Generalist Degree Graduates

The term ‘generalist degree’ covers a range of discipline streams, including Arts, Science, Liberal Studies, Humanities and Social Science. When considering vocational pathways, holders of generalist degrees can sometimes feel less certain about career options compared to peers with a specialist degree. The good news is that the career options for generalists are many and varied!

In addition to the knowledge gained in their discipline or field, generalist graduates enter the labour market with other skills important to many employers and essential for countless roles. These skills are often referred to as ‘transferable workplace skills’ and include:

  • oral and written communication skills
  • ability to critically analyse and synthesise information
  • problem-solving skills
  • practice operating in teams
  • ability to work independently and take responsibility for own learning.

These skills can be applied across diverse industry sectors and enable generalist graduates to present as versatile, adaptable and flexible employees.

Which road?

Finding the right career direction is a challenge facing many generalist graduates. Accessing information on possible career options, reflecting on your values and interests and undertaking a self-assessment to identify your skills are all important steps in exploring potential careers. Career advisors can offer guidance and help you develop career management skills to steer your own career (and not have others steer it for you).

Opportunity knocks

Being able to take advantage of employment opportunities relies on you being well informed about a wide range of prospective employers – from large firms to small or medium-sized enterprises. Find out about the skills they seek in graduates and their methods for recruiting new staff. Successful job seekers skill themselves in job seeking and job application techniques and are open-minded about how their skills can be applied in different work settings. Knowing you are ‘work ready’ will help you to recognise opportunities when they come and give you the confidence to show an employer how your skills match their requirements.

Study options?

Undertaking further education, such as a graduate diploma, coursework masters or higher degree by research, is one way that graduates add value to their generalist degree and prepare for more vocationally specific career pathways. Sometimes it’s essential to complete further qualifications to enter a profession (such as teaching, where a Diploma of Education is required as a minimum).

To sum it up…

As a generalist graduate you have a wide range of career options. Take time to evaluate your skills and explore career possibilities with an open mind. Talk over potential job prospects with university careers staff and explore all the resources available to you.

“An Arts degree lays the foundation for success in many spheres. Our graduates are found in many walks of life. The message we are getting from employers more and more is that they want graduates with good generalist degrees … Graduates from this Faculty have forged stimulating and important careers in many fields, such as the professions, the media, government, business, industry, commerce, community organisations and the arts.”
– Professor Stephen Garton, Professor of History and Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Sydney

“A fresh Arts graduate when I joined the Service, I have grown up in ASIS. Having been mentored by experienced officers, I have trained and worked with many engaging colleagues, some of whom have become my closest friends. I feel privileged to be involved in intelligence operations that pushed the boundaries of my confidence and abilities.”
– Shannon, Australian Secret Intelligence Service graduate