What comes to mind for you when you think of the humanities? If you can’t quite pin down what an online humanities degree program looks like, you’re not alone. The term “humanities” means the broad study of what makes us human beings and thus unique among all living creatures. From our languages to our cultures, to our businesses and our governments. Professionals in the humanities are, in reality, helping us to better understand ourselves and one another. Accordingly, expect an online humanities degree to look different from college to college, with different areas of study emphasized. What should remain the same are the independent thinking, research, speaking, writing and analytical skills you'll develop throughout your course of study. Consider this online degree if you want to become an activist, artist, actor, history buff, linguist, musician, writer, teacher, thinker, or social entrepreneur. The humanities are often criticized for not preparing professionals for a concrete path forward, but the truth is that it is a broad field that equips individuals with the exact skills they need for working with human beings, human societies, and human structures in any context.
THE CAREER PATH
The humanities blend every subject and aspect of humanity, meaning that careers can be found across practically any industry and can be perfectly suited to each professional. There is no central discipline to the humanities, although many professionals choose to concentrate their education and career on a particular topic or specialization. The humanities cover the breadth of language, literature, history, philosophy, religion, geography, and musicology, which leads to very different paths for each professional. The skills that are learned in humanities programs prepare professionals to be excellent communicators, with an understanding of subjects that they are passionate about. There are a variety of possible career choices for professionals with an education in the humanities, which are outlined by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):
- Advertising Sales Agents – Although it may not be the first thing that popped into your mind when you thought of humanities, humanities professionals can make excellent sales agents due to their great communication skills and ability to work with various clients and forms of advertising media thanks to their diverse background. A critical skill in selling advertisements is building relationships, and a key component of building relationships with clients is knowing what they are looking for. Most employers expect professionals to start out with a high school diploma, or a bachelor’s degree if they are competitive. This is a great entry-level role for professionals that are interested in the humanities, no matter where they are starting at since, on average, professionals make nearly $50,000 each year.
- Community Health Workers – In a completely different type of industry, humanities professionals can use their cultural competency, knowledge of languages, and understanding of philosophy to help bring health interventions to individuals and humans. Community health workers must use a broad collection of their skills in the humanities to be strong communicators, educators, researchers, and advocates. Like advertising agents, community health workers can also qualify for many positions with a high school diploma and adequate training. That being said, an associate’s or bachelor’s degree always adds a competitive edge and can prepare professionals with the skills they need to succeed. The average annual pay for community health workers is just under $40,000, and they are expected to be in high demand in the coming years as government institutions and healthcare organizations look for ways to improve health outcomes while lowering the costs of healthcare. Job growth is expected to be 18% in the next decade for community health workers!
- Social & Community Service Managers – Since the humanities are also known as social studies, it makes sense that humanities professionals have a knack for careers in social and community work. After working in social services or within communities for a few years, professionals can use their skills in the humanities to serve as social and community service managers that have the option of specializing in particular types of communities or services—like the elderly, or housing services. Most management positions in social and community services require at least a bachelor’s degree, although some employers may prefer a master’s. Professionals in management positions tend to be some of the best paid among the humanities; social and community service managers make an average of $64,000 annually. Not only is this a rewarding career, but it’s also expected to be growing at the same rate as community health work—leaving plenty of room for professionals who want to advance their career!
WHO IS THE IDEAL CANDIDATE?
If you’re excited about the idea of examining the common issues, ideas, and themes that run throughout different cultures in human history, then the humanities may be the perfect path for you to make a career out of your passion. Humanities may seem like the perfect career for those who are indecisive about what they want to commit to, but the truth is that humanities professionals have to have a clear sense of self-direction and how they want to contribute their strengths and knowledge to the professional world.
Most careers in the humanities require professionals to be good communicators, through verbal and written platforms, as well as critical-thinkers who are inspired by humanity and its progress. If you’re ready to work alongside teams to solve problems and make connections between different subjects and disciplines, then you may want to consider pursuing an education in the humanities.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
Expect a humanities program to cluster around critical thinking, problem-solving, writing and expression. The cultural arts—literature, fine art, music, theater, foreign languages, philosophy, history, linguistics, ethnic studies, women’s studies, poetry and literature – are all part of the intellectual stew known as the humanities. If you have a thirst for knowledge of the arts and related fields, this degree should suit you well. Typical courses may include philosophy, a foreign language, classical literature, communication theory and theater. Each program is different, with some focusing on language or the classics. Make sure you're comfortable with the requirements of the program you've selected. Also, if you enjoy the humanities but are interested in science as well, you may also consider an online liberal arts or general studies degree.
This degree is not a vocational one, meaning it won't prepare you for a specific job, unlike accounting or software engineering. Still, this doesn't mean you're bound for unemployment. As a graduate of this type of online degree program, you acquire the broad base of knowledge and critical skills (research, writing, etc.) that are needed for most jobs. Humanities degrees online teach interdisciplinary skills that transpose just one field. You could learn a language and work as a translator or editor. Or turn your love of art and culture into a career at a museum. You could also earn a bachelor's degree in humanities before going on to study law, history, writing or education at the master's level. Think creatively about the field you'd like to work in and how the critical study of humanities can help get you there.
An online bachelor's degree in the humanities will cost between $30,000 and $50,000, on average. Programs that also offer opportunities for networking, internships, and professional guidance may increase the value of your online degree program. Compare costs before enrolling! Click on any program below to view accreditation, tuition, and admission information.