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Best Online Liberal Studies Degrees

By Holly Johnson | Updated 10/11/2022

Online liberal studies degrees, available at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and certificate levels, provide a strong academic foundation for students who want to use education to broaden their general understanding of the world or who are naturally drawn to a particular subject in the humanities or science disciplines. The interdisciplinary umbrella of liberal studies includes subjects such as biology, English, music, and physics, among others. We highlight the best 25 schools, based on tuition rates and alumni salary data provided by PayScale.

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2020 Best Online Colleges Offering Bachelor's in Liberal Studies Degrees

2020 Best Online Colleges Offering Bachelor's in Liberal Studies Badge

The 25 schools on this list are the best value options for obtaining an online bachelor's degree in liberal studies based on alumni salaries and low tuition rates. Saint Louis University-Main Campus is ranked #1, offering a B.A. in General Studies for $19,500 per year. Graduates of the school reported a median salary of $142,100. University of North Dakota, ranked #2, offers a tuition rate of $11,970 per year. Alumni reported a mid-career salary of $137,667.

Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about OnlineU.

RankSchool Annual Tuition Mid-Career Salary
# 1 #1 Saint Louis University-Main Campus $19,500 $142,100
# 2 #2 University of North Dakota $11,970 $137,667
# 3 #3 Indiana University-Southeast $19,346 $135,100
# 4 #4 University of Pennsylvania $19,040 $123,200
# 5 #5 University of Arkansas $7,568 $112,800
# 6 #6 Rowan University $12,103 $110,500
# 7 #7 Southeast Missouri State University $9,000 $105,167
# 8 #8 University of Louisiana-Lafayette $11,198 $104,957
# 9 #9 University of Missouri $11,622 $100,450
# 10 #10 Mount Saint Mary's University - CA $41,592 $111,200
# 11 #11 Jacksonville State University $11,310 $96,000
# 12 #12 University of Virginia $13,260 $96,500
# 13 #13 California State University - Fullerton $7,650 $93,075
# 14 #14 University of Alaska Fairbanks $8,877 $91,500
# 15 #15 The University of Montana $21,600 $96,075
# 16 #16 University of Kansas $11,916 $90,008
# 17 #17 California State University-Chico $5,742 $87,513
# 18 #18 University of North Alabama $10,500 $88,900
# 19 #19 Excelsior College $15,300 $90,700
# 20 #20 Liberty University $11,700 $88,100
# 21 #21 University of Toledo $17,573 $90,050
# 22 #22 University of Kentucky $17,100 $89,729
# 23 #23 West Texas A&M University $7,953 $85,567
# 24 #24 Youngstown State University $15,006 $87,800
# 25 #25 Northern Illinois University $11,146 $85,910
Salary data provided by Payscale Logo

2020 Online Colleges Offering Liberal Studies Degrees - Ranking Details

#1 Saint Louis University-Main Campus

  • Annual Tuition: $19,500
  • Median Salary: $142,100
  • Locations: St. Louis (MO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Saint Louis University offers an online Bachelor of Arts in General Studies where students choose a minor, certificate, or liberal arts focus. Six accelerated, eight-week terms per year allow students to begin the program when most convenient. The degree requires a total of 120 credits and can be completed in four years. The curriculum includes core classes, elective courses, and coursework dedicated to the focus or minor of choice. A capstone is also required in the final semester. Students use the Blackboard learning management system to access their classes and assignments while working independently. While there may be due dates and set times for classroom discussions, students can complete coursework at their convenience. Prospective students must have a high school diploma with at least a 2.5 GPA or equivalent GED score. Application requirements include transcripts, three years of professional work experience, and an application. Students may transfer prior college credits or earn credits for previous experience. Career services, mental health counseling, library access, and academic tutoring are available to students.

