Best Online Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts Programs

Badge (Online) with 2-Line TitleBachelor'sin Liberal Arts2017
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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Location Description
1 Harvard University 75.40 N/A Cambridge, MA

Adult learners can earn their bachelor of liberal arts through the Extension School at Harvard University, the nation's oldest educational institution and one of the most elite. With campuses in Cambridge and Boston, Harvard University offers this degree exclusively for those who have not yet earned an undergraduate degree.

Part-time students have the opportunity to take over 800 courses, including courses like "the culture of capitalism", or "chocolate, culture, and the politics of food". All courses are taught by Harvard professors who help students to think critically and develop an informed world view.

Students choose a concentration in humanities, science, or social sciences, following a roadmap to their degree that includes 32 courses (128 credits). Most courses can be taken online; however, a minimum of 16 credits must be taken on the Harvard campus.

Before admission, Harvard requires all students take three admission courses to demonstrate their commitment and ability to excel with a B grade or higher. Students apply during their third admission course; Harvard allows up to 64 credits to be transferred.

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2 University of Illinois at Springfield 71.59 N/A Springfield, IL

A bachelor's degree in liberal studies is one of a dozen online bachelor's programs at the University of Illinois at Springfield, which is known for the quality of its online learning programs. This 60-hour degree-completion program is a non-traditional option that allows students to design their own degree requirements.

Online liberal arts students choose at least one course each in seven broad subject categories that include: identity, work, nature, institutions, language, heritage, and art. Electives might include individualism and self-reliance in America, European cinema, or expatriate Paris.

Graduates of the program need 120 credit hours, which includes seven hours of core courses, 10 hours of Engaged Citizens Common Experience (ECCI), three upper level courses in each of the seven broad categories, and at least 12 liberal studies courses. The ECCI classes cover U.S. communities, global awareness, and engagement experience, the last of which might include service learning or research projects. Finally, students must take a course where they can participate in discussions with prestigious speakers.

The University of Illinois at Springfield allows students to transfer up to 90 hours of lower- and upper-level credits from another accredited school.

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3 Northeastern University Global Network 70.56 N/A Boston, MA

Northeastern University Global Network takes experiential learning seriously. Online students who can't commute to the Boston campus engage with professors in high quality online courses, then apply what they've learned in class to co-ops or internships. Online students can take a three or six month co-op or internship during the days and classes at night. Paid co-ops are 35-40 hours a week, while internships (paid or unpaid) are 10-20 hours a week.

The bachelor of science in liberal studies is one of over two dozen bachelor degree and certificate programs offered online through Northeastern University. It's built for independent thinkers who want to pursue a course of study not available as a major concentration. Students work with advisors to compose their degree program, borrowing from the fields of science, math, arts and humanities, and social sciences.

The 120 credit online liberal arts degree program also includes foundation courses in writing, philosophy, computer applications, and a capstone project. Students can choose from 14 available disciplines for their minor. Classes are taught asynchronously, and all midterm and final exams are taken online.

Admission to the program does not require test scores or an application fee, just an application, transcripts, any transfer credit documentation, and proof of English proficiency, if applicable.

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4 University of North Carolina at Greensboro 68.52 N/A Greensboro, NC

The bachelor of arts in liberal studies program at University of North Carolina at Greensboro is tailored for non-traditional students who want to complete college in their adulthood. The interdisciplinary online degree is highly customizable, allowing students to choose from three tracks. These include professional studies, with courses in business ethics, culture, and conflict; social sciences, with courses like anthropology and economics; and humanities, with half-semester courses on writing or critical thinking.

All classes are online, with no scheduled class times. Students need 122 credit hours to graduate with an online liberal arts degree; which can include transfer credits from other schools. Students who enter the program with 60 transfer credits and who take an average of three courses a semester will complete their degree in seven semesters. A 2.5 minimum GPA is required for admission in August or January. Tuition for online undergraduate courses are discounted compared to on-campus courses.

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5 Iowa State University 68.48 N/A Ames, IA

With the bachelor's in liberal studies program at Iowa State University, there is no traditional major. Students work with their advisers to focus on one or more disciplines to personalize their studies to meet their professional, personal, and educational goals.

The 120-credit, online liberal arts degree program requires 46 credits in general courses, and electives comprise 38 credits. At least 12 credits each are required in three of five areas, including humanities, communications and arts, natural sciences and mathematics, social sciences, and professional fields. Three credits of coursework in both U.S. diversity and international perspectives are also required.

Up to three-fourths of the degree requirements can be transferred from other institutions. Prospective students need at least a 2.0 GPA, as well as an associates degree before admission.

