Search Programs

2023 Best Online Liberal Studies Degrees

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 8/28/2023
2023 Best Online Bachelor's Degrees in Liberal Studies Badge

Online degrees in the liberal arts can help us make sense of the world and why the things in it matter through a theoretical approach to learning. You can study interdisciplinary subjects such as history, art, philosophy, English, or law, as well as distinct topics within those disciplines. A degree in the humanities isn't worthless, despite the perception. On the contrary, it can be vital to develop critical, analytical, and communication skills for personal and professional growth, skills frequently sought by employers and necessary in our personal relationships. Liberal studies programs are frequently designed for students who have completed some college coursework or perhaps an associate degree at another accredited institution. 

View our methodology for more details about our list, or learn more about OnlineU

2023 Best Online Bachelor's Degrees in Liberal Studies Badge
Find an Online Degree:

Online Liberal Studies Bachelor's Degrees You May Be Interested In


2023 Best Online Liberal Studies Degrees

RankSchool Salary Score Median Starting Salary
# 1 #1 Thomas Edison State University 100 100 $76,418
# 2 #2 University of Pennsylvania 100 $60,724
# 3 #3 Drexel University 100 $60,242
# 4 #4 University of Arkansas Grantham 99 $56,582
# 5 #5 Montana State University - Billings 96 $51,489
# 6 #6 Western New Mexico University 95 $50,375
# 7 #7 Purdue Global 89 $46,308
# 8 #8 Hodges University 89 $46,081
# 9 #9 Texas Tech University 86 $45,043
# 10 #10 Texas Woman's University 86 $44,994

#1 Thomas Edison State University

  • Salary Score: 100
  • Median Starting Salary: $76,418
  • Locations: Trenton (NJ)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Thomas Edison State University (TESU), a public university, offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies. Most full-time students complete this 120-credit hour program in four to five years. To be admitted, applicants must be at least 20 years old or 18 if they are active military members. The school accepts transfer credits from other accredited institutions and may offer credit for prior military and professional training.

TESU delivers its online courses through the Moodle platform. For this major, students can combine coursework from two or more liberal arts subject areas, which include humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and more. In order to graduate, students must be able to define the major concepts, interrelationships, and historical development of their subject areas.

#2 University of Pennsylvania

  • Salary Score: 100
  • Median Starting Salary: $60,724
  • Locations: Philadelphia (PA)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The University of Pennsylvania (Penn) is a private, nonprofit institution that is considered an Ivy League school. It has a highly competitive acceptance rate of 7.7% and a graduation rate of 97%. Its online Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences requires the completion of 30 course units, which is the equivalent of 120 credit hours.

Penn students use the Canvas learning system to access their online courses. Liberal studies courses may include scientific reasoning, writing, digital culture, statistics, and ethics. Overall, the liberal studies program is designed to help students develop communication abilities, understand multicultural perspectives, and apply their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. To graduate, students must complete a capstone project and a senior portfolio.

#3 Drexel University

  • Salary Score: 100
  • Median Starting Salary: $60,242
  • Locations: Philadelphia (PA)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Through Drexel University, a private, nonprofit institution, students can earn an online Bachelor of Science in General Studies. The program caters to applicants who have completed up to 135 quarter credits or 90 credit hours at other accredited colleges and want to complete their degree. Drexel's schedule, which is organized into four 10-week quarters a year, may allow some students to finish their degree requirements more quickly.

Online students use the school's proprietary learning platform, Drexel LEARN, to complete their courses. General studies majors can customize their degree programs with courses concentrating on business, counseling, education, criminal justice, project management, and more. To graduate, students must also complete a senior project.

#4 University of Arkansas Grantham

  • Salary Score: 99
  • Median Starting Salary: $56,582
  • Locations: Kansas City (KS)
  • Accreditation: DEAC

The University of Arkansas - Grantham (UArk) is a public university that offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies. For this degree, students must complete the university's core course requirements as well as the requirements for the minor of their choice, which typically includes the completion of a total of 120 credit hours.

UArk students use the Blackboard learning management system to access their online courses. Core courses may include English literature, calculus, art appreciation, economics, and U.S. history. Some of the many options for minors are African American studies, criminal justice, geography, Spanish, writing, political science, and communications. Some of these minor programs include certificates. All students must complete a senior capstone course.

#5 Montana State University - Billings

  • Salary Score: 96
  • Median Starting Salary: $51,489
  • Locations: Billings (MT)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

Through Montana State University - Billings (MSUB), a public institution, students can earn an online Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies. This degree completion program allows students to transfer up to two years' credits from other accredited institutions, and it requires the completion of a total of 120 credit hours. MSUB accepts all applicants, and its graduation rate is 35%.

