What Is Meant by "Liberal Arts College"?
Liberal arts colleges focus their resources on providing a liberal arts education, also known as a liberal education. In Merriam-Webster's definition, this kind of education aims to "bring about the improvement, discipline, or free development of the mind or spirit" rather than narrowly train students to perform tasks for a particular career. With this mindset, they often provide degrees in liberal arts disciplines at the expense of subjects such as business, engineering, technology, and agriculture.
What Is the Difference Between a Liberal Arts College and a Regular College?
Liberal arts institutions are colleges rather than universities: They almost exclusively confer undergraduate credentials, such as associate degrees, bachelor's degrees, and certificates. They tend to enroll fewer students than other types of colleges, with smaller class sizes and faculty who prioritize teaching over research. Liberal arts schools are also exclusively private rather than public, receiving most of their operating budget from tuition and fees instead of government money.
Are Liberal Arts Colleges Worth It?
Bachelor's degrees are often worth the cost and effort, so attending a liberal arts college can be worthwhile if you want to study a liberal arts major at a small institution. We list some of the potential pros and cons below to help you weigh your options.
What Are the Benefits of a Liberal Arts College?
Liberal arts majors often teach transferable skills that employers crave. These schools emphasize a comprehensive liberal education that features plenty of practice with team collaboration, critical thinking, and writing — all of which can prove useful in the job market.
Small class sizes may mean more accessible faculty, which might help you develop mentors and get questions answered sooner.
What Are the Drawbacks of a Liberal Arts College?
As private, nonprofit institutions, liberal arts schools tend to cost more than other kinds of colleges. This might lead you to incur more student loan debt.
These institutions may not have as wide a range of available services and extracurricular activities as larger public schools.
What Is a Liberal Arts Degree?
The liberal arts fall into three categories: humanities, social sciences, and natural or physical sciences. We list some of the most popular majors for each of these categories here, along with links to bachelor's program pages where you might find degree options at liberal arts colleges.
Is a Liberal Arts Degree Worth It?
Bachelor's degrees in general are usually worth the time and cost, and it's no different for programs in liberal arts subjects. On the whole, college-educated professionals earn significantly more and experience less unemployment than less educated employees. Liberal arts majors help you develop knowledge and abilities that may let you secure and succeed in a variety of fields.
FAQs About Liberal Arts Colleges
What Is a Christian Liberal Arts College?
Christian liberal arts colleges share the key features common to any liberal arts college but were initially founded by a particular Christian denomination. The influence of this founding mission varies by school: At one end, each degree program may be taught from a Christian perspective, but at the other end, you may receive a largely secular liberal arts education with a required course or two about Christian doctrine and history.
What Is a College of Liberal Arts?
A college of liberal arts is a division within a wider college or university that houses the school's undergraduate programs in liberal arts. This type of unit can also be called a "college of liberal arts and sciences."
What Can You Do With a Liberal Arts Degree?
There are a wide range of liberal arts subjects and an even wider range of jobs you can get by studying them. Below are a few examples of career paths that liberal arts graduates have chosen, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data:
- English majors commonly work as teachers, writers, business managers, and lawyers.
- History graduates have often found jobs as teachers, management analysts, and executives.
Biology majors frequently go on to roles in medicine, pharmacology, education, and physical science.
Liberal arts colleges are usually small, privately funded, and focused on delivering bachelor's degrees in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. This may appeal to you if you want to practice transferable skills in a setting with smaller class sizes than you'll find elsewhere.