Liberal Studies Versus Concentrated Degree

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Madalyn Kafara
Professor Perry
March 7, 2012
Literature Review
Thesis Statement: Liberal Arts graduates who possess a wide array of skills have a less difficult time finding long-term employment compared to more applied streams of education. (May Change- I am still hesitant about my topic) A List: Philip Giles, Torben Drewes, and Jon Cowans

Abstract: The liberal studies education provides a graduate student with numerous skills and endless employment opportunities. In our continuously changing society and job market, many are struggling with finding employment within their careers. Research currently states that learning various skills and developing a broad-based skill set is the key to having a successful and long-lasting career. For some the liberal education means a general education in terms of “the classic great books,” as opposed to specialized training for a particular career. For others, it means the subject matter, “the liberal arts” or “the humanities.” Either way, the liberal arts offers a diverse education that prepares one for life. Annotated Bibliography:

Liberal Arts Degrees and the Labor Market, Philip Giles and Torben Drewes Although more fulfilling salaries for liberal arts careers are promising in the longer term, research says that those of applied majors tend to occupy more job offers and higher salaries at entry level (Short 1). “While both groups received substantial average hourly wages, wage rates for applied programs graduates were about 6% higher for both men and women” (Giles and Drews 29).Currently, there is a higher demand among employers for new graduates with majors such as engineering, health professions and computer science, however, a lower demand for new graduates with a liberal arts major. It is clear that majority of students are graduating with a technical degree such as business or engineering, however, research shows that graduates with a Humanities degree will develop stronger careers in the future. “Their longer-term career entry and advancement prospects may be equal or superior to those whose undergraduate majors are of immediate interest to employers” (Short 1). The article states that Humanities and social sciences students acquire different skills than those obtained in more vocationally trained settings (Giles and Drews 32). These Humanities skills, according to the article, earn lower wage rates in entry level positions, however, later in their careers there was higher rates of employment and wages than their applied program counterparts. The reasoning for this, according to Giles and Drew’s article, is it takes longer for liberal arts graduates to figure out what they want to do because the direction they want to go in is not as clear as those of a technical major such as business. “The picture that emerges is one in which individuals graduating from programs in the humanities and social sciences had considerably more difficulty with the school-to-work transition” (Giles and Drews 33). In other words, an engineering major has a more concise and direct education that leads them to a certain career, however those who are liberal arts graduates with a broad-based Humanities education, have a more explorative time finding what career direction to follow. Of What Use These Liberal Arts, Jon Cowans

A recent study says that Arts graduates were highly successful in gaining long-term employment because of their academic breadth and flexibility (Cowans 20). In Jon Cowan’s, Of What Use These Liberal Arts, a 2002 Trent University economics professor published a study called Value Added: Humanities and Social Sciences Degrees on recent university graduates in the job market. He wrote, “The development of more generic, but valuable, skills may actually give the liberal arts and science graduates a leg up on their more vocational counterparts since such skills are much less likely to be rendered obsolete by technological trade-induced shocks. The ability to switch sectors of...
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