Debunking the Humanities Degree to Career Disconnect

“Academia today is dominated by the utilitarian mindset that values an education strictly on its monetary potential. We measure the success of a degree with the same tools we analyze stocks and assets: the higher the return on investment, the better. While this is not necessarily an objective evil, we must understand what we lose in the process: knowledge for the sake of human fulfillment and flourishing.” – Thomas Gilmore, Ava Maria University

As Gilmore states, graduates are entering a job climate that measures success solely on the salary and prestige of the position. The historical (and lingering,,,) perception of college graduates entering the workforce was that jobs in the humanities would provide less financial support post-graduation…  something that proves to be a risky outcome for students burdened with loans and family pressures. Because of that, in recent years, there has been a decreased interest in the humanities (studies in philosophy, languages, writing, performing arts, creative arts, etc). and universities are starting to pull back their support. “In one of the most recent and high-profile examples, West Virginia University cut all its foreign language degree programs-  (Inside Higher Ed).”

 “Some of that disconnect is the result of students not having a clear idea of the career paths a degree in a humanities field, such as history, literature or anthropology, can lead to. “Only about a third of our majors see a close relationship between their job and their degree,” said Townsend, who noted that humanities degrees help students develop strong research, writing and critical thinking skills. “We could do a much better job in terms of articulating both the skills students are getting that are incredibly valuable and transferable, but also in encouraging students to start thinking about what they’d really like to do.”

If you are struggling to determine and talk about your transferable skills- from major to potential job- we would help! For some immediate evidence that your major does not dictate your future, check out our Outcomes Reports.


By Laura Brasch
Laura Brasch Associate Director, The College