What is a liberal arts and sciences education?

It is an invitation to expand your mind, pursue your curiosity, and engage in a transformative learning experience that will empower you to change the world.

A liberal arts and sciences education is rooted in the interdisciplinary study and application of the natural sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities.

All students select a major area of focus—or even create their own—to study in depth, while also taking classes across an array of disciplines to enhance their perspective, make unforeseen connections, and discover new possibilities.

Enrolling in a liberal arts and sciences institution allows you to challenge yourself. It’s about developing an agile mind capable of solving complex problems—and a heart that aspires to do so.

What is the value of a liberal arts and sciences education? Why should you study the liberal arts and sciences at Gettysburg College?

Gettysburg students asking questions - liberal arts degrees like History teach critical thinking

What is the value of a liberal arts and sciences degree?

It’s easy to focus on the value of a liberal arts and sciences education in terms of the soft skills students learn. They become active citizens within their community, work for positive and effective change, and forge purposeful—and sometimes unconventional—paths toward a brighter future. However, it’s not hard to make the case for a liberal arts education in economic terms, too.

“Over the course of a career, a liberal arts education is remarkably practical, providing a median return on investment 40 years after enrollment that approaches $1 million.”
The Washington Post, citing a Georgetown University study

Simply put, a liberal arts and sciences degree provides students with the skills employers most want from recent graduates, while also preparing them for careers that don’t yet exist. In today’s constantly changing economic landscape, being prepared for a future not yet written is essential. A liberal arts and sciences degree ensures graduates will be the ones shaping that future.

Key competencies gained at liberal arts institutions

Core competencies of a liberal arts education: collaboration, communication, critical thinking, digital technology, global citizenship, leadership, and professionalism
Source: NACE Career Readiness Task Force


Graduates with a liberal arts and sciences degree...

  • Are highly skilled: “Between 2010 and 2013, the growth of liberal arts majors entering the technology industry from undergrad outpaced that of computer science and engineering majors by 10 percent.” (Source: LinkedIn)
  • Secure better jobs with better pay: Between 31-72 percent of liberal arts graduates are more likely than others to have higher-level positions and earn more than $100,000 annually. (Source: Inside Higher Ed)
  • Add value to the workforce: “Students who develop both deep expertise in a technical area and broad-based critical thinking skills developed through a liberal arts education will be the most valuable to future employers.” (Source: Forbes)
  • Experience long-term success: Graduates’ long-term success stems from six defining experiences present at a liberal arts college—engaging professors, caring professors, encouraging mentors, long-term projects, internships and jobs, and activities and organizations. (Source: Gallup Alumni Survey)

Why should you study the liberal arts and sciences at Gettysburg College?

Gettysburg is a highly selective, nationally-recognized college of 2,600 students focused on the liberal arts and sciences. Here, “Do Great Work” is more than just a tagline. It is a challenge issued to all of our students, faculty, and staff—a challenge they exceed time and time again.

Our College provides inquisitive minds with the resources they need to question everything, fearlessly pursue answers, and rethink assumptions in an increasingly complex world. Our curriculum aims to build skills in areas of critical thinking, effective communication, global citizenship, and informed action to provide students with the tools they need to unleash their potential and engage in a lifelong journey of positive impact.

“The types of employees that will be attractive to employers in the future are those with skills that cannot be automated by AI or outsourced to robots. These are skills like critical thinking, problem solving, and strategic communications. These human skills allow us to focus on high value work.”
– Shaina Wright ’08, political science major and religious studies minor who now works in people operations at Google

With more than 65 majors, minors, and programs and an average class size of 17, you will find an academic experience that demands your participation and offers challenge and opportunity in return. We enrich a liberal arts and sciences education with plenty of high-impact, immersive learning experiences, so what happens outside of the classroom is an important extension of what happens in it. From our distinctive programs to our high rate of internship, externship, and career exploration opportunities, Gettysburg equips students with the knowledge, skills, and resources to uncover new passions, make unexpected discoveries, and unleash their potential on a lifelong journey of positive impact.

At Gettysburg College, there are no bystanders.

Find out how you can join our community today.

Related Resources

Ninety-eight percent of Gettysburg College alumni are satisfied with their education five to 15 years after graduation. Learn more about our liberal arts and sciences education here:

“Be Intellectually Alive”

Prof. Steve Gimbel – Ask me anything

Steve Gimbel giving a lecture on the steps of Penn Hall