Humanities Majors Drop

Historians in the News
tags: education, humanities, history crisis



The number of bachelor's degrees in the humanities conferred in 2015 -- 212,512 -- was down 5 percent from the year before and nearly 10 percent from 2012, the high point for such degrees.

Those figures are from an analysis being published today by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences as part of the organization's Humanities Indicators project.

The trend is likely to alarm humanities professors and many others in academe. Many humanities departments have found themselves struggling to maintain tenure-track faculty lines and, in some cases, to continue departments. Humanities professors are quick to note that their departments play crucial roles in general education for students from a range of majors. But many colleges and universities have been allocating positions and deciding on departmental fates in large part based on numbers of majors.

The humanities also saw a decline in the share of all bachelor's degrees awarded, falling below 12 percent for the first time since data were available that compared degrees awarded by disciplines. The data come from the Education Department's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.




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