At MSUB, online courses are delivered through the Brightspace learning platform. Enrollees in the liberal studies program can select from a wide range of business-oriented concentrations, including Management and Public Relations, Organizational Communication and Human Resource Management, and Health Administration and Organizational Communication.

#6 Western New Mexico University

  • Salary Score: 95
  • Median Starting Salary: $50,375
  • Locations: Silver City (NM)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Western New Mexico University (WNMU) is a public, Hispanic-serving institution offering an online Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies students can design to meet individual interests and goals by choosing two to four focus areas. Graduating requires completing 120 credits, generally taking four years of full-time study. WNMU partners with Central New Mexico College (CNM) to deliver a fast-track online liberal arts degree that connects with the bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies, allowing students to finish the CNM portion in 16 months. WNMU has an open admission policy and accepts 100% of applicants, and 35% of students graduate with degrees.

WNMU delivers its online curriculum via Canvas. Distance learners studying interdisciplinary studies engage in courses such as Intro to Creative Writing, Forensic Science, American National Government, and Intro to Photography. They also complete an exit essay to graduate.

#7 Purdue Global

  • Salary Score: 89
  • Median Starting Salary: $46,308
  • Locations: Indianapolis (IN)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Indiana-based Purdue Global (PG) is a public institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies. This interdisciplinary program is ideal for students with prior learning from various accredited sources. It offers concentrations in leadership, supply chain logistics, and organizational/industrial psychology — though choosing one is not required. Students complete 120 credits to graduate, which may take less than four years for full-time students transferring with credits. PG has an open admission policy and accepts all applicants. Overall, 30% of students at PG graduate with degrees.

PG uses Brightspace to deliver its online program content to distance learners. For students choosing concentrations, courses in the online professional studies program include Strategic Communication, Logistics and Distribution Management, Attitudes and Motivation in the Workplace, and Selection and Assessment in Organizations.

#8 Hodges University

  • Salary Score: 89
  • Median Starting Salary: $46,081
  • Locations: Naples (FL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Florida's Hodges University (HU) is a private, nonprofit, Hispanic-serving institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies - General that is transfer-friendly and helps prepare students for various careers in civil services, nonprofits, human resources, and general business. Graduating requires completing 120 credits, which may take full-time students less than four years due to monthly start dates. HU's open admission policy allows it to accept all applicants, and 31% of students graduate with degrees.

Canvas is HU's choice for online program delivery. Online interdisciplinary students distance learners choosing to focus on general studies take courses, such as Contemporary Global Issues, Psychology of Conflict Management, Innovative Strategic Thinking, and Intercultural Communication.

#9 Texas Tech University

  • Salary Score: 86
  • Median Starting Salary: $45,043
  • Locations: Lubbock (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Texas Tech University (TTU) in Lubbock is a Hispanic-serving public institution offering an online Bachelor of Science/Arts in University Studies that allows students to choose three distinct study areas — concentrations — based on interests and goals. Similar to other bachelor's programs, students complete 120 credits to graduate, which generally takes four years of full-time study. An online Bachelor of General Studies is also offered. TTU is relatively competitive, accepting 68% of applicants, and it has a higher-than-average 63% graduation rate.

TTU delivers its online curriculum through Blackboard. While courses will vary based on the students' concentrations in the online university studies program, many take classes such as Communication and Popular Culture, Introduction to Human Geography, Exposition of Technical Information, and Creating the Critical Listener.

#10 Texas Woman's University

  • Salary Score: 86
  • Median Starting Salary: $44,994
  • Locations: Denton (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Located in the diverse Dallas-Forth Worth metroplex, Texas Woman's University (TWU) is a Hispanic-serving public institution offering an online Bachelor of General Studies. This online degree program allows students to pick two or three concentrations in fields such as Health Studies, Business, Criminal Justice, Psychology, and Multicultural Women's and Gender Studies. This program requires 120 credits to graduate, which may take some full-time students as little as two years. TWU has a high 96% acceptance rate, and 58% of students graduate.

TWU's distance learners use Canvas to access online coursework and instruction. Depending on the concentrations chosen in the online general studies program, students take courses such as Health Aspects of Aging, Ethics and Feminism, Forensic Psychology, Deviant Behavior, and Intro to International Business.

#11 University of North Texas

  • Salary Score: 86
  • Median Starting Salary: $44,703
  • Locations: Denton (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Hispanic-serving University of North Texas (UNT) is a public institution offering an online Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences (BAAS) for students with a technical or applied associate degree or prior military credit. Concentrations include Consumer Behavior, Data Analytics, Media Innovation, and Hospitality, among others. Students must transfer into this program with at least 45 credits. Students complete 120 credits, which may be done with two years of full-time study. Courses are eight weeks, and students take two classes at a time. UNT has an 81% acceptance and a 60% graduation rate.

