Although programs in the liberal arts, also known as liberal studies or general studies, do not offer hands-on training and industry specializations, they do prepare students to enter the workforce. Earning an online master's degree in liberal arts allows students to develop the critical thinking, problem solving, leadership, and persuasive communication skills needed to succeed in any profession. These programs also allow students to complete coursework that specifically aligns with their personal interests and career goals.

Master's of liberal arts online programs were originally designed for educators but now prepare students for positions across many industries, including healthcare services and business operations, fields that the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects to grow by 20% and 27% respectively from 2016 to 2026. According to The New York Times and Forbes, tech companies like Google consistently hire liberal arts majors.

What are the Best Online Master's in Liberal Arts Programs?

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 93%

Johns Hopkins opened its doors in 1876 in Baltimore, Maryland, and currently offers academic programs from locations around the world. America's first research university, Johns Hopkins offers 50 undergraduate majors and 180 graduate fields of study.

The online master of liberal arts program at Johns Hopkins includes 30 credit hours offered across three semesters. At the beginning of the program, students take an interdisciplinary graduate research methods course to learn about research trends in the liberal arts. Learners then choose eight or nine elective classes, dependent upon whether they pursue a graduate project, internship, or portfolio track.

The graduate project, internship, and portfolio components of the online master of liberal arts degree serve as capstone experiences. Students in the graduate project and internship tracks complete eight elective classes, while the portfolio option requires nine elective courses. Elective course topics include ethics for a multicultural world, the social history of medicine, radical politics in American history, and gender and media. Students can also choose classes in theater, literary analysis, the digital humanities, and music and symphonic studies.

Learners in the graduate project track synthesize learning with a comprehensive research paper or creative format, such as a play or visual arts submission. The portfolio option requires students to compile their papers and projects from the curriculum to demonstrate program comprehension. During an internship, students participate in a field-study research project at an approved location.

To apply to the master of liberal arts online program, learners must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Additional application materials include a personal essay, resume, and transcript information.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Liberal Arts
Tuition: $2,797/course
Credit Requirements: 30
Program Length: Must graduate in 5 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 3.0
Work Experience: Considered

Contact
Phone: (800) 847-3330
Email: ldesisto@jhu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

2

Harvard University

Cambridge, MA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 96%

As the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States, Harvard traces its origins to 1636. Established by the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Harvard provides undergraduate, graduate, and extension programs to more than 36,000 students. Harvard's Extension College is one of 12 degree-granting institutions within the university, offering more than 900 courses on campus and online.

Harvard offers an online master of liberal arts in extension studies program with more than 20 concentrations. Students choose from fields of study such as creative writing and literature, dramatic arts, journalism, and museum studies. Social science and cultural studies concentrations focus on history, religion, government, and psychology. Science and technology students choose concentrations in fields such as biology, bioengineering, data science, and digital media design.

The master of liberal arts online program comprises 30-36 credit hours, and students must complete 3-9 credit hours on campus. Students may pursue thesis or capstone tracks. Students in the thesis track write in-depth research papers, while capstone students analyze an issue in their field of study, followed by a presentation and defense of actionable responses. Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies
Available Concentrations: Arts literature and media, education, global studies, science, business and management, social sciences and cultural studies, sustainability and the environment, and technology
Tuition: $2,750/course
Credit Requirements: 48

Delivery
Format: Hybrid
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0
Standardized Tests: English proficiency exam, if applicable

Contact
Phone: (617) 495-4024
Email: inquiry@extension.harvard.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

3

Stony Brook University

Stony Brook, NY Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 72%

Stony Brook is one of four university centers within the State University of New York (SUNY) System. The sea- and space-grant institution serves more than 26,000 learners from its expansive main campus, at locations in Manhattan and Southampton, and online.

The online master of arts in liberal studies degree incorporates interdisciplinary coursework into a 33-credit curriculum. Students study the arts and humanities, social and behavioral sciences, and natural and applied sciences.

Students complete 15 credit hours of liberal arts classes in professional communication, critical thinking, global and cultural awareness, and action and leadership. Thematic courses, chosen from an approved focus area, include a capstone seminar. The capstone requirement trains students to conduct research using field-specific methodologies and resources.

