The modern term derived from the Medieval Latin phrase “artes liberales,” and it denotes
a curriculum that imparts general knowledge and develops the student’s rational thought
and intellectual capabilities, unlike the professional, vocational and technical curricula
Interestingly, according to a report in Forbes, liberal arts graduates earn well above the median income, excel in their careers
and find great satisfaction in them — so it's best to study what you enjoy most and
Others agree – by encouraging students to study what they are interested in, rather than a "practical"
major, colleges allow them to cultivate the qualities employers find valuable.
How does a liberal arts focus affect the classes I’ll take in college?
Illinois Wesleyan’s commitment to the liberal arts will enhance your coursework in
two primary ways. First, nearly every course you take will contain elements of reading,
writing, discussion, debate or classroom presentation, so that when you graduate from
Illinois Wesleyan you will have exceptional written and oral communication skills.
Second, the General Education program at Illinois Wesleyan University is designed
to ensure that you are exposed to a variety of liberal arts courses while still allowing
you the flexibility to choose courses in those categories that interest you the most.
Regardless of the courses you choose, you will experience a curriculum that enhances
both your critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills, which, combined with
the communication skills you will also develop, are the hallmarks of a liberal arts
Can I still study a specific major or pursue a specific career at a liberal arts college?
This is one of Illinois Wesleyan University’s most distinctive qualities. Our liberal
arts foundation is not only a part of every available major, but it is also supplemented
by professional programs in nursing, music, theatre, and art. Illinois Wesleyan also
features exceptional programs in areas such as pre-medicine, pre-law, business and
education, making it possible to pursue a specific career path while obtaining the
important skills that a liberal arts university emphasizes.
IWU alumni with a variety of academic majors work in any career field you can imagine
because their liberal arts education and skill set prepares them for just about anything
the working world can offer.
How will this impact me after I graduate?
The evidence is clear: a liberal arts education prepares students to be productive in a wide range of fields
after they graduate and is more highly valued now than ever before. Each year, the
highest placement rates for employment, graduate programs and professional schools
are found at liberal arts colleges.
In a recent survey, 89 percent of employers said they wanted more emphasis on “the
ability to effectively communicate orally and in writing,” 81 percent asked for better
“critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills” and 70 percent were looking for
“the ability to innovate and be creative.” Illinois Wesleyan’s liberal arts curriculum
is designed to provide precisely these skills.
Whether you already know what field you would like to pursue or you are completely
undecided about your major, Illinois Wesleyan’s liberal arts philosophy will give
you the preparation you need to have a successful future. It is one of the many reasons
that IWU graduates enjoy a 96.5 percent success rate after college (employed full-time or in graduate or professional school full-time within six months