of our society, breaking up of family structure, etc. are pushing humans to the edge. Mental health issues are increasing all over the world. People are feeling very high levels of stress and mental pressure from various sources and for various reasons. To deal with such situations, both at workplaces and home, human civilizations in the future will need people who understand human issues better than others. Human issues, which are difficult for machines to understand, at least in the next 50 years, will be dealt with by humans only. Education in Liberal Arts prepares one to take up such opportunities in the future.
Moreover, the emerging new world order, which is heavily dependent on technology, will change human relationships within families and within communities. How do you deal with the changes? How do we transition happily to emerging situations without being stressed? How will humans behave in the new societies in new settlements, let’s say on Mars or aboard a space station? Who will research such issues to find a solution? People with an education in Liberal Arts or Humanities will.
Therefore, although in the next 2-5 years, Liberal Arts/Humanities education may not see a noticeable increase in job opportunities, if we stretch the time horizon to 10-50 years, we will see a significant increase.
So, choose what your heart says. Choose a career not based on the degree but on your interests. Focus not only to get a high-paying job but to liberate your thoughts. Life is not about just making money. Do what you are good at and be where your heart lies, for money follows eventually when you put your heart and soul into the work. Thus, a career in liberal arts could just be the right choice for you, and if you feel it is, then you should definitely go for it.
As Robert Frost said,
“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
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Career options after liberal arts are economist, sociologist, public relations specialist, social worker, and HR manager.
A Liberal Arts education is a traditional program that covers four key areas: social sciences, natural sciences, humanities, and arts.
Students in liberal arts programs with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree can choose a large number of their courses. Bachelor’s degree programs prepare students for careers in a variety of sectors, offering them a variety of knowledge and skill sets.
Majors such as art history, American studies, and communications can be relatively easy to obtain if students enter a liberal arts college.
The Indian education system used to focus on rote memorization for decades, but now the development of skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, and adaptability makes the liberal arts even more important in today’s world.
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Anushree has 5 years of experience in the career counseling industry as a Senior Content Writer. She has also worked as a Social Media Marketing Expert for a startup and Content Quality Analyst for the Publishing and E-learning Industry. She has done her Master’s in Commerce and PGDM in Finance & Trade and Marketing & HR, but she is currently following her passion for writing.