For a small school with a liberal arts bent, Hamilton College in rural upstate New York does quite well with recruiters, particularly from Wall Street. Goldman Sachs has hired as many as 13 graduates in one year, and there are always several picked for internships and jobs at leading companies like GE.

Indeed, a research study tracking a group of Hamilton graduates over their careers – part of a project, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, to evaluate liberal arts education – is finding good news for these liberal arts students, or at least for ambitious ones.

Daniel Chambliss, a Hamilton sociology professor conducting the study, said these graduates sometimes take longer to get traction in the job market, but once they do, they often rise quickly as managers.

There’s no one route to the top, but the liberal arts are one of them. Of the CEOs of the S&P 500 companies, 6 percent identified their undergraduate degrees as liberal arts subjects, according to a recent survey by SpencerStuart. Twenty-one percent of the CEOs had engineering degrees, and 13 percent studied business administration and 8 percent accounting. (Another 15 percent studied economics, which is taught in almost all liberal arts colleges. No further categories were provided in the results).

Hamilton’s graduates include French and history double-major A.G. Lafley, now chairman and CEO of Procter & Gamble, as well as the “Myers” and “Bristol” who co-founded what’s now Bristol-Myers Squibb. Barclays PLC president Robert Diamond studied economics at Colby College in Maine. Treasury Secretary and former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson majored in English at Dartmouth.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.