The case for humanities majors is weak

More and more students are majoring in STEM than in the humanities because they believe they will have better employment prospects and higher earnings (“The world’s top economists just made the case for why we still need English majors,” The Washington Post, Oct. 19).  Although that is true for their first job, some argue in the long run the picture is different.

Their case rests on the assumption that a liberal arts education builds soft skills like problem-solving, critical thinking and adaptability, which will be in ever- greater demand as technology evolves.  In contrast, STEM majors, they say, lack such skills.  Where’s the evidence that STEM majors don’t possess these essential skills?  By the same token, where’s the evidence that only humanities’ majors possess them?

The other weakness in the argument for the humanities is that it takes on average two decades for the wage gap to close. How are graduates in the humanities supposed to support themselves in that period?  Yes, there will always be exceptions to the rule, but I continue to believe that college students today are being far more realistic than we give them credit for.

(To post a comment, click on the title of this blog.)

2 Replies to “The case for humanities majors is weak”

  1. It is from Humanities majors that content flows to display on all the devices created by the STEM majors. You have to have something to say. No disrespect to the brilliance of technology, but I don’t think the inspiration for general and much read content comes from STEM majors.
    I say, Long Live Humanities!

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  2. dkhatt: My point is that STEM majors also develop critical thinking skills. They are not limited to humanities majors. Moreover, although humanities majors eventually catch up in salary compared to STEM majors, the time it takes means they are hard pressed to pay the rent etc.

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