Humanities Indicators
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Workforce  >  Earnings & Occupations of Humanities Majors
 
Humanities Majors in the Professions and Other Occupations
(Updated February 2018)

While the distribution of humanities majors across occupational categories provides perspective on the employment outcomes of those with undergraduate education in the field, the number and share of humanities graduates found within each occupation speaks to the role that people with humanities training play in the U.S. economy.

Findings and Trends

  • Data from the American Community Survey reveal that in 2015, approximately 4.9 million people employed in management and professional jobs had bachelor’s degrees in the humanities (Indicator III-5gg). More than a million humanities graduates were employed as managers, and approximately 1.3 million graduates from the field were employed in various education positions.
  • Recipients of bachelor’s degrees in the humanities account for more than 10% of the people employed in every occupational category except those that are specifically STEM-related (though even there they account for 5% of those in science, engineering, and healthcare jobs, and 7% of the employees in computer occupations). Humanities graduates accounted for 20% or more of the employees in arts and media, postsecondary teaching, law, and museum and library jobs in 2015.
  • From 1996 to 2008, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation, approximately 6–8% of all noninstitutionalized U.S. civilians with medical degrees had an undergraduate degree in the humanities. Over the same time period, more than 20% of those with a law degree had been humanities majors as undergraduates (Indicator III-5g). (Note that these estimates cannot be compared directly to the shares reported for 2015 in III-5gg due to methodological differences between the two surveys. In particular, III-5gg shows people actually working in each field, while the data in III-5g include all holders of medical and law degrees, whether or not they are working in the fields).
  • In 2008, 22% of those holding an advanced degree in law (LL.B., J.D., and Ph.D.) had majored in humanities (down from the 2001 high of 28%). This proportion was larger than that for any other academic field and would be even greater if students with bachelor’s degrees in history—which the Census Bureau treats as a social science—had been included (Indicator III-5h).
III-5g: Number and Share of Workers* Who Majored in the Humanities, by Occupational Sector, 2015

* Employed at any time in the previous five years. Reported jobs are those respondents currently held or the last they worked. Respondents who worked more than one job at a time were asked to report the job at which they worked the most hours. For further details regarding the occupations included in each category used in the graph, see the ACS-HI Crosswalk.
** Includes educational administrators, teaching assistants, and teachers categorized by the U.S. Census Bureau as “other teachers and instructors.”

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2015 American Community Survey Public-Use Microdata Sample. Data analyzed and presented by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Humanities Indicators (www.humanitiesindicators.org).

About this DataRelated Indicators
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III-5h: Percentage of Advanced Degree Holders in Medicine and Law with a Bachelor’s Degrees in the Humanities,* 1996–2008

* Among the noninstitutionalized U.S. civilian population.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 1996–2008 Survey of Income and Program Participation (Education and Training History Module). Data analyzed and presented by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Humanities Indicators (www.humanitiesindicators.org).

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III-5i: Undergraduate Majors of Advanced Law Degree Holders,* 2008

* Among the noninstitutionalized U.S. civilian population.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 1996–2008 Survey of Income and Program Participation (Education and Training History Module). Data analyzed and presented by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Humanities Indicators (www.humanitiesindicators.org).

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