Online Liberal Arts Degree Programs

Find information on online liberal arts degree programs, including those at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Continue reading to learn about course topics, concentrations and program formats. Schools offering Liberal Arts degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Do Liberal Arts Studies Entail?

Liberal arts is generally defined as an academic field of inquiry encompassing numerous subjects related to arts and sciences. There is some divergence as to whether certain subjects - generally those related to the physical sciences or business, such as economics - fall under the heading of liberal arts. The University of Texas - Arlington reports that social sciences and humanities subjects are almost always considered liberal arts fields by educational institutions (www.uta.edu). Examples include philosophy, English, art history, cultural and gender studies, political science, literature, language and anthropology.

In most cases, the liberal arts degree programs detailed in this article include courses in all of these areas. Some do expand their definition of liberal arts to include topics like economics, law and environmental science. You'll likely be required to take elective courses in most of the areas listed above.

Undergraduate Concentrations Literature, anthropology, political science, gender studies, art history
Undergraduate School Courses Sociology, ethics, race relations, film, legal studies
Graduate School Courses Political change, cultural perspectives, global ecology, human rights
Online Technology Requirement A computer with Internet connectivity that meets the hardware and software specifications set by the institution

What Will I Learn in an Online Bachelor's Degree Program?

In many online liberal arts bachelor's degree programs, you'll begin your studies with general core courses in relevant topics like professional psychology, foundations of multidisciplinary study and organizational communication. You'll also take numerous foundational classes in core areas of the liberal arts discipline; examples include journalism, film, sociology, politics, rhetorical speech, literature, legal studies and ethics. Course curricula also leave some room for liberal arts electives, which can include more specific topics like:

  • Communication technologies
  • Race relations
  • Geographic sociology
  • History of political parties
  • Renaissance art
  • Gerontology

Because of the broad-based nature of the liberal arts discipline, many schools require undergraduate liberal arts majors to declare an area or concentration. You'll still be required to take courses in all the liberal arts areas discussed above, but the largest chunk of your required coursework will be in your specialization. Requirements differ from school to school; some programs expect you to select multiple concentrations, for instance. Some programs' available specializations are subject-oriented, such as art history or women's studies, while others are issue-oriented, such as diversity, globalism and leadership.

Some online learning institutions offer liberal arts degree completion programs in lieu of full, traditional bachelor's degree programs. A degree completion program may be ideal if you're a transfer student, or if you have an associate's degree in a liberal arts subject. In most cases, you must have a minimum of 30-40 credit hours of college-level coursework under your belt in to qualify for a degree completion program.

What Will I Learn in an Online Master's Degree Program?

Rather than offering preparation for a specific professional career, most online master's degree programs in liberal arts are designed to enhance your knowledge of different cultural perspectives in the arts and sciences. To this end, master's programs generally require completion of courses in many of the same areas as undergraduate programs. These courses - often available as electives - might include topics like political science, philosophy, mass media and sociology.

Master's degree programs may place a conceptual emphasis on globalization and global awareness. As such, you'll be required to take numerous core courses in topics like global ecology, worldwide cultural perspectives, foundations of political change and human rights.

If you have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, you're eligible to apply to an online master's degree program in liberal arts. Your degree does not have to be in the arts or sciences. While exact degree requirements differ from one institution to the next, you generally will need to complete between 30 and 35 credit hours worth of liberal arts coursework. As with the undergraduate programs detailed above, the allotted time period you'll have in which to complete your graduation requirements will generally be flexible.

How Do Online Programs Work?

As a student in an online degree program, you can complete all your required coursework with nothing more than a computer, an Internet connection and perhaps some Windows or Adobe software for creating and viewing documents. Lectures, readings, assignments, exams and virtual class discussions are transmitted or conducted through online teaching and learning platforms like Blackboard Vista or WebCT.

Some lectures are presented in the form of written documents, while others are delivered via streaming video files. You can access lectures and other course materials at your convenience; you'll still adhere to due dates for assignments and exams. Course delivery systems typically have e-mail, chat and message board functions, allowing you to communicate with your professors and fellow students just as you would in an on-campus program.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:

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