Behind the Credits: Humanities

As rewarding as earning a degree is, deciding on which one to pursue can be extremely challenging. To help with that, we’re putting together a spotlight series designed to offer a quick glimpse at specific areas of study. We’re calling it “Behind the Credits,” and this edition focuses on the humanities.

There’s a stigma that you’ll never get a job with a humanities (also known as liberal arts) degree, but the stats tell a different story. According to one Georgetown University study, the average unemployment rate for those who recently obtained a humanities degree is 9%. That’s slightly better than computer science and math majors, both 9.1%, and not much worse than all majors combined at 7.9%. Plus, believe it or not, those with business degrees face one of the highest unemployment rates post-college due to how much competition there is within their field.

Now that you’re a believer in the real world value of a humanities degree, let’s explore what goes into getting one.

First off, what exactly are “the humanities”? Rens Bod, author of “A New History of the Humanities: The Search for Principles and Patterns from Antiquity to the Present” insightfully explains it like this:

“It is like the notion of ‘time’ in St. Augustine: if you don’t ask, we know, but if you ask, we are left empty handed. Since the nineteenth century the humanities have generally been defined as the disciplines that investigate the expressions of the human mind. Such expressions include language, music, art, literature, theatre, and poetry. Thus, philology, linguistics, musicology, art history, literary studies, and theatre studies all belong to the realm of the humanities.”

“Sooo…what classes do I need to take?” you’re probably asking. That’s a good question, because there are tons that fall into the above disciplines. But, as a quick sampling, let’s take a look at some of the humanities classes that you can earn college credit for simply by taking a DSST test. These courses are typical of the ones you’d find in an undergraduate humanities program. We’ll run through the class material, and then discuss how it could help you once you graduate.

Ethics in America

From affirmative action to stem-cell research, this class focuses on both past and present hot-button issues that define America’s ethical challenges. Using reading, writing, and discussion, you’ll explore multiple perspectives on each topic.

With so many companies valuing diversity and unique outlooks, understanding and empathizing with various viewpoints is an extremely valuable asset in the workplace. Additionally, being educated on the topics that divide and unite our nation is a trait that can help you earn respect and build relationships in any line of work.

Principles of Public Speaking

In this class, you’ll tackle the thing that many people fear more than death: speaking in public. You’ll learn how to research, compose, and present your material, how to analyze your audience, and how to absorb criticism and evaluation.

Challenging as it is, being a standout public speaker and presenter is a surefire way to get noticed and promoted in virtually any field. Even in the corporate world, there are very few people who can truly command a room. If you can become one of these people, word will travel fast—and so will you.

Principles of Advanced English Composition

In this course, you’ll discover the many elements of effective writing. You’ll read and write multiple arguments and learn how to properly use secondary sources.

Not unlike public speakers, good writers are a rare breed in the professional world. If you can use your writing to concisely and effectively convey your point, coworkers, and even managers, will find it hard to argue with you. Even just crafting thoughtful, succinct emails can get you noticed during the interview process and beyond.

Please note that the above examples barely touch on the vast range of subject matter you could study while pursuing a humanities degree. Other areas of focus include philosophy, religion, art, literature, music, and more. While your career path may be less clear than that of other majors, you should be confident that many employers will love the critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and creativity skills you’ve acquired while pursuing your humanities degree. After all, the humanities are about understanding how humans work.

Considering earning college credit for the humanities knowledge you already have? Try your hand at a DSST practice test to see if you have what it takes to earn college credits the fast, affordable way.

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