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Career FAQ

What Can I Do with a Humanities Degree?

Question #1: Don’t you have to major in a field connected with a specific career? 

Answer: While some majors (like engineering and computer science) prepare students for specific careers, most don’t have an explicit connection to career areas. Students majoring in Humanities have a wide variety of career options to choose from because they develop skills—such as writing and interpersonal relationships—that are transferable to many fields.  

Current research indicates that college graduates today will change careers, not simply jobs,a number of times before they reach retirement age. That information suggests that a wise course of action for undergraduates lies in an education that is both broad and flexible and that develops students in those areas that employers across the country consistently rate at the top of their hiring priorities: effective oral and written communication and interpersonal skills. 

Question #2: Shouldn’t I prepare for a job that’s in demand right now? 

Answer: That’s a dangerous way to go. Because job market demands move in cycles, by the time you graduate, the formerly “hot” market may be glutted with qualified applicants. Also, if you have chosen a field primarily because it seems lucrative or open,you may discover later on that you don’t enjoy the coursework or the job itself. A better course of action is to study a field you enjoy, a field for which you show some aptitude. That way, you will continue a lifetime of stimulating learning in your profession, and you’ll probably achieve considerably more in your field. 

Question #3: Wouldn’t I have to do a specific undergraduate major to get into professional schools such as medicine, business, law, or dentistry? 

Answer: Although some professional schools require or recommend certain academic prerequisites, most require no specific major. Often, only broad skills are sought, such as the ability to read and write well and to think critically. Humanities majors, for example, have higher acceptance rates to medical schools than do biology majors. 

Question #4: Isn’t coursework in my major the only important factor that will help me get the kind of career I want? 

Answer: No. Supplementary courses and independent study projects can also be helpful. Also important are student organizations, athletics, social groups, student government, internships, summer and part-time jobs, and volunteer activities. All of these can help develop skills that add to self-understanding, job-awareness, and professional contacts. Employers consistently place a high value on such experiences. 

Question #5: Will anyone want to hire a Humanities major? 

Answer: In a longitudinal study conducted at AT&T, employees with either a humanities or social science background were found to be stronger than engineering majors and similar to business majors in administrative skills and motivation for advancement. Furthermore, graduates in these areas demonstrated the strongest interpersonal skills.