Indicator

Associate’s Degrees in the Liberal Arts and Humanities

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A substantial number of postsecondary students encounter the humanities at the community-college level—as students pursuing terminal certificates and degrees, or as students taking courses to fulfill requirements for four-year programs.1 In 2018, the number of community-college students who earned a degree in a humanities discipline or a degree that requires a substantial amount of training in the humanities—a degree in liberal arts or general studies, for example—was substantially larger than the number of students who completed a humanities degree at the baccalaureate level.2

 

Endnotes

  • 1The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center found that one in four students who started their postsecondary education at a two-year public institution in 2008 transferred to a four-year institution. Additionally, 18% of students who started their studies in a four-year institution either transferred to or took classes at a two-year institution. (Doug Shapiro et al.,Transfer and Mobility: A National View of Student Movement in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2008 Cohort [Herndon, VA: National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, 2015], fig. 8.)
  • 2The course requirements for an associate’s degree in liberal studies cover an array of subject areas. Nevertheless, a review of course requirements at community colleges by Humanities Indicators staff found that these institutions typically assign more than a third of the necessary credit hours for liberal and general studies degrees to humanities subjects, with history courses often counting toward both humanities and social science requirements.
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Source: U.S. Department of Education, Integrated Postsecondary Data System. Data analyzed and presented by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Humanities Indicators (www.humanitiesindicators.org).

Unlike the humanities degrees conferred at the baccalaureate level, almost all of the degrees counted here were classified by the conferring institution as being in “liberal arts” and “liberal studies” rather than specific humanities disciplines. For instance, of the 413,246 degrees tabulated as humanities for 2018, only a tiny share was conferred in a specific discipline (such as English or history). Since associate’s degrees are generally conferred with half the number of credits required for a typical bachelor’s degree program, students are less likely to specialize in a specific subject area. Nevertheless, the number and share of associate’s degrees conferred in specific humanities disciplines have been growing.

For the degree programs grouped under each academic field heading, see the Degree Program Code Catalog.

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Source: U.S. Department of Education, Integrated Postsecondary Data System. Data analyzed and presented by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Humanities Indicators (www.humanitiesindicators.org).

Unlike the humanities degrees conferred at the baccalaureate level, almost all of the degrees counted here were classified by the conferring institution as being in “liberal arts” and “liberal studies” rather than specific humanities disciplines. For instance, of the 413,246 degrees tabulated as humanities for 2018, only a tiny share was conferred in a specific discipline (such as English or history). Since associate’s degrees are generally conferred with half the number of credits required for a typical bachelor’s degree program, students are less likely to specialize in a specific subject area. Nevertheless, the number and share of associate’s degrees conferred in specific humanities disciplines have been growing.

For the degree programs grouped under each academic field heading, see the Degree Program Code Catalog.

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