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Students pursuing a bachelor's in liberal arts enjoy considerable educational and professional flexibility. These programs provide a well-rounded education that prepares learners for careers in many fields, such as communications and media and community and social service. Choosing a broad discipline like liberal arts provides students with opportunities to engage with multiple fields before focusing on a specialization.
This guide covers the best online bachelor's in liberal arts programs available and highlights potential career pathways for graduates of these programs. You can also continue your research with our bachelor's in liberal arts program guide.
What Are the Best Online Bachelor's in Liberal Arts Programs of 2020? Here Are Our Top 10:
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|1||California State University, Long Beach||Long Beach, CA|
|2||California State University, Northridge||Northridge, CA|
|3||Arizona State University||Scottsdale, AZ|
|4||California State University, Chico||Chico, CA|
|5||University of Illinois Springfield||Springfield, IL|
|6||Clayton State University||Morrow, GA|
|7||University of Iowa||Iowa City, IA|
|8||Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey Camden Campus||Camden, NJ|
|9||Northeastern University||Boston, MA|
|10||Harvard University||Cambridge, MA|
- How We Rank Schools
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Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our Ranking Methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.
2020 Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Liberal Arts Programs
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California State University, Long Beach
|Long Beach, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 69%||
CSULB offers a hybrid bachelor's in liberal arts degree completion program designed for busy professionals reentering higher education.
This 66-credit program includes courses on communication, global citizenship, and diverse cultures. Students take classes online and in person, working in small cohorts with their fellow learners. Courses take place one night a week and every other Saturday. Most students complete their bachelor's degree within two years.
Eligible applicants must possess at least 72 credits of transferable postsecondary coursework and a minimum 2.0 GPA. Prospective students should submit an application essay and official transcripts from all colleges they previously attended.
All bachelor's in liberal arts students pay the same tuition, regardless of state residency. Graduates complete their degrees with a median student loan debt of $15,000.
California State University, Northridge
|Northridge, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
CSUN's Tseng College delivers an online bachelor's degree in liberal arts for individuals returning to school to complete their education. The 60-credit program features a cohort structure, allowing students to take classes with the same group of peers.
The curriculum includes a course on cities of the third world, which explores economic, cultural, and political influences that shape communities in Africa, the Caribbean, and other parts of the globe.
Prospective students must possess at least 60 transferable credits and a minimum 2.0 GPA. Their transcripts also must reflect passing grades in critical thinking, analytical writing, oral communication, and math courses. The program boasts a graduation rate of more than 85%. All online students pay the same tuition, even if they live out of state.
Arizona State University
|Scottsdale, AZ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 48%||
ASU Online delivers a bachelor's in liberal arts program that encompasses more than two dozen subject areas across the social sciences and humanities. The program serves students looking to complete their bachelor's degree and individuals interested in exploring a variety of disciplines for their major.
The program features 40 total classes and 120 credits, with each class lasting 7.5 weeks. Students take all courses online and learn using an asynchronous schedule, with no set log-in times.
The program also provides flexibility in the classes students can take. One popular course — cultural diversity in the U.S. — examines how various cultures have influenced American communities and society as a whole. Located in Tempe, ASU boasts a five-year graduation rate of nearly 70%.
California State University, Chico
|Chico, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 66%||
Primarily serving students who plan to teach elementary school, the online bachelor's in liberal arts completion program at Chico State delivers a solid foundation in a variety of subject areas. The program also enables students to gain experience working with children in K-8 settings.
The program's curriculum includes courses on liberal studies, sociology, social sciences, and religious studies. Students have the freedom to choose many classes that interest them as they complete their degree.
Students can begin taking classes in the fall or spring. To apply as a transfer student, an applicant must provide official transcripts from colleges and universities they previously attended. Chico State's median student debt upon graduation is $17,000.
University of Illinois Springfield
|Springfield, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 51%||
UIS offers an online bachelor's in liberal arts program designed for individuals looking to complete their undergraduate degree. While the program makes all its courses available online, students may opt to engage in some in-person experiences at the school's Springfield campus.
This online bachelor's degree in liberal arts features at least 48 credits of upper-division courses, with students choosing from a variety of subjects to complete their degree. Most students graduate within 2-3 years.
While resident students pay less than nonresidents, UIS offers discounted tuition rates to distance learners. The university also offers credit for prior learning, such as internships, service learning, the military, and job experience. UIS alumni make up nearly 30% of the college-educated workforce in the Springfield area.