#2 University of North Dakota

  • Annual Tuition: $11,970
  • Median Salary: $137,667
  • Locations: Grand Forks (ND)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of North Dakota offers an online Bachelor of General Studies that lets students choose courses from various areas, including social sciences, humanities, fine arts, natural sciences, and mathematics. The online degree requires 120 credits, and the program can be completed in four years. The curriculum includes general education requirements, called Essential Studies, as well as courses selected from the College of Arts and Sciences, which must be approved by an academic advisor. Courses are delivered asynchronously, and students have 24/7 access to their coursework through the Blackboard learning management system. The program may include written assignments, group projects, quizzes, presentations, and interactive virtual activities. Program participants have access to 24/7 online tutoring, writing help, tech support, and career advice. Applicants who hold an associate degree from an accredited institution may transfer credits and have the general education requirements waived. Incoming first-year students can apply by using the Common Application or the application found on the UND website. Students must also submit their transcripts and test scores. It is recommended that applicants have at least a 2.75 GPA.

#3 Indiana University-Southeast

  • Annual Tuition: $19,346
  • Median Salary: $135,100
  • Locations: New Albany (IN)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Indiana University Southeast offers a Bachelor of General Studies and a Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS), both as online programs. The online BAS is available with an individualized track for students with an associate degree in a field other than health care or the sciences. It is a two-year completion program that requires a total of 60 credits. The BGS is a four-year program that requires a total of 120 credits; a maximum of 64 credits can be transferred from prior college coursework. Coursework is available through the Canvas online platform, which also hosts email, classroom discussions, and quizzes. While Canvas is accessible 24/7, some classes will require students to log in at set times. Students in these programs may be expected to turn in written assignments, participate in group projects or presentations, and complete quizzes. Students have access to the writing center, virtual tutoring services, and library resources. First-year student admissions are considered primarily on the applicants’ high school transcripts. SAT or ACT scores may be submitted, but they are not required. The application for both undergraduate degree programs can be found on the university’s website.

#4 University of Pennsylvania

  • Annual Tuition: $19,040
  • Median Salary: $123,200
  • Locations: Philadelphia (PA)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The University of Pennsylvania offers an online Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences that is available with eight different concentrations. Thirty-course units (equivalent to 120 credits) and a capstone project are required, and students spend two weekends on campus. In the Individualized Studies concentration, students can customize the degree by choosing four courses from three-course blocks; blocks are available in areas such as cinema, climate change, creative writing, music studies, and neuroscience. Canvas is the learning management system that students use to access assignments, academic calendars, discussion boards, group work, quizzes, and grades. Online learning is primarily asynchronous to accommodate students’ professional and personal responsibilities. Some instructors offer optional sessions with set times for those who prefer a synchronous format. Distance learners can benefit from academic advising, disability services, library services, counseling, tutoring, and technical support. Students can apply by completing a standard application or by gaining admission through the Gateway Program. The former requires students to submit an online application, academic transcripts, a personal essay, two letters of recommendation, and a resume. The Gateway Program allows students to prove their academic capabilities by taking four gateway courses and earning at least a 2.7 GPA.

#5 University of Arkansas

  • Annual Tuition: $7,568
  • Median Salary: $112,800
  • Locations: Fayetteville (AR)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Arkansas offers a fully online Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies through its online portal, U of A Online. Students can customize the degree by choosing three minors that correspond with their interests and career goals; twenty minors are available. Academic advisors are available to help students create their plan of study. Additional resources include tutoring, academic advising, library access, disability services, and technical support. A total of 120 credits are required to complete the degree, and a minimum of 48 credits must be earned through the U of A. Courses are accessible through the Blackboard learning management system and are designed to be completed on a flexible schedule. While students may be required to log in at set times for some courses, they primarily work independently. Those interested in applying must have fewer than 75 college credits. First-year applicants can apply by submitting an online application, high school transcripts, and ACT or SAT scores. Transfer students with fewer than 24 credits should meet the minimum GPA (2.0 for college coursework and 3.0 for high school) and test score requirements. Transfer students with more than 24 credits and a minimum GPA of 2.0 are automatically accepted. Prospective students that don't meet these standards will still be considered.

#6 Rowan University

  • Annual Tuition: $12,103
  • Median Salary: $110,500
  • Locations: Glassboro (NJ)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies - Humanities/Social Science program is for individuals who need a flexible way to finish their degrees as they balance work and home responsibilities. Students must have already completed at least 24 college credits (45 are recommended) in order to enroll in this 120-credit program. The liberal studies major includes 39 credits of asynchronous online coursework combined from the Philosophy and Religion Studies majors and the PR in the Workplace program. The result is a curriculum that helps equip students with skills in analysis, decision-making, communication, and cultural sensitivity, helping to prepare them for leadership roles in a variety of work settings. The courses are eight weeks long, and students may start in the fall, spring, or summer sessions. Full-time students can complete the program in seven semesters. To apply to this program, students must submit an online application form (fee applies), transcripts from all colleges attended (minimum of 2.0 GPA is required), and a resume. After acceptance, students meet with an academic advisor to formulate a success plan; these advisors provide support to students throughout the duration of the program. Other campus services include career development, tutoring, and disability services.

#7 Southeast Missouri State University

  • Annual Tuition: $9,000
  • Median Salary: $105,167
  • Locations: Cape Girardeau (MO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Individuals seeking a flexible way to complete their undergraduate degree as they balance responsibilities at work and home have two options at Southeast Missouri State University: the Bachelor of General Studies and the Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies. Both programs are offered 100% online in an asynchronous format as classes are facilitated by the same award-winning professors who teach the on-campus programs. These online liberal studies degree programs allow students to design a plan of study that aligns with their personal and professional goals. In the Bachelor of General Studies program, students often choose a minor to help further specialize their education, while in the Bachelor of Science program, students choose two to four areas of specialized study. Both programs allow for hands-on experience with internships and clinical practicums. Students have access to opportunities such as study abroad programs and career services. Prospective students must have completed less than 75 credits to be admitted to either program. To apply, students may use the Common App or apply online; a paper application is also available.

#8 University of Louisiana-Lafayette

  • Annual Tuition: $11,198
  • Median Salary: $104,957
  • Locations: Lafayette (LA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The Bachelor of General Studies program at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette allows students to complete their undergraduate degree completely online. There are three concentrations to choose from — Arts and Humanities, Behavioral Science, and Applied Science. Students are able to take classes in a wide variety of subject areas, allowing them to customize this liberal arts degree online program in a way that supports their personal and academic goals. Graduates of the program will have the education and skills necessary to pursue career opportunities in a variety of fields. The program is facilitated during the traditional semester format (16 weeks), with courses offered in the fall, spring, summer, and winter intercessions. Though this program is offered completely online, the University of Louisiana-Lafayette is not authorized by all 50 states — students must confirm that their home state will allow them to enroll. To be considered, students must have earned at least 45 credits either at another school or in another program at UL Lafayette. The minimum GPA required of transfer students is 2.25, while UL Lafayette students need a 1.5 GPA for re-entry to the school. Students can apply with an online application.

#9 University of Missouri

  • Annual Tuition: $11,622
  • Median Salary: $100,450
  • Locations: Columbia (MO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Missouri offers two online liberal studies degree completion programs: the Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies and the Bachelor of General Studies. The programs feature asynchronous courses that are 8 to 16 weeks in length. Students have up to six months to complete each class, providing even greater flexibility in studies. The core classes cover a wide range of topics, including arts and science, and students choose from two to three areas of specialization. The BA in Interdisciplinary Studies program has a 12–13 credit foreign language requirement. To transfer into the General Studies program, students need to have completed at least 66 credits, while transfer students applying to the Interdisciplinary Studies program need at least 85 credits. Both online Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree programs require 120 credits to graduate. Online students have access to many campus services, including academic advising, military and veteran support, and disability services. To apply to either program at the University of Missouri, students must submit an online application with transcripts from their previous schools.

#10 Mount Saint Mary's University - CA

  • Annual Tuition: $41,592
  • Median Salary: $111,200
  • Locations: Los Angeles (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

The Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts at Mount Saint Mary’s University – CA is designed for individuals who wish to explore careers in a variety of different industries in the public or private sectors. It is also ideal for those who want to pursue law school or graduate studies in the humanities, social sciences, or public administration fields. Classes in this liberal arts degree online program are taught in an asynchronous format so that students can achieve a work-life balance as they earn their degrees. Students can also choose a blended on-campus/online format if they prefer. The curriculum features a 50-credit general studies core, which includes classes in communications, critical thinking, foreign language/culture, and philosophy and religion. The liberal arts major consists of 34-36 core credits and 44 elective credits in the arts, humanities, and social sciences, including art, music, anthropology, history, political science. A total of 124 credits are needed to complete the degree. Online students have access to campus resources such as academic and career advising, library databases, and more. Prospective students should apply online with their transcripts from high school or previously attended colleges.

#11 Jacksonville State University

  • Annual Tuition: $11,310
  • Median Salary: $96,000
  • Locations: Jacksonville (AL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The Bachelor of Arts in Integrated Studies at Jacksonville State University is an option for those who wish to earn their college degree while they balance work, family life, and other commitments. This asynchronous online program is suited for both first-time college students and those who are returning to school. The 120-credit curriculum is multidisciplinary and allows students to create a plan of study that will align with their own academic and professional interests. Graduates of the program will receive a broad-based education that will help them develop skills in critical thinking, research, and interpersonal communication, which they can apply to career opportunities in a variety of industries. Like their on-campus counterparts, students have access to a range of student services and resources, including academic and career advising, counseling, tutoring and writing support, disability services, and more. To apply to this online Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree program, prospective students should fill out the online application and submit transcripts from previously attended schools.

#12 University of Virginia

  • Annual Tuition: $13,260
  • Median Salary: $96,500
  • Locations: Charlottesville (VA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Virginia is a program for adult learners seeking a flexible way to return to college to finish their degrees. Several program concentrations are available, including one in the Liberal Arts. Students transfer to this 120-credit online liberal studies degree program in their third year and must complete 60 credits at UVA in order to graduate. The curriculum is facilitated through online evening classes for working professionals; some classes are offered in an asynchronous format. Students typically take two to three classes each fall, spring, and summer and graduate in three to four years. A two-semester capstone course allows students to pursue a research project of their choice, under the guidance of a faculty mentor. Academic advising, career development, and library resources are among the campus services available to online students at UVA. Prospective students should apply online, though they can also have their transcripts reviewed first by a pre-admission advisor, who can provide guidance on completing a strong application.

#13 California State University - Fullerton

  • Annual Tuition: $7,650
  • Median Salary: $93,075
  • Locations: Fullerton (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

The Bachelor of Arts in Humanities and Social Sciences at California State University- Fullerton is an online degree completion program geared toward adult learners. The wide-ranging curriculum enables students to hone their communication, critical thinking, research, and analysis skills — all of which are valued by employers in a variety of fields. The asynchronous online program is 51 credits; students must have at least 69 credits ready to transfer. Students have access to services, including academic support and advising. To be considered for this online Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree program, students must have a 2.5 GPA or higher, be in good standing at their former school, and fulfill one of the following requirements: an associate degree for transfer, a California State University General Education Breadth/Completion Certificate, or at least 48 CSU credits, including the “Golden Four” requirements with C grades or higher. Prospective students should request an advising appointment as they start the application for guidance through the process.

#14 University of Alaska Fairbanks

  • Annual Tuition: $8,877
  • Median Salary: $91,500
  • Locations: Fairbanks (AK) (and 1 other)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

Students who want a flexible way to finish their college degree can do so at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The Bachelor of Arts and the Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary General Studies are ideal options for adult learners who want a broad education that can be applied to a variety of fields and sectors. Both asynchronous online liberal studies degree programs allow students to keep their options open instead of committing to a specific major. For those who want to focus further, there is a goal-specific option that requires a capstone experience with the support of faculty members from at least two disciplines. Otherwise, students may opt for the General Studies concentration that offers the most flexibility in completing the degree. Online students at the University of Alaska Fairbanks have access to services and resources like academic advising, career counseling, library tools and databases, tutoring and academic support, and more. To apply for either program, prospective students must submit an online application with transcripts from previously attended schools; first-time college students must also submit SAT or ACT scores.

#15 The University of Montana

  • Annual Tuition: $21,600
  • Median Salary: $96,075
  • Locations: Missoula (MT)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

The online Bachelor of Arts in Art at the University of Montana allows creative-minded students to complete their college education in a flexible online format. While the curriculum focuses on art and design, it also encourages skill-building in communication and analysis that can be applied to other fields. Graduates of this program have pursued careers in art and other fields such as business, nonprofits, and science. Students must complete a capstone project in their final year, which can include anything from art exhibitions to videos to multimedia presentations. This fully online art program consists of 120 credits; students must complete 60 credits in the School of Art, and the others can come from the general education curriculum. Services available to online students include career development, academic support, disability services, and more. To apply to the University of Montana, students must complete an online application and submit high school transcripts or college transcripts if they are transfer students. First-time college students must also submit ACT or SAT scores for consideration.

#16 University of Kansas

  • Annual Tuition: $11,916
  • Median Salary: $90,008
  • Locations: Lawrence (KS)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The Bachelor of General Studies in Liberal Arts and Sciences degree at the University of Kansas allows students to study a broad range of subjects in the arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences. This asynchronous online liberal studies degree program offers more than a dozen academic disciplines from which to choose, allowing students to customize their education to match their career goals. The BGS program is highly flexible, making it suitable for students who want to build a broad base of skills or enhance a technical degree or certificate they already earned. Students must complete 120 credits to receive the degree. Eligible students may join the honors program to challenge themselves academically. Although the online format does allow for more convenient study, the academic rigor of this program matches its on-campus counterpart. Online students have access to campus services like academic advising and library resources. To apply to the University of Kansas, students must submit an online application with their transcripts and ACT or SAT scores; the score requirement may be waived for transfer students with 24 or more approved credits.

#17 California State University-Chico

  • Annual Tuition: $5,742
  • Median Salary: $87,513
  • Locations: Chico (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

For students who wish to obtain a multidisciplinary college education, California State University- Chico offers two options: the Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies and the Bachelor of Arts in Social Science. Both are degree completion programs that provide flexibility for students who want to return to school. The BA in Liberal Studies is suited for students who wish to become K-8 or special education teachers. This asynchronous online program is offered through the School of Education; students will be able to apply for certification when they graduate. The BA in Social Science has two options for students to customize their experience: the Multidisciplinary Studies track and the Specialization Studies track, in which online students can choose from either sociology or career and life planning. Online students have access to services such as library resources and career and academic advising. To apply to either of these programs, students must submit an online application (a fee applies) through Cal State Apply and submit their transcripts from high school or college (transfer students).

#18 University of North Alabama

  • Annual Tuition: $10,500
  • Median Salary: $88,900
  • Locations: Florence (AL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

At the University of North Alabama, students wishing for a broad college education in the liberal arts and sciences have two options: the Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies and the Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies. The BA program has a humanities focus, while the BS is suited for those wishing to prepare for career opportunities or advanced study in the STEM field. Students in both asynchronous online programs must complete general education coursework and choose an area of concentration. These areas of specialization include Arts, Business, Health, Humanities, Organizational Leadership, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Technology, and Women’s Studies. Students may also opt for the applied entrepreneurship track, in which students can apply technical training to their degree. A three-course sequence involving research and a project is required for graduation; students conduct research under faculty supervision. In addition to academic advising, online students can take advantage of other campus resources like career development and library databases. To apply for either program, students must fill out an online application and submit their transcripts from high school or any previous college attended.

#19 Excelsior College

  • Annual Tuition: $15,300
  • Median Salary: $90,700
  • Locations: Albany (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Excelsior College offers two online programs that offer a broad liberal arts education that will prepare graduates for a range of career paths: the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts. The BA curriculum focuses more on the humanities. A capstone research course that focuses on critical thinking, diversity, ethics, and communication is required for graduation. The BS focuses more on the STEM field and offers concentrations in Logistics and Operations Management, Population Health, and Professional and Technical Writing. Both of the asynchronous online degree programs require 120 credits. Students can transfer up to 113 credits of previous coursework and military experience into the BA program. Students in the BS program can take UExcel exams to earn credit faster. Online students have access to a variety of student services, including military/veteran assistance, career development, and academic support. To apply to either program at Excelsior, students must fill out an online application and submit all transcripts from previous schools.

#20 Liberty University

  • Annual Tuition: $11,700
  • Median Salary: $88,100
  • Locations: Lynchburg (VA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

At Liberty University, adult learners can return to school to finish their Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies degree. This 120-credit program allows students to complete a broad education in the liberal arts and sciences, including classes in the arts, humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. It is facilitated completely online in an asynchronous format, and students can transfer in up to 75% of college credits from a previous program. Other academic options in the liberal arts and sciences at Liberty University include the Bachelor of Science in History, the Bachelor of Science in Government (concentration is available in Politics and Policy), and the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (concentration is available in Green and Sustainable Management). Students enrolled in the online liberal studies degree programs at Liberty have access to a variety of services and resources, including academic advising, counseling services, the online writing center, and more. Applicants must have a 2.0 GPA or higher and submit school transcripts with their online application (the fee is charged only on admission).

