Liberal Arts Grads Achieve Lasting Earning Power

January 23, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 10.25.15 AMAn article recently written by Allie Grasgreen on combats the general assumption that Liberal Arts majors ultimately earn less than their peers with degrees in different fields. According to the studies shown in the article, this skewed assumption is largely based on research conducted on recent graduates’ salaries as opposed to a Liberal Arts graduate’s earning power over time.

While Liberal Arts grads are shown to have less earnings than their peers initially following  graduation, their earnings steadily increase over time to the point in which Liberal Arts graduates earn approximately “$2,000 more at peak earning ages” (56-60), making around $66,000. However, it is important to note that these higher earnings are based on graduates who possess an advanced degree, prompting Anthony P. Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, to advise “almost any liberal arts graduate to get a graduate degree.”

As for unemployment rate, the amount of unemployed people with Liberal Arts degrees does decrease over time. Studies show that the rate drops from 5.2 % at the ages of 21-30 to 3.5% among an age range of 41-50. While this rate drop does not completely close the unemployment gap between Liberal Arts degree-holders and their peers, the decrease over time is significant to mention now that colleges may soon be subjected to a job placement and earnings rating system, which is likely to be based on information gathered from only recent graduates.

Across the board, Liberal Arts degree-holders consistently meet employers’ expectations above and beyond regarding broad ranges of skills focused in communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving abilities. As some of the most highly praised skills that employers’ want candidates to have, these general skills are ones that Liberal Arts graduates possess and outperform by far among their peers.

Ultimately, the authors of the study argue that “while there are differences in outcomes related to employment, the majority of college graduates do achieve success in their careers, regardless of their choice of undergraduate major.”

To find out more about this study, click the link here to read the full article on