Top Online Liberal Arts Degree Programs

What is a Liberal Arts Degree?

A liberal arts degree covers many disciplines. For example, instead of focusing on one discipline for a major, such as science or psychology, students pay equal attention to numerous disciplines. In this way, students learn how to make connections among many subjects. They develop skills to think critically and broadly. And they develop their analytical skills and mental flexibility. For many people, a study of the liberal arts makes learning interesting and exciting. 

A liberal arts degree does not prepare students to take a specific path. Instead, it invites students to develop skills key to professional success. Those skills could be applied in a variety of settings. Because of that, some students might wonder: is a liberal arts degree viable? The answer is yes. And, liberal arts students must create their own path. 

There are many ways to do so. First, some liberal arts degrees offer a focus or concentration. Through focused studies, students can specialize their knowledge. This can help them enter a specific field after graduation. Otherwise, students can focus their learning and prepare for a career by doing internships in a specific field. Or they can find entry-level work in the field they want to pursue. Another option is to pick a minor in a field they might want to work in. All of these options can help students build their resumes. 

Otherwise, one of the benefits of a liberal arts degree is that students do not have to pick one narrow focus. Instead, they can learn about many things in depth. They can develop their thinking, speaking, writing, and interpersonal skills. They can develop their capacities to think about how all subjects connect and interact. All of these skills are valuable in the workplace.

Bachelor of Science in Liberal StudiesBachelor of Arts in Liberal ArtsBachelor of Science in Liberal Studies: Leadership
Students co-design a personalized plan in at least 2 to 3 different subjects beyond their core curriculum.Do diverse coursework that covers global issues, culture, and diversity. Grow an expansive view of the world.Study a broad range of subjects connected to leadership. Learn how to lead in diverse, dynamic settings.
  • Sociology 
  • Political science 
  • Economics
  • The Art of Being Human
  • Historical Contexts & Literature 
  • The Environment & the Human Spirit 
  • Strategic communication 
  • Leadership in practice 
  • Organizational behavior
Institutional accreditation from the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and SchoolsInstitutional accreditation from the WASC Senior College and University CommissionInstitutional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools; business school program accreditation from ABET.

Online Liberal Arts Degree Curriculum 

To earn a liberal arts degree, students study many subjects. Some of their courses will cover core subjects—like introductory English, math, science, and art. Others will cover subjects for a major, such as the humanities, natural sciences, and history. Unlike students’ core classes, their major classes will go into greater depth, well beyond the introductory level. 

Students who earn an online liberal arts degree typically do so at the associate’s or bachelor’s degree level. To earn an associate’s degree, students take about 20 classes. To earn a bachelor’s degree, students take about 40 classes. This means that a bachelor’s degree could cover more subjects than an associate’s degree. Or, students could study fewer subjects but take more classes in each one. 

No matter the degree they earn, students who want to focus their learning might have the option to do so. For example, some liberal arts degrees let students to pick a concentration. That concentration might focus on the: 

  • Arts
  • Humanities
  • Social sciences 
  • Technology  

Or, students could pick a “field of study,” which is similar to a concentration or major. For example, students might study business, computer science, economics, government, or psychology as a field of study. They would still study a range of other subjects, but they would examine their chosen field of study in more depth. Schools might also offer more unique options for fields of study, such as African-American arts and history, art therapy, economic leadership, or space exploration. 

As you can imagine, having a concentration or field of study can direct you down a more specific path. And, if you pair your field of study with an internship, you could further establish your future career. 

When looking for liberal arts degree options, you might find them under several names. At the associate’s degree level, you may find an Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts degree. You might also find an Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts and Humanities. Or, you might find an Associate of Science in Liberal Arts. 

At the bachelor’s degree level, you may find a Bachelor of Arts or Science in the Liberal Arts. Or you might find a degree called the Bachelor of Arts or Science in Liberal Studies. For programs that offer a more focused study, you might find a Bachelor of Arts or Science in the Natural Sciences or Social Sciences. It is also possible that a school does not list a liberal arts degree option. However, the school may allow students to craft their own major. That major could look the same as an official liberal arts degree.

