A new long-term report indicates that liberal arts graduates may start off slower than their undergraduate peers who specialize in other fields, but they tend to make up ground over the years and make more money than those who studied professional and pre-professional programs by the time they reach their mid-50s. The study was a joint effort by Association of American Colleges and Universities and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems.

According to a story in Inside Higher Ed,

“Liberal arts majors may start off slower than others when it comes to the postgraduate career path, but they close much of the salary and unemployment gap over time, a new report shows.

“By their mid-50s, liberal arts majors with an advanced or undergraduate degree are on average making more money than those who studied in professional and pre-professional fields, and are employed at similar rates. But that’s just one part of the paper’s overall argument that concerns about the value of a liberal arts degree “are unfounded and should be put to rest. [emphasis added]

“That’s a myth out there – that somehow if you major in humanities, you’re doomed to be unemployed for the rest of your life. This suggests otherwise,” said Debra Humphreys, a co-author of the report and vice president for policy and public engagement at the Association of American Colleges and Universities. “That sort of journey to professional success is more of a marathon than a sprint.”

The report, “How Liberal Arts and Sciences Majors Fare in Employment,” includes U.S. Census data from 2010 and 2011 . . . . Humphreys and her co-author, Patrick Kelly, a senior associate at NCHEMS, looked at long-term career path and salary data as an answer to the many short-term studies on recent graduates that have fueled the assertion that liberal arts graduates are disproportionately un- or underemployed.”

For the full Inside Higher Ed article, go here: How liberal arts grads really fare, report examines long-term data.

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