#21 University of Toledo

  • Annual Tuition: $17,573
  • Median Salary: $90,050
  • Locations: Toledo (OH)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Toledo offers online programs for adult learners to return to college and finish their degrees. There are three program options for students interested in a multidisciplinary education that allows them to seek employment in a variety of fields: the Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in University Studies and the Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies. Students in the University Studies program confer with an academic advisor to create a personalized plan of study that aligns with their interests and goals. Students take online seminars and can finish the coursework on their schedules. All three online degree programs allow students to advance in their programs faster by applying previous credit, work, or military experience, or by testing out of classes. Students will typically finish these programs in two years. A success coach and technical support are available to help them at any time during the program. To apply, students must submit an online application with their transcripts. Adult learners 25 and older are not required to submit test scores.

#22 University of Kentucky

  • Annual Tuition: $17,100
  • Median Salary: $89,729
  • Locations: Lexington (KY)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of Kentucky offers students returning to college to complete their degree a flexible option of online study: the Bachelor of Liberal Studies. This online liberal studies degree program provides students with a foundation in the liberal arts and sciences, allowing them to pursue entry-level career opportunities in various fields and advanced studies at the graduate level. Students in the program learn communication and cultural sensitivity and gain skills in analysis, research, and decision-making. Adult learners balancing school with work and personal responsibilities can start this asynchronous online program during one of three session starts: fall, spring, or summer. They will have access to campus tools and resources, including academic advising, career development, and technical support for the duration of their program. Students can finish the program in as few as 2.5 years. Applicants must have completed at least 45 credits and submit an online application with transcripts for consideration.

#23 West Texas A&M University

  • Annual Tuition: $7,953
  • Median Salary: $85,567
  • Locations: Canyon (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The Bachelor of General Studies at West Texas A&M University is designed for students looking for an individualized degree program that will help them meet their unique personal and career goals. This program offers a foundation in a variety of disciplines within the broad liberal arts and sciences curriculum. The program is appropriate for both first-year students and transfer students. Up to 81 credits can be transferred into West Texas A&M, allowing transfers to earn their degree within about two years. While all coursework is completed online, students and their advisors meet on campus during the semester. This allows remote students to forge a connection to the school. Resources for online students include library and career services. Scholarships are available for transfer students who enroll full-time. Students who do not meet the minimum GPA of 2.0 or other admission requirements will be considered on a case-by-case basis. All prospective students are encouraged to apply using the ApplyTexas online application process.

#24 Youngstown State University

  • Annual Tuition: $15,006
  • Median Salary: $87,800
  • Locations: Youngstown (OH)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The online Bachelor of General Studies at Youngstown State University offers a way for adult learners with an associate degree to complete their undergraduate education. Coursework covers a breadth of subjects in the arts, sciences, humanities, and social sciences, giving students a strong foundation with which to pursue careers and advanced studies in a variety of fields. In addition to completing the core requirements, students must choose two focus areas of study, one of which is covered by an associate degree already earned. Students must also complete classes in foreign language and diversity, and a capstone course is required to graduate. At the full-time level, students can finish the 60-credit online liberal studies program in four semesters. Online students at Youngstown State University have access to campus resources like academic and career advising and disability services. To apply, students must fill out an online application and submit college transcripts indicating a GPA of 2.0 or higher.

#25 Northern Illinois University

  • Annual Tuition: $11,146
  • Median Salary: $85,910
  • Locations: Dekalb (IL)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The Bachelor of General Studies program at Northern Illinois University is designed for adult students looking to return to college to finish their degrees in a way that is convenient for their busy schedules. Students who have already earned an Associate of Arts or an Associate of Science degree are ready for this program. The 100% online curriculum (asynchronous format) allows students to take classes throughout the College of Arts and Sciences, such as literature, psychology, foreign language, and more. Online students are granted access to various campus resources, including library services, career development, academic support and advising, disability services, and technical assistance. Graduates of the program may pursue career opportunities in a wide variety of industries, including education, business, and human resources, as well as graduate-level studies. Sessions start in the fall, spring, and summer. To apply to this online program, students must submit an online application (there is a fee) with their transcripts. No test scores are required, but students may need to provide other supporting documentation for consideration.

