Skeptics of the business world, it’s time to stop giving liberal arts students such a hard time – because actually, business and the liberal arts are far more intertwined than the average professional might have you think.

Earlier this year, PayScale launched its annual College Salary Report; a league table which ranks the highest-paying graduate degrees by salary potential. Topping the list are courses like Petroleum Engineering, Nurse Anaesthesia, Strategy, Finance & Real Estate – all courses you probably would have expected to see at the helm of such a list. But perhaps the strait-laced skills these objective courses provide are simply not enough to succeed in the modern business world.


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In 2010, Steve Jobs, arguably the most successful businessman of the booming contemporary Tech industry, mused that Technology alone is not enough. “It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results and makes our hearts sing.”

And if it worked for Steve Jobs, that’s a pretty good benchmark to go by, right?

The truth is that, no matter what the opinion of old school business moguls, the new providers of business education are the ones who truly ‘get it’, with more than 40 U.S. business schools recently developing an undergraduate Business Education Consortium to support the integration of the liberal arts alongside the traditional business education.

As the CEO of American Express, one of the most prosperous multinational financial services corporations, Kenneth Chanault could be considered another of the world’s most influential businessmen. While his roots may firmly lie within the professional sphere – a field in which he found rocketing success – Chanault has not lost sight of the true value of the liberal arts.

“I am a strong believer in liberal arts education,” he told Bowdoin Magazine. “What we really need today are people who have broad perspectives, people who are willing to take some chances intellectually and learn about the subjects that they may not be best in the world at. We need people who are going to be intellectually curious.”

Take Ohio Northern University (ONU), for example, an independent and comprehensive higher education provider located in the scenic village of Ada, Ohio. Students at ONU work closely with faculty to learn how to think critically, creatively and entrepreneurially; all crucial states of mind in the modern business world, but not all can be taught through a more conventional business degree. The practical experience students gain at ONU, along with the creative exploration done outside the classroom environment, prepares students for a lifetime of growth and, in this case, business success.


Image courtesy of Ohio Northern University.


With majors in Management, Marketing, Pharmaceutical Business, and Risk Management and Insurance, plus an undergraduate Accounting major which ONU students can go on to support with a Masters of the same name, ONU’s talented business cohort are given the chance not only to specialise, but to excel, in their ideal business field, and with one foot firmly grounded in the roots of liberal arts, these students leave with an employable ‘edge’ over more conventional business peers.

Lauren Brown, for example, a former ONU student who graduated in 2014 with a BSBA, majoring in Management, is now the Executive Co-Ordinator at C10 in Denver, a firm that connects IT professionals with their peers and trusted partners. Lauren looks back at her time at ONU and appreciates the value of her liberal arts background.

“ONU taught me that networking and building relationships is the foundation of success,” she says. “The Management program provided me with opportunities to travel across the country to partake in competitions, conferences and presentations – all while expanding my network as I met students and professionals from all over the world. Today, with C10, I do just that. I travel across the U.S. connecting IT leaders through unique experiences.”


Image courtesy of Ohio Northern University.


Without the liberal arts teaching Lauren how to communicate effectively and network efficiently, she may not have left with the ability to thrive within a contemporary business setting – and that’s something she will forever owe to her ONU education.

As Edgar M. Bronfman so eloquently puts it: “Curiosity and openness to new ways of thinking – which is developed in learning about the world around you, the ability to critically analyze situations, nurtured every time we encounter a new book, or encountering the abstract, that we deal with every time we encounter art, music or theater – ensures future success more than any other quality. Learn, read, question, think. In developing the ability to exercise those traits, you will not only be successful in business, but in the business of life.”


This article is sponsored by Ohio Northern University (ONU), an independent, comprehensive University located in the scenic village of Ada, Ohio. The University comprises five colleges: Arts & Sciences, Business Administration, Engineering, Pharmacy and Law. Since its inception in 1871, ONU has been devoted to producing students who are ready to immerse themselves in the challenge of life, and progress to the next level in everything they do professionally, socially, creatively and beyond.

Featured image courtesy of Ohio Northern University.

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