Applicants submit a personal statement, resume, and two letters of recommendation for consideration. Learners must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

As one of the 64 institutions within the State University of New York System, Stony Brook participates in Open SUNY, an online collaboration which allows students to access classes, degrees, and research from all SUNY schools. Open SUNY hosts almost 450 degrees and 12,000 courses alongside extensive online supports, such as a personal concierge, help desk, and online tutoring. Learners benefit from experiential learning opportunities and instruction from research and industry leaders.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Arts in Liberal Studies
Tuition: $462/credit plus fees (in-state); $944/credit plus fees (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 33
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Mostly asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 3.0
Standardized Tests: English proficiency exam, if applicable

Contact
Phone: (800) 342-3811
Email: askSUNY@suny.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

4

Rutgers University

New Brunswick, NJ Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 80%

Rutgers offers more than 150 undergraduate majors and over 400 graduate programs through 29 schools and colleges. Established in 1766, Rutgers is the eighth-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Rutgers now hosts more than 70,000 learners from its main campus, at locations in Newark and Camden, and online. Rutgers is a member of the Association of American Universities and holds accreditation through the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

The online master of arts in liberal studies at Rutgers incorporates courses from the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences to develop interdisciplinary perspectives applicable to personal and professional interests. Students complete 30 credit hours comprising nine courses and one capstone project.

Students choose courses from fields such as history, philosophy, literature, and psychology. Classes include gender, sexuality, and religion; politics of terrorism; world music; and revolutions that changed the world. Learners interested in arts, literature, and the humanities can take classes in topics such as methods of fiction; conceptual art strategies and movements; and gender, sex, and visual culture through the ages.

The capstone synthesizes knowledge and skills from the curriculum. Learners submit a capstone project proposal 6-12 months prior to graduation. Once approved, students work closely with a faculty adviser to complete a scholarly research paper or creative project.

Applicants to the master of arts in liberal studies online program submit transcripts, a writing sample, a personal statement, and two letters of recommendation. They also need an accredited bachelor's degree.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Arts in Liberal Studies
Available Concentrations: Philosophy and religion, world history and politics, American studies, and creative arts and literature
Tuition: $718/credit, plus fees (in-state); $900/credit, plus fees (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 30
Program Length: 2-3 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0
Standardized Tests: English proficiency exam, if applicable

Contact
Phone: (856) 225-6237
Email: scharme@camden.rutgers.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

5

University of North Carolina Wilmington

Wilmington, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 72%

Established as an extension of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1946, UNCW is one of 17 institutions within the University of North Carolina System. UNCW provides nearly 100 undergraduate and graduate programs to over 16,000 learners from its Wilmington campus and online.

UNCW offers a 30-credit online master's degree in liberal studies that explores three broad thematic areas: social concerns and cultural systems; environment, science, and society; and literature, arts, and society.

Courses dedicated to social concerns and cultural systems include media and society, popular culture, and culture wars and the origins of difference. Environment, science, and society classes explore topics including environmental crises in the United States, conservation and culture, and science and pseudoscience. The literature, arts, and society theme focuses on topics such as art in social science perspectives, theater and cinema, and documentary film. Students can also specialize in gerontology, Hispanic studies, conflict management and resolution, or women's and gender studies.

In their first semester, learners take a contemporary issues in liberal studies class. The course prepares students to apply value, meaning, and use to liberal studies content while developing critical-thinking and analytical skills. During their final semester, students identify, research, and present their findings on a topic or question related to their coursework.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Arts in Liberal Studies
Available Concentrations: With post-baccalaureate certificate in conflict management and resolution; with post-baccalaureate certificate in women's and gender studies
Tuition: $231/credit, plus fees (in-state, graduate distance education); $909/credit, plus fees (out-of-state, graduate distance education)
Credit Requirements: 30
Program Length: Must graduate in 5 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 3.0

Contact
Phone: (910) 938-6736
Email: uncwonslow@uncw.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

6

Dallas Baptist University

Dallas, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 58%

Founded as Decatur Baptist College in 1898, DBU moved to its current home in Dallas, Texas, in 1965. DBU offers more than 110 undergraduate and graduate programs and boasts a 13-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.

