State of the Humanities 2021: Workforce & Beyond

Occupational Distribution of Terminal Bachelor’s Degree Holders, by Field of Bachelor’s Degree, 2018

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Humanities Indicators

Occupational Distribution of Terminal Bachelor’s Degree Holdersby Field of Degree, 20185

Also shaping perceptions about the value of humanities degrees is the sense that graduates from the field are less likely than other graduates to be prepared for a variety of occupations, a belief encapsulated in the stereotype of humanities majors as baristas and reflected in pressure on college provosts “to focus on academic programs that have a clear orientation toward careers.”6 Contrary to the stereotype, humanities graduates—even those without advanced degrees—are widely distributed across occupational categories, similar to college graduates generally and those from the science disciplines.7   This report will offer a closer look at where humanities graduates find work, as well as their satisfaction with those jobs


  • 5Degree holders are those employed at any time in the five years preceding their response to the American Community Survey, the source of the data on which this graph is based.
  • 6Scott Jaschik and Doug Lederman, 2021 Survey of College and University Chief Academic Officers (Washington, DC: Inside Higher Ed, 2021). See, for instance, the findings from the “What Everyone Says about the Humanities” study of news coverage of the field, such as The Media Assesses the Value of the Humanities Both Economically and Intrinsically—But the Great Recession Changed the Balance of the Discussion, WE1S Key Finding KF-4-1 (last revised August 2, 2020).
  • 7Original analysis by the Humanities Indicators of U.S. Census Bureau, 2018 American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS).