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What Are the Liberal Arts in Education?

02.04.2023 • 7 min read

Jennifer Rivera

Subject Matter Expert

The article defines what liberal arts education is, explains the different degree fields, and lists possible professions you can do with the degree.

In this Article

  1. What Are the Liberal Arts?

  2. What Fields Are in a Liberal Arts Education?

  3. Why Should You Consider a Liberal Arts Degree?

  4. 8 Professions You Can Have With a Liberal Arts Degree

  5. What Will You Learn With a Liberal Arts Degree?

What Are the Liberal Arts?

You may have heard the phrase “liberal arts,” but what does it mean?

‌A liberal arts education is a broad-based education. This means ‌along with the ‌skills in your chosen major or minor, you’ll take courses to develop other skills like:

  • Problem solving

  • Critical thinking

  • Communication

Taking courses unrelated to your major is not unusual, especially if earning your degree. On the other hand, your school may use the liberal arts as a general education building block for the entire college.

For example, if you are an art major, you will also take science courses to learn about problem solving using the scientific method. A physics major will also take courses in fine arts to learn about concepts like space and color from an artistic perspective.

Having this broad-based education helps you to look at challenges from multiple perspectives.

What Fields Are in a Liberal Arts Education?

A liberal arts program includes 4 broad fields. Let’s look at each one.

Social Sciences

These are the disciplines looking at humans, how they form societies, and how those societies function.

Social sciences include:

  • Anthropology

  • Geography

  • Psychology

  • Sociology

  • Economics

  • Political science


The humanities are an area of study that looks at how people interact with each other throughout the world. These courses ‌promote critical thinking.

The humanities include disciplines such as:

  • History

  • Philosophy

  • Art

  • Music

  • Communication

  • Languages

Formal Sciences

Formal sciences involve the study of formal systems. They use a formal approach in their methods and use abstract concepts to solve problems and answer questions.

They are considered a subcategory of the liberal arts. Formal sciences explore other fields of knowledge.

Examples of formal sciences include:

  • Mathematics

  • Logic

  • Set theory

  • Game theory

  • Statistics

  • Computer science

Natural Sciences

Natural sciences refer to the scientific disciplines studying the natural world. These courses use empirical evidence, the scientific method, and logical reasoning to investigate and explain the physical world and its phenomena. Natural sciences provide us with knowledge about the universe and how it works and how it can be used to better our lives.

These disciplines include:

  • Biology

  • Chemistry

  • Physics

  • Astronomy

  • Geology

  • Zoology

Why Should You Consider a Liberal Arts Degree?

A liberal arts degree gives students a well-rounded education. It can set you up for a successful future in a world where the job market is changing all the time.

Here are 5 reasons you should consider a liberal arts degree.

1. Enhances creative skills

A liberal arts degree will set you up to navigate the ever-changing world we live in by showing up as your best self.

The creative skills you gain in your degree program will help you become an out-of-the-box thinker who can come up with innovative new ideas. This skill is in demand in today's hot market, which leads to a plethora of job opportunities.

2. Prepares you to be interdisciplinary

In any future job, you will need to collaborate with others, which means learning new skills and topics. Liberal arts learners have training in diverse areas. ‌They have multiple skills to draw on and know what it takes to quickly adapt new learning to their present position.

Having many skills is essential because you will change careers—frequently. The average time people stay with one employer can vary from 4 to 10 years. With these skills, you can help you take changes in stride.

3. Equips you to work in a diverse world

Globalization is increasing with the integration of economies, societies, and cultures. Advances in technology, communication, and transportation drive this integration, allowing the flow of goods, services, people, and ideas to cross borders.

The world is a diverse place, and the United States is becoming more and more diverse. In fact, the “Post-Millenials” are likely to become the most diverse and most well-educated generation in the history of the United States.

Liberal arts degrees emphasize studying diverse cultures, which can prepare you for tomorrow’s workplace.

4. Strengthens problem-solving abilities

The ability to solve problems carefully has been an enormous asset to any company. As time has gone on, the complexities of problems have become much greater in our interconnected world.

Since students take courses in a wide variety of subjects through a liberal arts education, these students have a broad range of knowledge. Liberal arts courses put students through challenges.

They demand knowledge from many different areas of life.

Being able to look at a problem through a diverse lens prepares students to more easily navigate difficulty when it arises.

5. Teaches you the skills employers want

The liberal arts curriculum ‌has a strong focus on skills employers are looking for, sometimes called soft skills. Examples include communication, the ability to work in teams, problem solving and critical thinking. Skills like these ‌are prominent in the liberal arts. They not only help you in your current position but will help you get promoted to the next one.

