Stephen F. Austin State University

Why Liberal & Applied Arts?

Why Get a Liberal & Applied Arts Degree?

For many of our students, a liberal arts or science degree opens doors to further graduate study or professional school, but for many others a bachelor's degree provides all the foundation needed for a solid career. According to several national surveys, major employers tend to look for the right skills rather than the right major. What are the "right" skills? According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), employers put the following at the top of their collective list:

Why Are These Skills Valuable?

First, these are basic skills. "Basic skills" are the reasoning, researching, planning, and communication tools you need to successfully communicate, problem-solve, and argue effectively. All employers are looking for people who have these skills and you are more likely to be hired and eventually advance in your career if you possess these skills.

Second, according to Lawrence R. Malnig and Anita Malnig in their book, What Can I Do With A Major In…? "Business leaders most frequently cite the ability to learn in new situations and the capacity to analyze, evaluate, and interpret data information management as two of the most important qualities that successful executives must possess" (Malnig, 147). All of the skills in the above list provide you with the ability to learn in a new situation. In fact, corporate executives of a number of large companies find that "students of the humanities tend to learn fast and advance quickly." (Careers for Philosophers, American Philosophical Association publication, p.31).

Third, all of these skills are often referred to as transferable skills. They are not job-specific. You can take these skills with you from one setting to another. This is critical given the latest prediction that in your professional/career lifetime, you can expect to hold 10-12 jobs in three to five different fields.

Fourth, these skills prepare you to be a life-long learner both professionally and personally, a value that has already been mentioned. These skills also help you find personal satisfaction while pursuing just about any area of interest such as reading, writing, sports, gardening, music, chess, and politics for example.