What Studying a Humanities Degree Offers You

Have you ever wondered about the value of studying a humanities degree? It’s a question that may cross your mind as you browse through a university’s degree offerings. Compared to other majors, the job prospects for humanities graduates may seem less clear.

But here’s the truth: a humanities education actually equips students with some of the most sought-after skills in today’s workforce! Surprisingly, there are many fascinating majors within the humanities that provide graduates with transferable skills.

Let’s explore a few examples*:

*There are more majors in the humanities; these merely serve as examples!

1) Sociology

Sociology students study human behaviour within social contexts, requiring them to think critically and analyse complex political, social or economic systems. Issues they delve into include inequality, migration, urbanisation, family structures, etc.

Sociology majors must review and do tons of research, strengthening their capabilities in survey design, data collection and statistical analysis. This skill set translates well to roles in (but not limited to!) marketing, market research, or policy analysis.

The deep work these majors place in understanding organisations and institutions — plus the interconnections between groups and individuals — also prepares them for jobs in human resources, non-profit management, and government work.

2) Psychology

Psychology is a popular major because it’s pretty cool to understand the ins-and-outs about the human mind.

Like Sociology majors, Psychology majors learn to identify patterns, interpret data and draw logical conclusions from research. They also gain valuable interpersonal and communication skills through interacting with participants in experiments and practicing active listening.

These soft skills, along with hard skills in data analysis and research, translate well to careers in human resources, education, counselling, and healthcare fields beyond traditional psychology roles (which require higher tertiary qualifications). The emphasis on the human mind and behaviour also positions psychology graduates for jobs in marketing, advertising and product development that require insights into consumer motivation.

3) English

What about English? What does the study of literature help with?

Very naturally, students of English develop strong writing and communication skills through analysing texts and crafting essays. They gain the ability to think critically and interpret complex ideas quickly.

The exposure to different texts and content also invites a deep understanding and sensitivity to different perspectives and cultures — which is essential for careers in heritage and cultural institutions, for example!

4) Foreign Languages

Foreign language majors become fluent in reading, writing and speaking another language, which helps strengthen their career opportunities in translation and interpretation. In addition to linguistic skills, they develop strong intercultural competence and an understanding of other cultures.

These graduates are well versed in communication, adaptability and cultural sensitivity. Their proficiency in another language also gives them an edge in international business settings, which may require effective communication and relationship-building with clients, partners, and customers from different countries.

5) History

History majors explore and analyse past events, societies, cultures, and ideas, and how these have shaped the modern world. Their studies may include political history, diplomatic history, intellectual history, and military history, to name a few.

A History major has to analyse primary sources like written documents and architecture to understand the context and perspectives of the time. As such, they are proficient in examining information from multiple perspectives and will do well in careers requiring the understanding of complex problems from multiple angles.

Fields History majors can be found in include education, research, journalism, law, public policy, museum curation, archival work, advocacy, and more.

6) Philosophy

Philosophy involves the rigorous examination of fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, ethics, and the nature of reality. Given the nature of their study, Philosophy students learn to think rigorously and analytically.

Like many other humanities majors, they are valued for their problem-solving skills. They are also great at breaking down complex questions, framing and defining problems, crafting persuasive arguments,

Graduates of humanities majors, despite specializing in literature, history, philosophy or languages, often find themselves working in fields outside of academia that value the transferable hard and soft skills they gain throughout their studies. This is because employers recognize and value the transferable hard and soft skills acquired throughout their studies.

Many wildly successful people have humanities degrees, so don’t feel limited by what others expect you to do! Here are some examples, in case you don’t believe us:

Jack Ma (Alibaba Chairman)English
Susan Wojcicki (former YouTube CEO)English and History
Larry Sanger (Wikipedia founder)Philosophy
Stewart Butterfield (Flickr and Slack co-founder)Philosophy
Natalie Portman (Actress)Psychology
Michelle Obama (Former USA First Lady)Sociology

Ultimately, what matters most is your ability to articulate to employers how the skills developed through your chosen degree are relevant and valuable. When deciding what to study, it’s important to find a balance between your interests and goals. If a humanities degree aligns with your passions and aspirations, we encourage you to pursue it!


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