UNT provides Canvas access to distance learners so they can access its online curriculum. Depending on the concentration and online availability, remote BAAS students choose from courses such as Consumers in a Global Market, Digital Curation and Preservation, Hospitality Industry Law, and Film Style Production.

#12 Sam Houston State University

  • Salary Score: 85
  • Median Starting Salary: $44,647
  • Locations: Huntsville (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Sam Houston State University (SHSU) in Texas is a public institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Integrated Studies, allowing students to choose three academic minors. This program requires 120 credits, culminating in a General Studies capstone. Online minors are available in 23 areas of study, such as Psychology, Sociology, Business Administration, and Communication Studies. SHSU accepts 97% of applicants, and 61% of students graduate with degrees.

SHSU's distance learners use the Blackboard learning management system to access the program curriculum and participate in class. Depending on the minors chosen and online availability, students complete coursework in classes such as Sociology of Sport, Communication and Pop Culture, Psychology of Adjustment, and Successful Workplace Relations.

#13 Metropolitan State University

  • Salary Score: 85
  • Median Starting Salary: $44,376
  • Locations: Saint Paul (MN)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Minnesota's Metropolitan State University (MSU) is a public Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institution offering an online Bachelor of Arts in Individualized Studies that gives students primary authority and responsibility for their education by allowing them to design their own faculty-approved course of study. Students need 120 credits to graduate, which generally takes four years of full-time study. MSU is competitive, with a 67% acceptance rate, and 58% of students graduate on average.

MSU delivers its online programming via Brightspace. While electives will vary based on a student's course of study, all students may choose interdisciplinary classes and workshops, such as Principles of Civic Engagement; Perspectives of Peace; Mapping Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; and Cinema, Self, and Other.

#14 University of Colorado Boulder

  • Salary Score: 82
  • Median Starting Salary: $43,502
  • Locations: Boulder (CO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Houston - Downtown (UHD) is a public Hispanic-serving institution offering an online Bachelor of Arts in Humanities in five diverse concentrations: (1) Cultural Studies, (2) Critical Race Studies, (3) Latino Studies, (4) Medical Humanities, and (5) Religious Studies. Graduating requires completing 120 credits, and it takes full-time students approximately four years. An online Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies is also available. UHD has a 95% acceptance and a 45% graduation rate.

UHD's online program delivery is completed through Canvas. Depending on the concentration and online availability, distance learners in the humanities may choose from courses such as World Literature and Culture, Politics of the Middle East, Latin American History, The New Testament, and Ecology & Environmental Biology.

#15 University of Houston - Downtown

  • Salary Score: 82
  • Median Starting Salary: $43,387
  • Locations: Houston (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of Houston - Downtown (UHD) is a public Hispanic-serving institution offering an online Bachelor of Arts in Humanities in five diverse concentrations: (1) Cultural Studies, (2) Critical Race Studies, (3) Latino Studies, (4) Medical Humanities, and (5) Religious Studies. Graduating requires completing 120 credits, and it takes full-time students approximately four years. An online Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies is also available. UHD has a 95% acceptance and a 45% graduation rate.

UHD's online program delivery is completed through Canvas. Depending on the concentration and online availability, distance learners in the humanities may choose from courses such as World Literature and Culture, Politics of the Middle East, Latin American History, The New Testament, and Ecology & Environmental Biology.

#16 Southern Illinois University - Carbondale

  • Salary Score: 80
  • Median Starting Salary: $42,562
  • Locations: Carbondale (IL)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Southern Illinois University - Carbondale (SIU Carbondale) is a public institution offering an online Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science in University Studies. The primary difference is that the Bachelor of Arts requires one full year of a college-level foreign language. Students must complete 120 credits to graduate, which typically takes four years of full-time enrollment. SIU Carbondale has a 55% graduation rate and a 95% acceptance rate.

SIU Carbondale utilizes Brightspace for its online curriculum delivery. There are minimal specific program requirements in the online university studies program other than what's required in other bachelor's programs. Therefore, depending on online availability, distance learners can choose from numerous courses, including The Human Experience, Beginning American Sign Language, Mass Media Culture and American Studies, Introduction to Criminological Theory, and Mass Communications in a Diverse Society.

#17 Texas A&M University - Central Texas

  • Salary Score: 80
  • Median Starting Salary: $42,531
  • Locations: Killeen (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Texas A&M University - Central Texas (TAMUCT) is a Hispanic-serving public institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies to help students develop the creative and critical thinking skills needed in today's workplace. There are 11 online minors available, including Computer Information Systems, Sociology, Human Resource Management, and Psychology. Graduating requires completing 120 credits, generally taking four years of full-time study. TAMUCT accepts 96% of applicants, and 58% of students graduate.

