The discipline of humanities was for a long time deemed as a branch of study suitable only for students who secure low marks at the school levels. Students who opt for humanities were considered to be not as intelligent as their engineering, medicine and commerce counterparts. Humanities broadly refers to the study of human society, its theories and beliefs. It deals with understanding how people express themselves through art, religion, literature, architecture, etc. by analytical and hypothetical methods. The field of social science falls under humanities. It is broad and encompasses subjects like history, geography, political science, etc.
The decreased popularity of humanities education is attributed to the lack of well-paid jobs and the nature of work associated with humanities degrees. Mr. S.U. Chandilyan, Placement and Training Officer at Rajiv Gandhi College of Engineering, throws light on some more reasons. He says, “The higher proportion of successful people and projects in science than in humanities in India could be the reason. The nature of the subject being more abstract than practical is another factor to ponder.”
Humanities subjects have always been a prevalent choice for students in other countries. However, in India, especially for male students, it has been viewed as an option suitable only for the bottom tier, less intelligent folks.
This thinking is now changing as the field of humanities is being perceived with a different perspective that is both refreshing and reassuring. It is steadily becoming a desired stream of study for many students due to the varied job prospects it offers. Factors like long work hours in the IT industry and software industry’s stagnation are making several students to pursue humanities as a serious career option.
Prof. Anuradha Mahesh, Associate Professor - Retail/Head - CMC, Welingkar Institute of Management says that the reason for humanities to regain popularity is, “Global business leaders are looking at multi-cultural contexts to play an important role in growth. Be it managing multi-culture workforce, cultural context and human issues for developing innovation, getting inspiration for new designs, etc., the study of humanities and social sciences is a great help.” Far from the notion that a degree in humanities will only result in careers like writers, painters or poets, the possibilities of career options for students enrolling in social sciences are abundant. The stream of humanities offers a wide variety of options in fields such as law, literature, history, architecture, philosophy, religion, performing arts, political science, economics, journalism, media and advertising, communication, sociology, psychology, etc.
Candidates with social science degrees can opt for teaching positions. With the ongoing shortage of teachers, lecturers and professors in the country, this is an appealing career option for people who value giving back to the society while being in a respectable, stable salaried career.
Taking civil services exams and going into public service is a competitive arena that several students aspire. Having the foundation of subjects like history, geography, civics, etc. will help one be better equipped for the civil services competitive examinations. If you end up working for the government, a secure job is assured. Law is another successful career option for several students who come from humanities and social science backgrounds. For economics graduates, there are job prospects in the corporate sector, banking, NGOs, etc. With the increase in media and content management companies, there is an on-going need for journalists and writers who can express their opinions intelligently. Students with an arts background can further go on to become script writers, lyricists, language translators, linguists, interpreters, librarians, historians, museum curators, etc. The hospitality, travel and tourism industries are also fields that offer jobs for humanities students. Other popular fields for arts graduates are fashion design, interior design, footwear design, etc.
Eligibility and Skills
After 10th standard, students should opt for the right subject combinations offered in their school. The arts group subjects are History, Geography, English Literature, Economics, Political Science, Sociology and Psychology and so on. After 12th, one can pursue Bachelor of Arts in English, Social Sciences, Humanities or Bachelor’s in Law, etc. Often, a master’s degree in liberal arts will be needed for specialisation to get a higher paying job. This is true in today’s job market as there are new positions being created in various fields that did not exist a decade ago. Post graduate education helps develop skills of creative thinking, superior writing and the ability to handle issues with a mature and professional approach. Students can also pursue MBA after a humanities graduation degree.
Even reputed institutions like IITs offer courses in Humanities and Social Sciences for 12th standard students. They conduct entrance tests (HSEE) for admission into their five-year integrated programme in humanities.
The entrance exam is objective in nature with questions from English, Indian economy, Indian history, analytical reasoning, etc.
Amritha Venkiteswara, Faculty in Soft Skills, Corporate and Industrial Relations at the Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham University says, “IITs delivering these courses is an encouraging step to show how significant these courses are. In the modern world where people are moving at lightning speed in communication, governance of people using such technology, in the right matrix is also vital. To build a nation, we need leaders who have knowledge of history and evolution of the nation’s culture. It is here that our humanities and social science students will have an upper hand.”
Students must possess good communication skills, a confident personality, strong writing skills and an aptitude to understand human values to pursue an education and career in humanities. Employers look for these skills and intellectual acumen in students when hiring them for their business needs.
In conclusion, it is important to bear in mind that humanities is a field that has abundant career options for students wishing to pursue a vocation in this stream. A career in humanities will be satisfying both professionally and financially.