8 Professions You Can Have With a Liberal Arts Degree

Truly, the number of jobs you can get with a liberal arts degree is countless. Many of these jobs are well-paying too!

Here are 8 common professions you can do with a liberal arts degree as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

1. Public Relations Specialist

This position works to create a positive image for the organization and its products. You interact with the public and with the media as a representative of the organization.

Median SalaryExpected Job GrowthBest Jobs Ranking

2. Content Marketing Manager

A content marketer is responsible for creating and managing content to promote a company's products or services. They typically use various forms of media—such as blogs, social media, email campaigns, and videos—to engage potential customers and build brand awareness.

Median SalaryExpected Job GrowthBest Jobs Ranking

3. Human Resources Specialist

A person in this position helps to hire and screen applicants for an organization. They also train employees and answer questions about salaries and benefits.

Median SalaryExpected Job GrowthBest Jobs Ranking

4. Research Analyst

A research analyst looks at the market in relation to a ‌product. People in this position determine the target audience for a product and the price by studying data and trends.

Median SalaryExpected Job GrowthBest Jobs Ranking

5. Community Health Worker

This person helps give people the healthcare they need. While they aren’t doctors, they have the general knowledge to do home visits, provide health education, and track the health of people in the community.

Median SalaryExpected Job GrowthBest Jobs Ranking

6. Technical Writer

People in this profession help translate technical processes into a language ‌nearly everyone can understand. Technical writers create instruction manuals and how-to guides to help people understand how a product works.

Median SalaryExpected Job GrowthBest Jobs Ranking

7. Graphic Designer

Graphic designers work on any visuals an organization uses, including advertisements or brochures. They also design newsletters, annual reports, or other pieces of media put out to the public.

Median SalaryExpected Job GrowthBest Jobs Ranking
$50,7102.6%Not ranked

8. Journalist

Journalists do ‌much more than write in newspapers. They may also write blogs, podcasts, community newsletters, and opinion pieces. As they move forward in their careers, they ‌specialize in areas such as sports, politics, business, or community service.

Median SalaryExpected Job GrowthBest Jobs Ranking
$48,370-9%Not ranked

What Will You Learn With a Liberal Arts Degree?

You will learn many skills in higher education with a liberal arts degree.

Here are several of the top skills you can develop:

Communication Skills

You can develop verbal and written communication skills for multiple settings, like business emails or public speaking. Many professionals are required to present their ideas in meetings or summarize them in writing. Those who can communicate best ‌get their ideas heard.

Research Skills

All the research you did for your papers can pay off in your career. You learn how to evaluate, synthesize, and interpret data to create effective reports. Your ability to communicate research findings in a clear and concise manner can apply to a wide range of fields.

Problem Solving

Within a month of being on the job, you will probably get a task you have never done before. Sometimes there’s training, but not always. Many times you have to figure your own solution. Problem-solving skills will help you succeed in complex situations like this.

Critical Thinking and Reading

People read texts and normally take them at face value. But those who have experience in the liberal arts have learned to look at words from a critical perspective. You think about the context of the words and the strength of the arguments behind them.


Teamwork isn’t only about wanting to work together. It’s thinking about the different roles ‌team members can play, how they interact, and what strategies can help bring everyone together toward a favorable outcome. A liberal arts degree includes many courses that will give you experience with teamwork.

Ethical Decision-Making Skills

The news is filled with executives who lost their jobs because of ethically questionable memos or tweets. Liberal arts graduates are prepared to think from multiple perspectives. You can evaluate the ethical implications of different courses of action and identify potential conflicts of interest.

Cultural Awareness and Understanding

You can develop cultural awareness by studying and understanding different cultures and their beliefs, values, and customs. You recognize and appreciate the diversity of cultures and how they shape the world and people's lives. Cultural differences impact communication and interaction. You understand this and develop the ability to interact with people from different backgrounds.

An Associate of Arts in Liberal Studies allows you to earn a top-rated degree from the comfort of your home. In partnership with Golden Gate University, Degrees+ uses Outlier’s award-winning educational platform to create an online learning experience that’s engaging and interactive.

The Degrees+ program offers students the chance to transfer their credits into a bachelor’s degree program upon completion or graduate with their associate degree at a fraction of the cost of traditional college.

Choosing to pursue a liberal arts degree opens the door to many opportunities, no matter what life brings. The transferability of the liberal arts skills will tell future employers ‌you can be an asset to their team.

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