Beyond the Numbers: How a Humanities Major Can Boost Your Employability

Humanities Major Can Boost Your Employability

Humanities majors often get a bad rap for their inability to land jobs. However, this is simply untrue. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree in the arts outearn those without one in every state and district. Additionally, a degree in the humanities can provide students with valuable skills that will benefit them throughout their careers.

Interpersonal Skills

The world is social, and the workplace requires interacting with others. That’s why employers seek employees with skills that machines can’t replace, like emotional intelligence and empathy. These are the soft skills a humanities major acquires through history, philosophy, and literature studies. In a study, they tracked thousands of humanities graduates over their career paths. They found that those who studied history and modern languages were the most successful at navigating the job market. The report also cited that these subjects provide graduates with personal fulfillment. While there has been a trend towards STEM degrees at the college level, it’s important to remember that a well-rounded education can help you in any field. A degree in the humanities is an excellent foundation for a wide variety of careers, including business, law, and non-profit work. The ability to think critically, communicate effectively, and be creative are essential for any job. It’s just a matter of finding the right fit.  But if you are intrigued by the prospect of a social science major and are still deciding between humanities vs social science. Choosing between a humanities and social science major is based on individual interests and academic preferences. Opting for a humanities major provides an immersive exploration of human culture, literature, and philosophy, fostering a deep understanding of the human experience. On the other hand, a social science major offers a more analytical approach, allowing students to investigate societal structures, behaviors, and patterns through empirical research, equipping them with valuable skills for understanding and navigating complex social issues. Ultimately, the choice between humanities and social science majors depends on one’s passion for literature and culture or a desire to engage with the systematic study of human societies and behaviors.

Emotional Intelligence

A humanities degree may not teach you how to code or do math, but it can equip you for a career in people management, planning, and problem-solving. According to a study, these roles are growing in importance as the world becomes more automated and digitalized. People-friendly humanities majors are especially valuable in such an environment because they are usually a good fit for roles involving many people management. These roles include sales, customer service, teaching, and much more. Emotional intelligence (or EQ) is one of the most critical soft skills in the workplace. It’s the ability to recognize and regulate your emotions and understand and assess those of others. People with high EQ tend to be self-aware and have a strong sense of empathy, which makes them great leaders and team members. This is especially true during a crisis when they can help their teams navigate through difficult times.


Many students hear headlines about which majors make the most money or are most employable. These articles tend to celebrate fields like engineering or medicine. However, it is possible to build a rewarding career in humanities, a field that explores concepts and ideas. While it may seem counterintuitive, studying humanities and social sciences provides essential skills for the job market. The discipline encourages communication, critical thinking, and a unique perspective on the world around us. These are skills that all employers seek. Hannah, a third-year Advanced Humanities student, believes that her degree taught her how to communicate and be open-minded. The program also encourages respectful debate, which can help a student learn to view an issue from a different perspective and consider a range of opinions. These communication skills are essential for a thriving workforce, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. As jobs are increasingly automated, employers seek workers with skills that machines cannot replace – “uniquely human” skills such as those acquired through the study of humanities and social sciences.


Many humanities students choose to focus on an area of interest. They can assemble lower-level courses in foundational fields from there to form their interdisciplinary study path. For example, a student interested in the activist movements of the 1960s might pursue a combination of art, communication studies, history, English, and political science coursework to learn about activism, music, film, literature, and philosophy to understand this critical era better.

Ultimately, this kind of learning prepares students to develop creative solutions to problems. A report cited employers seeking workers with “uniquely human skills” that machines can’t replicate—like creativity and problem-solving.

The ability to think critically is also a crucial skill for humanities majors. Coursework that requires them to examine numerous sources, synthesize information, and build a persuasive argument trains students to approach issues with a critical eye and identify bias. They also understand how different people perceive and interpret the same information, a key asset in working with diverse team members.

Critical Thinking

In a world where decision-making is often done through online communication, thinking critically is one of the most sought-after skills in the workplace. Virtually all humanities courses involve some level of writing, which trains students to organize their thoughts and convey their ideas logically and persuasively in written form. Unsurprisingly, this skill carries over into the workplace and makes for a highly valued humanities graduate.

The research behind this study also highlighted that the resilience of graduates with a humanities degree was likely to help them adapt in a post-COVID labor market that is expected to experience increasing automation and digitalization and where flexible working patterns will be the norm. Employers interviewed for the report stated that this was a key reason they value humanities graduates.

As well as subject-specific skills, the report found that many humanities graduates draw throughout their careers on the sense of self-formation and deep understanding they gained by studying history, languages, culture, and literature. They say this helps them make “wider contributions” to tackling the most significant challenges humanity faces, such as navigating “fake news” and other social media manipulation, responding to climate change, and considering the ethical implications of artificial intelligence.

Sarah Harris

Sarah Harris: A passionate educator dedicated to inspiring learning through creativity and technology. Making education engaging and accessible for all.

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