2023 Best Online Master of Liberal Studies Programs

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A Master of Liberal Studies degree encourages study in the humanities and sciences at an advanced level.

Best Online Master of Liberal Studies Programs

In an MA in Liberal Studies graduate program, your coursework will cover an extensive set of subjects across the humanities and social sciences to analyze current issues.

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Completing an online masters in liberal arts can help you grow your professional qualifications for a variety of positions in different industries, especially those that require critical thinking and analysis skills.

Online Master of Liberal Studies Programs

Man taking Online Master of Liberal Studies Degree

Liberal studies graduate programs foster critical thinking, analysis, writing, and research skills in a wide variety of academic disciplines.

Students in Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) programs are not typically preparing for a specific field or job. Rather, they take classes from a wide range of disciplines in order to develop intellectually. MALS programs are really designed for students who want to take an interdisciplinary approach to their education and who could benefit from such a broad education.

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As a student undertaking an online Master of Liberal Arts, or MLA degree, you will take classes from many different disciplines, including:

  • History
  • Literature
  • Economics
  • Sociology
  • Political sciences
  • Performing arts

Being able to take courses from many disciplines can result in exposure to many new ideas. Because of the flexibility the degree’s curriculum allows, you have the ability to focus on a topic or subject you enjoy from an interdisciplinary perspective.

After finishing an online masters in liberal arts, you may then be prepared to take on a wide range of jobs in many disparate occupations. For example, those who want to write for a living may pursue work as a journalist, author, copywriter, or technical writer. You could also explore the other side of the coin and work as an editor.

Graduates may also consider career paths related to communication, education, marketing, human resources, and public policy. Suffice it to say, a masters in liberal studies can help you develop valuable skills that are applicable to a wide range of fields.

Liberal Studies Careers & Salaries

Liberal Studies Careers & Salaries

Earning an MLA degree could help you grow your skill set and professional qualifications. A liberal studies program often lets you tailor your coursework to your preferred interests.

The interdisciplinary nature of the degree may allow you to have opportunities in many different industries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are some career paths, along with their median salaries, that are related to liberal studies.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers $133,380
Human Resources Managers $126,230
Political Scientists $122,510
Public Relations and Fundraising Managers $119,860
Postsecondary Teachers $79,640
Social and Community Service Managers $74,000
Writers and Authors $69,510
Editors $63,350
Survey Researchers $59,740
News Analysts, Reporters, and Journalists $48,370

The types of positions you can qualify for may depend on a number of factors, such as your prior education, work experience, chosen industry, geographic location, and potential employer.

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Overall, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects steady job growth for communications and management occupations over the next ten years.

Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Curriculum & Courses

Professionals taking Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

The curriculum for Master of Arts in Liberal Studies programs will differ between schools and even students, as you may decide to specialize in one area or take courses from different fields.

Though this is not an exhaustive list, you may find yourself taking courses like the following:

  • Social Issues Writing: You’ll learn about contemporary writing on social issues in our society and discuss them through an interdisciplinary lens.
  • Religion and Culture: This course discusses the intersection of religion and culture and the various strains of scholarship that look at topics related to this.
  • Film and Media Studies: This course examines films chosen by the instructor in order to understand critical analysis of films and the techniques used to make them.
  • Epistemology: This course overviews the western philosophical tradition of epistemological thought concerning the nature of knowledge.
  • Ethics and the Media: This course explores the intersection of ethics as it relates to media practices and the work of media professionals.
  • Comparative Ancient Philosophy: This course looks at various traditions of ancient philosophy so you can develop a comparative perspective of these traditions.
  • Legacies of Colonialism: This course is developed to examine the political, social, and economic implications of decolonization and post-colonial trends.
  • Contemporary African-American Life: This course looks at contemporary African-American culture and life and interrogates the representations of culture.
  • Behavioral Economics: This course examines behavioral economics as it relates to policy formation and implementation while asking why some policies fail.
  • Women in Victorian Literature: This course explores the role of women in Victorian literature, looking to explore representations of women and femininity in culture.

In addition to the coursework listed above, you may be required to complete a thesis or other form of research, depending on your program.

Admissions Requirements

Woman preparing requirements for Master of Liberal Studies

Generally, you can expect master in liberal arts programs to have some of these common admission requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited university
  • Personal statement
  • Resume or CV
  • Letters of recommendation from people who can attest to your qualifications
  • GRE or GMAT scores (not required by all schools)

You can look through each program’s website to understand what they require in terms of applicants. You can also contact a school’s admissions office with any questions you may have about the application process.

Accreditation

University offering Master of Liberal Studies

To ensure that the education you’ll receive in your liberal studies graduate program is of the highest quality, you may want to apply only to schools that hold regional accreditation.

Regional accreditation is a process in which a regional accrediting agency measures a university’s educational practices and services in order to see if it meets high academic standards. Earning a degree from an accredited university may be necessary for pursuing further advanced education or having your degree recognized by potential employers.

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To see if the universities you are applying to are regionally accredited, you can visit the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s website.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Master of Liberal Studies financial aid

There are many sources of funding available for qualifying students to help them pay for their graduate studies. One of the most common sources of funding is student loans from the federal government.

To see if you are eligible for federal aid, you can fill out and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Your state may have its own student aid programs you can explore. In addition, you can research and apply to scholarships to try and help fund your education.

Many employers also offer financial assistance, professional development programs, or other opportunities to help their workers further their education and training.

What Can You Do with a Masters in Liberal Studies?

Marketing Manager and his team, discussing about their project

An MA in Liberal Studies can help you grow your qualifications for various jobs that involve critical thinking, research, communication, writing, or analytical skills.

