Best Online Master’s in Liberal Arts Programs
Our experts at BestColleges have ranked the top online master's in liberal arts programs. Read on to compare schools by cost, convenience, and academic quality. Find your path forward today.
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A broad, interdisciplinary degree, a master's in liberal arts offers learners the opportunity to study a wide variety of subjects and encourages critical thinking, problem-solving, intellectual curiosity, and effective communication. Graduates can apply these skills to many different careers.
Candidates with this degree find diverse opportunities in a variety of fields, including education, library science, communications, journalism, politics, business, and healthcare. According to PayScale, individuals with a master's in liberal arts earn an average annual salary of $71,050.
Most online master's in liberal arts programs include coursework in world cultures, social issues, philosophy, history, literature, natural sciences, and the arts.
Read our master's in liberal arts program guide to learn more about how to choose a program and admission requirements.
What Are the Best Online Master's in Liberal Arts Programs? Here Are Our Top 10:
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|#1||Harvard University Cambridge, MA|
|#2||Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD|
|#3||Stony Brook University Stony Brook, NY|
|#4||Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey Newark, NJ|
|#5||Arizona State University Scottsdale, AZ|
|#6||University of Oklahoma Norman, OK|
|#7||Texas Christian University Fort Worth, TX|
|#8||University of North Carolina at Greensboro Greensboro, NC|
|#9||University of North Carolina Wilmington Wilmington, NC|
|#10||The College at Brockport Brockport, NY|
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What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Liberal Arts Program?
Most online master's in liberal arts programs require 30-36 credits and take about two years of full-time study to complete.
A master's in liberal arts program tends to attract independent, creative thinkers with a passion for learning. Vital skills emphasized in these programs like critical thinking, research, writing, and problem-solving propel students to work in fields as diverse as the subjects covered in this degree.
Students cover topics through the lens of humanities, politics, history, religion, art, and natural science. Curricula vary and may cover areas such as film analysis, environmental studies, ethics, religion, and cultural communication.
This flexible program encourages students to specialize in their areas of personal and professional interests. Depending on the program, students may choose from several interdisciplinary courses of study or select a specific concentration. Some common concentrations include creative arts and literature, sustainability, ethics and leadership, social entrepreneurship, psychology, history and politics, religion and philosophy, business, and international studies.
Most programs culminate with a thesis, internship, or capstone project. Additionally, some schools offer certificate programs, which enhance a student's specialization and inform potential employers about a candidate's qualifications in a specific area. A few of these certificates include Latin American, African American, cinema, urban, environmental, and ancient studies.
Most online master's in liberal arts programs require 30-36 credits and take about two years of full-time study to complete. Some schools offer accelerated programs that reduce completion times.
Admission Requirements for Online Master's in Liberal Arts Programs
Online master's in liberal arts programs require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree in any field. Some programs require completed coursework in the liberal arts in subjects like independent research and writing.
Most programs require a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0, letters of recommendation, official transcripts, and a personal statement. Some schools allow applicants with lower GPAs to substitute this requirement with professional experience or GRE scores.
Learn more about applying for graduate school and common admission requirements in our Graduate Admissions Guide.
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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Liberal Arts Program?
Most online master's in liberal arts programs allow students to choose from electives that align with their career goals. In addition to taking these specialized courses, students typically build an interdisciplinary foundation in the humanities, literature, history, philosophy, religion, art, and social sciences.
The following section highlights coursework typically found in an online master's in liberal arts program.
Global Cultural Diversity
This course delves into global controversies as seen from numerous viewpoints, including politicians, activists, volunteers, locals, and international experts. Covered issues include poverty, refugee hardships, human rights abuses, and social and environmental crises. Through ethnographic analysis, students gain an understanding of the conflicts and challenges that arise in an effort to create social change.
Film and Media Studies
This course examines films from the context of power and identity. Students also explore films and media in relation to history and cultural groups. By studying changes in film and media over time, participants can gain an understanding of the evolution of societal myths and values.
