Why Choose Humanities?

What Are the Humanities?

student looking at presentation
Students listening to lecture


The humanities are fields of study related to the human experience in its past, present and future forms. These include disciplines like History, Philosophy, Literature, and Religion as well as interdisciplinary subjects like Women’s Studies, Environmental Studies, Latina/o Studies, and Cinema Studies. Students in the humanities aim to understand the human dimensions of any problem, idea, or conviction and, in turn, the impact of systems, processes, or beliefs on human culture and society. Studying the humanities trains students to recognize and appreciate the diversity of human life and experience, allowing them to comprehend, question and transform an increasingly globalized world.

You may have heard disparaging remarks about humanities degrees. Perhaps you’ve been told that obtaining a humanities degree won’t help you get a “real” job. On the contrary, studying the humanities provides students with many of the skills employers want: effective communication, critical thinking, ethical decision-making, and the ability to solve complex problems. And humanities students know that numbers don’t tell the whole story. In addition, humanities graduates have comparable employment rates to graduates with other degrees and to tend to rise successfully through the ranks because of their versatile skill set.

In short, the capacity to see bring habits of mind grounded in the human condition and skills that reflect those values makes humanities students among the most necessary in this new world of work we are facing.

To learn more about why the humanities matter, check out the infographic “The Humanities Matter!” from 4Humanities.

What Can You Do With That?

So what can you do with a degree in a humanities field? An enormous range of things, as it turns out. Individuals who majored in the humanities have gone on to become academics, politicians, CEOs, journalists, film directors, scientists, activists and more.

You may think that it would be better to just get a degree more directly related to what you think you want to do. However, many people are quite vocal about owing their success to their “offbeat degrees.” For example, Walt Disney CEO Michael Eisner, who double majored in English and theater, stated in a USA Today article that his knowledge of literature is “unbelievably helpful, because no matter what business you are in, you are dealing with interpersonal relationships. It gives you an appreciation of what makes people tick."

Many other notable CEOs echo his sentiment in the same article, stating that they wouldn’t have gotten where they are today without their background in a so-called ‘useless’ degree. Having people from many different academic backgrounds, they argue, is essential to bringing fresh perspectives to the table.

You can find out more about how majoring in the humanities can be helpful outside of academia in the article 11 Reasons to Ignore the Haters and major In the Humanitiesfrom Business Insider.

Resources to learn more about successful humanities alumni: