25 Best Online Master’s in Liberal Arts [2021 Guide]

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If you love learning and wish to expand your capabilities for critical thinking, creativity, and collaborative excellence, then earning a Master of Liberal Arts online might be your next educational journey.

Online Master's in Liberal Arts

Employers in various career fields are looking for employees with the ability to think creatively, collaborate with peers, solve problems, and synthesize original products or solutions.

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A Master of Arts in Liberal Studies is a degree that may help you develop these abilities and open the door for these job opportunities.

Online Master’s in Liberal Arts Programs

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An online liberal arts degree is designed to provide a broad education for students pursuing multiple, diverse career paths. So, pursuing an online Master of Liberal Studies can help you develop a broad knowledge base and a variety of competencies.

This makes having a liberal arts masters valuable in regard to promotions or furthering your career in your chosen field. Colleges and universities apply the term “liberal arts” to a broad range of academic areas of study. These include history, philosophy, literature and writing, social sciences, fine arts, and more.

Many Master of Liberal Arts programs also offer areas of concentration, which allow you to focus on your special interests within the wide-ranging academic experiences of liberal arts in general. For example, you could choose to concentrate in social sciences, graphic arts, or literature.

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Along with your credit hours, a capstone project must be completed to receive your masters degree. There are various types of capstone projects, and your project options will depend on your chosen university or program.

An online Master of Liberal Arts program offers several advantages over traditional on-campus degree programs. Scheduling is often more flexible, so you can pursue your degree at your own pace. This is especially helpful if you’re working or have family responsibilities.

Professionals with master’s degrees in liberal arts work in a wide array of jobs in business, education, the arts, and government. A masters in liberal arts is also a great stepping stone if you decide to go for your doctorate.

Liberal Arts Careers & Salaries

Liberal Arts Careers & Salaries

An online masters in liberal arts may be beneficial for career advancement in many jobs, helping you qualify for leadership and managerial positions.

Most of these careers require at least a bachelor’s degree for entry-level employment. When you hold a Master of Liberal Arts, though, you may have a competitive edge and may receive an increased salary.

The below list shows just some of the variety of jobs and industries where a professional with a Master of Liberal Arts degree might find employment and career advancement, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Manager $141,490
Public Relations and Fundraising Manager $118,430
Postsecondary Teacher $80,790
Technical Writer $74,650
Market Research Analyst $65,810
Human Resources Specialist $63,490
Editor $63,400
Public Relations Specialist $62,810
Archivist, Curator, Museum Worker $52,140
Journalist, Reporter, Broadcast News Analyst $49,300

So, if you’re looking for a job promotion or a career change, an online master’s in liberal studies might propel you forward in your career, whether it be in the business, education, fine arts, or government sector.

Master of Liberal Arts Curriculum & Courses

A typical online masters in liberal arts program offers a core of required courses followed by elective courses and a capstone project.

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The following list shows examples of courses that you might take to complete your degree.

  • Social Sciences: This course is a survey of currently relevant issues in government, sociology, psychology, political science, history, and anthropology.
  • Myth and Meaning in America: You’ll explore and analyze American mythology, including studies in literature, art, dance, and music.
  • Ethics: This course investigates current and historical issues related to moral and ethical concerns.
  • Seminar in Interdisciplinary Studies: This course covers research, reading, and writing in the areas of aesthetics, politics, sociology, and higher education.
  • Science and Society: You’ll examine the principles of the scientific method as it relates to social interactions and social policies.
  • Renaissance Culture: You’ll focus on the historical periods of the Renaissance and the Reformation to explore their influence on the evolution of Western thought.
  • Social and Environmental Justice: This course explores components of environmental social science and environmental psychology.
  • Philosophy of Social Identities: You’ll examine the philosophical problems that arise as we strive to understand relationships in society.
  • Democracy, Ancient and Modern: This course covers interdisciplinary investigation or democracy, including its origins, history, and evolution.
  • Thesis Writing Course: You’ll learn methods and guided practice for scholarly research and writing, leading to completion of the capstone project.

Your elective courses will depend on your chosen area of concentration, and the required core courses provide a foundation of knowledge in a multidisciplinary array of subject areas.

Admissions Requirements for a Master of Liberal Studies

Master of Liberal Studies student studying online

Requirements may vary depending on the program, but these admission requirements are common to many Master of Liberal Arts programs:

  • Completed bachelor’s degree
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0, depending on program
  • Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) score, if required
  • Written essay, if required

Your bachelors degree does not need to be in liberal studies, but an undergraduate degree in general is a common requirement for admission to a Master of Liberal Arts program.

Accreditation

Online Master's in Liberal Arts Accreditation

As you approach a decision on a graduate school for your online masters in liberal studies, you may want to verify that the institution is regionally accredited. This accreditation signifies a stamp of approval for your degree.

Selecting a college or university that holds regional accreditation means that it received recognition from one of the following accreditation organizations:

You may especially want to consider a regionally accredited school if you might one day go for your doctorate, as other institutions recognize and respect accredited degrees.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Online Master's in Liberal Arts Financial Aid

The cost of graduate school and your eligibility for financial assistance may be important factors for you to consider as you research degree programs for your online master’s in liberal studies.

If you don’t know where to begin, you can always start by completing and submitting your FAFSA form on the Federal Student Aid website. You may also qualify for state aid from your residential state or the state where the college or university is located. Submitting your FAFSA form is the starting point for state aid as well as federal aid.

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Financial assistance may be available in the form of loans, merit-based and need-based scholarships, and grants. If you’re already employed, you might look into an educational assistance program from your employer. Additionally, financial assistance opportunities may be available for veterans, active military personnel, and members of military families.

What Can You Do with a Master of Liberal Arts Degree?

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The master of liberal arts degree may open professional doors for you in multiple careers. As you complete the coursework for the degree, you may develop your ability to think critically and creatively about broad-ranging issues in social sciences, humanities, the arts, literature, history, philosophy, and much more.

Earning a master’s in liberal arts may sharpen your intellectual capabilities and allow you to move into a managerial position or seek a promotion in your current career. It may also allow you to branch out to various career fields, such as the business, education, fine arts, and government sectors.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Masters in Liberal Arts

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The answer to this question varies from one individual to another. Your personal circumstances related to work and family obligations may affect the amount of time you can devote to the coursework for your degree.

Most Master of Liberal Arts degree programs require 30 to 36 credit hours for completion. If you are able to enroll fulltime in a program that features 16 week semesters, you may be able to complete the program in 1 to 2 years. Similarly, an accelerated liberal arts degree online will allow you to finish quicker than the average student.

If you enroll full-time, year-round in a program that features 8 week semesters, you may be able to finish in less time.

What Jobs Can You Get with a Masters in Liberal Arts?

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Professionals with master’s degrees in liberal arts work in a wide array of positions in various industries, including business, education, the arts, and government.

With a Master of Liberal Arts degree, you may have opportunities for managerial positions or an increase in pay. For example, you could work as a manager of human resources, public relations manager, or marketing manager in a business or arts organization.

Your Master of Liberal Arts may also lead you to postsecondary teaching in a high school, community college, arts organization, or museum. If your goal is to teach in a public high school, you would need to complete additional certification requirements.

Is a Master of Liberal Arts Worth It?

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Yes, a Master of Liberal Arts is worth it for many students. In the management, education, training, and library fields, jobs are projected to grow at a rate of 5% in the next 10 years (Bureau of Labor Statistics), faster than the average overall growth.

Common liberal arts careers in these fields include marketing manager, technical writer, human resources specialist, public relations manager, fundraising manager, and archivist or curator. Jobs in advertising and promotions are also common.

If you’re already working in a related field, the Master of Liberal Studies degree may provide credentials for a promotion. If you’re considering a career change, an online master’s in liberal studies may open the door to your dream job.

Universities Offering Online Master’s in Liberal Arts Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University campus

With only ten classes lasting 7 and a half weeks each, Arizona State University’s Master of Liberal Arts program requires 30 credits for completion. It’s a multidisciplinary degree that combines courses from many different fields, including politics, science, society, religion, and art courses. Career options include editor, journalist, and paraprofessional.

Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.

Fort Hays State University

Fort Hays State University campus

The Master of Liberal Studies program at Fort Hays State University allows students to choose from several different concentrations, many of which can be completed entirely online.

Some of the online concentrations include global management, political science, gerontology, art or art history, health sciences, literary arts, and information analysis and communication.

FHSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Harvard University

Harvard University campus

Harvard University offers a Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies in over 20 fields. Students’ curricula are determined by their concentrations, but the goal of each program is the same: to provide students with the practical skills and critical insights needed to continue scholarly pursuits or advance their careers.

Harvard University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Indiana University

Indiana University campus

The Master of Liberal Studies program at Indiana University combines courses in natural sciences, social sciences, and the arts and humanities to provide students with the most well-rounded education possible. Students should improve their critical reasoning and problem solving skills and gain advanced content knowledge and skills in multiple areas.

Indiana University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Jacksonville State University

Jacksonville State University campus

Jacksonville State University’s Master of Arts in Integrated Studies program allows students to earn masters degrees while studying advanced coursework in a minimum of two disciplines. Depending on the fields students choose to study, they can potentially earn additional certifications as well. The program requires 30 minimum credits for completion.

Jacksonville State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University campus

Students enrolled in Johns Hopkins University’s Master of Liberal Arts program can choose from a multitude of interdisciplinary courses. They can take courses in religion, philosophy, history, psychology, literature, art history, and music. Both online and on-campus students meet regularly with advisors to help ensure they’re on the right track.

Johns Hopkins University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Kent State University

Kent State University campus

Kent State University’s Master of Liberal Arts program requires a minimum of 30 credits for completion and has start dates 3 times a year. Because liberal arts is such a varied field, students have the option to customize much of their educational plans themselves. There’s only one single required course.

Kent State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association.

Liberty University

Liberty University campus

The Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies program at Liberty University is a 31 credit program that can be completed in as little as 1 year. Students can transfer up to half the required credits, and the school offers payment plans and financial aid to those who qualify. Students can select two concentration areas.

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Louisiana State University

Louisiana State University campus

Louisiana State University’s 36 credit Master of Arts in Liberal Arts degree can be earned online in a flexible manner designed specifically for working professionals. Students choose two of the available career clusters—analytics, leadership, sports management or business and emerging technologies—and take two liberal-arts-specific courses.

LSU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Nova Southeastern University

Nova Southeastern University campus

The cross-disciplinary masters program at Nova Southeastern University is an experiential learning program that allows students to learn more about fields in which they’re interested.

The curriculum includes 4 core courses, 6 electives, and a required practicum experience. Some concentrations include culture and society, education and society, and institutional assessment.

NSU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Rutgers University

Rutgers University campus

Students enrolled in Rutgers University’s Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program can select classes from fields such as literature, social sciences, art, history, religion, and philosophy. It requires 30 credits for completion.

Rutgers University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University campus

While Southern New Hampshire University doesn’t offer a generic liberal arts masters program, it does offer degree programs in many subjects that traditionally fall under the umbrella of “liberal arts.”

The school offers online masters degrees in history, communication, creative writing, and English. The programs are accredited, flexible, and affordable.

Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education, Inc.

Southern Utah University

Southern Utah University campus

Southern Utah University offers Master of Interdisciplinary Studies programs in the following fields: business administration, general studies, leadership, nonprofit management, and professional communication.

The curricula are personalized, dynamic, and diverse and inspire students to hone their critical thinking and communication skills. Courses are outcome-oriented and taught by highly qualified faculty.

Southern Utah University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Stony Brook University

Stony Brook University campus

The Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program at Stony Brook University puts an emphasis on analytics and communication. The school offers numerous graduate certificates in addition to the degree, and the degree can help prepare students to earn teaching certifications. Students can enroll part-time or full-time, on-campus or online.

Stony Brook University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

SUNY – Brockport

SUNY Brockport campus

All of the core courses in SUNY – Brockport’s liberal studies masters program can be taken 100% online. Many, but not all, elective courses are also offered online. It’s a 30 credit, multidisciplinary degree program that features courses in social sciences, natural sciences, and the arts and humanities.

