Distance Learning Humanities Master Degree Program Overviews

Essential Information

Distance learning humanities master's degree programs aim to enlighten students about the human condition and to help them work toward answering the question of what it means to be human. Knowledge and skills gained through participation in these programs may be applicable to a variety of careers, but often a master's degree in humanities prepares students for further education or teaching.

A number of public and private four-year institutions offer distance learning graduate options in this diverse field of study. Prospective students must have bachelor's degrees, though it may not be in a humanities-related major. Essays or personal statements also tend to be considered closely as part of the admission process, as writing ability is an important part of studying humanities.

Master's programs in the humanities can be completed totally online in many cases, but some schools require a minimal level of residencies held on campus. Students typically can complete the program in two years, and a webcam may be required.

Master's Degree in Humanities

Online students in a humanities program work on their courses on their own time. Coursework is submitted electronically according to professor-established deadlines. Instructors for online humanities programs play a similar role to on-site professors - with a few key differences. Correspondence occurs via e-mail or online forums. Professors often post assignments and reading materials to a class website for students to access and may occasionally hold live classes using a webcam or chat room.

Some schools require distance learners to attend short residencies on campus, such as a couple of weekend sessions held during a semester. These events are learning experiences that usually involve meetings with faculty and other students. Students may attend presentations from experts and complete on-site assignments themselves.


Students can complete a general humanities program or choose a concentration, such as cultural studies, history, humanitarian assistance or social ecology. Some programs allow students to design their own concentration areas. They typically offer the same curricula as on-site programs. Courses generally cover a range of topics, which might include the following:

  • Ancient-to-modern philosophy
  • Art history
  • Music
  • Linguistics
  • Classical literature
  • Important historical figures
  • Revolutionary events
  • Anthropology

Online humanities master's programs typically culminate in a self-directed thesis project, often its own 3-credit course, which allows students to take what they have learned and apply it to an original work that contributes to the field.

Career Options

Graduates of online master's programs in the humanities often pursue careers as secondary or community college humanities teachers or enter a Doctor of Philosophy in Humanities program. Though not as common, graduates also may find work in media, marketing, human resources, finance or library sciences.

The master's in humanities may be achieved both fully online or in low-residency/hybrid programs, where students take most of their courses online and appear on campus for brief periods of time. Distance learning master's programs in humanities prepare students for careers as professors as well as a diverse range of options, such as in marketing or human resources.

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