TAMUCT delivers its online coursework and instruction to distance learners via Canvas. Depending on the minors chosen, students enrolled in the online liberal studies program take courses such as Computer Technology and Impact, Recruitment and Selection of Human Resources, Biological Foundations of Behavior, and Cultural Anthropology.

#18 The University of Texas at El Paso

  • Salary Score: 77
  • Median Starting Salary: $41,719
  • Locations: El Paso (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) is a public Hispanic-serving institution offering an online Bachelor of Multidisciplinary Studies through UTEP Connect Extended University. Students choose three concentrations from areas such as Humanities, Communication, Chicano Studies, and Social Sciences. This online degree program is for students with at least 60 eligible transfer credits. Graduating requires 120 credits, taking some full-time students two years to complete. UTEP's open admission policy allows it to accept all applicants, and 48% of students graduate with degrees.

UTEP uses Canvas for online program delivery. Depending on the concentration and course availability, multidisciplinary studies distance learners take classes such as Mexican American History, Sociolinguistics, Human Anatomy, Global Business Environment, and Communication Law and Society.

#19 University of Houston - Victoria

  • Salary Score: 77
  • Median Starting Salary: $41,579
  • Locations: Victoria (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of Houston - Victoria (UHV) in Southern Texas is a Hispanic-serving public institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in University Studies that allows students to transfer up to 90 credits and helps develop problem-solving, communication, research, and analysis skills. Students complete 120 credits total to graduate throughout accelerated eight-week courses. Full-time students transferring the maximum amount of credits may be able to finish in under two years. UHV is competitive, accepting only a little over half of applicants, and 51% of students graduate.

UHV delivers its online programming via Blackboard. Depending on the area of focus, online university studies students enroll in courses such as Intercultural Communication, World Politics, Digital Forensics, and Human Growth and Development.

#20 University of Cincinnati

  • Salary Score: 76
  • Median Starting Salary: $41,435
  • Locations: Cincinnati (OH) (and 1 other)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Ohio's University of Cincinnati (UC) is a public institution offering an online Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts, which has a minimum of 61 eligible transfer credits. They may take courses in fields such as Criminal Justice, Humanities, Communication, and Organizational Leadership. Graduating requires completing a total of 120 credits, and it can take full-time students approximately two years. Similarly, an online Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies is also available. UC has an 85% acceptance and a 68% graduation rate.

UC's distance learners access Canvas to participate in online classes. Depending on interests and course availability, liberal arts distance learners choose from courses such as Communication in Problem-Solving Groups, The Practice of Leadership, Criminal Justice in Films, and Children and the Law.

#21 The University of Texas at San Antonio

  • Salary Score: 76
  • Median Starting Salary: $41,261
  • Locations: San Antonio (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) is a Hispanic-serving public institution offering an online Bachelor of Arts in Multidisciplinary Studies, allowing students to choose three focus areas. There are nine areas to choose from, from Business and Digitial Communication to Health and Sociology. Students must complete 120 credits, taking some full-time students with ample transfer credits as little as a year. UTSA accepts 91% of applicants, and 52% of students graduate with degrees.

UTSA uses Canvas for online program delivery. Depending on focus areas, students in the online multidisciplinary studies program take courses such as Principles of Marketing, Persuasion, Statistical Analysis for Data Science, Survey of Human Nutrition, and Sociology of Gender.

#22 Rogers State University

  • Salary Score: 73
  • Median Starting Salary: $40,541
  • Locations: Claremore (OK)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Rogers State University (RSU) is a public, Native American Non-Tribal institution in Oklahoma offering an online Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts in two pathways: (1) English and (2) Global Humanities. Online students may also select a minor, such as Creative Writing or Philosophy, within each pathway. Graduating requires completing 120 credits and typically takes full-time students four years. RSU has an open admission policy, which means that it accepts 100% of applicants. Meanwhile, only 24% of students graduate with degrees — less than half of the average across other universities.

RSU's distance learners access Blackboard to engage in class and complete assignments. Depending on the pathway, online liberal arts students take courses such as Literary Traditions, Topics in Advanced Composition, Theatre Traditions, Advanced Ethics, and International Cinema. To graduate, students must also complete at least three credit hours in a world language.

#23 University of New Hampshire College of Professional Studies

  • Salary Score: 70
  • Median Starting Salary: $39,744
  • Locations: Concord (NH)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

New England's Granite State College (GSC) is a public institution in New Hampshire offering an online Bachelor of Science in Individualized Studies with specialized study options in English or History. Students complete 120 credits to graduate with 32 in the major, and it usually takes full-time students four years unless transferring credits. GSC considers prior work, college, volunteer-based learning, and military experience, which may apply toward college credit, saving time and money. GSC's open admission policy means that it accepts all applicants, and 42% of students go on to earn degrees.

