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What Are the Benefits of a Liberal Arts Education?

If you are exploring higher education options, you may be wondering what the benefits of a liberal arts education are. The quick answer is that a liberal arts education curriculum allows students to explore various subjects rather than preparing for a specific career. If this type of degree sounds interesting, keep reading to learn more about the benefits of a liberal arts education! 

What is a liberal arts education vs. a liberal arts college? 

A liberal arts education focuses mainly on arts, sciences, humanities, and social sciences. A liberal arts education is usually found at smaller liberal arts colleges, but some large universities have smaller programs that offer a liberal arts curriculum. Larger universities are better known for preparing students for a particular career in a specific subject. Meanwhile, a liberal arts college encourages students to find an appreciation of (and connection between) all subjects. A liberal arts curriculum is designed to be very flexible and encourages students to try out different subjects before declaring their major. 

Related: What are the NESCAC schools?

Many liberal arts colleges are defined by the following characteristics: 

  • Small student population
  • High number of residential students
  • Intimate feel of small classes
  • Heavy focus on academics

Read more: What is a liberal arts degree? 

The benefits of a liberal arts education

Interdisciplinary approach to learning

A liberal arts education focuses on exposing students to a wide array of subjects. For example, math majors will take art classes and pre-med majors will take sociology classes. This type of broad education helps prepare students to succeed in whatever career path they choose. 

Opportunities to pursue a variety of career options

The exploratory nature of a liberal arts education allows students to discover what subjects they do and do not like. As students grow and evolve during their four years of college, they may learn that their original future plans are not something they wish to pursue long term. Luckily, a liberal arts education is the perfect way to explore subjects and find true passion. In addition, a liberal arts education allows students to keep their career options open because they will learn transferable skills rather than one specific skill set. 

Small size

Many liberal arts colleges are small institutions, especially when compared to public universities. Having a small size allows students to create a more intimate and close-knit environment to thrive in. In addition, small class sizes can help create a more hands-on, personalized learning environment for students. 

Admissions perspective

Some benefits of attending a smaller liberal arts based college is that you will get to know your professors and your classmates. This gives the potential to open different pathways, internships, and course curriculum that is dedicated to the student’s individual educational path.

Christina Labella

Director of Undergraduate Admissions

Manhattanville College

Learn critical skills

A liberal arts education strives to teach students important problem-solving and critical thinking skills. The goal is  to teach students “how” to think, not what to think. Meaning, rather than memorizing facts, students learn to examine, think, and connect ideas. The skills learned in a liberal arts education can help students outside of the classroom as they navigate the real world. 

Strong alumni presence

Due to the smaller size of most liberal arts colleges, they tend to have very involved alumni. This allows current students to connect and have mentoring opportunities with alumni. In turn, students learn through example about what can be accomplished with a  liberal arts education. 

Interactive classes

The smaller class sizes at liberal arts colleges and programs lead to a more interactive and engaging learning environment. A low student to faculty ratio often fosters deeper classroom connections and learning to occur. 

Post-graduation jobs

Liberal arts degree graduates learn broad skills that are valued by employers. For example, critical thinking, communication, and an open mind are just a few of the attributes that liberal arts education students are known for. 

Related: How to land a job after college

What can you do with a liberal arts degree? 

You can ultimately pursue whatever field you want after you receive a liberal arts degree. However, some common careers include:

Related: How to choose a college

Is a liberal arts education worth it? 

Ultimately, it is completely dependent upon you. Students have to figure out if the exploratory curriculum of a liberal arts college will best suit their needs. If you are going to college strictly as a way to land a specialized and/or higher-paying job, a liberal arts education may not be what you’re looking for. But if you hope to broaden your educational horizons and combine academic disciplines to reach a greater understanding of the world, it is probably a great fit.

No matter what educational path you take, paying for tuition will likely be a factor. Luckily, you can use our handy dandy free scholarship search tool to help you fund your education. 

Also see: Is college worth it?

Key Takeaways

Key Takeaways

  • A liberal arts education curriculum allows students to explore various subjects rather than preparing for a specific career
  • A liberal arts education is often found at liberal arts colleges, but larger schools have liberal arts programs as well
  • A liberal arts curriculum offers an interdisciplinary approach to learning
  • Liberal arts majors have opportunities to explore different subjects without committing to a career
  • Small liberal arts colleges or programs have close knit learning environments and ample opportunities to connect with professors and alumni
  • Employers value job applicants who come from a liberal arts background
Key Takeaways

Frequently asked questions about a liberal arts education

What are some of the disadvantages of a liberal arts education?

While many potential employers appreciate job seekers with a well-rounded liberal arts education, others prefer graduates with more tangible skill sets. For some majors, a liberal arts college may not have the most technologically advanced equipment. However, as mentioned earlier, not all liberal arts degrees are earned at small colleges. For students pursuing a liberal arts education within a larger, well-equipped school, they will have the best of both worlds. 

Can you get a high-paying job with a liberal arts education?

While recent liberal arts graduates might initially earn less than those immediately enter the STEM fields, they eventually do. A large-scale study by Georgetown University demonstrates that the return on investment (ROI) of graduates at liberal arts colleges and universities are nearly identical over a graduate’s lifetime. 

Related: What is the average starting salary out of college?