Make us your home page

Liberal arts majors can — and do — still get tech jobs

You're in high school or you're going back to college later in life. You love literature and writing. You enjoy psychology, languages are your passion and history is right up your alley. But everyone says that a college degree in liberal arts means you'll be condemned to minimum wage the rest of your life.

Not necessarily. Choose your college or university wisely, pick a major with both a liberal arts and science, technology, engineering and mathematics emphasis, and you're ready for the future. Thomas Friedman recently updated his bestselling book The World is Flat? "I added a whole section on why liberal arts are more important than ever. It's not that I don't think math and science are important. They still are. But more than ever our secret sauce comes from our ability to integrate art, science, music and literature with the hard sciences. That's what produces an iPod revolution or a Google."

Colleges and universities all over the country agree. They're revamping curricula, tying in STEM courses with the "secret sauce" of liberal arts, and coming up with degrees that prepare students for the future.

One example is the College of William and Mary in Virginia. Known as a premier liberal arts institution, William and Mary is also renowned for the scientists it graduates. "It's often mistakenly believed that the liberal arts exclude the sciences. Not so!" said college president W. Taylor Reveley III in a recent alumni magazine article. "Indeed, the title of our Faculty of Arts and Sciences makes that quite explicit.

"Our undergraduates study both 'arts' and 'sciences' in their general education courses, and over 20 percent of them major in the sciences. In fact, among all public institutions in the nation, we rank third in the percentage of our students who earn Ph.Ds in the sciences, not to mention the great success of our graduates in medical school and other health care programs."

Two examples of William and Mary's well-integrated curriculums are neuroscience, and environmental science and policy. Neuroscience students take psychology courses. Environmental science and policy students take natural and physical science courses offered through the Arts and Sciences Department.

The College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida is also melding traditional liberal arts training with technical courses. It offers a master's degree in social media and a master's degree in science/health communication for journalists who want to specialize in covering those growing fields. The university has also instituted a STEM Transitional Communications Program through the College of Journalism and Communications. Headed by Janice L. Krieger, an associate professor of advertising, the program will focus on communicating health and science information.

The trend is growing. More liberal arts institutions and departments are hitching their stars to the STEM wagon. A study by Nobel laureate Thomas R. Cech, president of Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and a distinguished chemistry and biochemistry professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, notes that about 20 percent of scientists elected into the National Academy of Sciences in a recent two-year span come from liberal arts institutions.

Cech added that "just as mathematics is considered to be a good exercise for the brain even for those who will never use calculus in the future, so the study of great books, history, languages, music and many other nonscience fields is likely to hone a scientist's ability to perceive and interpret the natural world."

Marie R. Stempinski is president and founder of Strategic Communication in St. Petersburg. She specializes in public relations, marketing, business development and coaching people older than 50 who are looking for "encore jobs or lives." Contact her at and through her website,

Liberal arts majors can — and do — still get tech jobs 10/02/14 [Last modified: Thursday, October 2, 2014 8:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Drones restrictions coming at Tampa Bay area airports


    Starting Sept. 1, Tampa International Airport officials will be enforcing new height restrictions for drones and other unmanned aircraft systems, according to a press release.

    In this February 2017 file photo, a drone flies in Hanworth Park in west London. Starting Sept. 1, Tampa International Airport officials will be enforcing new height restrictions for drones and other unmanned aircraft systems,
[John Stillwell/PA via AP, File]
  2. Gov. Scott backs off boycott of companies doing business in Venezuela

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott will ask the Florida Cabinet next month to prohibit the state's investment managers from doing something they already do not do: invest in companies or securities owned or controlled by the Venezuelan government.

    Florida Governor Rick Scott interacts with people as he holds a Venezuelan Freedom Rally at El Arepazo 2 restaurant on July 10 in Miami. [Joe Raedle | Getty Images]
  3. Superior Uniform Group reports $65.6 million in sales for second quarter


    SEMINOLE — Superior Uniform Group Inc. reported sales of $65.6 million in net sales for the second quarter, up a percentage point from the same quarter last year, the Seminole-based company reported Thursday.

    Superior Uniform Group Inc. saw a sales increase for the second quarter, the company reported Thursday. Pictured is Michael Benstock, CEO. | [Courtesy of Superior Uniform Group]
  4. Air bag inflator ruptures, driver killed in Pasco County


    DETROIT — Honda says a driver near Tampa has died in a crash that involved an exploding Takata air bag inflator.

    Honda says a driver near Tampa has died in a crash that involved an exploding Takata air bag inflator. 
[Associated Press]
  5. Jeff Bezos tops Bill Gates as world's richest person — for a day


    Jeff Bezos on Thursday took something away from a billionaire neighbor in the Seattle area, Bill Gates — the mantle of world's richest person.

    Well at least for a day.

    Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, discusses his Blue Origin reusable rocket project in Colorado Springs in April. A bump in the price of Amazon shares in July of 2017 was enough to move  Bezos above Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, who has topped Forbes' billionaires list 18 out of the last 23 years. 
(Nick Cote | The New York Times]