Liberal Arts Education

Liberal Arts Education

Build your best life.

A liberal arts education is one of Berea’s core commitments. Even though we know most students pursue a college degree to get the kind of career they dream of, a liberal arts education is less about training for a particular job, and more about being the best possible version of yourself in whatever job you’re doing. At Berea, we think of it as making a more complete citizen. It’s about the nurse who connects with patients beyond “where does it hurt?” It’s about the computer programmers who ask important ethical questions about the technology they’ve created. And it’s about the scientist who thinks about things “beyond the bench.” If you focus on making a life, we believe making a living will follow.

The liberal arts is about educating the whole person, thinking about what an informed citizen should be in the world…It's training beyond a profession. It’s more about the person and expanding a mind that can then delve into other areas.

Dr. Eileen McKiernan Gonzalez
associate provost and art history professor

We need all the liberal arts to understand what it means to be human. It is a balance of depth - learning about a variety of academic subjects - and breadth of study - about drilling down in an academic discipline. In liberal arts, your coursework is taken from different disciplines while pursuing a major that follows your own educational and professional interests. 

Fostering Exploration

A Berea liberal arts education fosters exploration, innovation, rigorous thinking and clear spoken and written communication. We prepare our students for many possible professions while inspiring and readying them to confront and responsibly engage with an ever-changing world. The liberal arts, beyond mere vocational training, prepares students for the world as it is and as it will be. It's one of the reasons virtually every graduate from Berea will say that the College prepared them very well for further education in graduate or professional school.

We are ready to help you make your best life so that you can make your best living as a result.


A liberal arts education allows for exploration, and leads to career choices more aligned with students' interests.


Students walk across the campus of Berea College, a liberal arts college in Kentucky.

The world changes quickly, and a liberal arts education enables a person to change with it. The value of a Berea education is that it prepares students for what they don’t expect. The world their parents grew up in and the world we see right now is not the world we will be confronting in five, 10 or 15 years.

liberal arts degree

How much more the 40-year ROI is for a liberal arts degree

This ability to adapt, communicate and think about ethical concerns may be why a liberal arts graduate actually earns more, over time, than graduates from other kinds of vocation-focused or specialized institutions. 

Making connections

Our students make connections from one subject to another. They are curious and reflect on what is personally meaningful to them, nurturing many aspects of themselves. Making that human connection in all professions is an important aspect of not just having a good life, but also being a good member of a business, organization, institution or whatever direction our students pursue.

Connections are important whether you are a doctor, entrepreneur, engineer or schoolteacher. The liberal arts teaches us there is something more to our existence than figuring out how to make a living—it’s about also seeing our interdependence and interconnectedness with each other. Thoughts of human connectedness have practical applications for any profession. The computer scientist, for example, must think beyond the algorithm one creates and ask if we are thinking about people and the world for which we’re creating it. 

The value of a liberal arts education is that it makes you think about people outside of yourself when you’re doing the work you’re doing.

Dr. Scott Heggen
associate professor of computer science
Dr. Scott Heggen