How Liberal Arts Majors Can Get Ahead

Robyn Tellefsen | January 9, 2013

liberal arts majors jobsIf you just earned your bachelor’s degree in comparative literature and you’re finding slim pickings in the job department, don’t despair. There are steps you can take to become more attractive to employers.

Yes, we’re talking about adding business skills to your resume – but don’t think that undermines your liberal arts education or makes you a sellout. You can have the best of both worlds. And there’s one graduate program in particular that can help you get there.

Launched in 2006, the Master of Arts (MA) in Management Program at Wake Forest University (Winston-Salem, NC) is a competitive 10-month intensive program designed specifically for recent liberal arts, science, and engineering graduates who have no significant work experience.

It’s a program that could be entitled “Professionalism 101,” as it seeks to transform students into polished young professionals with the core business knowledge that employers are actively seeking.

Coursework in the MA in Management program includes business concepts related to finance, marketing, operations, quantitative analysis, accounting, economics, organizational behavior, ethics, and information technology. Students are immersed in these disciplines through four specialized, integrated modules: baseline competencies, managerial competencies, functional management, and functional depth.

The learning environment is experiential and hands-on, emphasizing the value of teamwork and collaboration in solving problems. As such, students are required to complete two Graduate Business Consulting Projects, which create value for the sponsoring organizations while enabling students to apply and reinforce course material utilizing data from an actual organization.

Derrick Boone, associate dean of the program, believes schools need to be teaching students more soft skills like communication, teamwork, interviewing, and resume writing. “This is something that is being dictated by the market,” he says. “Currently, the program is about 70/30 technical to soft skills, but it’s moving in the direction of 60/40.”

Next year, the program will even adopt a 9-to-5 mentality, where students will be asked to stay in the building from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

If it turns out that business is truly your thing, the MA in Management can give you a head start toward earning your MBA – you’ll just need to meet the Wake Forest Full-Time MBA admissions requirements and complete about one additional year of study.

Another program worth checking out is the 60-credit Part-Time MBA at the University of Connecticut, which is designed for students with backgrounds in liberal arts, engineering, natural sciences, and social sciences as well as business administration. Prior coursework in business is not a prerequisite. UConn MBA students may design individualized programs to suit their personal and professional needs, and may also develop more than one area of concentration. Courses are delivered in Hartford, Stamford, and Waterbury all year long and are generally offered evenings, weekends, and in a variety of blended formats.

So if you’re wondering what in the world you’ll do with your liberal arts degree, rest assured that you’ve got options. A little bit of business training can go a long way toward equipping you with a competitive advantage in the workplace.

4 responses to “How Liberal Arts Majors Can Get Ahead”

  1. Sani says:

    This is so great, Robyn. So many people have been discouraged to enter liberal arts fields, but this is encouraging!!
    -Sani @ CollegeFocus

  2. Thanks, Sani! I’m a liberal arts grad myself (communications), and I wouldn’t trade the experience. =)

  3. susiewatts says:

    As a private college counselor, I encourage students to consider a liberal arts major. In talking with many employers, I find they are often more interested in hiring liberal arts majors than business majors. They appreciate the critical thinking and communication skills students gain from the liberal arts. They can always teach them the business.

  4. That’s a great point, Susie. Thanks for your expert insight!

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