Careers

Study PLS. Do Anything.

What can I do with a PLS major?

The Program of Liberal Studies offers more than preparation for a meaningful career; it can help you to live a more meaningful life. As you can see from the data below, PLS graduates have no difficulty finding jobs, and a recent survey of our alumni revealed that 94% felt that their PLS education helped them perform strongly in their professions.

At least as important, however, is the fact that nearly the same percentage also said that PLS had made valuable contributions to their intellectual development, their knowledge of themselves, their appreciation of the arts and literature, their ability to make moral choices, and their ability to live an examined life.

Since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median job tenure for U.S. workers at all income and educational levels is about 4 years, it is clear that intellectual agility, adaptability, and self-awareness will be essential for both your professional and personal success. 

In PLS, you will be required to work across different academic disciplines, each with its own methods and assumptions, and to quickly analyze complicated argumentation, which you will present to your classmates and professors in class discussions and in writing. Through seminar discussions, you will learn to argue constructively and work with others towards common goals. The experience of reading and interpreting classic texts will make you comfortable with difficult ideas and opposing viewpoints. Through your essays, you will learn to communicate persuasively and elegantly. Researching your senior thesis, you will learn to digest and scrutinize information and work independently. Along the way, you will be invited to discern for yourself continually what it means to live a good life.

If you want a career and, more importantly, a life, that is grounded in deep self-knowledge and a broad understanding of the world, major in PLS.

Hear from PLS alumnus Tom Franco '74, Partner at Clayton, Dubilier, & Rice, LLC

Skills you'll learn

  • To communicate orally and in writing with clarity and confidence
  • To argue civilly and listen generously, to persuade and be persuaded 
  • To pose strong questions and solve problems creatively 
  • To seek wisdom and the intellectual life
  • To think critically and reason analytically
  • To cultivate a rich emotional life and a desire for intellectual friendship
  • To develop a capacity for aesthetic judgment and pleasure 
  • To appreciate a diversity of thought and culture 
  • To read, interpret, and comment upon difficult material across diverse disciplines
  • To value the common good and contribute to a community 

Emily Cline '20

Healthcare Analyst, Huron Consulting Group

“By closely examining dense philosophical texts, discussing the Great Books with my peers, and writing countless essays, I learned how to articulate complex ideas and analyze real world problems. These skills have directly translated to my career in healthcare as an analyst at Huron Consulting Group. I work every day with a diverse group of people to identify problems within healthcare organizations and then design and implement solutions to these issues. The healthcare landscape is incredibly complex and constantly changing, and it’s rewarding to have the chance to work closely with the people and organizations that are driving that transformation. My work has a direct impact on patient access and patient care, and I’m so grateful that my PLS education has enabled me to make a difference in the field I’m most passionate about.”

  • Emily Cline '20

    Healthcare Analyst, Huron Consulting Group

    “By closely examining dense philosophical texts, discussing the Great Books with my peers, and writing countless essays, I learned how to articulate complex ideas and analyze real world problems. These skills have directly translated to my career in healthcare as an analyst at Huron Consulting Group. I work every day with a diverse group of people to identify problems within healthcare organizations and then design and implement solutions to these issues. The healthcare landscape is incredibly complex and constantly changing, and it’s rewarding to have the chance to work closely with the people and organizations that are driving that transformation. My work has a direct impact on patient access and patient care, and I’m so grateful that my PLS education has enabled me to make a difference in the field I’m most passionate about.”

  • Elliot Pierce '13

    Data Scientist, Facebook

    “I have worked for a wide range of different companies and done many different types of work. Even when I've worked for the same company, my job has tended to change every six months or so even if my job title has stayed the same. PLS taught me to be comfortable moving from one discipline to the next while taking the lessons of past disciplines with me. Some people think of their identities as tied to a specific profession. PLS taught me to think of myself as someone who does whatever the moment calls for. As Terence put it, ‘I am human, and nothing human is alien to me.’ Data science as a job didn't really exist when I was in college. Now I'm doing it. Maybe I'll do something different in 10 years that doesn't exist today. I consider myself well-prepared in the sense that I am open to new possibilities.”

  • Mary Katherine Kulback '09

    Corporate IP Associate, Winston and Strawn LLP

    “Studying PLS has been essential to my well-being as a human being, first and foremost. It has made me a more thoughtful person, a better listener, a better friend, a better family member, a better citizen. It has helped me make sense of the news and the world around me. Professionally, it has given a base skill-set and an ability to think that I then build skills and knowledge upon. I don't know where I'd be without PLS, but I know I am in a better place, personally and professionally, because of this experience.”

  • Christopher Muth '06

    Neurologist, Stroger Cook County Hospital; Assistant Professor of Neurological Sciences, Rush University Medical Center; Senior Editor, Journal of the American Medical Association

    “Studying the Great Books cultivated a curiosity about what it means to be human and exposed me to a wide range of world views, and as a physician, I use these skills to listen closely and with an open mind in order to care for patients with neurological conditions and to help them make informed healthcare decisions that are in line with their priorities and values. My experience in PLS taught me to be a life-long learner and prepared me with a strong foundation upon which I’ve been fortunate to develop a varied and personally rewarding career. I am very grateful and would definitely do it all over again!”

