April 20, 2016
For centuries, liberal arts education has been a foundation of learning. Since ancient times, people have immersed themselves in subjects like philosophy, languages and literature. By developing their intellectual knowledge, they were able to become productive members of their societies.
Fast-forward to today, and these liberal arts topics are now often part of students' general education requirements - no matter what program they're enrolled in. From fine arts to social sciences, these courses help provide students with a well-rounded education that allows them to begin expanding on their skills, as well as become citizens of the world.
Yet, many students each year decide to further pursue these topics, electing to major in one at the university level. By focusing their attention on areas such as English or writing, they move on to work toward traditional liberal arts degrees, which continue to be popular today.
So, exactly what is a liberal arts degree? Often considered a passion program, it could include topics such as communication, history, creative writing and literature. As a student of these programs, you'll be able to delve deep into the works of Shakespeare, the history of World War II or your own creative writing - and so much more.
What is a liberal arts degree in terms of the skills you'll develop? Graduates of liberal arts programs are known for their analytical, communication and research skills that are the foundation of these disciplines. These skills are increasingly valuable: 44 percent of senior executives identify the lack of soft skills as the noticeable gap in the U.S. workforce. This means with a liberal arts degree, you can fill a job market void in various business fields with a strong background in communication, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration.
Liberal arts degrees - which are available online through Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) - can offer you a broad range of careers to choose from. For example, a history degree could position you for careers at museums or historical associations, but it also could give you a leg up in unexpected jobs like campaign workers, lobbyists or researchers.
Many students question, "What can I do with a liberal arts degree?" The answer: Plenty. What is a liberal arts degree in regards to employment? It's a journalist, political scientist, public relations specialist, playwright, politician, copywriter, lawyer or a community health worker - just to name a few desirable careers.
In fact, a number of today's top CEOs earned their degrees in liberal arts: Howard Schultz of Starbucks (communications), Susan Wojcicki of YouTube (history and literature) and 2015 SNHU commencement speaker and recent presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, formerly of Hewlett-Packard (medieval history and philosophy). Fiorina said to Time magazine, "I must tell you, (my liberal arts background) did prepare me for life. I learned how to condense a whole lot of information down to the essence. That thought process has served me my whole life. ... I'm one of these people who believes we should be teaching people music, philosophy, history, art."
If you're still questioning, "What can I do with a liberal arts degree?," read on to discover how some SNHU students used their programs to lay the groundwork for their ultimate goals.
Olympia Jones '15 has had the lifelong dream of becoming a children's book author. In her online program at SNHU, the BA in Creative Writing & English with a concentration in Fiction, she received feedback from both instructors and classmates that helped develop her writing. "I feel like I succeeded in these workshops because I put my all into them, and my classmates were able to inspire me to do my best." Her work has paid off: Through two workshops, she completed two children's stories - one of which is currently being illustrated for publication. "I will finally be a published author," she said.
For Wesley Randall '18 enrolling in SNHU's BA in History with a concentration in Middle Eastern Studies is taking him a step closer to realizing his goal. "I already have a background in radio/television broadcasting from a local technical college, but I wanted a bachelor's degree to help me become a foreign correspondent in the Middle East," he said. The specialized concentration is giving him the professional edge he needs: "No matter what, I will always cherish the fact that SNHU helped me get a bachelor's degree in a subject I love that I can use on multiple levels."
Monica Stevens '15 built upon her associate degree in nursing by earning her BA in Communication with a concentration in Professional Writing at SNHU. "There are aspects of nursing that I love, but I came to the realization that it was never my dream," she said. What is a liberal arts degree for Stevens? It's a way to combine her medical background with a career in communications to become a medical writer. As her own children prepare to embark on their college journeys, she reminds them that they never have to settle: "I want my kids to see that you may not be able to change the past or control everything about the present, but you can work toward the future that you want."
What is a liberal arts degree for you at SNHU? Learn more about the online programs offered at the associate, bachelor's and master's levels, and see yourself succeed in a passion program today.
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Timothy Woodward grew up in a small town in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. He earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in film and writing in California and an MFA in Fiction from SNHU.