DBU's online master of liberal arts degree comprises 30 credit hours and numerous concentrations. All students complete core courses in Western heritage and Christianity and worldviews of human beliefs and actions.

The Western heritage and Christianity course provides an overview of Western civilization and the role of Christianity in economic, social, and political arenas. The worldviews of human beliefs and actions course covers the concepts and structures that contribute to various global perspectives, emphasizing the Judeo-Christian mindset.

The master of liberal arts online program at DBU includes three concentrations. Within the Christian studies concentration, students explore East Asian studies, Christian studies, and missions curricula. The fine arts concentration allows learners to specialize in art, commercial art, and fine arts, while the humanities concentration explores subjects such as English, history, and political science.

To apply to DBU's online master of liberal arts program, students submit transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a resume, and a statement of purpose.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Liberal Arts
Available Concentrations: East Asian studies, missions, Christian studies, fine arts, commercial art, art, political science, history, history instruction, English as a second language, English instruction, and English
Tuition: $959/credit
Credit Requirements: 30
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 3.0

Contact
Phone: (214) 333-5584
Email: jaredi@dbu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

7

SUNY College at Brockport

Brockport, NY Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 66%

One of the 64 institutions within the State University of New York System, Brockport offers more than 70 undergraduate majors and 50 graduate programs to over 8,000 learners each year. The online master of arts in liberal studies comprises 30 credit hours. Students complete required graduate seminars in three areas alongside 18 elective credits.

The first graduate seminar explores the arts and humanities through classes such as literature and culture of terrorism, music in contemporary society, and professional communication. The second seminar covers the natural sciences, including evolution and disease, environmental issues, and ethical issues in science and medicine. The final seminar reviews the social sciences, covering family violence, sexuality and society, and social science perspectives on health and wellness. Electives must reflect a programmatic theme or focus.


Learners within Brockport's online master's degree in liberal arts study the ways individuals contribute to contemporary society and gain a holistic overview of knowledge applications. Students also develop critical-reasoning and communication skills.

Applicants must submit three letters of recommendation and a proposed plan of study with a central theme or focus. Additional application materials include official transcripts reflecting an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 and a statement of purpose.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Arts in Liberal Studies
Tuition: $5,545/semester (in-state); $11,325/semester (out-of-state); $6,655/semester (only-only students)
Credit Requirements: 30

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0
Standardized Tests: English proficiency exam, if applicable

Contact
Phone: (585) 395-2262
Email: kraja@brockport.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

8

McDaniel College

Westminster, MD Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 68%

McDaniel opened its doors to 37 students in 1867 and now hosts almost 3,000 learners at its Westminster, Maryland campus and online. Founded as one of the first coeducational colleges in the United States, McDaniel holds accreditation from the Middle States Association on Colleges and Schools.

McDaniel offers a 36-credit online master of liberal arts program that introduces students to new perspectives on historical and cultural boundaries while meeting continuing education requirements for educators in Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Students complete 21 credit hours of required coursework covering topics such as modern world philosophies, historic heritage, and critical theory. The modern world philosophies course introduces students to influential philosophical ideas through literature, history, music, and science. Historical heritage coursework explores economic, political, and social influences across historical boundaries, while the critical theory class emphasizes the interconnectedness of trends, conflicts, movements, and ideas in global societies.

Additional required classes in research methodology prepare learners for six credit hours of final project coursework. During the final project, students identify, research, and present findings on a topic of significance. Learners may also pursue one of four specializations: environmental legacy, fine arts, language and literature, or social studies.

To apply to McDaniel's online master of liberal arts program, students submit a statement of goals, three letters of recommendation, and transcript information demonstrating a minimum 3.0 GPA from an accredited undergraduate degree.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Liberal Arts
Tuition: $500/credit, plus fees
Credit Requirements: 36

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 3.0

Contact
Phone: (410) 857-2516
Email: gradadms@mcdaniel.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

9

Clayton State University

Morrow, GA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 30%

Located in Morrow, Georgia, CSU began as a junior college in 1969. CSU currently offers almost 60 undergraduate and graduate programs and maintains accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

CSU's online master of arts in liberal studies degree integrates 36 credit hours of interdisciplinary foundational seminars, concentration coursework, and final project work. Students complete an introductory course in graduate studies before choosing seminar classes in art, English, mathematics, philosophy, politics, or music.

