What Can I Do with a Humanities Degree? Below is a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) about how the Humanities in general and MSU’s Humanities Program in particular prepare students for the workforce. Do you have a career-related question about the Humanities Program that’s not answered here? If so, please contact the Humanities Program coordinator with any inquiries.   

Question #1: How does a Humanities Major make me competitive on the job market?

Answer: It’s true that there are not many jobs called “Humanities” in today’s job market, but this does not mean that there are no jobs available for Humanities majors. Quite the contrary. In fact, a 2018 article published in Forbes shows that students who majored in Humanities have a statistically higher rate of employment (or, lower rates of underemployment) than business majors. Additionally, in a longitudinal study conducted by AT&T, employees with either a humanities or social science background were found to be stronger than engineering majors and similar to business majors in administrative skills and motivation for advancement. Graduates in these areas demonstrated the strongest interpersonal skills. The Humanities Program at Midwestern State University prepares students to become competitive job candidates by stressing flexible skills that are in demand by the vast majority of employers. Because the Humanities curriculum challenges students to perform as high-caliber academic learners, analytically-minded intellectuals, and articulate communicators of complex and nuanced ideas, students who graduate from MSU with a bachelor’s degree in Humanities are equipped to excel in a variety of job positions rather than remain limited to a single career field. A degree in Humanities gives employers tangible proof that their applicant is a thoughtful, analytic, creative, communicative, and articulate individual who appreciates complex ideas and dynamic thinking. These are skills that are in high demand in every single career field, yet very few academic disciplines stress them—or even require them—as much as Humanities. Lastly, for those students are interested in law school, museum curation, arts programming, grant writing, fundraising, or non-profit work, the Humanities program prepares students for the workforce by hosting five internships available to students on an application basis.

Question #2: How does a Humanities Minor make me competitive for jobs in my Major field?

Answer: The Humanities minor at Midwestern State University is designed to complement any major field. Because the vast majority of the Humanities minor requirements also fulfill portions of the college’s Academic Foundations and Core Curriculum requirements, any MSU student can easily incorporate a Humanities minor into their degree plan without adding extra time to their degree completion date. Students who earn a Humanities minor are able to present themselves as highly competitive job candidates because the Humanities minor provides an employer with tangible proof that, in addition to demonstrated competence in their major field of study, they have also honed the extra analytical, interpretive, critical, and communicative skills that come from studying the Humanities. Adding a minor in Humanities to complement your major can help distinguish you from the other job candidates that all have the same degree you do! Humanities minors are also welcome to take advantage of the five internship opportunities available through our program for hands-on experience in only some of the many career fields in which Humanities students are prepared to excel.

Question #3: What type of employers typically seek to hire Humanities majors/minors?

Answer: This is a difficult question to answer, mostly because one of the biggest advantages of a Humanities major is its wide applicability on the job market. Teachers, lawyers, editors, curators, and writers are common careers for Humanities students, but Humanities majors excel in any job that requires “soft” skills like interpersonal relations, reading and textual analysis, communication, and the like. These are skills that are in high demand in nearly every career field, including business and technology. To help direct students toward particular career paths, the Humanities Program at Midwestern State University hosts a variety of internship opportunities in legal and arts-related fields. However, these particular opportunities in no way define the career limits of the Humanities major. Students with degrees in Humanities also have high rates of success in fields not typically associated with the liberal arts. For example, a recent article in Pacific Standard argues that the skills developed in Humanities courses are directly responsible for creating quality doctors, which is why polls show that more and more medical schools are admitting students from humanities disciplines (see Question #6 for more details on this subject).

Question #4: Shouldn’t I prepare for a job that’s in demand right now?

Answer: Because job market demands move in cycles, the formerly “hot” market may be glutted with qualified applicants by the time you graduate with your job-specific degree. Also, if you have chosen a field primarily because it seems lucrative or open now, you may discover later on that you don’t enjoy the coursework or even the job itself. There’s an inherent advantage in studying a field you enjoy, a field for which you show an aptitude. That way, you will continue a lifetime of stimulated learning and performance in your profession. Furthermore, many corporate executives have acknowledged that “soft” skills like communication, critical thinking, and adaptability (the exact skills honed by the Humanities) are increasingly lucrative in contemporary and future workforces. Since automation continues to replace human labor with machines, employers are turning to liberal arts majors who have skills that cannot be automated, such as creativity, intellectual curiosity, communication and interpersonal skills. In an interview with Bloomberg, billionaire Mark Cuban recently advised students to study liberal arts disciplines like Humanities for their inherent and irreplaceable skills in a shifting workforce. 


Question #5: Isn’t it risky to major in something that doesn’t have a specific career attached to it?