GSC delivers online coursework and instruction via Canvas. Depending on the study option and class availability, individualized study distance learners complete courses such as Special Topics in Creative Writing, Explorations in Historical Perspectives, Foreign Cultures, and Dystopian and Post-Apocalyptic Fiction.

#24 Stephen F. Austin State University

  • Salary Score: 70
  • Median Starting Salary: $39,630
  • Locations: Nacogdoches (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA) is a public institution in Nacogdoches, Texas, offering an online Bachelor of Science in General Studies composed of three minors that are logically, academically, and professionally integrated. Minors include business, communication, and psychology, among others. Graduating requires completing 120 credits and generally takes four years of full-time study. SFA has an 83% enrollment and a 54% graduation rate.

SFA distance learners use Brightspace to participate in online classes. Depending on the minor and course availability, online general studies undergraduate students may take courses such as Organizational Communication, Media Culture and Identity, Literary Genres, Consumer Health, and Political Geography. Capstone courses are also required to graduate.

#25 The University of Texas - Rio Grande Valley

  • Salary Score: 67
  • Median Starting Salary: $38,937
  • Locations: Edinburg (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of Texas - Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) is a diverse, Hispanic-serving public institution offering an online Bachelor of Multidisciplinary Studies. Students can combine three minors from fields such as Political Science, Anthropology, Criminal Justice, and History. Students must complete 120 credits in order to graduate, taking about two years of full-time attendance. UTRGV accepts 94% of applicants, and 58% of students graduate.

UTRGV delivers its remote programming through Blackboard to its distance learners. Depending on their minor online course availability, students at UTRGV engage in classes such as Introduction to Globalization, World History, Human Evolution, Communication Law and Ethics, and Police Systems and Practices.

#26 Arizona State University

  • Salary Score: 67
  • Median Starting Salary: $38,916
  • Locations: Tempe (AZ) (and 4 others)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Known for its extensive online curriculum, Arizona State University (ASU) is a public institution offering an online Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies in an accelerated 7.5-week course format. Students select two from more than 30 concentration options, including Sustainability, Integrative Health, Project Management, and Applied Business Data Analytics. Students complete 120 credits to graduate, and some full-time students may be able to finish in under four years. Additionally, an online Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies is available. ASU has a 70% acceptance and a 47% graduation rate.

ASU distance learners gain access to their classes via Canvas. Depending on the concentration, those enrolled in the online liberal studies program participate in courses such as Sustainable Cities, Foundations of Integrative Health, Project Schedule Management, and Business Data Mining.

#27 Liberty University

  • Salary Score: 65
  • Median Starting Salary: $38,481
  • Locations: Lynchburg (VA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Liberty University (LU) is a private, Evangelical Christian institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies that allows students to choose two or three areas of study in order to maximize any previously earned credits. These areas include Accounting, Philosophy, Psychology, Religion, and Computational Sciences — to name a few. Students can transfer up to 90 eligible credits. Graduating requires completing 120 credits and may take some full-time students less than four years if transferring credits. LU is competitive and accepts 50% of applicants, and 34% of its students graduate with degrees.

LU's distance learners in the online interdisciplinary studies program access Canvas to participate in class. Depending on their areas of study, they take courses such as Fraud Examination, Introduction to Ethics, Foundational Principles of Crisis Response, and Critical Issues in Ministry Leadership. Students must also complete several credits in religion and theology coursework as part of LU's core requirements.

It's important to note LU is not an LGBT-friendly institution. According to its 2022-2023 Student Code, "statements and behaviors that are associated with LGBT lifestyle are prohibited."

#28 Pennsylvania State University

  • Salary Score: 64
  • Median Starting Salary: $38,061
  • Locations: State College (PA)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) is a public institution offering an online Bachelor of Arts in Multidisciplinary Studies to help students deepen their understanding of complex social, cultural, and organizational issues they may face in leadership roles. Four themes are available across courses: (1) Communication Skills, (2) Critical Analysis, (3) Research Methods/Projects, and (4) Theory/Application. Penn State students complete 120 credits, typically taking four years of full-time study. They can also earn an Associate of Arts in Multidisciplinary Studies and an undergraduate Organizational Communication certificate while completing this online bachelor's degree program. Penn State has a 92% acceptance rate, and 70% of its students graduate.

Penn State uses Canvas to deliver remote coursework and instruction. Students studying multidisciplinary studies online may take courses such as Racial and Ethnic Inequality in America, Understanding Humans, The Artistic Universe, Communication Ethics, and Introduction to Leadership.

