When incoming college students begin to choose their field of study, one of the most common questions they face is, “What can you do with that degree?” Many believe that gaining a certain degree requires the student to follow the corresponding career path.

Tons of time, money, and energy get poured into recognition efforts with little real ROI. Employees are still feeling underappreciated, and many executives are at a loss for how to remedy the problem at hand. Perhaps talent professionals are overthinking it, replacing time spent strategizing for an expensive, showy reward that isn’t going to resonate long term.

However, as recent business success stories prove, such notions are beginning to shift.

Although specific degrees may be originally intended to lead to distinct career paths, they often promote skill sets that are universal. Skills such as attention to detail and the ability to write clearly and creativity, which can be taught through a variety of degree programs, are often valued by various business teams. In such cases, the lines between degree and career become blurred, resulting in a positive output.

Consider these degree programs and the broad business-related skills that they promote:

  • Psychology– Because psychology is the study of how the brain works, such experience often appeals to human resources and talent management departments. Clearly following thought processes and personality types also allows for success in marketing, sales, and customer service. Understanding what makes people tick is a pivotal part of appealing to the client or customer.
  • Journalism – Because a degree in journalism teaches students how to write succinctly, clearly, and objectively, this skillset can easily be utilized for various B2B or B2C copywriting or advertising roles. The ability to write what people need to know – without the “flowery” detail – is a transferable goal of both journalists and business professionals.
  • Economics– Understanding how the economy works is central to almost any business-related career, with particular application to sales. Understanding the study of supply and demand, as well as what causes people to buy, is central for providing products and services at the right cost and to the right people.
  • Interior Design– Interior design programs promote creativity, imagination, and appeal to diverse tastes. Those with interior design skills may be able to transfer this experience into graphic design or creative director roles that require creative means of appealing to the public.
  • Sociology – Although sociology has gotten a bad rap for its irrelevance to today’s careers, it promotes skills such as the ability to understand and appeal to the public and general writing skills. This can be used for sales or marketing strategy as well as human resources teams.
  • Statistics– Mathematics skills, particularly in statistics, can be useful for a multitude of roles that require the analysis of metrics. Keeping track of success rates in business, leads in sales based on varying conditions, and prime rates for cost can all be traced back to experience in statistical analysis.
  • Humanities – Understanding various cultures allows for more productive marketing to such populations, as well as the ability to work effectively on various service projects, allowing for more efficient partnering across cultural boundaries.
  • Political Science– Politicians are often known for their influential speaking style and ability to appeal to the public; in a sense, political science is the ability to sell oneself and one’s ideas. This persuasive personality can be useful for sales in a business setting.