Most distance learning master's programs in liberal studies can be completed totally online. In addition to lecture-based coursework, students may complete a final thesis, project, portfolio or internship as their culminating experience. Programs may require up to four years of study and can lead to a Master of Liberal Studies, Master of Liberal Arts or an MFA in Liberal Studies. There are also post-baccalaureate certificate programs available.
Applicants can typically come from any academic background as long as they have a bachelor's degree. Personal essays and recommendation letters are commonly required, but GRE scores are not usually needed.
These graduate programs may offer courses across several fields of study that all students are required to take. Other programs require a set of core courses and then let students pursue a concentration in areas such as English, health, public administration, education and global studies, among others. The following courses are a sample of what may be available to an online liberal studies student:
Science in Science Fiction
Students in this liberal studies course read several classic and contemporary science fiction novels and short stories, evaluating the validity of the scientific concepts and how well classic science fiction authors predicted future technology.
The Global Economy
This graduate-level course discusses free trade, globalization and the changes in both the U.S. and global economy.
Writing and Understanding Poetry
Poetry is taught in this online course, and students will be asked to write their own poems. This process is meant to hone students' abilities as readers, writers and interpreters of poetry.
Principles of Behavior Analysis
In this online liberal studies master's degree course, students learn the definition and characteristics of applied behavioral analysis, the fundamental principles and process and concepts of behavior.
Analysis of Literature
Students in this course will read poems, short stories, plays and take positions on the materials, providing defenses of their positions.
Issues in Biological Science
This class discusses controversial issues in biology, such as genetic engineering, stem cell research and the theory of evolution.
Online master's degree programs in liberal studies are highly interdisciplinary, with topics ranging from English to economics. The analytical and critical thinking skills that students develop may be applicable to a wide range of careers.