Humanities Students Outpace Business Majors in Academic Achievement

A co-sponsored NYT / Chronicle of Higher Ed article describes business majors as being among the least engaged and least curious students on campus. Humanities majors, on the contrary, came out near the top in terms of intellectual curiosity and academic gain: 

Business majors spend less time preparing for class than do students in any other broad field, according to the most recent National Survey of Student Engagement: nearly half of seniors majoring in business say they spend fewer than 11 hours a week studying outside class. In their new book “Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses,” the sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa report that business majors had the weakest gains during the first two years of college on a national test of writing and reasoning skills. And when business students take the GMAT, the entry examination for M.B.A. programs, they score lower than students in every other major.”

“Business programs also attract more than their share of students who approach college in purely instrumental terms, as a plausible path to a job, not out of curiosity about, say, Ronald Coase’s theory of the firm.”

“At the beginning of freshman year and end of sophomore year, students in the study took the Collegiate Learning Assessment, a national essay test that assesses students’ writing and reasoning skills. During those first two years of college, business students’ scores improved less than any other group’s. Communication, education and social-work majors had slightly better gains; humanities, social science, and science and engineering students saw much stronger improvement.”

Could this explain why companies have recently turned to humanities and liberal arts majors during hiring season? Is this why business schools around the country have begun to retool their programs by infusing more humanities learning?

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