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Liberal arts grads in demand; major doesn't matter

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Liberal arts majors are finding liberal opportunities in the job market, both in the variety and number of employers seeking them.

"Already this year, 75 employers have been on campus looking for liberal arts majors," says Sylvia Howell, coordinator for placement in the School of Liberal Arts at Purdue University. "That's an increase of about 35 percent over two years ago."

Companies looking to hire liberal arts majors include Andersen Consulting, IBM and Cargill.

Howell says it's always been a myth that liberal arts students can't get jobs. Even so, more employers are interested in these students today, even for jobs of a technical nature.

"Employers find that liberal arts students have an ability to learn, they communicate well, they have decision-making skills and do well in many areas," Howell says. "They often find they can get better results hiring a liberal arts major than someone with only a technical background."

She says there is no specific area of liberal arts study that is attracting all the attention. "There is no magic major," she says. "You don't get a job just because of the major you have. In every major, there are students who get jobs and those who don't."

Because many liberal arts graduates work in social service fields, average starting salaries for Purdue liberal arts majors are in the low- to mid-$20,000s. However, Howell says that results from what the students choose: "We have salaries all over the map. What you earn depends on what you do, for whom, where."

CONTACT: Howell, (765) 494-5097; e-mail,


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