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6 University of Iowa 65.75 N/A Iowa City, IA

The bachelor of liberal studies program at University of Iowa offers students a degree-completion program with a choice of three tracks. The first, global studies, with an optional world language component, focuses on global issues and perspectives. Advanced courses in this track include politics of terrorism and immigration politics. The second track, health and human studies, is based on health sciences with a focus on the social aspects of health care, drawing from the fields of psychology and rehabilitation. Advanced courses include the psychology of aging and trauma across the lifespan. The third track is organizational studies, which focuses on business management skills with courses like sport business practices and entrepreneurial finance.

Regardless of the chosen track, students pursuing this liberal arts degree online will learn fundamental writing skills, critical thought, and information literacy. Students need 120 credits to graduate and at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA; 60 credits can be transferred from another school.

Applicants will need at least 24 credits from an accredited college, with a minimum 2.0 GPA. In lieu of an associate's degree, applicants will be considered if they earned a high school degree at least three years prior to admission to this program.

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7 University of Massachusetts-Lowell 64.80 N/A Lowell, MA

University of Massachusetts – Lowell offers one of the most robust online programs accessible from a traditional university. Courses are taught by full-time faculty or adjunct faculty who are practicing professionals.

The bachelor's degree in liberal arts can be taken entirely online, or as a combination of online and on-campus courses. A balanced curriculum lets students select two concentrations from the following disciplines: art history, economics, English, history, legal studies, political science, philosophy, psychology, and gender studies. Those choosing to concentrate in philosophy, for example, might take courses like world religions or engineering and ethics.

Typically, students will enroll in seven or eight courses in each of their concentrations to earn 42 to 48 of the 120 credits needed to graduate. Core courses, foreign language courses, and electives make up the remainder of the program. Students are generally advised to take just one or two courses in their first semester.

Applicants interested in a liberal arts degree online need at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA. Coursework completed at other accredited colleges can be transferred with a grade of C- or better; additional restrictions apply. Keep in mind that each candidate must finish at least 15 credits of upper division courses at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

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8 University of Northern Iowa 64.47 N/A Cedar Falls, IA

The University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls offers a bachelor of liberal studies program featuring guided independent study for students with an associate's degree or 60 hours transferable college credit. The program offers a flexible bachelor's degree program with over 60 courses to choose from.

Instead of a traditional major, students complete 12 semester hours in three of five of the following subjects: humanities, communications and arts, natural sciences and math, social sciences, and professional fields. Half of these semester hours must be earned from courses designated as upper level. Sample courses include victimology, language acquisition in children, and studies in forgiveness.

Students pursuing their liberal arts degree online can apply for the self-paced program at any time and take up to nine months to complete each course without ever stepping foot on campus. There is no time limit to complete the degree, and all exams are proctored. To graduate, students need 120 credits, including 45 credits in advanced coursework. Applicants need a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA.

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9 Colorado State University-Fort Collins 64.15 N/A Fort Collins, CO

An online bachelor's in interdisciplinary liberal arts gives students at Colorado State University (CSU) in Fort Collins a comprehensive education with interdisciplinary coursework in communications, political science, sociology, economics, and the humanities. The first educational institution in the state to offer this kind of degree, CSU designed a 120-credit program where students can also choose a five-year program with dual degrees in liberal arts and engineering science.

Students have the choice to select a minor or second major, or earn 21 credits in a language. The choice of minors includes business administration, sociology, anthropology, economics, media studies, political science, and gerontology. The capstone seminar has students read, interpret, and discuss a range of material related to an instructor-assigned topic; students are evaluated based on their writing, research and presentation.

Students interested in the liberal arts bachelor's degree online should expect to spend nine to 12 hours a week, per course. The program is designed for those with an associate's degree or 40 or more transferrable credit hours.

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10 Washington State University 63.47 N/A Pullman, WA

The bachelor of arts in humanities program at Pullman-based Washington State University offers students flexibility in how they complete their degree.

This online degree allows students to focus on either two or three concentrations. The concentrations all involve a focus on humanities, and include: American studies, anthropology, communication, comparative ethnic studies, English, fine arts, foreign language and cultures, history, music, philosophy, and women's studies. All students must also complete a writing portfolio that consists of writing samples from three college courses, as well as a timed essay.

Those interested in the liberal arts bachelor's degree online need a minimum 2.5 GPA. Admissions are considered three times a year for sessions that begin in May, June and August. Graduates from this program often find jobs in social services, business, and education.

