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What Is the Value of a Liberal Arts Education?

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The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) calls liberal education “an approach to learning that empowers individuals and prepares them to deal with complexity, diversity, and change.” In addition, it “provides students with broad knowledge of the wider world.”

Liberal arts education further aims to equip students with practical skills like communication, as well as analytical and problem-solving skills. A 2021 AAC&U report on How College Contributes to Workforce Success highlighted a key takeaway: “A liberal education provides the knowledge and skills employers view as important for career success.” The survey also reported an aptitude for teamwork along with critical thinking as very important to employers.

How Does a Liberal Arts Education Apply to the Real World?

Students in liberal arts education programs delve into focused subjects. However, such programs intend to develop the capacity to learn, communicate and think critically, regardless of the subject matter. These skills are applicable to any discipline or venture, meaning students can explore a variety of interests.

The flexible online model of the University of Maine at Presque Isle’s B.A. in English – Professional Communication & Journalism Concentration allows students to continue working while earning a degree. This means they can apply their gained knowledge and skills directly to their jobs, deepening their education in real time.

Experience in the working world allows students to implement their communication, critical thinking and problem-solving skills in concrete ways and constantly adapt to new situations.

What Types of Real-World Experience Do Employers Seek in College Grads?

Research shows that employers value active and applied learning experiences for liberal arts majors. In partnership with AAC&U, Hanover Research conducted a survey of executives and hiring managers in the United States. The survey report lists various types of real-world experience that would make employers more likely to consider hiring a candidate. Here are the top three:

  • An internship or apprenticeship
  • Experience in community settings, working in diverse groups
  • A work-study program during college

Findings from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics back up the importance of real-world experience, too. There is a resurgence of support for liberal arts education and the transferable, essential skills such an education can impart. Specifically, those with an aptitude for teamwork and critical thinking tend to be among the highest-valued candidates.

UMPI’s online B.A. in English – Professional Communication & Journalism Concentration is a practical degree program focused on developing these skills through courses on professional communications, leadership and change management, as well as a field-experience practicum. By gaining a broad liberal arts education and real-world experience, graduates can look forward to strong job prospects for years to come.

Learn more about UMPI’s Bachelor of Arts in English – Professional Communication & Journalism Concentration online program.


Association of American Colleges & Universities:
2021 Report on Employer Views of Higher Education
Advocacy for Liberal Education

Liberal Education Can Save Itself

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation: The Value of the Liberal Arts in a “Techie” World

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Number of Jobs, Labor Market Experience, and Earnings Growth: Results From a National Longitudinal Survey

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