Online Graduate Programs in Humanities: Degree Options

Essential Information

Only a few colleges offer master's degrees in humanities through online-only studies. In these programs, students can download class lectures, access course materials and turn in assignments electronically, within stated deadlines. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree, but not necessarily in humanities. They may also need to have access to computers with specific operating systems.

A master's program in humanities covers a variety of topics, and students can work with an advisor to craft a customized curriculum to meet their educational goals. The programs often call for introductory courses in various disciplines such as history, literature and art. Students may take courses in music or film.

Some courses integrate several disciplines, such as courses on world religions, the history of slavery and the non-Western world. Students may have the opportunity to examine the lives and work of famous people, including Joseph Stalin, Frank Lloyd Wright and Nobel Prize winners, while other courses look at specific periods in music, literature and history. Most programs call for a thesis or final research project.

Master's Degree in Humanities

A master's degree in humanities is a broad interdisciplinary degree, exposing students to the fields of music, art, philosophy, literature and history. Additional areas of study within the humanities may include cultural anthropology, communications and religion. Emphasis is placed on developing writing and communications skills, as well as critical thinking skills. Some potential topics covered as part of an online master's-level humanities degree include human culture, creative writing, world religions, individualism and communication philosophies.

Program Information and Requirements

Online humanities master's degree programs, which are usually around 36 credits, often allow students the opportunity to develop individualized programs of study. Prospective students must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. GRE scores are typically not required, however. Students can converse with instructors via online classroom discussions, instant messages and e-mail. Distance learning students often have access to online library materials, such as journal articles, databases and books.

Online learning management systems, such as Blackboard, provide students access to exams, group discussions and assignments, as well as pdfs, videos and MP3 course materials. Equipment needed usually includes a computer, sound card, speakers and printer. Students may be required to use an updated, compatible operating system, i.e. Windows XP, antivirus program and other software as needed to complete the program.

List of Common Master's-Level Humanities Courses

Emphasizing the human experience, a master's-level humanities curriculum draws from a set of core disciplines. Students are typically able to develop an individualized curriculum from those disciplines.


Humanities literature courses examine novels, poetry and short stories. Individual courses may explore key figures in literature, literature during specific time frames or literature as it relates to individual cultures.


Online history courses emphasize theoretical approaches to understanding various events or periods in history. Both American and world history are examined.


Art courses offered as part of an online graduate program often focus on art theory and aesthetic training. Students may have the opportunity to explore various areas, including photography, contemporary art and key artists throughout history.

Career Information

Graduates of an online master's degree in humanities may find employment in local and federal government agencies, advocacy groups and museums, as well as in the fields of public relations and journalism, the arts, education and politics. A humanities graduate program is also beneficial to working professionals looking to change careers or gain an advantage in their current careers.

Students in online master's degree programs in humanities can expect to take advanced coursework in a wide range of subjects and conduct independent research in a particular area of interest, leading to a final master's thesis or project. Because these programs are so interdisciplinary, they can provide the necessary educational foundation for high-level careers in many different industries.

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