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11 Regis University 62.63 N/A Denver, CO

Denver's Regis University offers serious flexibility for students with limited time available. With accelerated five- and eight-week terms that start six times a year, it's online bachelor of arts in liberal arts program readies students for the workforce with courses in ethical decision-making, logic and reasoning, social group interactions, and effective communications.

Each class in this online program parallels classroom courses, with a structured schedule and weekly assignment due dates. Regis University offers another alternative to campus classes in their directed study program, where students wishing to work independently can develop their own eight-week courses with their adviser.

Students need 120 credit hours to graduate with 45 credits from general core courses focusing on oral communication, English composition, literature and humanities, global issues, social sciences, math, natural sciences, philosophy, and religious studies; 18 credit hours in research writing, history, philosophy, and ethics; and 9, 21, or 33 credit hours from electives, depending on whether an optional minor and/or specialization is completed.

Applications are due two weeks before the six start dates. The application (including its $50 fee) college transcripts or equivalent work experience, and a personal statement are required.

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12 University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus 62.55 N/A Norman, OK

The University of Oklahoma in Norman utilizes a classic liberal studies framework for its bachelor of arts in liberal studies program. The diversified, 126-hour program exposes students to the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences in a 100% online or hybrid format.

Students will explore ecology and evolution, human arrangements, and humanities of the modern and ancient worlds, to name a few topics. General education requirements include 12 to 40 hours with another 42 hours for degree completion. Free electives may account for up to 72 hours. At least 40 hours of advanced coursework must be completed with a minimum 2.0 GPA.

Intensive, fast-paced courses follow an accelerated eight-week format with the option for 100% online courses or classes that meet on-site evenings or weekends.

Students typically enroll in four courses each semester. With input from their advisers, some may opt for six courses per semester. The program can be finished in as quickly as 18 months, but most finish in two or three years.

Admission decisions for the online liberal arts program are made five times a year in fall, spring, and summer. Applicants will need to include a non-refundable $40 fee with their application, plus transcripts.

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13 Oregon State University 61.86 N/A Corvallis, OR

Oregon State University in Corvallis offers a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science in liberal studies that is a stepping stone to several career paths, including education, communications, health care, law enforcement, social work and business.

The program's "design your own major" feature has over 1,000 online courses in 90 subjects to choose from. The bachelor of arts program draws from humanities, arts, social sciences, and sciences, while the bachelor of science program focuses on scientific, quantitative ways to understand hard sciences. The bachelor of arts program also requires second-year proficiency in a second language, while the bachelor of science program requires a 15-credit block of science, computer science, and quantitative coursework. Both degrees require comparable effort and time, and both require 180 credits to graduate.

Together with their advisers, students build detailed programs of study from 18 different disciplines ranging from art and ethnic studies to music and theatre. A writing intensive course is also required. Some degree requirements can be transferred from other schools for this online liberal studies degree, but at least 45 of the last 75 credits must have been earned at Oregon State with a minimum 2.3 major GPA.

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14 University of Memphis 61.78 N/A Memphis, TN

One of only three online degree programs through the University of Memphis (UofM), the bachelor of liberal studies with a major in interdisciplinary studies offers a unique learning experience. Students create their own individualized program of study through the Baccalaureate Contract Program. Students submit a contract identifying two areas of complementary study, along with their personal and professional goals. The contract must be approved by a review committee.

As is the case with most online liberal arts programs, there are general education requirements, from English and math to natural science; in this case, 35 to 41 credit hours are required. Courses specific to the interdisciplinary major make up 45 credits, or 15 courses.

Through a collaborative partnership with other Tennessee academic institutions, online students may take courses instructed by professors from a partner institution, alongside students enrolled at those schools. These shared resources enhance the quality of online instruction for UofM students, and completed courses appear on their transcript as UofM courses.

To graduate, students need 120 credit hours, which includes a minimum of 45 upper-level hours. Deadlines for contract submission are February 15, May 15, and September 15.

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15 Brandman University 61.40 N/A Irvine, CA

Brandman University in Irvine, California offers an online bachelor of arts program with an emphasis in multiple subjects teaching. The program is offered through a network of 18 regional campuses throughout California and online.

The curriculum familiarizes students with subjects most often taught in California elementary schools--language arts, natural sciences, math, art, history, and physical education--and is meant to prepare undergraduates for post-bachelor's degree credential programs.

Graduates with this bachelor's in liberal arts degree will be able to put theories of social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development to the test inside the classroom. Subject matter courses include creativity and the visual arts, California history, and student health and safety.