How long does it take to get a Liberal arts degree?

Most often, students earn a liberal arts degree at the associate’s or bachelor’s degree levels. 
Liberal arts associate’s degrees take one to two years to earn. Bachelor’s degrees in the liberal arts take three to four years to earn.

Liberal Arts Degree Programs That Could be Completed in 2-4 Years

School# of Credits RequiredStart DatesMinimum Months to Complete
Ashford University120 credits to earn a bachelor’s degreeEvery five weeks36
Purdue University Global180 credits to earn a bachelor’s degreeEvery ten weeks48
Oral Roberts University128 credits to earn a bachelor’s degreeSpring, fall, winter48

How Much Does a Liberal Arts Degree Cost?

To earn a liberal arts degree, students paid a median in-state tuition of $6,450 to attend a public institution in 2016. That same year, they paid a median out-of-state tuition of $29,840 to attend a private institution.

School# of Credits RequiredCost Per CreditTotal Out-of-State Tuition Cost
Oral Roberts University128 (bachelor's degree)$385.00$49,280 + fees
Ashford University120 (bachelor's degree)$485.00$58,200 + fees
Purdue University Global180 (bachelor's degree)$371.00$66,780

Top Liberal Arts Colleges

Last check, there were 1505 schools that offer liberal arts degrees or programs. From those schools, there were 319,647 liberal arts degrees awarded to students. The majority (90.4%!) of those degrees were associate’s degrees.

School2016 Grads Total/Degrees AwardedTuition (Out of State)
Miami Dade College8,911$7,947
Valencia College6,012$7,933
Broward College5,133$1,944
Lone Star College System4,882$3,096
St. Petersburg College3,590$9,717

Source: https://datausa.io/profile/cip/240101/#

Accreditation for Online Liberal Arts Degree Programs

Accreditation is a process of review that schools undergo. It helps students, governments, employers, and others know that a given school provides quality education. After a rigorous process of review, schools can receive institutional or programmatic accreditation. They must renew it regularly. 

Attending an accredited school is important. To secure student aid from the government, you must attend an accredited school. If you want to earn a more advanced degree, you will first need a degree from an accredited school. To transfer your credits to another school, you will need to have earned them from an accredited school. Sometimes even employers prefer to hire people who went to an accredited school. 

There are several agencies that accredit schools. They have been given permission to do so by the U.S. Department of Education. The primary regional accreditation agencies include: 

 

  • The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges
  • The Higher Learning Commission
  • The Middle States Commission on Higher Education 
  • The New England Commission of Higher Education 
  • The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities 
  • The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges 
  • The WASC Senior College and University Commission 

Look for schools with institutional accreditation from one of these agencies.

What can you do with a Liberal Arts Degree?

656,776 people in the workforce had a degree in the liberal arts in 2016. That number could grow by 3.57% in the next year. The average age of people in the workforce with a liberal arts degree in 2016 was 43. The majority of people who earned a liberal arts degree (62.1%) were female. The top careers for liberal arts degree holders were managers, elementary & middle school teachers and postsecondary teachers.  

TOP SALARIES BY STATE FOR Managers

StateEmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
California53,390$138,240
District of Columbia20,010$142,440
New Jersey19,170$140,080
Florida18,960$101,020
Virginia16,740$131,670

 

Careers with a Liberal Arts Degree

Managers

Managers are responsible for a specfic function or department with an organization. From accounting to human resources, a manager sets goals for the group and chooses what work needs to be done while making sure to lead their team to success.   

  • Median Salary: $105,610  per year 
  • Job growth through 2026: 8%  (As fast as average)
  • Typical Entry-level education: Bachelor's degree

Training and Development Specialists

While HR managers and specialists focus mostly on hiring practices and mitigating company liability, training and development specialists analyze the weak areas of an organization's workforce and develop seminars and strategies to improve skill and knowledge. This may include designing manuals, online learning programs, instructional techniques and scheduling classes for workers to attend.

  • Median Salary: $60,360 per year 
  • Job growth through 2026: 11%  (Much faster than average)
  • Typical Entry-level education: Bachelor's Degree