Concentrations within CSU's online liberal arts degree emphasize English, history, mathematics, politics, and political science. Learners who choose the English specialization study subjects including literary theory, literature by American women, and contemporary fiction. The history concentration covers environmental history, military history, and the Atlantic world.

The mathematics focus includes classes in number theory, statistics, and geometry, while the political science concentration explores public law, the legislative process, and campaigns and electoral politics. Students who pursue the philosophy concentration assess ancient, medieval, and social aspects of the field.

The online liberal arts graduate degree allows learners to pursue thesis or non-thesis options. Non-thesis students take an additional two courses in their concentration and must submit a scholarly paper for presentation or publication. Thesis students submit an in-depth research project.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Arts in Liberal Studies
Available Concentrations: English, history, math, philosophy, and public administration
Tuition: $1,176/term, plus fees (6 credits, in-state); $4,392/credit, plus fees (6 credits, out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 36
Program Length: Must graduate in 6 years

Delivery
Format: Hybrid
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 3.0
Standardized Tests: GRE or advanced degree; English proficiency exam, if applicable

Contact
Phone: (678) 466-4744
Email: susancopeland@clayton.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

10

University of Michigan - Flint

Flint, MI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 44%

Founded as Flint Senior College in 1956, UM-Flint took its current name in 1971. One of two University of Michigan satellite campuses, UM-Flint became a residential institution in 2007. It provides more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs to 8,600 learners annually.

The master of arts in liberal studies online emphasizes American culture. Students complete 33 credits of coursework on topics such as race, gender, politics, and popular culture. Core classes on American institutions, the American character, and the United States in comparative perspective accompany a thesis and research courses. Learners take 15 credits of elective classes based on their interests.

Students choose from elective classes such as folklore and storytelling, criminal justice policy, and women and work. Learners interested in the workplace and its role in American culture can take coursework in politics and American labor, production management, and budgeting and finance. The program also allows students to explore aspects of education, music, healthcare, economics, and ethnicity.

Applicants to UM-Flint's online master of liberal studies in American culture submit transcript information reflecting a regionally accredited bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants also need 24 credit hours of humanities and social science undergraduate coursework.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Arts in Liberal Studies in American Culture
Tuition: $604/credit (in-state); $904/credit (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 33

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 3.0

Contact
Phone: (810) 762-3285
Email: jfurman@umflint.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

11

Thomas Edison State University

Trenton, NJ Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 45%

Chartered to provide educational opportunities for working professionals, TESU offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in more than 100 areas of study. Located in Trenton, New Jersey, TESU holds accreditation through the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

The 36-credit online master of arts in liberal studies degree at TESU offers working professionals a comprehensive curriculum. Students complete 18 credit hours of core classes and explore one of six concentrations.

Core classes include the liberal arts and professional life; change conflict and resolution; and the species, the individual, and community. Learners also take a class in technology and the human community alongside two classes in the sense of community. The first part of the sense of community sequence emphasizes art and morality, while the second focuses on faith and reason.

Concentrations within the liberal arts master's degree online include digital humanities, geropsychology, and industrial-organizational psychology. The digital humanities option builds knowledge and skills related to digital communication, social media, and social change. The program's geropsychology focus prepares students to work with older adults within healthcare settings, while the industrial-organizational psychology path trains students to manage and resolve challenges within a workplace.

Additional specializations explore professional communications and online learning and teaching. The former explores communication theory, business writing, and new media, while the latter builds competencies for building and implementing online pedagogies. A final concentration allows students to design their own area of study. All students also complete a six-credit capstone project.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Arts in Liberal Studies
Available Concentrations: Professional communications, online learning and teaching, industrial organizational psychology, geropsychology, digital humanities, and learner-designed area of study
Tuition: $668/credit
Credit Requirements: 36
Program Length: 18 months

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 2.75
Standardized Tests: English proficiency exam, if applicable
Work Experience: 3-5 years

Contact
Phone: (609) 777-5680
Email: admissions@tesu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

12

Albertus Magnus College

New Haven, CT Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 61%

Chartered as a women's college by the Dominican Sisters of Peace in 1925, Albertus Magnus College began offering coeducational programs in 1985. Located in New Haven, Connecticut, Albertus Magnus College infuses Catholic tradition into more than 60 undergraduate and graduate programs.