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 as well as the courses you'll take and the careers you can pursue after graduation.

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 this program 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 this program 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. For the most part, 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.

Still undecided on your major? Check out some of the best online degrees in liberal studies subjects: history, philosophy, English, and art.

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.

Diversity Studies

All liberal arts majors study diversity on a broad spectrum, including its impact and implications on a national and global level. Various cultures are explored in this course as well as the political and social factors that come into play when aiming for a more diverse and inclusive society. Diversity studies courses also introduce students to the concepts of ethnic identity, queer identity, and feminism.

Ethics

Courses in ethics introduce the concept of morality, as well as how different populations and cultures decide what is right or wrong. The theory of value (goodness vs. badness) is studied during this course, along with the dueling concepts of virtue and vice. Liberal arts students will walk away from this course with a better understanding of people's ethical boundaries as well as the cultural and social factors that decide them.

Global Cybersecurity

This course imparts knowledge about cybersecurity and its importance on the global stage. Students learn how governments and societies use cybersecurity to protect their data and interests, as well as how they use technology to accomplish strategic goals. Other topics covered include how cybersecurity is used to monitor populations, both for virtuous and nefarious purposes.

Philosophy

Liberal arts students also study philosophy, both at a beginning and intermediate level. 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.

While curriculum may vary from school to school, common courses in a liberal arts program aim to impart an extensive amount of knowledge that can apply to professional life.

What Is a BA in Liberal Studies Good For?

An online bachelor's degree in liberal studies can lead to rewarding careers in a number of fields. Here are some of the jobs you may pursue with this degree after completing this program at the bachelor's level:

Editors

Annual Median Salary: $63,350
Job Growth: -5%

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

Annual Median Salary: $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

Annual Median Salary: $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

Annual Median Salary: $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

Annual Median 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 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 Liberal Arts Major Career Makes the Most Money?

How much you can earn with an online liberal arts degree will depend on where you live, how much experience you have, and the exact field you find work in. However, it's important to note that some careers for liberal studies majors tend to pay higher salaries than others.

The chart below is based on the annual mean wages reported by the BLS:

The Highest-paying Jobs for Liberal Arts Majors Nationwide

Career Median Annual Salary (May of 2021)
Marketing Managers $153,440
Sales Managers $143,290
Purchasing Managers $134,590
Administrative Services Managers $113,030
Sales Representatives $102,750
Credit Analysts $88,030
Financial Specialists $87,350
Technical Writers $81,470
Writers and Authors $81,120
Insurance Underwriters $79,940

Benefits of a Liberal Studies Degree

There are several benefits one can gain from an online liberal arts degree, including the unique perspective one acquires when learning about important issues that impact our world. For example, liberal studies degrees help people understand different cultures and ethnicities, which can lead to better relationships and more empathy for others.

A bachelor's degree in liberal studies can also help people get their foot in the door in any number of important fields, at which point they can grow their base of knowledge as they gain more experience.

Many careers that can begin with a liberal studies degree also see high levels of job satisfaction overall. For example, according to CareerExplorer's surveys asking how much people enjoy their jobs, editors experience a high level of job satisfaction, and that authors experience some of the highest levels of job satisfaction of all careers combined.

This being said, there are some downsides that come with pursuing a liberal arts degree online as well. For example, this degree is not tied to a specific field or career, so you may have to try a few jobs before you find a profession you truly love.

Bottom Line

As you search for the best online liberal arts degree program that fits your your needs, you'll want to make sure you're only comparing accredited schools and programs. This step can help you ensure your online degree is respected and that you'll receive the highest quality education money can buy.

Speaking of money, you'll also want to compare financial aid opportunities that can help you pay for your online degree, including scholarships you can apply for and student loans that can fill in the gaps. With some research and comparison shopping, you can find a liberal arts program that is both fulfilling and affordable.

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