7 Skills Gained from the Humanities


Did you know that employers in many industries are prioritizing applicants with transferable skills found in the humanities?

Humanities majors may not know it, but they’re sitting on some superpowers, meaning skills highly sought after by employers.

“Yet there’s a huge disconnect between what students think employers want and what employers consistently say they want,” says RIC Professor of English Maureen Reddy.

“Students are concerned that a humanities major won’t get them a well-paying job, especially when they face rising tuition costs and student loan debt,” she says. “But what’s not clear to them is that a degree in the humanities could also lead to a well-paying job.”

Here are 7 skills gained from the humanities (subjects like English, history, philosophy, foreign languages, film and communication) that employers are looking for:


Writing Skills

Be it email, text, chat or blog, writing has become the primary form of interacting and connecting with others. That’s why writing is one of the top attributes many employers look for in job applicants. Virtually all humanities courses are writing intensive. Students train in organizing their thoughts around a topic and writing clearly, logically and persuasively. In a world where there’s less face-to-face interaction and more written interaction, writing is one of the top superpowers in the humanities.


Research Skills

In the humanities, students also become skilled in researching topics using multiple sources. They learn to assess the accuracy of their sources and draw conclusions based on their findings. These skills are essential in solving real-world problems. Employers value workers who know how to research a problem: the history of the problem, the causes and origin of the problem, previous solutions that worked or failed, the scope of the problem and the impact of the problem, all of which aid in decision making.


Critical Thinking Skills

Critical thinking trains students to be active learners rather than passive receivers of information. Humanities students approach texts with a critical eye. They rigorously question ideas and assumptions, identify inconsistencies and errors in the arguments of others and are trained to be objective and to come up with evidence-based conclusions. Critical thinkers make better decision makers in the workplace.


Analytical Skills

When writing papers, humanities students learn to analyze the evidence they’ve collected and explain to others how their evidence proves their main argument. In the same way, on the job, analytical thinkers are able to critically assess problems, discover holes that others might have missed and use their analysis to redefine the problem and to come up with more effective solutions.



Analytical skills require creativity because the obvious solution may not always be the most effective solution. Often problems require out-of-the-box thinking to produce optimal results. Humanities students are trained to think in complex, nuanced ways. Their ability to come up with creative solutions and new ways of doing things is a valuable asset in all professions.



Analytical thinking won’t have an impact unless you’re able to explain your ideas to others in a way that they can understand and convince them to buy into your ideas. To communicate effectively in the workplace, employers are looking for employees who have a good grasp of both written and oral communication. Communication skills are interpersonal skills and they are critical in the work environment.



Courses in the humanities provide opportunities for students to work as a team on a common goal. Students learn how to assert their opinions constructively and to incorporate the contributions of others, resulting in deeper connections with one another. Teamwork is highly valued in the workplace, because employees who can work as a team means a more efficient and productive workforce.

Also see:

“What’s the Value in Studying the Humanities”

“New Course Helps Humanities Majors Prepare for Professional Careers”

“What Do You Do With an English Degree”