Liberal Arts Graduate Degrees in California

Jun 11, 2019

There are several colleges in California that offer graduate degrees in the liberal arts. This article describes some of the degree options available and highlights a few of the schools that offer them.

Students who are interested in pursuing a graduate degree in liberal arts have plenty of options from which to choose. Many schools in the state of California have graduate level programs available in the liberal arts; read on to learn more about some potential options.

Common Liberal Arts Graduate Degrees

Liberal arts programs are available as several different types of degrees, including as a Master of Arts, Master of Liberal Arts, and a Master of Fine Arts. To learn more about these degrees and some various specific programs in each, check out the sections below.

Master of Arts

Master of Arts degrees are the most common type of liberal arts degree and are typically offered in numerous disciplines, including anthropology, art, Italian studies, linguistics, music, philosophy, and political science. These degree programs usually require around 30 credits and many demand the completion of a master's thesis. To be eligible for these programs, students typically must have earned a bachelor's degree.

Master of Liberal Arts

A Master of Liberal Arts, or Master of Liberal Studies degree is often offered with concentrations and can be pursued at the student's pace (two to five years) at most schools. Some of the subjects covered in this type of program include history, literature, diversity studies, geography, economics, art, and psychology. A bachelor's degree is usually required for admission into this type of program, and prior completion of undergraduate coursework in the liberal arts may be required.

Master of Fine Arts

Master of Fine Arts degrees vary from other liberal arts degrees in that they are usually more focused on the fine arts like art, music, dance, and theater instead of more standard academic subjects. A typical Master of Fine Arts degree usually takes about two or three years of full-time study to complete. It is offered in several disciplines including art, costume design, graphic design, creative writing, and photography. Most programs require faculty reviews and presentations of projects. Most universities request a portfolio and college transcripts, along with an application, for admission into the program.

California Colleges with Graduate Programs in Liberal Arts

California State University - Long Beach

The College of Liberal Arts at California State University - Long Beach is the largest of all the colleges on campus. This college features nearly thirty liberal arts programs and boasts an excellent faculty of over 300. Some of the degree programs offered are as follows:

  • Master of Arts in Asian Studies
  • Master of Arts in French and Francophone Studies
  • Master of Arts in Music
  • Master of Fine Arts in Dance
  • Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

Stanford University

Stanford University is a private university located in Santa Clara County near Palo Alto. It is known for its liberal arts program for working adults. There are about 26 faculty members in the Art & Art History department, along with several adjunct faculty members and post-doctoral fellows. This school offers several liberal arts graduate programs, like the following:

  • Master of Fine Art in Art Practice
  • Master of Fine Art in Documentary Film and Video
  • Master of Liberal Arts

California Institute of the Arts

The California Institute of the Arts is located in Santa Clarita, near Los Angeles. This college is geared specifically toward the education of professional artists. There are six schools at this institute. Here's a list of liberal arts graduate programs:

  • Master of Fine Arts - Costume Design
  • Master of Fine Arts - Acting
  • Master of Fine Arts - African Music and Dance
  • Master of Arts - Aesthetics and Politics

University of Southern California

There are plenty of liberal arts study opportunities for students at the University of Southern California. Students can choose from many degree programs available through the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, the Roski School of Art and Design, the School of Dramatic Arts, the Thornton School of Music, and more! Check out some of the specific degree program options:

  • Master of Liberal Studies
  • Master of Arts in East Asian Area Studies
  • Master of Arts in Visual Anthropology

California College of Arts

The California College of Arts in Oakland offers students several different liberal arts degrees, but specializes in the fine arts. There are around a dozen degrees available, including some dual-degree opportunities, all led by well-renowned faculty who are experts in their fields. Several of the degree possibilities include the following:

  • Master of Fine Arts in Fine Art
  • Master of Fine Arts in Comics
  • Master of Fine Arts in Film
  • Master of Arts in Visual and Critical Studies

Students interested in pursuing a liberal arts graduate degree have many options available in the state of California. There are opportunities for MA, MLA, and MFA degrees in fields like art, anthropology, dance, acting, and more at countless schools throughout the state.

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