The 120-credit program requires 36 credits earned through advanced coursework and at least a 2.0 GPA in all major and minor courses. Applicants need at least 12 transferable undergraduate-level credits, or their equivalent, plus a completed application and transcripts.

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16 California State University-Chico 57.74 N/A Chico, CA

The bachelor of arts in liberal studies at Chico's California State University prepares students for teaching careers in education, business, government, and social work. The program provides hands-on experience with K-8 children and meets California State Content Standards for K-8 teachers.

This degree-completion program was designed for individuals who have completed at least two years of college, but not a four-year degree. Those who plan on teaching will need to complete a credential program. A sampling of courses available includes social movements, environmental sociology, and religion in American public schools. In lieu of advanced education courses, students may opt to take career and life planning or sociology minors online.

Students need 120 credits to graduate; 60 to 70 credits can be transferred from another accredited college. Most students complete the program in two or three years. Applications to start in the fall term are typically accepted October through November the previous year; applications for a spring start are accepted through August of the previous year.

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17 Westfield State University 57.43 N/A Westfield, MA

The bachelor of arts in liberal studies program at Westfield State University in Massachusetts is a degree completion program designed for graduates of Massachusetts community colleges who wish to complete their final two years of their degree online. Online completion of this program depends on the disciplines chosen by the student, which is done with the help of an academic advisor. Community college graduates from outside Massachusetts can still enroll in the program and finish most courses online.

The online liberal arts degree program, which includes a range of internships, can be used to enhance teacher licensure programs. Within the interdepartmental track, students choose three complementary areas of concentration. These three concentrations make up 45 credits toward the 120 required for graduation. If preferred, students can choose a multidisciplinary track where two of the three concentrations focus on humanities, math, and science courses, while the third concentration is composed of courses in a single academic discipline.

There are 15-week semesters in fall and spring and two six-week semesters in summer, along with one accelerated two-week winter session.

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18 Azusa Pacific University 56.79 N/A Azusa, CA

The bachelor of arts in liberal studies at California's Azusa Pacific University is an accelerated teaching degree program created to help prospective elementary and special education teachers finish their bachelor's degree. The program readies candidates for the California Subject Examination for Teachers (CSET) and entry into a teaching credential program.

Designed for adult learners who may already be working in classrooms as educators or paraprofessionals, the online program helps students leverage their strengths and learning styles to evaluate K-6 student needs. It also excels as a general liberal arts program online, particularly for those with an interest in clinical psychology, counseling, or social work, and all courses are taught asynchronously.

General studies and electives, which include a required math and beginner Spanish course, make up 73 credits. Core program requirements, which include three English composition and children's literature courses, make up another 47 credits. Students need 120 credits to graduate, and most complete the program in 19 months.

Applicants to the program need at least a 2.0 GPA; start dates are available in spring, summer, and fall.

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19 Arizona State University-Skysong 56.60 N/A Scottsdale, AZ

Arizona State University -- Skysong offers an online bachelor's in liberal studies, offering diversified coursework in 25 disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. The program helps students develop their capacity for critical and creative thinking, and strengthens their professional career development.

The 120-credit program requires at least 45 upper-division hours and a 2.0 GPA or better. Required courses cover computer/statistics/quantitative applications, humanities, arts, design, as well as three awareness courses in cultural diversity, global awareness, and historical awareness. Sample course options include communication in the electronic age and immigration and ethnicity in the United States.

Like many online liberal arts programs, some online courses may require scheduled participation for certain assignments, and some assignments or tests may only be available for a limited time, so they must be completed within a designated period. While no campus visits are required, students are encouraged to attend commencement ceremonies on campus.

Newly admitted students can begin at Arizona State University on six start dates throughout the year. Many courses start every seven-and-a-half weeks. Classes are regularly offered in the fall, spring and summer terms.

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20 Bay Path College 56.20 N/A Longmeadow, MA

Bay Path University in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, has an accelerated bachelor in liberal studies program for women that can be completed in one to three-and-a-half years. It's one of 20 degree programs representing the nation's first fully online program developed especially for working women.

The bachelor's in liberal arts online features six-week sessions and six start dates. The 120-credit program appeals to modern students who want to design their own program of study, assisted by an adviser. Students gain a broad outlook on social, environmental, and cultural issues in today's highly connected world, with required courses like literary genres and women as empowered leaders and learners.

Students can transfer up to 90 credits, regardless of when they were earned, provided the school was accredited, the class was at 100 or higher level, and the student demonstrated success. Requirements to apply include: 12 transferable credits or a short essay, a high school diploma/GED, college transcripts, and an interview with an admissions counselor.