  • A. Manuel Cuevas-Trisan '91

    Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, Northwestern University

    “Majoring in PLS was the best decision I ever made. A broad liberal education is interdisciplinary in nature. It afforded me the opportunity to explore timeless principles in various fields of knowledge, learn to analyze, to communicate, and to continue to learn.”

97% of recent Notre Dame Program of Liberal Studies majors found full-time employment, enrolled in graduate school, entered service programs, joined the military, or launched independent projects within six months of graduation.

48% find full-time jobs

  • Agent trainee, United Talent Agency
  • Assistant news brief editor, ABIS Group
  • Associate consultant: Bain & Company
  • Brand planning intern, The Richards Group
  • Bronx borough coordinator, Housing Court Answers
  • Business analyst, McKinsey & Company
  • Claims investigator, Colorado Department of Labor and Employment
  • Client advocate/case coordinator: LAF
  • Client solutions associate: Abscess Group
  • Customer experience consultant, West Monroe Partners
  • Deputy scheduler, Office of U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis
  • Editorial assistant, Weekly Standard
  • Entry Level Paralegal, Hughes Hubbard & Reed
  • Executive assistant, Sotheby’s
  • Field organizer, Democratic Party of Virginia
  • Finance representative, Northwestern Mutual
  • Foundation staff, Rumsfeld Foundation
  • Government relations assistant, Texas Star Alliance
  • Humanities fellow, Culver Academies
  • Legal assistant, Chong, Nishimoto, Sia, Nakamura & Goya
  • Page, NBCUniversal
  • Paralegal specialist, U.S. Department of Justice
  • Program and communications intern, Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation
  • Reporter, Lawrence Journal-World
  • Risk analyst, JP Morgan
  • Sales trainee, Anheauser-Busch
  • Teacher, Institute of Reading Development
  • Volunteer coordinator, Smithsonian Institution

The World Economic Forum recently surveyed 350 executives across nine industries in fifteen of the world's biggest economies to generate a list of the skills that will be most desired by employers over the coming decades: complex problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, people management, coordinating with others, emotional intelligence, judgment and decision-making, service orientation, negotiation skills, and cognitive flexibility.

These are precisely the skills that you will learn in PLS, which is why our alumni can be found working as consultants, doctors, attorneys, CEOs, professors, account executives, teachers, public policy analysts, and in many other jobs that are both gratifying and serve the common good.

19% go to graduate or professional school

  • Education: University of Portland, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • English literature: University of Oxford
  • History and philosophy of science: University of Cambridge
  • Irish folklore and ethnology: University College Dublin
  • Law: Boston College, Saint Louis University, University of Chicago, University of St Thomas, Vanderbilt University, Villanova University, Yale University,
  • Library and information science: University of Wisconsin
  • Medicine: University of Florida
  • Nursing: Xavier University
  • Publishing: Columbia University, Emerson College, New York University
  • Theology: Boston College, Yale University

Because of the sheer breadth of their reading, their knowledge, and their multidisciplinary background, PLS students have pursued graduate degrees in a variety of fields at some of the very best schools in both the US and internationally. Recent students have gone on to top programs in literature, history, economics, education, psychology, philosophy, law, theology, and other subjects at schools such as Harvard, Princeton, Cambridge, and Duke.

20% enter service programs

  • Alliance for Catholic Education, Fort Worth, Texas
  • AmeriCorps, New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Cristo Rey, New York City
  • ECHO, Newark, New Jersey
  • Episcopal Service Corps, Tucson, Arizona
  • FrancisCorps, Syracuse, New York
  • Heart’s Home, Guayaqui, Ecuador
  • House of Brigid, Dublin, Ireland
  • Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest, Wenatchee, Washington
  • Mennonite Voluntary Service, Kansas City, Missouri
  • Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation, Chicago
  • Urban Teachers, Baltimore, Maryland

One of the fundamental goals of a liberal arts education is for students to take what they’ve learned and put it into concrete practice in the real world. In keeping both with the tenets of Catholic Social Teaching and the aims of early Great Books movements to extend education outside the ivory tower, students in PLS are highly motivated to work on behalf of the common good.

Most students who major in PLS participate in some form of community service, whether in underserved elementary and secondary schools, prisons, homeless centers, religious organizations, or non-profits. PLS students believe that is not enough merely to discuss what makes a good and just society, but also actively to participate in their local communities toward that end.

10% launch independent projects

Note: Outcomes data comes from First Destination reports, a survey of recent graduates conducted by the Notre Dame Center for Career Development and Office of Strategic Planning and Institutional Research. Status is known for more than 90% of each graduating class. 

Independent projects include activities such as writing a novel, making a film or fine arts project, traveling the world, caring for a family member, etc.

Further Reading

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