SUNY Brockport is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Texas Christian University

Texas Christian University campus

Texas Christian University’s liberal arts masters program proudly claims to “have something for everyone.” The course selection proves that to be true. Students can select from a myriad of unique courses, including Chinese foreign policy, the wild west, psychology of sex, novel writing, superheroes in global context, and Texas political leadership.

TCU is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

University of Chicago

University of Chicago campus

The Master of Liberal Arts program at University of Chicago can be completed by full-time students in only 1 year. Information is delivered through a mixture of lectures, reading, reflection, and lively discussions. The program seeks to improve students’ skills in active listening, informational reading, critical thinking, and communication.

The University of Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

University of Illinois – Springfield

University of Illinois Springfield campus

University of Illinois – Springfield offers a liberal and integrative studies masters program for students who don’t fit neatly into pre-designed graduate programs. UIS believes that graduate students are educated enough to know what they want to accomplish, so they created this program so students could design their own curricula.

The University of Illinois Springfield is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of North Carolina – Wilmington

University of North Carolina Wilmington campus

University of North Carolina – Wilmington offers both a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies and a Post-Masters Certificate in Liberal Studies. Students work closely with their advisors to design their course curricula from numerous fields, including arts, literature and society, environment, science and society, and social concerns and cultural systems.

The University of North Carolina Wilmington is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

University of North Carolina at Greensboro campus

University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s Master of Arts in Applied Arts and Sciences program is a 33 credit program that can be completed entirely online. The curriculum is innovative, collaborative, and project-based and has been updated to include three new courses in systems thinking, design thinking, and understanding data.

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Oklahoma

University of Oklahoma campus

Students enrolled in the Master of Arts in Integrative Studies program at University of Oklahoma can either choose from one of the three available concentrations or design their own custom concentration tracks.

Most courses in the curriculum focus on volunteering and volunteering management, diversity, cultural communication, and research and research methodologies.

The University of Oklahoma is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania campus

The Master of Liberal Arts program at University of Pennsylvania provides students with courses in over 50 liberal arts content areas. Students can enroll as part-time or full-time students and can take classes online, on-campus, or in hybrid format. The school also offers a Master of Philosophy in Liberal Arts.

The University of Pennsylvania is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

University of Richmond

University of Richmond campus

University of Richmond’s Master of Liberal Arts program features an innovative, comprehensive curriculum that teaches students to reason critically and to be independent thinkers and strong, professional communicators.

The degree requires 30 credits for completion, including 15 core credits and 15 elective credits. Electives must be approved by program coordinators.

The University of Richmond is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Toledo

University of Toledo campus

Students at the University of Toledo can earn their Master of Arts in Liberal Studies online. It’s a 33 credit program with required courses in the natural and social sciences, visual and performing arts, and the humanities. Electives are chosen based on the concentrations students choose for their interdisciplinary studies.

The University of Toledo is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Western New Mexico University

Western New Mexico University campus

Western New Mexico University offers a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies program with over 25 concentrations, ten of which are in the education field alone. Students can choose either two or three concentrations from the available options and must complete essays midway through the curriculum and immediately before graduating.

WNMU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Getting Your Masters in Liberal Studies Online

Masters in Liberal Studies student researching online

As you pursue an online master’s in liberal studies, you may experience rewarding growth as a scholar, as a professional, and as a person. There’s a lot to consider when you’re deciding on a graduate school and finding the degree program that’s right for you.

Online learning has grown and improved by leaps and bounds in our modern era, and the convenience offered by an accredited, online degree program may be advantageous for you.

Whether you’re considering a masters degree for career advancement, for a career change, or simply for the love of learning, you may achieve significant rewards from your educational journey.

Ready to start your journey?
Carol Benton
WRITTEN BY
Carol Benton
Carol is a retired college professor in the field of music education. She holds a Doctor of Musical Arts from Shenandoah University, a Master of Music in piano performance and a Bachelor of Music Education from Virginia Commonwealth University. Carol has many years of experience as a teacher and academic advisor for undergraduates.