Albertus Magnus College's online master of arts in liberal studies program comprises 33 credit hours. Learners complete 10 classes and a self-designed final project. Students begin with a class that examines culture and civilization to prepare for courses in four thematic areas: society and culture; arts and humanities; science, technology, and environmental studies; and religion, philosophy, and moral choice.

Classes within the society and culture theme include text and the world and cultural anthropology, while arts and humanities classes explore the history of art as a visual and audio medium. Science, technology, and environmental studies courses focus on topics such as the human genome, while religion, psychology, and moral choice coursework assesses the theories of leadership, individualism, and community in moral and religious contexts.

Final projects allow students to synthesize degree content through a research paper, creative activity, or combination of the two. Learners conduct their final project under the supervision of two faculty members.

Applicants to Albertus Magnus College's master's in liberal studies program submit two letters of recommendation, a professional and educational statement, and transcripts documenting a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.8 GPA. Students may transfer up to six credit hours into the program.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Arts in Liberal Studies
Tuition: $2,514/course
Credit Requirements: 33
Program Length: Must graduate in 6 years

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 2.8
Standardized Tests: English proficiency exam, if applicable

Contact
Phone: (800) 394-9982
Email: admissions-pgs@albertus.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

13

University of Toledo

Toledo, OH Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 41%

One of 14 state universities in Ohio, UT offers more than 300 undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. Founded in 1872, UT merged with the Medical of Ohio in 2006 and now serves more than 20,000 learners from a main campus in Toledo, Ohio, and online.

UT offers a 33-credit online master of arts in liberal studies degree that develops critical-thinking, analytical, research, and communication skills. Learners complete 12 credits of core seminar and research methods coursework, 12-15 elective credits, and a thesis or final project.

Core seminars emphasize the interdisciplinary nature of the master's in liberal studies program. The humanities seminar introduces students to interrelated concepts within literature, philosophy, and history, while the social sciences seminar explores principles that shape individuals, societies, and their interactions. Additional seminars cover the natural sciences and the visual and performing arts.

UT's research methods course provides students with tools and methodologies applicable to their final project and future careers. Elective coursework allows students to explore an area of interest. Students present a thesis or other final project to a three-member advisory committee at the end of the program.

Applicants to UT's online master's in liberal arts program must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university with a minimum 2.7 GPA. Additional application materials include three letters of recommendation and a personal statement.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Arts in Liberal Studies
Tuition: $571/credit, plus fees
Credit Requirements: 33

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 2.7

Contact
Phone: (855) 327-5695
Email: onlineadmissions@utoledo.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

14

University of Southern Indiana

Evansville, IN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 41%

Through four academic colleges, outreach and engagement programs, and online options, USI offers over 130 programs of study. USI's online master of arts in liberal studies comprises 33 credit hours, or 36 for students pursuing the non-thesis track.

Learners complete 12 credit hours of core courses on topics such as numeracy, communication, and inclusivity of perspectives. Numeracy courses cover quantitative research and rhetorical criticism, while communication coursework explores professional and technical writing. Inclusivity of perspective classes cover cultural awareness and communication and culture.

Students choose 15 credits of interdisciplinary coursework in an area of interest. At least nine of these credit hours must include graduate-level classes designed for the liberal studies program. The thesis track allows learners to complete an approved research or creative project, while the non-thesis option incorporates additional coursework and a summative graduate seminar.

Applicants to USI's online master's degree in liberal studies submit a resume, statement of interest, and three letters of recommendation for consideration. The master of arts in liberal studies director interviews all applicants.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Arts in Liberal Studies
Tuition: $385/credit (in-state); $754/credit (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 33
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Synchronous and Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 2.5

Contact
Phone: (812) 465-1202
Email: tlhunt@usi.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

What Else Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Liberal Arts Program?

