The Liberal Arts: Mirrors of the Human Experience

The Liberal Arts are rich and expansive, encompassing a number of different subjects – from languages to economics; history to literature, and even the creative arts.

Over centuries, the liberal arts education has evolved to include subjects like arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy. Eventually, it arrived on the shores of America, where it still thrives today in small colleges and a host of globally-known universities.

Drawn from the roots of its Greek and Roman forms, the liberal arts in America originally sought to cultivate civic participation, and above all, leadership. As noted by Eugene M. Lang writes, “Liberal arts colleges—like many other colleges and universities—have their philosophical roots in a tradition that began in New England over three hundred years ago.”

It’s easy to see how the study of such fields promotes an understanding of the human experience; how we communicate, how we deal with money, where we came from and how we choose to navigate the world at large. As such, it’s easy to see why a liberal arts degree instils graduates with a range of transferable skills they can apply to whatever workplace they choose.

Given the broad nature of the field, it naturally follows that universities and higher education providers across the United States and Canada will have a number of different approaches to teaching the liberal arts. This article will take a look at five of these inspiring institutions…


If you’re looking to pursue a career in the creative arts after college, New Orleans should certainly be a strong contender. The newly-revamped School of the Arts is an amalgamation of the previous film, music and fine arts departments, operating with the overall aim to promote creativity and opportunity through the arts.

If you’re interested in studying music, and particularly jazz, there really is no location more exciting than New Orleans. Famous worldwide for its jazz culture, New Orleans as a location can offer a unique opportunity for a budding jazz musician to study their craft while living in the beating heart of the jazz scene.

For those more interested in arts administration, the school partners with a variety of local arts groups – including the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Opera and Museum of Art, among others to prepare students to be arts leaders and innovators.

One of the college’s signature programs is in Planning and Urban Studies; a one-of-a-kind course that focuses on areas like disaster resilience training, urban sustainability, and transportation. This degree offers a fantastic foundation for those interested in pursuing employment in non-profit organisations, governments and municipalities, or corporations. The program also offers a PhD in addition to bachelor’s and master’s courses.

The college is in the process of relaunching its website ahead of the new semester so stay tuned for more information on the exciting things ahead. Your future starts here!


You certainly couldn’t accuse UNT of not offering variety in their liberal arts programmes. An incredible 22 departments and 69 study options make up the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. From Aerospace to LGBT Studies – a budding arts student is bound to find something to awaken their interest here.

For those hoping to pursue a career in the spotlight after their studies, you will be in fine company among UNT alumni– Norah Jones and Dr Phil McGraw are just two of the household names that earned degrees here.

For those unsure of the path they would like to take upon graduation, UNT offers the handy option of interdisciplinary majors specific to the field of Integrative Studies and Social Sciences. This means that you can graduate with all the transferable skills of an arts programme, without the pressure of committing to a particular speciality.


Marshall University, located in downtown Huntington, West Virginia, is a historical public university, and another great option for those considering a pursuit of the Liberal Arts.

Marshall’s College of Liberal Arts offers 12 undergraduate options, each of which provides the student with a BA upon completion. In addition, seven postgraduate degree options are offered, with both MA and PhD options available.

The college’s alumni are scattered nationwide in an extremely diverse range of positions – a testament to how transferable the skills they have developed on their respective degree programmes are, and also how attractive a degree from Marshall is to a wide range of employers.

With a relatively small student body (950 undergraduates in the College of Liberal Arts to be precise) and a student-teacher ratio of 19:1. Marshall maintains a community-based feeling on campus. Free and intimate events such as the Second Sunday Book Club make it easier to find your tribe as a fresh-faced student.

To be able to offer degrees of a standard that’s recognised nationwide, while still maintaining a small and welcoming atmosphere is no mean feat, but it seems that Marshall’s College of Liberal Arts has achieved just this.


The College of Letters and Science is the largest school in the University of Winsconsin- Milwaukee. Offering an impressive 78 undergraduate and 62 graduate programmes within its 25 academic departments and 23 academic centres, prospective students are spoiled for choice in the process of programme selection.

The college is very much active and alive – with their regularly updated events calendar full of talks and gatherings to suit every area of interest within the broad spectrum of the Liberal Arts.

A quick look at the college’s news feed shows evidence of a faculty and student body that are eager for learning to take place beyond the walls of the lecture hall- with field trips being organised to historical sites and interns making a genuine difference in their fields of study.

It is evident that the College of Letters and Science is very much thriving and engaged with both the student body and the surrounding communities, and is therefore true to Liberal Arts in its purest sense – mirroring and contributing to the human experience.


As the largest liberal arts faculty in Canada, York boasts some incredibly impressive statistics. For example, the faculty offers over 90 undergraduate and certificate programmes, 22 MA programmes, and 16 PhDs.

The faculty places emphasis on community engagement, upholding a number of collaborations within local and global projects. This engagement takes a number of forms, including internships and the Community Conversations project, which aims to encourage dialogue on topics of interest in the local area.

York is also at the cutting-edge of a number of exciting research ventures, and York based researchers have been the subject of many national and international news stories. A number of impressive alumni have passed through the doors of the faculty, including Ahmed Hussen, Canadian Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

From just this small sample of academic institutions, it’s evident to see that the study of Liberal Arts has something for everyone – whether you want to be part of the jazz scene in New Orleans, at the vanguard of community projects, or learning the depths of your subject passion in a small college community.

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International

Liked this? Then you’ll love these…

3 benefits of studying liberal arts in the US

Maximise your potential with a Liberal Arts education