Why Your Humanities Degree Is Valuable

If you have made the brave decision to study some form of humanities, you have probably heard it all. How are you going to make money? Why go to Hopkins if you aren't engineering or pre-med? What are you going to do with a degree in History??? We are in an era that emphasizes the importance of STEM and innovation. From Girls Who Code to the rapidly growing technology industries, there is more of a push for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics than ever before. It can be discouraging, then, for people who want to pursue a Liberal Arts degree. I am here to assure you that your humanities studies are not worthless. In many ways, they actually give you an advantage over those who are solely pursuing STEM.


Humanities students are challenged to utilize critical writing and reading skills, creativity, and ethics. Through subjects such as history, sociology, and anthropology, students are able to gain a broader understanding of the world at-large, surrounding cultures, and how society has developed into what it is today. People who study humanities are more likely to be critical and informed citizens. They are well-read and venture to ask questions about why things operate in the way that they do. They are the people who become leaders and influencers in their field.


These transferrable skills can be useful in any field of work. Another huge plus is that humanities courses are completely unique. Whereas most computer or science courses are taught in the exact same way each semester, no two discussion-based courses will give the exact same experience. Many of these STEM courses that teach technical skills are also easily accessible online at any time. Humanities courses are much richer in person, so undergrad is a perfect window to focus on these invaluable experiences.


The biggest concern for many people is money. Although money isn’t everything, one doesn’t have to throw their desire for monetary success out the window in order to pursue a degree in the humanities. There is good money to be made in the field of arts, teaching, public relations, and more. And having a degree in humanities does not limit you from having a job in a scientific field. Many medical schools emphasize the importance of having a diverse background of knowledge and skill. Hiring managers do not want robots; they want people with the technical as well as interpersonal skills! There are also countless examples of CEOs with degrees in humanities. Sam Palmisano, former CEO of IBM, graduated from Hopkins with a degree in History in 1973. Last year, he returned to Hopkins to speak to current undergrads about the great value of his Hopkins degree and the success he was able to gain from his humanities studies.


Today’s academic climate can be discouraging for those of us who have a passion for something other than tech or math, but I would encourage anyone who has an interest in the arts to pursue it. Whether it be teaching or running a Fortune 500 company, whenever you are doing what you love, you are winning.