Survey of Employers Shows Value (and Earning Power) of Liberal Arts

August 27, 2014

AACU The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) published a report January 22, 2014, highlighting the value of a liberal arts degree.  This report focuses on U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey from 2010-2011,  in which Hart Research Associates surveyed 318 employers of at least 25 employees to address concerns about the value of a liberal arts degree, compared to science degrees and professional degrees, such as business. 

Key findings include:

  • 80% of employers prioritize general familiarity in science and liberal arts over major specific knowledge. 

  • Another 95% percent of employers want graduates with the interpersonal and scholarly abilities to contribute to job innovation.

  • Applied educational practices in liberal arts such as research projects, analysis, internships, study abroad programs, and real-word applications are essential to future success in the workplace.

  • By peak professional ages (56-60), liberal arts graduates may average about $2000 above those with undergraduate degrees in professional disciplines.


Employers value skills developed in liberal arts education such as critical thinking, problem solving, and interpersonal communication, ethics, and the ability to continue lifelong knowledge.  These skills will allow graduates to enter and thrive in the workforce, while potentially earning a higher salary than those with professional degrees.