Skip to main content Skip to main navigation Skip to footer content

Illinois Wesleyan's Liberal Arts Advantage

What are the “liberal arts”?

Why I chose Illinois Wesleyan

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 emphasizing specialization.

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 do best. 

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.

▷ Read more media reports on the value of a liberal arts education


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 education.


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 of graduation).