Liberal arts has a place in the business world


Many students wonder what purpose is served by the liberal arts. Here are some things that I have heard around campus: Why does it matter for a business major when all you need is marketing, management, accounting, and finance? What is the point in learning about other cultures and their history? Who cares about science? All of this reading and writing is a waste of time! No one can make a career out of liberal arts!

Well, to answer most of these questions, liberal arts subjects (including science, technology, math, and economics) are important, whether business students like it or not. The market is flooded with typical business students and without special skills there isn’t much of a difference between business students of any university.

Most students will learn all that they need in business through a one or two year MBA program, which is what most students will pursue in their lifetime in order to move up the business ladder. Bryant’s One-Year MBA program is open to business and liberal arts majors.

Of all of the top 20 MBA programs in 2011, only 34% of those accepted had a degree in business, inclusive of economics. The Harvard Business School accepted 40% of their students from Humanities/Social Sciences, while Business Administration lingered at 26%. Stanford GSB students are 47% Humanities/Social Sciences, with only 17% in business. Wharton, MIT (Sloan), and NYU (Stern) had no more than 26% of their class representing business administration undergraduate degrees, which is what about 80% of this school is declared to pursue.

What explains these statistics? Well, as a business major you will develop spectacular management skills, as well as good oral and written skills, and (hopefully) the ability to work well with others. Engineering and math majors will most likely exhibit analytical ability, organizational skills, self-motivation, problem-solving capabilities, and the ability to work as a group and individually. Humanities and liberal arts majors will likely develop intellectual ability, creativity, exemplary written and oral skills, self-motivation, and imagination.

All of the aforementioned skills are great to have in a business career, but think about what happens when a student with a strong background in liberal arts receives an MBA? That student develops the same skills as the business major, in addition to the extensive skill set that has already been developed in their undergraduate education. A business major simply learns more of what he or she already knew.

Also, looking at statistics of current CEOs, collected by SpencerStuart, the top four most popular undergraduate degrees, of those that have received them, have showed up in this order: Engineering, economics, liberal arts, and business administration. This goes to show that studying business is not the key to success in business.

Many business-owners are successful due to their own creativity and vision for the future of their company. The success of most of their employees can be credited to having a well-rounded education in liberal arts as well as business.

I have no intention of converting every Bryant student into the liberal arts, but I would like to make the point that liberal arts are important. There is simply no way to succeed in business without a strong liberal arts background. Take advantage of what your professors have to offer in LCS, science, history, politics, and the rest. The skills and knowledge that you will gain from these courses will give you an edge in your future career and will prove useful at times when you would least expect it.

If you love studying a subject in the arts and sciences, don’t be afraid to do so. As much as your parents, relatives, and friends might encourage you to go into business because that’s where the money is supposedly, don’t listen to them. At Bryant you will receive a business education in any major, so use these years to pursue the subject that interests you the most. It has been proven over and over again that a path in the liberal arts only increases success in the business world, especially at Bryant University.