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21 Saint Joseph's University 56.13 N/A Philadelphia, PA

The online bachelor of science in professional and liberal studies is a three-year degree-completion program at Philadelphia's Saint Joseph's University. As a career training program, the curriculum is built on learning actionable skills such as effective leadership and professional negotiation. There's also an optional focus on organizational development and leadership that guides students on how to inspire a team, develop leaders, and change an organization's operational culture.

With the exception of the first semester, students take two courses each term with the flexibility to add extra courses if necessary. They must complete a total of 120 credit hours, with at least 45 credit hours completed through St. Joseph's, and 60 or more credits transferred from their previous college.

Online courses are not self-paced; students complete assignments according to a class schedule and, like many online liberal arts programs, this one encourages participation from students in online class discussions. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis all year long and there are three starting sessions per year. A minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.0 is needed.

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22 Endicott College 55.90 N/A Beverly, MA

Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts, offers a bachelor's of arts in liberal studies. It's a completely online program, like all of Endicott College's undergraduate programs. The program, which requires 128-131 credits for graduation, offers a choice of six or eight course concentrations in early childhood education or education, homeland security studies, trauma studies, or Montessori education.

The bachelor's in liberal arts online has eight discipline-designated elective requirements, including political science, math, and international studies. Students who want to further personalize their major can apply for an individually designed program of study that offers extra flexibility in pursuing unique interests, as well as drawing from many disciplines.

To apply, prospective students must be at least 24 years of age and have two years of full-time work experience. They'll also need to describe their professional goals in writing and submit one letter of recommendation, along with their transcripts. Up to 85 credits can be transferred from another accredited institution.

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23 Utah State University 54.95 N/A Logan, UT

Logan's Utah State University bachelor of arts in liberal arts is a multi-disciplinary program focusing mainly on social science, humanities, and art. Civilization, cultural traditions, political institutions, and an appreciation of the fine arts all receive strong attention. Though not required, students are strongly urged to declare a second major, a minor, or certificate study.

Communication-intensive courses include Islamic visual cultures, introduction to film theory, and sports writing. A sampling of quantitative-intensive courses includes textile science, deductive logic, and biomechanics. Many fully online programs like this one are available in all states, but internships or practicums may be restricted in certain states.

Students need 120 credits to graduate, and at least 100 of those credits must be accompanied by a grade of C- or higher. Applicants must have 45 transferrable credits with a 2.50 GPA for admission to this online liberal arts program. Students must receive an overall 2.0 GPA in order to graduate.

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24 Northern Arizona University 54.48 N/A Flagstaff, AZ

Flagstaff-based Northern Arizona University has incorporated an innovative learning format into its online bachelor of arts in liberal arts. It reflects a contemporary take on core competencies, based on what qualities employers value most in leaders, like critical thinking and collaborative communication skills.

The 120-credit curriculum, which spans history, philosophy, literature, and the arts, emphasizes key skills and knowledge areas, or competencies, not individual courses. These competencies are reinforced across all subjects, and students are evaluated based on how well they understand the curriculum, not on how much time is spent in class. Graduates will know how to work within a team, tackle complex problems, communicate with diverse populations, and describe ethical theories.

This self-paced online liberal studies degree has weekly start dates, so students control how quickly they earn their degree. Before submitting an application, they'll work with an admission specialist to determine transferrable credits, their preparedness via a readiness assessment, and degree selection. There are no application deadlines for this program. Instead of paying tuition for individual courses, students pay a flat six-month subscription with no extra fees or textbook costs.

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25 Northwestern State University of Louisiana 54.18 N/A Natchitoches, LA

Northwestern State University of Louisiana is Louisiana's first and largest online campus. One of 39 online degree programs, its bachelor of arts in liberal arts program is centered on the social and behavioral sciences, English, languages, communication, and the creative and performing arts. Program requirements include 12 semester hours in a foreign language, 42 hours of electives, 26 hours in the concentration, and 40 general education hours. Fast track eight-week sessions occur in the fall and spring, where students concentrate on one or two courses at a time. Summer courses follow a three-, five-, or six-week format.

Most online courses are a combination of online lectures and reading assignments. Classes may also make use of textbooks, required term papers and essays, and discussion board participation.

Online liberal arts degree students may be required to take their midterm and final exams on the Natchitoches campus, unless they opt for a proctored exam at a local testing center. Students are also encouraged to attend commencement ceremonies. Distance learners pay no out-of-state fees but do pay a flat tuition rate. Financial aid is available to all online students.

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