Earning an Online Liberal Arts Degree Starting Your Career
If you aren't sure about your career path, and are interested in a variety of subjects and fields, an online liberal arts degree may be a good fit for you. This bachelor's degree program provides an overview of many disciplines across the arts and sciences. By choosing a general liberal arts major, you'll enjoy the flexibility of multiple career options and income potential. According to the Condition of Education 2017 report, liberal arts majors between the ages of 25 and 29 earn a median annual salary of $39,090. An online liberal arts degree can expose you to several different professional or academic passions, and can be the first step towards a rewarding career.
The Best Online Bachelor's in Liberal Arts Programs
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
UW-Whitewater currently serves over 12,500 students across two campuses and online learning centers.
The fully online bachelor of liberal studies degree consists of five required areas of study: context, skills, content, experience, and a focus area or minor. U.S. News & World Report ranked the program number 48 in the nation for online bachelor's programs.
Admission requirements include official high school transcripts proving completion of required prerequisites, optional SAT or ACT scores, and a holistic application detailing any leadership experience, community service, creativity and innovation, and special talents.
Fort Hays State University
Established in 1902, FHSU has grown to support over 15,000 students, almost 7,000 of which attend the university online.
The College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences offers a bachelor of general studies program rooted in the liberal arts. Program curriculum includes general education requirements and an area of concentration. Students can select flexible and customizable concentrations completely online.
To apply, prospective students must submit official high school transcripts proving a minimum 2.25 GPA or minimum 21 ACT or 1080 SAT scores.
Arizona State University-Skysong
ASU gained recognition from U.S. News & World Report as the nation's most innovative school. Over 27,000 students graduate from the institution annually.
ASU Online offers a fully online bachelor of arts in liberal studies program requiring 120 credits for completion. Curriculum emphasizes humanities and social sciences and consists of core education requirements and electives from more than 20 different disciplines.
Admission requirements include a high school diploma with minimum competency requirements, plus graduating in the top 25% of graduating high school class, with a minimum 3.0 GPA in competency coursework, or minimum SAT or ACT scores.
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Enacted by the North Carolina state legislature in 1891, UNCG has grown to support nearly 20,000 students annually.
UNCG's 120-credit completely online bachelor of arts in liberal and interdisciplinary studies program includes four available concentrations and requires 36 credits above the 300 level. Students can choose between humanities, social sciences, professional studies, and psychology concentrations.
Prospective students must submit official high school and college transcripts with minimum 2.0 collegiate GPA and official SAT or ACT scores.
Founded in 1888, USU currently offers 114 undergraduate degree programs, 90 master's degree programs, and 42 doctoral degree programs to almost 28,000 students.
The College of Humanities and Social Sciences offers a completely online bachelor of arts in liberal arts degree requiring 90 credit hours for completion. Resources for online students through USU include local support, study spaces, BlueZone WiFi, and testing services.
Students must apply for transfer into the program after successfully completing 45 credits of collegiate coursework with a minimum 2.5 GPA.
Emporia State University currently offers over 200 programs of study to a student body of nearly 6,000.
The Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, operating under the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, offers two fully online bachelor of interdisciplinary studies programs: bachelor of interdisciplinary studies and general studies. Students can choose one of six offered interest pathways through the interdisciplinary studies program or create their own.
Admission requirements include an online application, official transcripts showing proof of minimum 2.25 GPA, and minimum 1060 SAT or 21 ACT scores.
Sam Houston State University
SHSU currently offers over 90 bachelor's degree programs, 55 master's degree programs, and 10 doctoral degree programs to its more than 21,500 students.
The completely online bachelor of science in integrated studies program allows students to customize coursework to fit individual interests and career goals. Students can choose to complete their studies through three fully online minors and a general studies capstone course.
Students must apply for admission using Apply Texas software by submitting official transcripts and all employment information for the preceding two years.
University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
UW-Oshkosh currently supports almost 10,000 students across approximately 200 offered majors, minors, and emphases.
The completely online and accelerated bachelor of liberal studies program consists of university studies courses, core coursework, and liberal studies electives. Most classes utilize accelerated seven-week sessions to provide flexibility for working adults.
