Good and Bad Reasons to Get a Liberal Arts Degree

Liberal arts degrees are criticized because people with liberal arts degrees often end up doing jobs that could be done without a college degree.  However, a “practical” degree is no guarantee of a job or a good salary.  While it is true that graduates with technical degrees generally have an easier time finding employment and have higher average starting salaries,  a liberal arts degree can be beneficial in certain circumstances.  A few points to help you make a decision about pursuing a liberal arts degree:

You should get a liberal arts degree if..

  • You’re really interested in a particular subject and don’t mind spending five or six years in graduate school.
  • You have a certain job or jobs in mind that you would really enjoy and that you can get with a liberal arts degree. See a list of common jobs for graduates with different degrees at
  • You don’t want to be limited to a particular field and like the flexibility that a liberal arts degree provides.  You’re willing to pursue further education if necessary.

You shouldn’t get a liberal arts degree if….

  • You want to maintain a high GPA and think it will be easier as a liberal arts major.
  • You’re interested in a subject, but not enough to spend many years in graduate school studying it in-depth.
  • You love the classes, but aren’t sure you would love the career(s) related to the degree.

An important consideration when choosing a major is financial aid. Determine the maximum amount of loans you should take out based on your major and try not to go over that amount.  If you have a good reason for getting a liberal arts degree, don’t worry about what others think.  Don’t put yourself through four (or more) years of misery because of societal expectations about what degrees are best.

For more information see my recommended books for liberal arts majors or the Jobs for Liberal Arts Majors page.

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3 thoughts on “Good and Bad Reasons to Get a Liberal Arts Degree”

  1. Really good advice. Every liberal arts major should read this because so many choose students choose a major for the wrong reason.

  2. Hi! I read your posting just now. You can get a liberal arts 4-year degree too (like Art). You can get a job with just that if you want to. Another good reason people like to hire somebody with a Liberal Arts degree is that they have proven that they can pursue a goal and complete it. Also, they are well-rounded people who have taken many other classes besides the ones in their major. Thanks for posting this!

  3. Thanks for your comments Ashley and E. Sheppard. I agree that completion of any college degree demonstrates motivation and a certain degree of intellect. As the recent MSU survey indicates, employers are looking for flexibility and liberal arts majors can fill a variety of roles.

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