A MALS program allows you to tailor your coursework to your interests, so your curriculum and prior education may influence your career trajectory. Many graduates pursue positions within fields like public policy, education, communication, and marketing. Coupled with experience, a masters can also help you pursue advanced or leadership positions in your field.

Example career paths include writers, educators, policy analysts, editors, journalists, and specialists or managers in human resources, public relations, marketing, and social and community service.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Masters in Liberal Studies Online?

student pursuing Masters in Liberal Studies online

The time it takes to complete a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies depends on many variables. Most masters programs can be completed in 1 to 2 years with full-time study. Each program will have its own timeline for its students, and your own circumstances may affect whether you can study full-time.

If you enroll full-time and year-round in a program that requires 36 credit hours of classwork and does not require a thesis, then you may be able to complete your degree in 1 year. A thesis component will often extend your time to completion.

Is a Master of Liberal Studies Worth It?

Political Scientists discussing in a conference

Yes, a Master of Liberal Studies is worth it for many students. This degree track allows you to further your education with an interdisciplinary approach that draws from many academic disciplines. An MLS program often lets you choose courses and electives that fit your interests and preferred career path.

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Graduates can often qualify for a range of opportunities in education, communications, marketing, and public policy. A masters degree can also help you grow your qualifications for senior or leadership roles in your field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 8% job growth for management occupations over the next ten years, which is faster than average.

Universities Offering Online Master in Liberal Studies Degree Programs

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

Albertus Magnus College

Albertus Magnus College

Albert Magnus College offers a Master’s in Liberal Studies that can be earned through fully online, blended, or flex formats. Classes are 8 weeks long, and students typically take 1 to 2 classes at a time. The completion of 30 credits and a final project is required. The curriculum covers topics like society and culture.

Albertus Magnus College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University

Arizona State University offers a Master of Liberal Studies that can be earned fully online. The program requires the completion of 10 courses, for a total of 30 credit hours. Courses are attended in an asynchronous learning format, and each one is 7.5 weeks long. Courses start in the fall, spring, and summer and cover topics such as religion, health, and culture.

ASU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Fort Hays State University

Fort Hays State University

Fort Hays State University offers a Master of Liberal Studies that can be earned fully online or on campus. The program requires the completion of 10 credit hours in core courses and 21 credit hours in a concentration.

Concentrations offered include Corporate Communications, Literary Arts, Global Studies, and Political Leadership. Fort Hays State University was named one of the most affordable colleges for a Master of Liberal Studies by Liberal ArtsEDU.

FHSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Indiana University

Indiana University

Indiana University offers a fully online program for an MLS in Liberal Studies. It requires the completion of 36 credit hours and a capstone project. This project may be a traditional thesis or an applied project. Qualifying credits from IU online graduate certificates may be transferred into the MLS program. Courses typically include Humanities Seminar and Social Sciences Seminar.

Indiana University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Kent State University

Kent State University

Kent State University offers a Master of Liberal Studies that can be earned fully online. The program requires the completion of 30 credit hours and can potentially be finished in just 3 semesters. Courses start in the fall, spring, and summer. The degree has one required course option. This is typically either Liberal Studies Essay or Internship. The rest of the degree is made up of electives.

Kent State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

North Central College

North Central College

North Central College offers an MA in Liberal Studies. The program is fully online, and students move through the program with a cohort. There are typically biweekly online meetings. The program requires the completion of 30 credits and can potentially be completed in just 5 semesters. The curriculum consists of courses such as The Social Consequences of New Media.

North Central College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Rutgers University

Rutgers University

Rutgers University offers an MA in Liberal Studies. The program is fully online but provides the option to take courses on campus. The program requires the completion of 30 credits and can potentially be finished in 3 years. Rutgers University was named among the top 10 schools for liberal arts by Best Colleges.

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

Stony Brook University

Stony Brook University

Stony Brook University offers an MA in Liberal Studies that can be earned fully online or on campus. Teacher certification may also be earned through completion of the program. Most courses are offered in an asynchronous format, but some have synchronous components. Terms are 10 weeks long in the fall, spring, and summer and 3 weeks long in the winter.

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

University of Southern Indiana

University of Southern Indiana

The University of Southern Indiana offers a fully online program for an MA in Liberal Studies. Typically, 3 concentrations are offered, including Historical Inquiry and Professional Studies. Customized concentrations may also be available. The completion of 30 credits is required. Courses are either 7 or 16 weeks long, and six start dates are offered each year.

The University of Southern Indiana is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Toledo

University of Toledo

The University of Toledo offers an MA in Liberal Studies that can be earned entirely online. The completion of 33 credit hours and a thesis or project is required. Electives may be customized to better suit career goals. The University of Toledo was ranked among the best schools for online master’s degrees by Online Degrees.

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

Getting Your Master of Liberal Studies Online

student taking Master of Liberal Studies Degree online

A Master of Liberal Studies online program may open the doors to new opportunities or advancement in a range of industries and positions. Liberal studies graduates often work in education, marketing, politics, or communications.

The breadth of education a liberal arts degree provides may allow you to develop skills that are useful in a wide variety of professions and fields. MLS programs often let you tailor your coursework to your interests, and distance learning could add another element of flexibility to your educational development.

You could start exploring accredited schools today to find the online MLS program that best aligns with your schedule, interests, and goals.

Ready to start your journey?
Leon Aristeguieta
WRITTEN BY
Leon Aristeguieta
Leon is currently pursuing an M.A. in History from Florida Atlantic University. He holds both a B.A. in History and a B.S. in Communications with a concentration in Journalism from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. Leon's research interests include the Cold War in Latin America and US-Latin American relations.