Benefits of a Liberal Arts Education

  • Student-focused Educational Opportunities
  • Class Size and Campus Culture
  • Preparation for Further Education
  • Employment and Skill Benefits
  • Scholarships and Cost Benefits

Liberal arts colleges offer bachelor's degrees in arts and sciences, in majors ranging from studio art and music to mathematics and chemistry. Higher education institutions providing a liberal arts education are often smaller campuses, with a smaller enrollment and more intimate type of education than a large public university, Ivy League school, or state college campus. These educational institutions usually have strong educational philosophies and are known for being able to offer more student-centered instruction, along with smaller class sizes, more seminars as opposed to lecture classes, and good connections with graduate schools.

1. Student-focused Educational Opportunities

In contrast to a large university, a liberal arts institution typically doesn't offer graduate degrees. Instead, they grant bachelor of arts or science degrees in various disciplines. Liberal arts schools focus on their undergraduate students and provide courses which prepare them for employment or further graduate study at another institution. Science undergrads at liberal arts schools may get opportunities to do research that are only offered to graduate and post-graduate students at a university. Internships may be offered to liberal arts undergraduates in fields like theater, advertising, or journalism. Instructors at liberal arts institutions are often more dedicated to teaching than university professors, who may offer only lecture courses, with actual teaching performed by graduate students and aides.

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2. Class Size and Campus Culture

Most liberal arts schools boast a smaller class size and lower student-to-instructor ratio than universities. First and second-year students at universities will often be enrolled in large lecture classes with hundreds of students. Similar courses on a liberal arts campus will have 25 to 45 students, while seminars may be limited to 10 or 12 participants. The liberal arts campus also fosters collegiality and instructors are often invited to informal events and discussions.

3. Preparation for Further Education

According to CBS News, liberal arts science graduates are twice as likely as graduates of larger institutions to earn a Ph.D. in science. Liberal arts schools also predominate on top-10 lists of undergraduate students that go on to earn doctoral degrees. Opportunities that the liberal arts schools offer for independent research may help to boost graduate school admissions potential.

4. Employment and Skill Benefits

A survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the highest-valued skills for incoming employees were good communication, analysis, and teamwork. Each of these skills are fostered by the environment and style of education at a liberal arts college.

5. Scholarships and Cost Benefits

Many private liberal arts institutions are able to be flexible in the financial aid that they are able to offer incoming freshmen and transfer students. U.S. News and World Report identified a number of liberal arts schools which offered full financial aid packages to students. Schools included in U.S. News‘ list of colleges able to cover the difference between a family's ability to pay and the full cost of tuition and fees included Williams, Amherst, and Swarthmore, along with seven other national liberal arts schools.

A liberal arts college provides a style of education which is a good fit for many students, featuring smaller class sizes and a more intimate type of education than a large public university or Ivy League or state college. Liberal arts graduates may have advantages in admission to graduate school, including achieving doctoral degrees or participating in prestigious research opportunities. A liberal arts education may also be less expensive than tuition, room and board amounts suggest, with a number of schools able to provide financial aid to all students based on merit and need.