Online Liberal Arts Schools and Colleges: How to Choose

Some colleges and universities offer online liberal arts programs at the bachelor's and master's degree levels while others also offer online general studies associate's degrees, though they are not as widespread. Take a look at what the major considerations are before someone looking into online liberal arts schools and colleges.

This article explores some of the things you should consider when looking at liberal arts programs, as well as what they may offer. It then goes into detail about the award levels you can earn in liberal studies and a couple of the programs that offer these awards online.

How to Select an Online Liberal Arts School

A liberal arts curriculum pulls together coursework from many areas, including the arts, social sciences, languages, natural sciences, history, business, social science, economics and politics. Students should consider the program level, their chosen area of concentration and their career goals with the program delivery when selecting online schools with liberal arts programs.

Award Level

Since liberal arts includes a vast range of subjects, earning a bachelor's degree in the field can be appropriate for careers in communications, journalism or teaching. Students interested in pursuing a master's degree in fields like philosophy, psychology or history - or those interested in going to law school - may also benefit from the multifaceted education gained in a liberal arts program. Individuals interested in teaching at the university level might consider earning a master's degree in liberal arts.

Focus Areas

While most liberal studies programs consist of coursework in many different areas, students can usually concentrate in areas like history, women's studies, political science, economics, sociology and countless other options by choosing multiple electives in these fields.

Program Delivery

Students considering online programs should also determine whether programs are fully online or hybrid; in a hybrid program, students complete a portion of classes on campus (sometimes through a short residency) and the rest online.

List of Online Liberal Studies Programs

Online Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts

Distance-learning bachelor's degree programs in liberal arts are designed to have a multidisciplinary approach, incorporating studies that develop critical thinking skills and allow students to individualize their curricula. Liberal arts coursework focuses on problem solving, analyzing, writing, communicating verbally and learning about different cultural topics. Sample class topics include:

  • Cross-cultural perspectives
  • Historical contexts and literature
  • Personal and organizational ethics
  • Communication theory
  • Science and culture

Online Master of Arts in Liberal Arts

Online master's degree programs in liberal arts allow students to further their education in concentrations like literature, global and social issues, communication, religious studies, leadership and creative writing. Broad curricula cover a range of subjects that can be useful to careers in business, nonprofit work, communications and education.

Typically consisting of about 30-36 credit hours, liberal arts master's degree programs can include 10-15 credit hours of ethics and multiculturalism courses, 3-6 hours of graduate research and the remaining credits in electives. The elective studies could include numerous topics, such as:

  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and history
  • Multicultural American Literature
  • Global human resources
  • Consumer behavior

Schools with Online Programs in Liberal Arts

Arizona State University offers a Bachelor of Liberal Studies that may be completed online. This particular program offers courses from over 24 different humanities and social science disciplines. To complete this program students are required to complete 120 credit hours with a minimum of 45 upper division hours and a Dimensions of Liberal Studies course.

Rutgers university offers students an online Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program. This program is designed to teach students an interdisciplinary approach using literary, historical, philosophical and social scientific methods. It also allows students to complete individual projects in their own area of interest.

Students interested in interdisciplinary studies and earning a degree in the liberal arts can find a number of online programs, with a number of different focuses. Depending on their education they may pursue either a bachelor's degree or master's degree in liberal studies.

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