#29 Indiana State University

  • Salary Score: 64
  • Median Starting Salary: $38,027
  • Locations: Terre Haute (IN)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Indiana State University (ISU) in Terre Haute is a public institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in General Studies designed for transfer students with at least 75 credits of prior accredited learning experience. Students work with an advisor to choose the remaining courses needed to graduate with 120 credits. Full-time students can generally finish in two years or less, depending on transfer credits. ISU has a 94% acceptance and a 45% graduation rate.

ISU delivers its online programming via Canvas. While the courses students choose to complete in the online general studies program are unique to their interests and goals, there are dozens of options. For example, distance learners may take courses such as African American Cultural Traditions, Environmental Justice, Marriage and Family, Topics in Linguistics, and Literature and Life.

#30 West Texas A&M University

  • Salary Score: 64
  • Median Starting Salary: $38,006
  • Locations: Canyon (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

West Texas A&M University (WTAMU) is a Hispanic-serving public institution in the suburbs of Amarillo offering an online Bachelor of General Studies (BGS) with specializations such as education, business, and agriculture. Graduating requires completing 120 credits, typically taking four years of full-time attendance. While all coursework is completed online, it's unclear if campus visits are needed throughout the term. It's also important to note that not all upper-division courses are available online.

WTAMU uses Canvas for online coursework and instruction delivery. Depending on the specialization and course availability, online BGS distance learners may take courses such as Intercultural Communication, Business Ethics and Society, Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, Art History, and Masterpieces of World Literature.

Find an Online Degree:

Overview of Online Liberal Arts Degrees

What Is a Liberal Studies Major?

An online liberal studies degree can help you become a well-rounded professional with a broad understanding of the world around you. However, you'll want to know exactly what this degree program entails on the bachelor's level before you get started.

Pursuing an online bachelor's degree in liberal studies helps you gain an understanding of the inner workings and common motivations of human beings. Students who pursue liberal arts are introduced to various concepts from history, philosophy, literature, and the arts, as well as how these interests have impacted the trajectory of mankind. Students who pursue a liberal studies degree online learn how to explore key concepts with a critical eye and view important historical events from multiple perspectives. 



Students who pursue liberal arts are introduced to various concepts from history, philosophy, literature, and the arts, as well as how these interests have impacted the trajectory of mankind.


While students can pursue an online bachelor's degree in liberal studies without any prior college experience, this degree program is also common for students who already have some college credit. Some schools that offer a liberal arts major allow you to transfer credits from other institutions in order to complete your bachelor's degree online.

Some online liberal arts degree programs online are even competency-based or self-paced, meaning you have some flexibility in how and when you learn. Many also let students dive into their coursework without taking any additional college entrance exams or having to meet a minimum GPA requirement prior to enrollment.

Liberal Arts vs. Liberal Studies: Are They the Same?

As you compare schools to find the best online liberal arts degree, you may have noticed that some institutions say "liberal arts," while others say "liberal studies." Fortunately, you do not need to worry about how various programs are titled one way or another. Mostly, these terms are used interchangeably, and both degree programs offer similar curriculum and entry requirements. 

Why Is Liberal Studies Important?

Liberal studies programs help students gain a broader understanding of people and the world around them. Education in liberal arts also prepares students to think critically about the problems of the world as well as potential solutions — especially when it comes to cultural awareness, the environment, foreign policy, social justice, and ethics.

This is why students who pursue a liberal studies degree online are prepared for entry into a wide range of fields. While this degree program does not necessarily tie to a specific career or industry, the lessons imparted can help anyone become a more thoughtful, determined employee. If you have a specific career in mind, check out our career finder tool to help you plan your educational pathway. 

Still undecided on your major? Check out some of the best online degrees in liberal studies subjects, such as a bachelor's in history, an online music degree, an English program, or an art degree online.

Common Courses for Liberal Studies Degrees Online

Students who pursue an online liberal studies degree will need to take a broad range of courses in many fields of study. Ultimately, the best online liberal arts degrees are designed to encompass a wide range of subjects — from the humanities to history, philosophy, and science. 

Courses to look for in an online liberal arts degree program include the following:

Composition

This course teaches students the basics of reading and writing in the academic world. Students learn about academic discourse and the art of rhetoric, all while studying famous writings from ancient times up to our recent past. A research paper may be required to complete this course. For those who want to dedicate themselves to this subject, they may consider an online writing degree instead.

Art History

Sometimes called historiography, art history is the historical study of aesthetic objects and art and visual expression throughout the ages. Liberal arts majors often take a class in art history, but online degrees in art history are also available at many colleges.

Anthropology

Anthropology classes involve the study of human behavior, human biology, cultures, societies, and linguistics as they relate to the past and present. If students find that this subject peaks their interest the most, they can always change their major to anthropology

Philosophy

This course helps students understand the way people view the world and how viewpoints have changed over thousands of years based on cultural shifts and major historical events. Philosophy teaches students to ask some of the most important questions of all time, including those surrounding existence, knowledge, reason, and values. There are also online philosophy degrees available for those most interested in this discipline.