Clayton State University
|Morrow, GA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 30%||
Located in Morrow, Georgia, CSU delivers a bachelor's in liberal arts degree that allows students to create their own curriculum. Many students who earn this liberal arts degree move seamlessly into graduate programs.
The program requires students to complete a minor to supplement their studies. Criminal justice and English minors are currently available entirely online, although the school plans to expand these options in the future.
First-time applicants must provide their official high school transcripts or GED scores, along with their ACT or SAT scores. Prospective transfer students should submit official college transcripts from previously attended institutions. Out-of-state residents who study online pay less than they would for on-campus classes.
University of Iowa
|Iowa City, IA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 73%||
Emphasizing leadership and communication skills, UI's online bachelor's degree in liberal arts allows students to complete their undergraduate studies from a distance. Students may choose from concentrations in expression in writing and the arts; family, community, and social support; global studies; health and human studies; justice and ethics; and organizational studies.
To graduate, students must complete a total of 120 credits, transferring in up to 60 credits from a two-year postsecondary institution. Incoming transfer students must possess at least 24 credits of college coursework earned with a minimum 2.0 GPA. The program also accepts individuals with an associate degree.
Bachelor of liberal studies students may also combine their degree with a certificate in entrepreneurial management, nonprofit management, or public health.
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey Camden Campus
|Camden, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 58%||
Rutgers-Camden delivers an online bachelor's degree in liberal arts for individuals who possess an AAS degree from an accredited institution.
Students can tailor their studies to match their interests and career goals, choosing from courses in music and the arts, English, history, literature, and the social sciences. Although students can take all classes online, they may opt for in-person experiences at several campuses throughout New Jersey.
Applicants to this bachelor's in liberal arts program must provide transcripts from all colleges and universities they previously attended. Students at nearby community colleges can apply to a dual-degree program and earn a bachelor's and master's in liberal studies at the same time.
|Boston, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 88%||
Northeastern's online bachelor's in liberal arts degree completion program features an experiential learning model that teaches students the knowledge and skills needed to thrive in a variety of workplaces.
The 48-credit program includes courses in English, humanities, social sciences, mathematics, and science. Students complete a three-credit capstone, conducting independent research aligned with their chosen curriculum path. All courses take place online and feature an asynchronous structure.
To apply, prospective students must submit their official college transcripts. Incoming students may begin the program in the fall, spring, or summer. Northeastern's main campus is located in Boston. Resident and nonresident students pay the same tuition.
|Cambridge, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 98%||
Harvard's Extension School offers an on-campus and online bachelor's in liberal arts program tailored to professionals looking to complete their degree while working full time. The program primarily serves adults over the age of 30 who have completed 1-2 years of postsecondary coursework.
While most learning takes place online, students must complete at least 16 credits at the Harvard campus; however, three-week and weekend class options are available. Graduates can also participate in the institution's annual commencement ceremony.
To receive admission into this bachelor's in liberal arts program, students must complete three initial courses with a "B" or better. The program accepts up to 64 transfer credits from regionally accredited colleges and universities.
In-state and out-of-state Harvard Extension School students pay the same tuition. The liberal arts program also offers a joint bachelor's/master's degree.
What Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Liberal Arts Program?
In general, liberal arts degrees focus on critical thinking, communication, and interdisciplinary study.
The typical bachelor's in liberal arts program features 90-120 credits and takes approximately 3-4 years to complete. Students usually complete a broad selection of humanities-based and social sciences coursework during their first couple of years. In their senior year, learners often choose a major or specialization and take advanced courses in that area to bring their total credits up to 120.
All students in a bachelor's in liberal arts program work toward a BA degree, but the program can vary considerably depending on students' majors. Learners may pick from many specializations including English, history, psychology, and business. Degree-seekers can also build up their practical experience through internships or practica, which can help them find a job after graduation.
In general, liberal arts degrees focus on critical thinking, communication, and interdisciplinary study. These programs encourage students to diversify their education and draw from multiple fields when tackling problems. This approach can pay off professionally as well, as graduates enter the workforce with diverse skill sets and knowledge in various fields.
Though most programs offer a BA degree, some schools may feature a BS in liberal arts or a combination degree. These interdisciplinary programs recognize the usefulness of liberal arts training in science-based fields.