This course looks at environmental concerns from varying viewpoints. Students learn about the increasing demands on the planet's natural resources as well as national and international policies and priorities. Covered topics include energy, global climate change, environmental ethics, water resources, and growing populations.
This class traces the history of critical theory and its relationship to politics and social justice. Covered theories and theorists often include Marx, the Frankfurt School, feminism, race theory, and queer theory.
Academic Writing and Research
Students learn conventional writing and research practices used by scholars. Covered topics include appropriate sources, quantitative and qualitative methodologies, and the use of voice and style for traditional academic writing. By the end of the course, participants understand how to conduct a research project and write a formal proposal.
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What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Liberal Arts Degree?
The skills acquired from a master's in liberal arts program translate to strong foundational competencies. Just about every industry needs employees with strong writing, communication, and critical thinking skills.
Studies conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that employers often rank soft skills like critical thinking above technical skills that can be acquired on the job.
Graduates pursue careers in a wide variety of industries, including government, business, healthcare, education, and communications. See where a master's in liberal arts can take you. Learn more about careers for liberal arts majors.
Fundraising managers typically work for nonprofit or advocacy organizations. These professionals organize campaigns and events to raise money for these organizations. Common tasks include raising awareness, finding prospective donors, and training volunteers. After several years of work-related experience, fundraisers can qualify for this managerial position. Fundraising managers earned a median annual salary of $116,180 in 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
K-12 School Teacher
A master's in liberal arts provides students with a broad education that translates into knowledge in many subject areas. Teachers plan lessons and work with students in groups and individually to improve their abilities. In addition to teaching specific subjects, teachers help students develop critical thinking and interaction skills. While teaching requirements vary by state, most public schools require the completion of a teacher education program and licensure.
Copywriters promote products or services through writing. Typical tasks include coming up with a brand's tagline and writing longform copy that drives consumers to make a purchase. These writers may develop a brand's voice and research suitable marketing venues. While this position typically requires a bachelor's degree, a master's in liberal arts with a concentration in communications or English prepares graduates for success in this field.
An online master's in liberal arts helps students develop skills in critical thinking and creative problem-solving, which are valuable skills for careers in marketing and advertising. An advertising manager plans advertising campaigns and determines the appropriate media strategy. This process includes analyzing markets to understand consumer demand for particular products and services.
Policy analysts work for numerous industries, including the government, healthcare, and education. Think tanks and other private organizations employ these analysts to research and find solutions for complicated issues such as environmental change, healthcare access, and social inequity. These professionals shape public policy by gathering information, making recommendations, and evaluating a program's effectiveness.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Liberal Arts Programs
Is a master's in liberal arts worth it?
It can be. Some graduates use a master's in liberal arts to advance into leadership roles in their current position. Others gain entrance into a variety of fields, such as politics, business, library science, writing, education, communications, the arts, and journalism. This flexible program allows students to align their education with their career goals.
What can I do with a master's in liberal arts?
A master's in liberal arts emphasizes the importance of soft skills, including critical thinking, problem-solving, and intellectual curiosity. These skills can propel graduates into numerous positions in just about every field. Some graduates go on to work in government think tanks as policy analysts, while others pursue careers in advertising, fundraising, and education.
How long does it take to get a master's degree in liberal arts?
A master's in liberal arts degree requires 30-36 credits and takes about two years of full-time study to complete. Some schools offer accelerated programs that reduce completion times to as little as one year. Students with other responsibilities like work or family can pursue a flexible online degree, which allows for part-time enrollment.
How much money can I make with a master's in liberal arts?
PayScale reports that individuals with a master's in liberal arts earn an average annual salary of $71,050. The salaries these graduates make vary dramatically according to the professional's specific role and industry.
What are the highest paying jobs with a master's in liberal arts?
Graduates with a master's in liberal arts can pursue careers in business, marketing, fundraising, and public relations. These professionals can boast fairly high annual earnings, with public relations and fundraising managers earning a median annual salary of $116,180 in 2019, according to the BLS. Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers make even higher wages, with these professionals earning a median annual salary of $135,900 in 2019, according to BLS data.
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