What is a Liberal Arts Major Anyway? 3 Things You Didn’t Know You’d Study

Posted by IPFW Admissions Team on 1/31/17 9:00 AM

What exactly do people mean when they say “liberal arts”?

Unlike degree programs like electrical engineering or radiography, where you know pretty much exactly what you’ll study based on the name, a liberal arts degree encompasses a broad range of disciplines, from language to mathematics to the sciences.

The idea is to develop both your left and right brain.

Majoring in liberal arts gives you a strong, interdisciplinary foundation for your education, and it’s your job as a student (and as a scholar) to put the pieces together and see how different areas of study—such as psychology and philosophy, political science—fit together and inform one another.

Employers across the country—and across different industries—are increasingly recognizing the need to attract and recruit graduates with a well-rounded education. These graduates come to the workforce with a lot of knowledge and experience in different areas of study, and because of their interdisciplinary education have honed their ability to think critically, solve problems, and synthesize ideas.

In fact, you might be surprised by some of the well-paying jobs for liberal arts majors.

But what exactly will you study in a liberal arts program?

Writing, Communication, and Language 

A cornerstone of a liberal arts education is the ability to communicate and interpret. If you choose to pursue a degree in liberal arts, expect to take a lot of classes on writing, speaking, reading critically, and how humans communicate with one another through different media.

You may find yourself taking courses in broadcast journalism, linguistics, foreign languages, poetry, or organizational communication.

We guarantee you this: the ability to write, form logical arguments, and effectively communicate is often what separates some of the most successful graduates from the rest—and a liberal arts-based education should help ensure that you have that in spades.

History, Philosophy, and Psychology

Because the liberal arts pull in a lot of different ideas from a lot of different places, it’s important to know where those ideas came from—and how they got started. Most liberal arts programs will have you taking classes in history, philosophy, and psychology to better understand how to understand and interpret our collective train of thought.

You may find yourself in an art history class on the Italian Renaissance, a survey of 18th century French philosophers, or a psychology course on stereotyping and prejudice.

Sociology, Political Science, and Anthropology 

Understanding how people live and work together, how they arrive at their beliefs, and how they function in a society is an important aspect of any liberal arts degree. Your program will likely have you taking courses in sociology, political science, and anthropology to help you better understand and think critically about the human experience. 

If you’re interested in exploring liberal arts as a major, keep in mind that a broad education means broad career opportunities—in fact, you might be surprised by some of the successful people who earned a degree in liberal arts.

And if you’re feeling uncertain about your major, be sure to check out . Or, download our guide to Choosing a Major.

Get the Majors and Careers 101 Guide 

Topics: Choosing a Major





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