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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Bachelor's in Liberal Arts Program?
The broad nature of a bachelor's in liberal arts means that students may encounter an array of courses throughout their studies. While the list below highlights some of the most common courses in these programs, students should note that the course descriptions and titles may differ from what they may see in a particular program.
- Contemporary Society and Culture
In this course, students study many facets of contemporary culture and society. Learners explore the major institutions and movements of our time, examine leading social perspectives, and discuss globalization and diversity.
- Academic Writing
Academic writing courses teach students how to research and craft academic papers. Learners examine methods for crafting an argument and critiquing research and texts. Additional topics may include other forms of creative and professional writing.
- History of Science and Art
In this course, students explore the development of science and art throughout time. Learners look at ways that culture and society viewed these fields and how those perspectives have shifted over time. The course also covers the institutions, forces, and figures that helped shape scientific and artistic movements.
- World Revolutions
In this course, students learn about the major revolutions in history. Learners study revolutionary motivators, actors, timelines, and consequences. Additional topics include the social, economic, and cultural impacts of these revolutions.
- Mathematical and Quantitative Reasoning
Students in mathematical and quantitative reasoning courses learn the leading principles and problem-solving methods in these fields. Degree-seekers learn to use mathematics and quantitative reasoning, including diagrams and models, for critical thinking.
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What Can I Do With an Online Bachelor's in Liberal Arts Degree?
Professionals with a bachelor's in liberal arts can work in many industries. Depending on their interests and specializations, learners can pursue several promising professions, including careers in social and behavioral sciences, arts and design, and business and finance.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects strong job growth and median annual salaries for many of these occupational groups.
See where a bachelor's in liberal arts can take you. Learn more about careers for liberal arts majors.
- Human Resources Specialists
Human resources specialists oversee administrative duties related to employee relations, including hiring, training, and compensation. These specialists may run orientation programs, field employee complaints, and help mediate discussions between management and staff. According to BLS data, 15% of these professionals work in employment services, 13% work in professional services, and 11% work for the government.
Editors review the work of writers and content creators looking for mistakes and areas for improvement. They ensure that submitted work fits the organization's or publication's voice and style guide, make corrections to content, and provide creators with feedback. According to BLS data, 35% of editors work in newspaper publishing and 14% are self-employed.
- Management Analyst
Management analysts evaluate an organization's processes and operations and suggest ways that the business can improve or save money. These professionals may review financial data, observe current operations, and assess employee performances. According to the BLS, 32% of these analysts work in professional services, 17% work for the government, and 15% are self-employed.
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors
Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors provide support for individuals with addiction or mental illness. They may offer clients treatment plans or point them in the direction of other resources. According to the BLS, 19% of these counselors work in outpatient mental health centers and 16% work in individual and family services.
- Property Appraiser
Property appraisers determine valuations for houses, commercial buildings, and land for property buyers and real estate agents. They may research public data, measure the property against other local comparables, and review listing information to determine value. According to BLS data, 32% of these professionals work for the local government and 23% are self-employed.
Liberal Arts Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Liberal Arts Programs
- Is a bachelor's in liberal arts worth it?
A bachelor's in liberal arts gives students the chance to grow and diversify their training before making a decision on their specialization and career path. Students with a specific liberal arts pathway in mind or students with broad interests may enjoy these programs.
- What can I do with a bachelor's in liberal arts?
A bachelor's liberal arts can lead to a variety of careers. Graduates acquire skills and knowledge that they can apply in many fields, including communications, business, and political science. Even learners interested in a STEM career can make use of a liberal arts degree.
- Are liberal arts majors in demand?
While the number of students taking liberal arts majors in college and universities has decreased, employers still highly value the soft skills gained in these disciplines. Students can apply the training received in liberal arts degrees to many careers and industries.
- How much money can I make with a bachelor's in liberal arts?
Since a bachelor's in liberal arts can lead to so many careers, salary potential for graduates can vary significantly. According to the BLS, media and communications occupations paid a median annual salary of $59,230 in 2019 and community and social service professionals earned a median annual salary of $46,090 that same year.
- What are the highest paying jobs with a bachelor's in liberal arts?
Some liberal arts graduates find work as business consultants or management analysts. According to the BLS, management analysts earned a median annual salary of $85,260 in 2019, more than double the median annual salary for all occupations.