Online Liberal Arts Degrees by Program Level

Get info about online programs in liberal arts. Read about program requirements, course topics and degree levels, as well as career and continuing education options.

Essential Information

Online liberal arts degree programs are available at the associate, bachelor's and master's degree levels. These are typically flexible programs, allowing students to take courses from an array of disciplines and focus their coursework around one or more specializations. Associate's degree programs often prepare students to transfer to a bachelor's degree program either in general liberal arts or specified disciplines, while bachelor's and master's degree programs can better prepare graduates for the workforce. Although some programs can be completed entirely online, certain programs may have on-site components.

Liberal arts students develop skills in research, analysis, critical thinking, problem solving and communication. Career options for graduates of liberal arts degree programs are diverse, and they include teaching, non-profit management, business and government work. Individuals who've earned a master's degree in liberal arts usually have more specialized knowledge and may be able to fill more niche job openings.

Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts

Students in a liberal arts associate degree program receive instruction in researching, analyzing and presenting historical and current humanities topics. Such programs are associated with a college's arts and sciences departments.

Program Information and Requirements

A liberal arts associate's degree program requires two years of study. Generally, programs consist of reading assignments, writing papers and tests. All work is completed online and by email.

List of Common Liberal Arts Courses

Students in a liberal arts program study social and behavioral sciences and humanities. On average, 64 course credit hours are required, usually separated into thirds among general education courses, a major and electives. A student can major in a topic of his or her choice within the liberal arts curricula.

Government and Politics

This course provides an introduction to the formation and operation of modern democratic governments throughout the world. The impact of cultural differences on the relationship between the state and society is discussed.

American Literature

Students in this course examine 19th and 20th century American literature within the context of the social and political climate when written. Typically, this course contains a writing component requiring students to author several papers analyzing course texts.


This course focuses on the composition and functions of living organisms. Students learn about the development, growth and death of cells as well as abnormal cell mutation. No in-person laboratory work is required.

Bachelor's Degree in Liberal Arts

A liberal arts bachelor's degree program provides students with critical thinking, verbal and written communication skills and problem solving capabilities for general humanities subjects. Most programs allow students to develop their own degrees by concentrating on one or two areas of their choice during the last two years of the program. Because these programs encompass several fields of study, they are part of a college's art, humanities and social science departments.

Program Information and Requirements

Bachelor's degree liberal arts programs require four years of study. However, if a student transfers credits earned in an associate's degree program, a bachelor's program will only take two additional years to complete. Most programs require approximately 120-course credit hours, a minimum of 60 of which must be dedicated to upper-level coursework. An entire bachelor's degree can be earned online, but in certain majors it is possible in-person work might be required.

Common Liberal Arts Courses

The first half of coursework in a liberal arts bachelor degree program is dedicated to general humanities studies. Remaining coursework is committed to extended studies in a particular field, such as art history, computers, women's studies or psychology.


Students in this course use the scientific method to investigate the functions of the human mind. Logic, methods of learning, morality, and relationships are analyzed. Students also debate whether nature or nurture is the main influence on human behavior.


This course introduces students to economics as it impacts consumers, businesses and the government. Students analyze the decision making process and resource allocation.

Renaissance Art

This course discusses the religious, cultural and social influences on the paintings and sculpture created by artists such as Raphael and Michelangelo. Materials used and methods of creation are included in coursework.

Master's Degree in Liberal Arts

Master degree programs in the liberal arts provide students with extremely advanced coursework in the humanities. Most programs require students to choose one or more concentrations and write a thesis paper in that concentration. For admission to a program, a student must possess a bachelor's degree.

Program Information and Requirements

A typical master's degree program lasts two years. Programs are research and writing intensive. Aside from defending a thesis paper, the majority of programs are completely online, but some require two or more semesters on campus. Additionally, a few programs permit students to become faculty aides to gain teaching experience. Being a faculty aide requires working on-campus as needed.

Common Liberal Arts Courses

As a whole, master degree programs in the liberal arts consist of 20 hours of general coursework on subjects such as architecture, math, the arts, philosophy, psychology and literature. Any remaining credits are dedicated to the student's chosen concentration and thesis paper. The diverse range of subjects possible under the umbrella of liberal arts could include courses such as those listed here.

Modern Communication

This course introduces students to the benefits and drawbacks of using the Internet, email and cellular phone in human communication. Students also analyze the alteration in face-to-face communication, language changes and the movement away from office-centric business in the last decades.

French Literature

This course analyzes the motives, morals, values and portrayals of 18th Century French society in literature by authors such as Voltaire and Rousseau. The works are analyzed for how they display the beliefs of the time and the application of those beliefs to today's world.

Cultural Health Issues

Students in this course investigate how social, economic and political climates influence health care. The advantages and possible complications caused by the forms of health care found throughout the world are discussed.

Career Information

A graduate of an associate degree program could take his or her education in a number of directions; an office manager position is one example, but there are many. An office manager oversees office staff, assigns workloads and manages office operations. A 2015 report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that general and operations managers earned an average yearly salary of $119,460 (

Graduates of a liberal arts bachelor's degree program can choose to go in multiple directions in government, non-profits or corporate careers. Graduates can also pursue teaching with the right mix of courses. In 2015 a K-12 teacher earned an average yearly salary of $54,510 and secondary school teachers earned an average of $60,440. To work as a teacher, the student will need to be certified.

Graduates of a master's degree program can teach the subject of their concentration or in another liberal arts subject at the elementary, secondary or post-secondary level. In 2015, college and university professors earned an average of $71,060 per year. Graduates also find employment as scientists, journalists or web developers.

Continuing Education Information

Graduates of an associate degree program can transfer earned credits to a 4-year college or university and continue their studies. Because of the general nature of liberal arts studies, students will be able to choose from a number of bachelor's degree programs, including pre-med or law, history or the sciences.

A liberal arts degree is a broad educational foundation, so a student with a bachelor's degree in the liberal arts can choose to pursue graduate studies in math, science, law or many other subjects. Master's degree programs usually require two years of study and may also be available online.

A master's degree student can continue his or her education by earning a Ph.D. or attending law or medical school. Each of these options requires at least three years of additional studies and - in a Ph.D. program - writing and defending a thesis. These degrees are not offered online.

Liberal arts degree programs are widely available online as both graduate and undergraduate degrees, although some programs may require students to visit campus on occasion. An associate's program may prepare students to enter a bachelor's degree program, while master's programs require students to hold a bachelor's degree prior to entry.

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