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Liberal Arts Degrees

The complete guide on what you’ll learn, job prospects, university programs, and saving time and money.
on June 30, 2020

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  • $64,910
    Potential Avg. Salary*

* Salary & growth data is based on the recent Bureau of Labor and Statistics data published at https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes273041.htm for 27-3041 Editors 11/2021. Based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary.

A bachelor of liberal arts degree is a unique program of study that allows students to design their own educational curriculum. Though general education courses are often required, there are no required courses for major coursework. Students work with a faculty advisor to select courses based on specific career goals that fall outside of the offerings of other available college programs and majors.

What is a Degree in Liberal Arts?

Imagine that your career goal was to become a writer, but not just any writer. You want to become a writer that lives among different societies and cultures, writing fiction novels, nonfiction magazine articles, and anthropological research studies. What degree should you pursue? English, history, anthropology, cultural studies, and journalism all seem applicable, but choosing just one will certainly be limiting. Instead, you could pursue a more general degree in liberal arts and study all of the subjects.

A bachelor of liberal arts is a special degree that is designed by a student and his/her faculty advisor. Based on your career goals—and assuming those goals wouldn’t be fully satisfied with a different available major—you can choose to create your own program and take courses that provide the exact knowledge you need to succeed in a unique career. Liberal arts degrees feature coursework from a wide range of subjects, including writing, history, sociology, anthropology, art, and literature, among others.

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What Courses Would I Take For a Major in Liberal Arts?

  • English Composition
  • Contemporary Fiction
  • Art History
  • Social Problems
  • Public Speaking
  • Introductory Philosophy
  • Foreign Language
  • Political Science

What Jobs Can You Get with a Degree in Liberal Arts?

A bachelor of liberal arts allows you to design your own degree program, so it doesn’t lead to any specific career. However, the skills gained in any general college educational program provide students with the communication and reasoning skills needed to succeed in a variety of roles within the field of business. Graduates who are unable to find work in the career of their first choice may be able to become effective marketers, office managers, editors, public relations professionals, or journalists.

How Long does it take?

A bachelors in Liberal Arts will have a typical length of 4 years in a full time schedule. That said, there are many ways to speed up the timeframe by either taking more units via online coursework, community college, or taking free classes at OnlineDegree.com that could transfer to universities in the US.

Online Liberal Arts Degree

Studying liberal arts is a preferred choice for many adults who have already started their careers. These students are usually looking for expanding their knowledge and skills rather than learning to start a new career. Liberal arts programs are perfectly suited to this target with the multidiscipline subjects and the method of education. Accordingly, many liberal arts programs are available in part time schedules, evening classes or weekend classes. Online liberal arts study programs are also available which are more suitable to students who need flexible schedules. Students can earn a bachelor degree in 4 years after completing around 120 credit hours of study. Most online programs are more focused on theoretical or humanities majors as public administration, social work, history, anthropology and English.

If you already a bachelor degree in liberal arts or a related field, you may choose to join a graduate program. Online master’s programs require completing around 40 credit hours, delivering a seminar and a thesis project to earn the degree. There are also some online programs that offer the Doctor of Liberal Arts (DLA) degree. Studying liberal arts can also be more affordable taking into consideration the scholarships available for the students.


What Can You Do With a Liberal Arts Degree?

Liberal arts educational programs have a wide scope of study compared to other academic programs that have principally vocational, professional, or technical focus. Studying liberal arts provides the advantage of building the connections between the various studies. Students will have the overall picture when dealing with a certain topic or issue which can also be as important as having a specialization. Liberal arts studies are also available in high school. It is also available in colleges in Europe, Asia and Australia.

Many students can initially find it challenging as they need to study completely different subjects. However, it helps students to significantly improve their knowledge and skills. They will have an overview of topics that are not available for other students who have a very narrow focus on certain topics.

What would a Liberal Arts student typically learn?

Initially, liberal arts consisted of 7 subjects that were considered essential for all free people which are Grammar, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. Current liberal arts programs consist of four areas: natural areas, social sciences, arts and humanities. There is wide range of courses to study in a liberal arts program that fall into the four main categories. Students are expected to complete courses in all of the four ranges:

  1. Humanities: Modern Languages, English Literature, Philosophy and History
  2. Social Sciences: Anthropology, Political Science, Geography, Economics and Sociology
  3. Creative Arts: Speech, Theatre, Fine Art and Creative Writing
  4. Sciences: Biology, Physics, Chemistry and Astronomy

Courses in liberal arts colleges are usually offered in Socratic educational method which depends on cooperative argumentative dialogue aiming at stimulating critical thinking and ideas.

Students usually chose a major for their studies from large number of options: finance, anthropology, biology, chemistry, economics, English, geology, history, linguistics, mathematics and psychology. Additionally, students in liberal arts programs study Latin and Ancient Greek.

I’ve got the Liberal Arts Degree… what can I do for work after graduating?

Unlike vocational, professional or technical programs, liberal arts programs focus more on the education rather than preparing the students for specific jobs or careers. This does not mean that liberal arts graduates do not have any job opportunities. On the contrary, they have skills that are vital for all employers and make them great candidates for a variety of job. For example, the following are some options for the students but the real list is far more than this:

  1. Advertising: graduates of liberal arts programs enjoy creative skills that are based on solid knowledge and are thus good candidates for jobs in marketing or public relations.
  2. Law enforcement: FBI and CIA agents are required in some positions to have a foreign language degree which can be fulfilled by studying liberal arts with a major in a foreign language.
  3. Education: liberal arts graduates are excellent candidates to be hired as teachers in public or private schools but they also need to complete certification program and student teacher training.
  4. Finance: studying liberal arts with a major in finance, economics or math qualifies you as a good candidate for jobs in banks, stock markets or other financial organizations.

Should I Choose a Liberal Arts Degree?

If you are passionate about learning but you do not have specific choices regarding what to learn or your future career options, then studying liberal arts is a good choice for you. These programs focus on the education process and developing skills more than the professional or vocational approach. It provides what some call it learning “how to learn”. This is becoming more attractive in the rapidly changing world. Currently, jobs disappear and new jobs appear at increasing rate which gives the advantage to students with fast and versatile learning skills. Studying Liberal Arts helps you gain a group of skills that are highly required by the job market:

  1. Effective communication skills and appreciation of cultural differences
  2. Soft skill as critical thinking and problem solving
  3. Research and information retrieval
  4. Learning and developing new ideas

In short, the main advantage of liberal arts education is the diversity of career options available for the students.

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Best Jobs for Liberal Arts Degrees

Ideally, the design of your bachelor of liberal studies program leads to a very specific career you plan to pursue. However, your degree won’t limit you to that specific career. BLA program graduates have the communication and reasoning skills to success in a variety of careers. They may work in galleries or museums, lead adult education courses, take on digital marketing projects, or work as book editors.


How to save time and money

Our mission is to help you to avoid paying full price for college. We want your Liberal Arts degree to be affordable and accessible. Here’s how you could save:

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About the Author
Grant founded OnlineDegree.com with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.

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