While curricula may vary from school to school, humanities classes touch on numerous topics of interest in humanistic inquiry that require critical exploration. Overall, a liberal arts curriculum aims to impart knowledge about how we, as humans, have lived in the past, relate to one another, and build cultures and societies. 

What Is a BA in Liberal Studies Good For?

The skills you can gain through a humanities degree can benefit almost any career. 

Specifically, you may be interested in occupations that are in demand, have high job growth, and have high salary potential. While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) finds that liberal arts majors earn a $50,000 annual median salary, which is $10,000 less than all other occupations, some jobs pay significantly more and require the skills you can acquire with a liberal arts degree. For example, art directors earn a $100,890 annual median salary and require a bachelor's in this field. 

Here are some of the jobs you may pursue with this degree after completing a liberal arts program at the bachelor's level:

Editors

Median Annual Wage: $63,350
Job Growth: -5% (decline)

Editors are charged with planning and reviewing content that can be published across various mediums. Not only do they check for spelling and grammar errors, but they verify facts and make sure each piece of content offers the most comprehensive or entertaining story angle. While many editors work for newspapers or magazines, some work for online publications or professional organizations.

Fundraising Consultants

Median Annual Wage: $60,660
Job Growth: 11%

Fundraisers work for various organizations and nonprofits with the goal of helping them raise money to keep their operations running. Some types of fundraising also strive to find money for specific objectives, such as funding medical research or providing services to people in need. Either way, a liberal arts degree helps students take on many of the qualities of an effective fundraiser, including empathy and compassion.

Loan Officers

Median Annual Wage: $63,380
Job Growth: 4%

Loan officers help consumers get the financing they need, whether they are hoping to purchase a home, finance a car, or borrow money for other needs. While an online bachelor's degree in liberal studies or another field can help students get started in this field, on-the-job training is required as well.

Market Research Analysts

Median Annual Wage: $63,920
Job Growth: 19%

Market research analysts use their knowledge and experience to forecast trends among consumers who may purchase a product or service. They typically use statistical software to compile and analyze data, and they prepare reports their clients can use to set up targeted, data-driven marketing campaigns. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), market research analysts typically need a bachelor's degree in business, communications, or a social science field to get started.

Public Relations Specialists

Median Annual Salary: $62,800
Job Growth: 8%

While a degree in public relations can help you get started in this career, bachelor's degrees in social science fields, liberal studies, or communications can also work. Professionals in this field help their clients maintain a positive public image, and they deal with all forms of media on their behalf. Public relations specialists complete tasks such as writing press releases, helping their clients draft communications, and maintaining their social media accounts.

Is a Liberal Studies Degree Worth It?

Humanities degrees are worth it as long as you keep several factors in mind. You'll need to consider your interests, financial situation, and career goals. You'll also want to consider the time available to invest in your education daily. If you've been working for a while and are looking for faster job growth and development opportunities, a certificate program may be a viable option that takes less time and money.

As with making any major life decision, it helps to carefully weigh the pros and cons of earning a humanities degree and how it may affect your career:

Potential Benefits

  • You'll develop professional skills that employers often value. No matter which humanities major you choose, there are opportunities to develop interpersonal, communication, analytical, and critical thinking skills, which employers need, and cultural insight into people of diverse backgrounds. These skills can help you work in teams, make decisions, find and solve problems, and see the bigger picture.

  •  A liberal arts degree can be self-enriching. The insight you can gain by studying the humanities can be helpful in your personal life and career. As you learn about the human experience, you may become more empathetic and compassionate towards others as you begin to make sense of the world. This knowledge can strengthen your relationships and give you a better understanding of yourself.

  • A liberal studies degree is highly transferable if you plan on attending graduate school. Because of the broad range of courses offered, you can develop a basic understanding of several subject areas, which may prove invaluable if you pursue a master's degree. This knowledge can also help you hone in on one specific area to study as you move forward with your education.

Potential Disadvantages

  • A humanities degree doesn't prepare you for a specific job. This is the biggest drawback of a humanities degree. You may have heard the term "Jack of all trades, master of none." This can apply to a humanities degree because while you'll study several subjects, none may prepare you for one specific job. As a result, you may graduate feeling like you've learned a lot but are unprepared to enter the workforce because you lack specific technical skills.

  • Employers may not see or understand the value of your education. In addition, recruiters and hiring managers may be unfamiliar with the skills gained through a humanities degree. While these skills are invaluable and may help you develop professionally, it may take extra effort to frame your resume, interviews, and any online profiles such as those on LinkedIn to prove how applicable and transferable your skills may be.

