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Depending on where you live and whether it’s an election year, you may not want to talk about “Liberal Studies.” But that doesn’t mean liberal studies isn’t well worth talking about. Liberal studies – part of the liberal arts and humanities – is a misunderstood major and an even more misunderstood term. So what even is Liberal Studies, and what is a Liberal Studies Degree?

Generally, liberal studies or liberal arts encompass several disciplines aimed at giving someone a broad education that includes studies in subjects like humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, the arts, and various other things that can help someone move toward any field.

In this way, when asking what is liberal studies, it’s easy to see it’s something of a jack-of-all-trades curriculum. Nevertheless, the degree can go far deeper than that.

Most Popular Schools with Online Liberal Studies Degree Programs

In-Demand Careers for Online Accredited Liberal Arts & Humanities Degrees

OccupationsJob OpeningsMedian SalaryTypical Entry Level Education
Child, Family, and School Social Workers36,900$51,030Bachelor’s degree
Clergy27,500$55,190Bachelor’s degree
Healthcare Social Workers22,200$59,300Master’s degree
Directors, Religious Activities and Education20,900$50,490Bachelor’s degree
Librarians and Media Collections Specialists14,700$61,920Master’s degree
Community and Social Service Specialists, All Other13,300$46,900Master’s degree
Writers and Authors12,800$73,860Bachelor’s degree
Interpreters and Translators9,800$57,000Bachelor’s degree
Life, Physical, and Social Science Technicians, All Other9,400$53,670Associate’s degree
Religious Workers, All Other8,300$39,830Bachelor’s degree
Source: 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Most Affordable Online Liberal Studies Degree Programs

What is Liberal Studies?

What does liberal studies mean? Liberal studies is an interchangeable term with liberal arts. Because of that, there’s a chance that potential applicants will come across degree types of different names which are still, technically, liberal studies degree avenues. For example, a humanities degree can also represent a liberal arts degree as humanities are, in fact, a liberal art.

However, the multidisciplinary nature of a liberal studies degree is usually the thing that makes people wonder what is a liberal studies degree or what is a liberal studies major. To put it another way, why choose a liberal studies degree when it’s possible to earn a singular liberal arts degree in one of the disciplines that make up liberal studies.

When looking at what is a degree in liberal studies, it’s important to look at the overall picture, rather than the sum of its parts. So, what is a liberal studies major? The curriculum for these degrees will consist mostly of teaching soft skills. These are skills that have far more to do with non-technical personal attributes.

Some examples of soft skills include critical thinking, the ability to network, creativity, teamwork, communication, and other interpersonal skillsets that someone can bring to bear no matter what industry or career path they choose. Several different paths can lead to developing, nurturing, and growing those skills.

Because of that, asking what is a liberal studies degree can sometimes come with several different answers. The curriculums can teach some of these soft skills, but they can also help to identify soft skills an applicant already has and wants to develop further.

One important thing to remember about these types of degrees is that they help applicants look more attractive to potential employers who look for people who excel at interpersonal skills, rather than hard skills. Still, when combined with a hard skill discipline, liberal studies can help give someone a broader, more applicable understanding of their major of choice. Because of the multidisciplinary nature of liberal studies, it’s easy to apply them to any industry or job as they aren’t limited in scope.

What Can You Do with a Liberal Studies Degree?

Jobs with a liberal studies degree are plentiful. Since the degree emphasizes soft skills and interpersonal attributes, it lends itself well to just about any career path. The communication and critical thinking skills built up and honed while earning a liberal studies degree will allow applicants to seek work in various fields.

What jobs can you get with a liberal studies degree?

  • Media
  • Communications
  • Journalism
  • Public Relations
  • Politics
  • Arts and art-related positions
  • Careers that depend on language or translation
  • Teaching and mentoring

Each of these categories contains a plethora of subcategories that a liberal arts major can also consider. Jobs with a liberal studies degree, even at the entry-level liberal studies associate degree jobs, can put someone firmly in a field of their choosing.

If someone wanted to work in a museum or art gallery, they will find these types of positions more easily attainable as they are the types of industries that look favorably on a liberal studies degree. As with most degree types, jobs with a liberal studies degree can become more niche, more senior, and pay more money depending on the level of liberal arts education.

For example, liberal studies associate degree jobs can start a career journey, but bachelor of liberal studies jobs can offer more opportunities and better compensation. A good way to see this is by looking at descriptions for jobs with a bachelors in liberal studies as compared to opportunities for lesser degrees.

If an applicant is asking what can I do with a liberal studies degree, it’s important to note that degree type matters. A bachelor in liberal studies jobs will typically offer more than an associate, but a masters degree can earn even more, even if it’s still one of the liberal studies bachelor jobs someone is applying for.

Liberal Studies Degree Types

It’s possible to pursue a liberal studies degree all the way to the doctorate level, for those who want to.

Accredited Online Associate’s Degrees in Liberal Studies

An online associate liberal studies degree arms applicants with the knowledge they need to enter any of many career fields or jobs. As a degree of higher education in general, an online associate liberal studies degree automatically puts applicants in a position to earn a higher salary than high school graduates who don’t have a degree.

