Arts & Social Science
Welcome to Stellenbosch University

Why you must consider pursuing a BA degree

​​Prospective students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences regularly ask: "Would you recommend a BA degree as a career choice?" and then the follow-up question comes almost immediately: "Is a BA a good investment?"

While we will concede that few Bachelor of Arts (BA) courses or BA programmes prepare students directly for a profession in the same way as, for instance, accounting trains accountants, we can say with conviction that the modern knowledge economy in which our students compete also does not expect this sort of education of BA students. We know that the contemporary globalising world requires more than mere technological progress. Human behaviour, attitudes and values must change if the world is to continue to exist and to manage the challenges of our times creatively. Our emphasis therefore falls precisely on this need.

Our BA programmes are built on pillars of future knowledge including, among others, the following:

  • that the world is changing at an incredible pace - computer capacity almost doubles every two years and knowledge increases just as quickly;
  • that a whole new "knowledge economy" is developing and that these developments mean that a young worker might have to change professions up to seven times in a lifetime and perhaps even retire in a profession that does not even yet exist;
  • that there is already a great demand for "knowledge workers" while there are fewer ordinary office workers and labourers;
  • and that such a fast pace of change must be built on basic values.

Our main aim is therefore to offer students training in the humanities that prepares them for making a contribution in this new world. Research shows that the best approach is to develop both general and specific skills. The variety of departments and programmes in the Faculty is geared towards helping students along this path.

Some of the general skills that we teach to our students and that make them highly sought after include:

  • critical and creative thinking;
  • problem-solving, language and communication skills;
  • an understanding of team work;
  • an understanding of South African and global social realities;
  • and leadership development.
These kinds of skills are important when it comes to working in a professional environment. There is thus a link to what the well-known psychologist Piaget said about education:


"The principal goal of education is to create people who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done - people who create, invent and discover. The second goal of education is to form minds that can be critical, can verify, and not accept everything offered."

Our Faculty is the starting point for any student who strives to reach these ideals echoed by Piaget.

We also seek to establish and strengthen the importance of intrinsic values such as faith in one's family, friends and colleagues; a tolerance for other cultures and points of view; and the importance of participating in networks and organisations. The Faculty focuses on these values in order to combat one of the greatest socio-economic challenges in South Africa, which is our low level of social capital.

We are convinced that knowledge of the social sciences, languages and arts offers an indispensable key to building a developed and just society in South Africa and Africa. Our training produces students who can "think independently, ask the right questions so that they can analyse, weigh up ideas, come to logical conclusions and place solid arguments on the table".

Students who join us become knowledge partners in a vigorous Faculty focused on questions that are relevant to an ever-changing South Africa and the world of the 21st century.