Bachelor of Arts degrees have an undeserved reputation for representing a sort of career sacrifice: sure you’ll broaden your mind with challenging ideas, but you won’t pick up vocational skills in the same way that, say, a commerce or law student might. Thankfully, there’s good reason to believe that this isn’t true.
Research has shown that while ‘vocational’ degrees lead to higher salaries in the short term, the gap closes over time. According to results from the most recent Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) longitudinal graduate outcomes survey of Australian graduates (which as of 2020 spans from 2016 to 2019), generalist degrees start with full time employment rates ranging from 56% - 62% within three months of graduation. But that gap closes to 80% - 88% within three years (p6), putting them on-par with the former degree type.
It's also important to note that a Bachelor of Arts can mean very different things around the world. In the United States and across Europe, it's possible to do your BA in economics, finance, and sometimes even sciences like biochemistry. If you feel like reading Descartes in one lesson and analysing financial markets in another, a Bachelor of Arts can make it happen - and importantly, lift your employment prospects.
But even if you never opted for any 'vocation-oriented' units, you're not a lost cause. Careers for all kinds of arts graduates fall into one of three categories.
There are many jobs you can pursue after graduating from a Bachelor of Arts. Some of these roles will draw on the skills you’ve earned while completing a particular major (for example, archival work might be particularly familiar to history majors). Others will take advantage of the generic skills possessed by arts graduates, such as the ability to think critically, communicate effectively, and perform research. Careers in this category include:
The Bachelor of Arts provides you with the necessary academic and intellectual foundation for graduate coursework in disciplines as varied as law, medicine, teaching, journalism, international relations, and media. Note that the more technical of these, such law and medicine, may have additional entry requirements (for example, you will be required to sit a special entrance examination for medicine). Graduate coursework ranges in duration from one to two years (for a vocational Master's degree) to four or five years (for a graduate MD). Roles in this category include:
If you wish to continue exploring the subject of your undergraduate degree, or hope to begin a career in academia or research, then you may wish to undertake further research. Generally, the first step after the completion of a Bachelor of Arts is enrolment in a one-year Honours program. This may be followed by a Master’s degree or Doctorate. Strong performance in these research degrees can prepare you for a career as a teacher, academic, or consultant. It can also allow you to submit more competitive applications for jobs outside your field of research.
Check out these career stories from graduates with a Bachelor of Arts
Check out these popular employers accepting applications from candidates with Bachelor of Arts