“Our culture is more shaped by the arts and humanities than it often is by politics.” – Jim Leach
Did you know that a significant number of the world’s CEOs have a degree in the humanities? Or that all those papers humanities students write end up making them stronger communicators that are highly sought-after in the private sector? Forget everything you’ve been told: there are heaps of reasons to earn a degree in the humanities.
Here are five reasons why you should consider making this your major:
1. The humanities give you a broad worldview
In the age of scientific discovery and specialisation, it’s increasingly rare for graduates to have a well-rounded skillset. And that could be bad news for the companies of tomorrow – even in the high-tech sector. In an interview with Fast Company, Georgia Nugent, Senior Fellow for the Council of Independent Colleges, said, “It’s a horrible irony that at the very moment the world has become more complex, we’re encouraging our young people to be highly specialized in one task.” With a humanities background and a few specialised skills on your CV, you’ll be a top pick for tomorrow’s employers.
2. Have a humanities degree? Employers want you!
The reality is that a humanities degree qualifies you for a lot more than teaching. The skills acquired in a humanities programme are a lot more desirable than many people realise. In a survey published by the Chronicle of Higher Education, more than two out of three graduates of the humanities ultimately entered the private sector.
Image courtesy of Nick Karvounis
3. Humanities graduates make great leaders
A few years ago, 4Humanities published an outstanding infographic with loads of information about where a degree in the humanities can take you. One of the many standout features on the infographic has to do with humanities and leadership; for starters, one survey found that almost 60 percent of U.S.-born CEOs had degrees in the humanities. Furthermore, 65 percent of UK members of parliament had an arts, humanities or social sciences degree at the time of another survey (2011).
4. Studying the humanities makes you a stronger communicator
It’s easy to understand why humanities graduates are so good at getting a point across. The curriculum they trained in revolves around developing an idea, connecting it to others and then defending your position. Of course, all this occurs in the form of writing and speaking. Suffice it to say, by the time you graduate, you’ll know a thing or two about how to convey your ideas. And that’s a great thing for a variety of reasons. In one survey after another (including this one), employers state that one of the top assets they’re looking for in a new hire is strong communication skills.
5. The humanities teach you to think – critically
Anytime someone speaks in defence of the humanities, they’re bound to bring up critical thinking. It’s a well-worn cliché that studying the humanities is all about analysing and problem solving. From an outside perspective, it may seem that the humanities is all about reading literature and interpreting art, but this is really just a means to an end. When you study the humanities, you learn to challenge long-held ideas about yourself – as well as about culture and society. The ability to ask tough questions make humanities graduates confident problem-solvers, and that’s yet another sought-after skill in today’s workforce.
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To sum it all up, students of the humanities learn to master critical thinking and combine this with a broad worldview at a time when algorithms threaten to reduce the world to a series of statistics and equations. Not only that – humanities graduates are typically much stronger communicators than their STEM counterparts.
In that sense, a humanities degree carries more currency now than ever before – especially when combined with other more grounded skills and specialisations.
Here’s a list of highly-acclaimed universities with exceptional humanities programmes on offer:
Western Sydney University is an illuminating example of what a difference strong vision, a passionate faculty and world-class facilities can make in the quality of education that a university offers.
In less than three decades of operation, this university continues to rise through the global ranks of higher education. And last year, it was listed on the Times Higher Education ‘World University Rankings: Top 100 Universities Under 50’ list.
Image courtesy of Western Sydney University
This is a prestigious list to land upon, and it’s by no means the only one to feature Western Sydney University. WSU was also recognised as one of the Top-400 universities in the world by the 2016 Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities, and as a top contender for the arts and humanities by the Times-QS World University Rankings.
The School of Humanities and Communication Arts provides coursework at the undergraduate, graduate and research level. The academic focus here is creative, contemporary and interdisciplinary – with 133 academic and 42 professional staff on hand to work with students at every level. Even the teaching staff have been nationally recognised by the Australian Awards for University Teaching.
Needless to say, this is an outstanding place for international students to pursue a degree in the humanities.
In addition to the highest-calibre teaching, students also enjoy access to world-class facilities, including language labs, photography studios, video facilities, journalism studios and more. And with Sydney and the surrounding area right on their doorstep, it’s safe to say that students at Western Sydney University never run out of things to do.
As one of New Zealand’s largest institutes of higher learning, Massey University is a popular place for international students from the Asia-Pacific region, and the world, to earn a prestigious degree. New Zealand may be a small country, but Massey maintains an exceptionally large student body of more than 35,000 students – roughly half of whom are engaged in distance learning. The campus hosts around 4,400 international students from more than 100 countries.
Massey University ranks in the Top three percent of universities worldwide according to the QW World University Rankings. It offers several Bachelor degrees through its College of Humanities and Social Sciences. These include a traditional Bachelor of Arts, along with degrees in education, resource and environmental management and speech and language therapy.
Students can also earn a highly specialised Bachelor of Teaching Māori.
Image courtesy of Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Since assuming full university status in 1994, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has placed itself on a fast track to global recognition.
The QS World University Rankings recently ranked PolyU as number six on its list of the ‘Top 50 Under 50’ – which recognises institutes of higher learning that have been in operation for less than 50 years, and PolyU has received many accolades beyond that.
The Faculty of Humanities is one of the youngest faculties in Hong Kong, and there’s plenty of youthful energy to propel it forward. QS World University Rankings place the Faculty of Humanities in the Top 100 universities globally, and the Top 17 in Asia.
Students can apply for a wide range of academic programmes at the undergraduate level, with taught postgraduate programmes and research postgraduate programmes also available.