Master of arts in liberal studies online programs standardize certain parts of their curricula, including core and capstone requirements, to maintain industry and government accreditation. However, liberal arts programs vary widely beyond these shared characteristics, providing students with ample options to find the right degree for their long-term professional goals. Prospective students should research each potential program to ensure that each is compatible in terms of professional goals, schedule, and budget.

Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Liberal Arts

  • Liberal and Integrative Studies: This course is central to most liberal arts programs and covers theories, resources, and skills needed for students to become autonomous and self-directed learners. It is usually structured as a colloquium, where students create their own study plan and develop research ideas with help from peers and faculty.
  • Independent Study: One of the main reasons students choose to earn a master's of liberal arts online is for the freedom to pursue academic and professional experiences that suit their interests. During an independent study, students propose a class, research project, or internship outside the school's offerings, which is especially useful for professionals in new or interdisciplinary fields.
  • Bioethics: The course covers the history and philosophy of biomedicine and related moral concerns, preparing students for careers in the health sciences and related fields. Topics include cloning, human-assisted suicide, and in vitro fertilization.
  • Food and Politics: In this course, students explore the ethical concerns and race, class, and gender inequalities related to the production and consumption of food. Topics include the history and development of agriculture, the supermarket and mass consumerism, and governmental policies. This interdisciplinary class is especially useful for aspiring nutritionists, community activists, and urban developers.
  • The Harlem Renaissance: In this class, students analyze the first major black intellectual and artistic movement in the United States. Coursework covers historical precedents and the socioeconomic consequences of the movement. This course is useful for teachers, academics, and creatives, though all professionals benefit from understanding the movement's lasting impacts.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master's in Liberal Arts?

Most master's of liberal arts online programs require students to complete at least 30 credits, which usually takes two years. While most online classes are delivered asynchronously, some programs offer synchronous courses. Asynchronous courses are self-paced, allowing students to progress through the program on their own schedule. Cohort-based programs typically offer synchronous classes, which require students to complete courses in a fixed sequence. Students in cohort-based programs progress through coursework with a small group of peers. This is ideal for part-time students, although it can extend the duration of the program.

Accreditation standards dictate some course and practicum requirements, which also affect degree completion time. However, the interdisciplinary nature of liberal studies programs makes them quite flexible, and most schools are able to accommodate all students' needs. Those who want to graduate quickly should choose an online master's degree in liberal arts program that offers individually-paced classes, accelerated courses, and summer sessions.

Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Liberal Arts Prepares For

An online master's degree in liberal arts prepares students for careers in many different fields. However, there aren't any professional certifications or licenses specifically for liberal studies graduates. Liberal arts students can still pursue training and professional development opportunities in their chosen discipline. Students should discuss certification and licensure options with their academic advisor to determine the best fit based on their career goals.

Common credentials for liberal arts majors include the Project Management Professional certificate for business professionals, the Certified Information Systems Security Professional for IT specialists, and the myriad of licenses available to professionals in psychology and mental health counseling.

Accreditation for Online Master's in Liberal Arts Degrees

Accreditation is crucial to ensuring that employers recognize degrees as legitimate. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) oversee national accrediting bodies. Six organizations award regional accreditation, which requires schools to meet academic and professional standards. Though field-specific accreditation for liberal arts programs is relatively new, some programs hold recognition from professional organizations such as the American Academy for Liberal Education.

In exchange for working with the ED and CHEA on academic and extracurricular standardizations, schools receive access to government funding and other resources. The ED ensures that higher education outcomes reach thresholds defined by the national government. Founded in 1996, CHEA is a private nonprofit with more than 3,000 member institutions. CHEA advocates for member rights through research, education programs, and policy advancement. Visit the ED and CHEA websites for lists of nationally accredited colleges and universities.

Employment Outlook for Master's in Liberal Arts Graduates

Master's in Liberal Arts Salary

The table below highlights possible careers for graduates from master's of liberal arts online programs. Salaries generally increase with experience, reflecting the development of professional skills. Education and professional training can also impact salary, especially for professionals in design, research, and engineering. These figures represent the salaries earned by professionals with at least a master's degree.