Note that many jobs, even those that aren’t specifically within a liberal arts field, will want job applicants to have a degree or will choose someone with an online associate liberal studies degree over applicants who lack a degree. Some jobs that favor an online associate liberal studies degree include administrative assistants, office clerks, receptionists, staff writers, sales associates, and many other job opportunities.

Nevertheless, the associates degree also prepares students for continuing education toward a baccalaureate, where they can choose a concentration. The associates degree will work more as a general studies program from which applicants can figure out where their strengths lie.

Accredited Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Liberal Studies

An online liberal studies degree that takes the form of a bachelors will often allow liberal studies students to choose a concentration where they can focus their studies. As with other types of degrees, many applicants will choose a path of study toward bachelor of liberal studies online from the start.

A bachelors liberal studies online degree will give applicants the ability to seek higher-paying work and careers from the start and possibly skip some of the lower entry-level work they would have to take on with just an associates online liberal studies degree.

The very broad nature of what constitutes liberal studies means a bachelors of liberal studies degree online will give applicants the ability to find specializations within the degree program. Some bachelor of liberal studies jobs can include:

  • Advertising
  • Artist
  • Analysts
  • Graphic design
  • Journalist
  • Project manager
  • Teacher
  • Human resources
  • Event director

This degree also lends itself well to entrepreneurs and those who want to embark on a creative venture. Although, math and science are also part of liberal studies. Earning a liberal studies online degree can lead to a rewarding career, but it can also form the foundation for graduate studies and continuing education.

Accredited Online Master’s Degrees in Liberal Studies

 A master of liberal studies online program will heavily favor applicants who want to specialize in a specific area of the liberal arts. The curriculum of many masters in liberal studies online programs revolves around tackling a big question that requires the many disciplines of the liberal arts to answer. For example, an online liberal studies masters degree may require an applicant to take on advanced classes to solve a fundamental design problem.

Where undergraduate studies are all about learning, graduate studies are all about application. A master of arts in liberal studies online is aimed at those who want to be leaders and tackle debates or problems at a larger level. The master of liberal studies online will also typically allow applicants to tailor their degrees to their own goals and interests.

As with previous degree levels, the masters can help someone earn a better salary, do more, and play a larger role in businesses and organizations. Equally, the masters in liberal studies online can also pave the way for pursuing the highest level of academic achievement in liberal studies.

Accredited Online Doctoral Degrees in Liberal Studies

Online liberal studies doctorate programs exist, and obtaining this highest level of academic achievement in the liberal arts is a goal reserved for those who want to pursue a very specific direction in their careers. A doctorate in liberal studies online will center on an individual’s unique goals.

Online liberal studies doctorate programs are very much self-guided. Typically, doctoral students will work toward becoming post-secondary educators, advanced research fellows, or generally an expert in a particular soft science.

Because of the multidisciplinary nature of liberal studies in general, a doctorate in liberal studies online can still allow for continuing education. For example, a Ph.D. holder can still look toward education in a niche or specific area of study.

What Type of Accreditation Should a Liberal Studies Program Have?

Some programs, colleges, and universities are specifically liberal arts schools. However, because of the broad nature of liberal studies, it’s often hard to find accrediting agencies that cover the entirety of a liberal arts program. Nevertheless, accrediting agencies exist at both the regional and national levels.

Accreditation is a type of certification given to schools and programs that generally account for the quality of the education provided as well as for the quality of those who provide it. Accredited online schools for liberal studies will have high-quality standards and accredited online liberal studies degrees will garner more respect in the job market.

Different types of accreditation exist, so the accredited status is just as important as which group granted the status. The top-level and bare minimum accreditation should come from one of the six regional accrediting bodies sanctioned by the US Department of Education.

As regional accreditation typically applies to an institution as a whole, rather than for individual programs, it’s still a good place to start. There is the caveat that some accredited online schools for liberal studies may not have a physical, brick and mortar component, which means they may not have regional accreditation. This doesn’t mean the online program doesn’t have some other form of professional quality assurance from another accrediting body.

Specialized accreditation tends to focus on individual programs and curriculums, rather than the overall institution. These types of accreditation are often the most important for applicants seeking accredited online liberal studies degrees. Because liberal studies encompass so many different avenues of study, applicants can look for accreditation for the liberal studies program itself or for individual fields within the program.

If in doubt, applicants can easily look at the list of accreditations for the program, then look up those agencies to see how respected they are and what they mean for the program the applicant is considering. Beyond accreditation, applicants can also check to see if the school or program belongs to any professional or well-known associations.

Some accrediting agencies for overall liberal studies programs can include:

Many other accrediting agencies and organizations exist as well. For applicants looking for a specific path or type of liberal studies, they can also look for specific accrediting agencies. For example, if an applicant wants to pursue a concentration in music, then they should check for accreditation from a music-centric agency, such as the National Association of Schools of Music.

Are There Any Scholarships for Liberal Studies?

 Potential students of liberal arts would do well to seek out any of the numerous liberal studies scholarships that are out there. Scholarships for liberal studies exist in many forms. Once again, this is due to the multidisciplinary nature of the degree. For example, many organizations award scholarships to people pursuing studies that include media and art.

Equally, many schools offer scholarships for liberal studies majors. These liberal studies scholarships exist at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Applicants with a particular study path in mind can seek out and apply for scholarships specifically for that path of study, as well as for scholarships for liberal studies in general.

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