Answer: Yes, it is, but we unfortunately live in a time when every degree carries this same risk. No degree includes an employment guarantee, and even though many degree programs share the same name as career occupations, this does not mean that those degrees are more likely to lead to employment than others. In fact, recent studies show that Humanities degrees have a statistically lower rate of underemployment than business and marketing degrees! Additionally, current research indicates that college graduates today will change careers, not simply jobs, a number of times before they reach retirement age. That information suggests that a wise course of action for undergraduate students is to pursue an education that is both broad and flexible—one that develops students in those areas that employers across the country consistently rate at the top of their hiring priorities: effective oral and written communication and interpersonal skills.


Question #6: I want to be a doctor, so Humanities courses are a waste of my time, right?

Answer: Wrong. Angira Patel’s article, “To Be a Good Doctor, Study the Humanities,” is an excellent resource for why students considering careers in medicine should major in Humanities before going to medical school. On the one hand, the rigors of a reading-intensive major excellently prepare students for the type of work that will be expected of them in medical school. On the other hand, Patel shows that the skills developed in Humanities coursework are the same qualities of a good physician. This is also why a recent study showed that doctors with backgrounds in Humanities exhibited lower levels of job burnout and higher levels of “positive physician attributes like empathy, tolerance of ambiguity, wisdom, and emotional intelligence.” For these same reasons, top medical schools across the country have shown increasingly high rates of accepting Humanities majors into their programs. Those numbers indicate that, while Humanities majors only comprise 3.5% of the total number of medical students, they are accepted to medical schools at a rate of 50%, which is higher than the national average of 41%. Further studies show that, once in these medical programs, students with Humanities backgrounds perform as well or better than students with undergraduate degrees in STEM fields.

Question #7: Do I need a specific undergraduate degree to get into professional schools like law, medicine, dentistry, accounting, or business?


Answer: It depends on the professional school you wish to pursue. The Humanities Program enables students to develop rigorous analytical, interpretive, rhetorical, and interpersonal skills, which makes it a popular major for students interested in going to law school or medical school (see Question #6 above). Some professional schools, like Accounting or Dentistry, might require applicants to have already completed specific course prerequisites as undergraduates even if they do not require that students have majored or minored in a specific field. Sometimes (but not always), the prerequisites are so specific that it makes sense to major in that particular field. Other programs, like Business or Management, might not require a particular major or minor but do require some amount of professional experience. Regardless of your major or the professional school you wish to enter, adding a Humanities minor to your degree plan can strengthen your application by demonstrating that your intellectual skills extend beyond the particularities of your major field (see Question #2 above). If you are interested in a Humanities major or minor and aspire to a specific professional school after you graduate from MSU, your best bet is to visit a Humanities advisor to discuss your range of options.

Question #8: Will majoring or minoring in Humanities help me get into graduate programs within the liberal arts?

Answer: MSU’s Humanities Program offers an excellent undergraduate foundation for further graduate study in the liberal arts because it offers students (1) a broad course of study across a wide range of humanistic inquiry, (2) a focused approach to prevalent social and cultural issues, and (3) an opportunity for students to pursue their own individual academic interests. As a result, Humanities provides students with both the foundational knowledge in a variety of academic fields and the specialized critical/theoretical skills required to excel in graduate school. For this reason, the Humanities Program has a strong record of placing its graduates into competitive master’s and doctoral programs in fields as wide ranging as Architecture to Philosophy. Any Humanities student considering graduate school in a liberal arts field should meet with his/her Humanities advisor as soon as possible to discuss an individualized plan for success.

Question #9: I know I’m interested in the Humanities but I don’t know what career(s) to pursue when I graduate. What should I do?

Answer: Your career goal is ultimately a decision that only you can make, but your Humanities advisors are available to offer help or advice. Please feel free to get in touch with a Humanities advisor at your convenience. In addition to meeting with your advisor to talk about possible strategies for your degree plan, one recommended course of action is to complete your Core Curriculum requirements before your decide on a major or minor degree plan. Every student will have to complete these requirements regardless of his/her major or minor, and the curriculum is designed to offer students a wide range of foundational academic preparation, so fulfilling your core requirements will give you the opportunity to test a variety of disciplines and learn what interests you and what does not. Some of the Humanities courses fulfill the “Cultural & Global Understanding” and “Language, Philosophy, & Culture” core requirements; some of the courses within the “Creative Arts” core requirements also fulfill Humanities major requirements.

Question #10: What can I do if I want to learn more information about MSU’s Humanities Program?

Answer: If you still have questions after looking over our Program website, please do not hesitate to visit the Humanities Program offices on the second floor of Bea Wood Hall or email the Program Coordinator directly. Additionally, our Facebook page includes program updates and details about course offerings and events on campus. We encourage anyone interested to follow us on Facebook @msuhumanities.