Arts & Humanities Degree Guide

A ranking of the best bachelor's degrees in the liberal arts and humanities. Programs ranked by affordability, flexibility, and academic quality.

Updated February 3, 2023 · 5 Min Read is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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We have all heard the tired jokes about majoring in “How to Become a Barista.” But without the arts and humanities, we would have no films, music, museums, or books! And who would want that?

Science, technology, and engineering majors are all the rage, but unless you are a left-brain type of person, these fields might not be as fulfilling. What are we right-brains to do? “Oh, the humanities!” The humanities cover an incredibly broad spectrum of interests, from foreign languages to history to actual art. This means that students who choose to study this path have a wealth of different paths and opportunities that they can choose to pursue!

If you're undecided but know you want a liberal arts education, check out College Choice's list of the Best Liberal Arts Colleges.

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Arts & Humanities FAQs:

What Do Those Who Study Arts & Humanities Do?

Holding a degree in one of the arts or humanities is a sign of a broad education spanning social sciences, arts, language, and history. This person has an open mind to differing views, backgrounds, and beliefs. Arts and humanities teach critical thinking skills, analysis, research, and problem solving. These majors foster a deeper sense of self, a love of knowledge, and independent thinking. Students learn to adapt their expectations and achieve flexibility in any endeavor. They have excellent skills in writing, speaking, reading, and communicating.

Explore any university’s Liberal Arts programs, and you find hundreds of interesting choices. Consider majoring in Creative Writing or Art History. Perhaps Sign Language or Theater Design fit best. Other options include Classic Antiquity, Middle-Eastern Studies, Gender and Sexuality, African-American Studies, Public Administration, and Jazz Studies. Master a difficult language like Mandarin or Hungarian. Delve into Latin American Studies. Become a master sculptor or metalsmith. Let your interests guide you.

If your interest is piqued by the vast array of career possibilities for Liberal Arts and Humanities majors, go for it. Do what makes you happiest. Graduates have translated these skills into unexpected careers. A Women’s Studies major might apply to law or medical school, for example. And business leaders like Mark Cuban and Google’s Jonathan Rosenberg say that degrees in the liberal arts and humanities are more valuable for “future-proofing” your career than anything else. In fact, Cuban even says that if he were just starting college now, he’d major in philosophy over accounting.

How Much Money Can You Make If You Study Arts & Humanities?

Since there are so many subjects to choose from when you study the Arts & Humanities, there is quite a bit of variation in salaries and job markets. Statisticians, for instance, make about $80,500 a year. This is a career that you can start with a Bachelor’s degree while earning a Master’s, and which is projected to see a 34 percent increase in jobs by 2024. Interpreters and translators have one of the most in-demand jobs. While pay is lower, with a median salary of $46,120, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates 17,500 new jobs in the next seven years. That is a spike of 29 percent. Students looking into fields such as fashion design will find New York and California to be the most job-friendly states. And Georgia, Massachusetts, and New York offer the highest median salaries, of around $70,000. Though when cost-of-living is taken into account, Georgia and Utah offer the best ratio of average salary to cost-of-living.

A job growth rate of 27% is expected for web designers in the next decade.

What Arts & Humanities Degrees Are Available?

An Associate’s Degree generally paves the way toward a Bachelor’s degree, though it’s not necessary if you’re going straight into a Bachelor’s program. With just two years of study, students can choose a single concentration such as music, history, or art. An Associate in Graphic Arts earns upwards of $37,850. An Associate’s degree in Textile Design could result in an average of $67,000.

The Bachelor’s Degree allows a broad spectrum of interests, which could lead to Interdisciplinary Studies or a double major. The first two years tackle general education requirements in math, science, language, English, and social sciences. Many of these classes fall under the Arts and Humanities umbrella. Take these opportunities to explore interests before declaring a major. The National Association of Colleges and Employers issued an April 2017 report on Bachelor’s degrees in Humanities with the highest starting salaries. A Liberal Arts or General Studies diploma merits an average income of $51,100. English Language or Literature graduates earn an average of $50,125. Following those two are Visual and Performing Arts ($48,714), History ($47,500), Foreign Language or Literature ($47,000), and Philosophy ($47,000).

