Humanities & Careers in the News

You may have heard that humanities majors can’t find jobs, or that you’ll never make as much money as students who major in something more “practical.” Perhaps you’re concerned that humanities majors aren’t equipped with the essential skills and competencies that will help their companies thrive. There’s a lot of misinformation out there!

We’ve gathered research from experts—researchers, journalists, and employers—to give you a fuller picture of what the humanities can do for you and your career.

Did you know…?

  • Those taking arts, humanities and social science degrees end up in jobs in 8 of the 10 fastest-growing sectors of the economy more often than their STEM graduate counterparts.
  • Writing skills can boost pay in administrative jobs 8%, while the ability to think and plan strategically can have a 3 to 9% impact on salary. 
  • Companies whose CEOs have humanities degrees include American Express, Alibaba, Slack Technologies, YouTube, Pinterest, Bank of America, Airbnb, General Dynamics Corp., and Logitech.

In fact, there’s so much research supporting the humanities that we can’t share it all here! See our News Archive page for earlier articles, and read on to learn about the latest humanities news, organized by theme:

“Why We Still Need to Study the Humanities in a STEM World,” Valerie Strauss, Washington Post (October 18, 2017): The more our world automates, the more it will need the human skills and thinking that cannot be automated. This give humanities majors a distinct advantage in the new 21st century economy. Only through engaging in various thinking, questioning, and analysis processes through the liberal arts, of which humanities is a co-equal partner to STEM and the social sciences, can one “mature into a successful, productive member of society who can appreciate others, experience and embrace the notion of empathy, and seek lifelong learning.”

“Why ‘Worthless’ Humanities Degrees May Set You Up for Life,” Amanda Ruggeri, BBC (April 1, 2020): Most people believe that your major will dictate your career—and most people have the humanities “all wrong.” CEOs of high tech companies such as Uber and OpenTable hire English majors to help them collect and interpret data to improve their customers’ experiences. In fact, humanities students have "the ability to communicate and get along with people, and understand what’s on other people’s minds, and do full-strength critical thinking – [and] all of these things were valued and appreciated by everyone as important job skills.”

"The Arts and Humanities Deliver Untapped Value for the Future of Work," Benjamin Wolff, Forbes (April 6, 2021): There has been a recent trend of downplaying humanities careers, championing STEM and trade jobs instead. However, it doesn’t need to be one against the other: humanities and sciences work hand in hand. People have started to recognize the significance of the arts and communication within the sciences. Technology-centered schools are welcoming humanities students for their thoughtful perspectives and creative processes. Employers are embracing the humanities as well: “With the rise of artificial intelligence, machine programming, and the ever more rapid automation of technical skills, many companies are seeking just the creative and humanist thinking that emerges from a study of the liberal arts.” Even as technology advances, arts and humanities majors can employ their skills in new and fresh ways.

"The CEOs of YouTube, Slack, and Whole Foods All Have Liberal Arts Degrees.  Here’s Why That Matters,” Nick Wolny, Entrepreneur (January 13, 2021): College graduates today will likely not have careers that follow linear paths; rather, their professional lives will take different shapes and make different turns as they progress. What's important for successful entrepreneurs are skills such as creative thinking, tenacity, performing under pressure. These skills—one's “greatest entrepreneurial weapons”—are hallmarks of humanities education. 

“Liberal Arts in the Data Age,” JM Olejarz, Harvard Business Review (July–August 2017): Employers from as far afield as Silicon Valley to the Pentagon are recognizing that humanities majors are particularly well-equipped at tackling today’s technological challenges because they are adept at thinking critically about the human context of global problems. The prevailing STEM-only mindset encourages computer science majors to prepare themselves for jobs that currently exist. But with a technologically-driven world embracing fast-paced change, those current jobs are likely to change dramatically or disappear entirely within a decade, since many tasks that once required specialized knowledge and skills are becoming more and more automated. A “well-rounded learning experience”—including the humanities—prepares computer scientists and technologists with the human perspectives to develop solutions that address real human problems.

“No, Humanities Degrees Don’t Mean Low Salaries,” Gwen Moran, Fortune (December 10, 2019): Most people don't associate the humanities with high-paying professions, but this thinking is “misguided.” In fact, humanities majors secure employment at pretty much the same rate as other types of degree holders, and research shows that the outlook for highly transferable skills learned in the humanities is strong, especially in a job market that increasingly values the essential skills and perspectives the the humanities teach and reinforce.

Humanities Graduates are Just as Employable: Do the Sciences Really Lead to More Jobs?” Chris Stokel-Walker, The Guardian (September 10, 2020): You don’t need a technical background to succeed in a technical field! Research that suggests humanities majors are more adaptable to different jobs, which becomes ever more important for the unpredictability of work in the 21st century. And, with their more generalized and translatable skills, humanities graduates are often more able to find jobs during economic downturns than are STEM graduates.