Job Title Overall Median Salary Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years) Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years) Median Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)
Nonprofit Program Coordinator $40,716 $39,511 $43,174 $49,405
Instructional Designer $60,939 $55,923 $64,822 $75,187
Clinical Research Associate $62,595 $60,436 $70,815 $83,819
Communications Director $72,189 $52,134 $69,000 $88,332
JOB TITLE $81,981 $76,534 $88,840 $106,354

Master's in Liberal Arts Careers

The list of careers below illustrates the breadth of fields and industries graduates with an online master's in liberal arts can pursue. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the degree, liberal arts students have varied personalities and work philosophies. Those who enjoy working as part of a team may prefer careers as teachers or managers, while those who prefer to work independently may enjoy careers as analysts or environmental scientists. Artists may work as part of a design team or in secure remote, self-directed positions.

Multimedia Artist

These professionals work in teams to design, animate, and edit graphics and illustrations for marketing organizations, film studios, and video game companies. They work with clients and directors to ensure products meet aesthetic and professional standards. Multimedia artists usually hold at least a bachelor's degree and specialize in a particular medium.

Median Annual Salary: $65,300

Projected Growth Rate: 8%

Environmental Specialist

Working to protect human health and the environment, these professionals conduct research and data collection for surveys, projects, and investigations. They enact policy changes within a company or government agency to reduce waste and clean up polluted areas. Environmental specialists must have advanced scientific and leadership training and typically hold at least a master's degree.

Median Annual Salary: $68,910

Projected Growth Rate: 11%

Postsecondary Teacher

These educators work in colleges, universities, and other postsecondary institutions. They instruct students on career, academic, and technical subjects, while also conducting and publishing their own research. Most postsecondary teachers hold at least a master's degree. Tenure-track positions typically require a doctorate and years of professional experience.

Median Annual Salary: $75,430

Projected Growth Rate: 15%

Health Services Manager

These professionals work in teams to plan, coordinate, and lead medical services operations. Some work in a specific clinical field or medical practice, and others manage entire facilities. In addition to holding an advanced degree and significant work experience, health service managers must be able to adapt to rapidly changing policies and technological developments in healthcare.

Median Annual Salary: $96,540

Projected Growth Rate: 20%

Operations Research Analyst

Using advanced analytical methods and software, operations research analysts help businesses and organizations solve problems and implement strategic and financial plans. Many analysts work in teams and facilitate communication between employees and management. Most analyst positions require a graduate degree, and some require skill- or industry-specific training.

Median Annual Salary: $79,200

Projected Growth Rate: 27%

Professional Organizations

Students earning a master's of liberal arts online can supplement their studies and professional training by joining a professional organization. Membership in one of these organization's provides students with access to resources that can improve their career opportunities. Many professional organizations host conferences and networking events as well as offer research support and funding, job boards, webinars, and training programs.

  • American Academy for Liberal Education: AALE is the primary professional body for liberal arts studies in the U.S. The organization accredits liberal arts programs and publishes the Liberal Education Matters magazine.
  • Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs: Founded in 1975, AGLSP advocates for graduate interdisciplinary education. The association holds an annual conference and offers member benefits, including writing awards, research discussion, and a national honor society.
  • Alliance for Liberal Learning: Established in 2015, ALL advocates for the expansion and integration of liberal arts education in the U.S. through event sponsorship, conferences, research discussion, online seminars, and training programs.
  • Association for General and Liberal Studies: AGLP provides academic and career development services for students and professionals in general education and the liberal arts. Members receive access to conference discounts, awards and scholarships, and a career services center that includes a job board.
  • National Association for Graduate-Professional Students: NAGPS is the country's only organization that advocates specifically for the rights of graduate and professional students. Members receive discounts on insurance and professional services and have access to academic resources such as scholarships and dissertation support.

Financing Your Online Master's in Liberal Arts Program

According to the Center for Financial Inclusion, U.S. student loan debt increased 75% between 2004 and 2014. As a result, students pursuing an online master's degree in liberal arts should consider all financial aid options to lower the cost of their education. The first step for every students should be completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for federal financial aid through awards and student loans. Other funding opportunities are available through private organizations such as the Beinecke Scholarship and the United Negro College Fund.


AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.