Master’s Degrees lead to positions in higher education, or as head librarians, historians and art critics. Master’s programs usually require a thesis or a capstone project. A Master’s in Sociology leads to a starting wage of $57,080. Time Magazine lists average earnings with both a graduate degree and ten years of experience. The salaries range from $100,000 to $138,000. And if you really love books, you could go for a doctorate.

A PhD candidate prepares a dissertation on a topic of special interest. Instead of studying something general like English Literature, the subject may be “Humanism and Chivalry in French Renaissance Literature.” A PhD opens the door to careers as professors and researchers, directors of nonprofits, and managing editors. A PhD earns approximately 10 to 17 percent more than a Master’s degree holder.

What Arts and Humanities Specialties Are Available?

If you’re interested in studying the liberal arts online, check out our ranking of the best online liberal arts degrees, all from respected and accredited colleges and universities. If you’re interested in a specific field within the arts and humanities, take a look below at our descriptions and rankings in specific fields.

Graphic Design

From billboards for television and movies to magazine and book covers, the work of graphic designers covers our world in color and life. As these industries continue to grow, so too does the demand for qualified, well-trained graphic designers who can turn engaging concepts into eye-popping and imaginative displays. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 250,000 graphic design jobs in the United States, with employees expected to earn almost $23/hour. And if you’re looking for a job that offers maximum flexibility, graphic design puts that control in your hands. One out of every five graphic designers is self-employed, and those in industry enjoy the flexibility of being able to pursue any of the many specializations within the field. College Choice has published lists to help any student wishing to enter this exciting field. For students seeking a traditional collegiate experience there is our ranking of the Best Bachelor’s in Graphic Design Degrees and the Best Master's in Graphic Design Degrees. But just as students might value flexibility in their careers, they may also value flexibility in their education, so we’ve also ranked the Best Online Bachelor’s in Graphic Design Degrees and the Best Online Master's in Creative and Design Degrees.

Fine Arts

The Fine Arts covers a wide range of subjects, genres and creators, bringing together visual artists, writers and novelists, poets, playwrights, and filmmakers. Movie audiences around the world continue to make the art of film an exciting and lucrative pursuit, while the year 2017 has also seen record sales for paintings and sculptures, towering into the tens of millions of dollars. Thanks to its variability, the field of Fine Arts has any number of exciting career options available for graduates to pursue. Freelance writers earn an average of almost $30/hour, while also enjoying the benefits of the modern publishing industry, including self-employment and self-publishing. There is also tremendous growth in other areas of the fine arts: the BLS predicts “faster than average” job growth for filmmakers, around 9% over the next ten years. College choice has compiled a general ranking of Best Master of Fine Arts Degrees, for those who feel the Fine Arts is there calling, but don’t quite know which field yet. And for students with a disposition towards writing, especially for the flexibility of its career options, there is the Best Online Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Degrees ranking.

Arts & Technology

Library Science

While others may be utterly overwhelmed by information overload these days, you find the plethora of resources exciting! You love everything about information science, technology, and management – and you’re always looking to learn more! Plus, you love sharing your findings with others! Sound like you? While the word “library” may seem a bit archaic, library science is a growing major. You’ll learn to manage and evaluate collections, respond to the information needs of others, and use the latest technology to improve access to information. According to Payscale, those with a master’s degree in Library Science report that they are “extremely satisfied” with their jobs. Whether you’re a library manager, archivist, law librarian, or library director, you can expect an annual salary upwards of $55,000. Popular cities for folks in this career include New York, Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Excited to start your career in this industry? Luckily, College Choice has ranked the Best Master's in Library Science Degrees! We’ve also ranked the Best Online Master's in Library Science Degrees for those looking for a bit more flexibility without compromising the quality of the program. If affordability is your primary consideration, take a look at the Most Affordable Online Master's in Library Science Degrees.




Interior Design



Social Studies

Art History


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