  • You may have a greater chance of experiencing unemployment. According to the latest American Academy of Arts and Sciences study, younger graduates in the arts (ages 23 to 32) and older humanities and arts graduates (ages 48 to 59) experienced higher unemployment rates than undergraduate degree holders in other majors.

FAQs about Online Liberal Studies Degrees

Is a Liberal Studies Degree Useless?


An online liberal arts degree can be as worthwhile as any other bachelor's degree. Your results depend on factors like how hard you study in school, the types of experiences you are able to gain as part of your degree program, and the positions you apply for after you graduate.

If you ask people you know, you'll also find that many people with bachelor's degrees wind up working in fields that are not related to their degree at all. That said, earning a bachelor's degree can help you get your foot in the door in any number of rewarding positions, at which point you'll receive more training and build your experience as time goes on.

Can You Teach With a Degree in Liberal Arts?


To work as a teacher at grade school or high school, you'll need to complete a teacher education course in addition to your bachelor's degree program. According to the BLS, public school teachers are also required to have a state-issued certification or license.

An online liberal studies degree can also help you begin a career as a postsecondary teacher. Although, you'll need a master's degree, at minimum, to teach at community colleges and a PhD or doctoral degree to teach at the collegiate level.

What Is Considered a Humanities Degree?


A humanities degree is an undergraduate or graduate degree in a major such as culture and ethnic studies, history, language, literature, philosophy and ethics, and religion. You'll examine what motivates us as human beings, how our environment and the social constructs we create have a social impact on our lives, and how we express ourselves through language and art throughout history.

What Else Should You Consider?

When choosing a liberal arts degree program, there are several factors to consider — your education is a serious financial investment and time commitment that should not be taken lightly.

Accreditation

Attending an institutionally accredited school is strongly encouraged because it shows that the school has passed a voluntary peer review process to ensure programs, operations, and administrative practices meet high academic standards of excellence. Some disciplines within humanities may also be programmatically accredited by industry or other professional organizations to ensure the program meets industry standards. 

Cost

Numerous affordable degree options are available in this field because most U.S. public and private colleges and universities offer these degrees. To help you decide which to choose, consider your career goals and salary expectations to determine your potential return on investment. The BLS provides median salaries in its Occupational Outlook Handbook for almost 800 occupations and is updated annually.

Online or On-Campus

If you choose to attend online, you'll want to consider whether programs are delivered synchronously or asynchronously, technology requirements, and — possibly most importantly — your learning style. Studying online takes strong organizational, time management, and prioritization skills. .

Student Reviews

Students often review college experiences, which can provide valuable insights into a school's reputation and help you choose a program. If you can't find any reviews, a program advisor may be able to connect you with former students and graduates who may be willing to speak with you.

Resources for Liberal Arts Majors

  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) | The AAAS advocates for the arts and humanities, democracy and justice, education, energy, the environment, science and technology, and global affairs. Members can access academic journals and other publications, research and general information, member events, and participate in member elections.
  • American Historical Association (AHA) | The AHA advocates for the protection of history and the rights of historians. Membership includes access to events and annual meetings, job listings and career development tools, and subscriptions to academic journals and other AHA publications.
  • American Rhetoric | American Rhetoric allows you to access video, audio, and text files of historical speeches from news events, movies, the Greek philosophers, historical figures, and politicians. There are also fun exercises to complete and a comprehensive list of academic journals.
  • National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) | The NEH is one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the U.S. In addition, the NEH sponsors events, publishes a magazine and blog, recognizes achievements through honors, and awards grants.
  • Society for Classical Studies (SCS) | The SCS is a hub for aspiring philosophers. Members can look for jobs, access SCS publications, attend member events, and receive discounts on books. The SCS also publishes a weekly blog.
  • Writing | If you need help with researching and writing, the Writing Commons and Writing Spaces can be great places to start seeking help. Both provide guidance and tools to help you craft your essays and other assignments, so they are engaging, factual, ethical, and grammatically correct.

Why Trust Us?

27 Data
Researchers

60,000 Degrees Researched Annually

20,000 Hours Spent on Research Annually

Launching Rankings Since 2009

Meet our team

Related Articles

2023 Best Online Bachelor's Degrees in the U.S.

Earning an online bachelor's degree can vastly expand your career options and earning power. We've ranked the best colleges by alumni salaries.

By OnlineU Staff Writers | 6/13/2023

2023 Best Online Education Degrees

Explore our 2023 list of the best online education degrees at the bachelor's level. All online schools listed are accredited.

By OnlineU Staff Writers | 3/16/2023

2023 Most Affordable Online Bachelor's Degrees

Find the most affordable online bachelor's degree programs in the country for 2023. We highlight cheap online colleges with high alumni salaries.

By OnlineU Staff Writers | 12/23/2022

ADVERTISEMENT

Start Your Online College Search:

Review schools that align with your career aspirations.