UW-Oshkosh accepts applications year-round and waives the requirement for SAT, ACT, or placement examinations. Students must complete an online application and submit high school transcripts as part of the application process.
University of Northern Iowa
Established in 1876, UNI currently operates as one of three public institutions of higher learning in Iowa and offers over 90 degree programs.
The fully online and flexible bachelor of liberal studies program appeals to a wide range of potential students. Students can complete the full degree through UNI utilizing the guided independent study option, study at local community colleges (provided they complete 30 credits or more through UNI), or complete semester-based courses to complete a degree.
To apply, students must complete 60 credits of collegiate coursework with a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA and submit official transcripts.
Northwestern State University of Louisiana
Established in 1884 in Natchitoches, Louisiana, NSU offers a full range of undergraduate and graduate degrees for prospective students.
The eNSU Global Campus offers a completely online bachelor of arts in liberal arts degree requiring 120 credits for completion. Curriculum consists of 12 credits of foreign language, 15 credits of lower-level electives, 27 hours of upper-level electives, 26 credits of concentration area studies, and 40 credits of general education requirements.
Admission requirements include an online application, SAT or ACT scores, official high school transcripts, immunization records, and selective service registration.
Oregon State currently offers more than 200 academic programs across two physical campuses, online learning opportunities, 11 schools and colleges, and 12 experiment stations.
Oregon State's eCampus offers a fully online bachelor of arts or bachelor of science in liberal studies degree requiring 180 quarter-credits for completion at a cost of $330 per credit. The institution offers a liberal transfer credit program, but students must complete a minimum of 45 of the final 75 credits through Oregon State.
Prospective students must submit official transcripts, a personal statement, and an essay as part of the holistic admission process.
Founded in 1858, the Cyclones of Iowa State currently offer over 100 majors across 10 schools and colleges.
ISU's Liberal Arts and Sciences Online Department offers a completely online bachelor of liberal studies degree requiring courses from a minimum of three areas of distribution. Students can transfer up to three-fourths of required credits into the degree completion program.
Applicants must attain an associate in arts or associate in science degree or complete 60 semester credits with a minimum 2.0 GPA prior to applying to the program. To apply, prospective students will submit all official transcripts for completed education.
Established in 1866, KU has grown to support approximately 28,500 students across five campuses and online learning opportunities.
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers a completely online bachelor of general studies in liberal arts and sciences degree completion program. Students must complete 30 of 45 junior and senior credits through KU, which will go toward the required 120 total credits for degree completion. Graduates must also maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA throughout the program.
Prospective students will submit an online application and official transcripts and must hold a minimum of 60 transferrable credits with a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA prior to applying.
University of Missouri-St Louis
The Tritons of UMSL currently host more than 16,000 students across 10 schools and colleges.
UMSL offers a completely online bachelor of liberal studies degree completion program with 11 available areas of concentration. The program offers students the flexibility to tailor coursework to their interests and schedule. Students can choose from 155 online course offerings to complete their degree at their own pace.
Admission requirements include an online application and associated fee, plus official transcripts from all previous collegiate education.
Colorado State University-Fort Collins
Fort Collins, CO
The Rams of CSU have grown to support over 300 academic paths through eight schools and colleges.
The bachelor of arts in interdisciplinary liberal arts degree requires 120 credits for completion. Students must complete 42 credits of upper-division coursework and 30 credits minimum through CSU. Students will also complete a capstone requirement in their senior year.
To apply, prospective students should submit official transcripts for proof of high school diploma or equivalent, required mathematics prerequisite, and minimum 2.0 GPA.
Eastern Oregon University
Founded in 1929 as a teacher's college, EOU currently supports nearly 3,000 students across more than 37 programs of study.
The online bachelor of science or bachelor of arts in interdisciplinary studies degree requires 180 quarter-credits for completion at a cost of $265 per credit. Students can choose from three customizable degree paths and can transfer up to 135 credits into the program.
Prospective applicants must submit official high school and college transcripts with proof of a minimum 2.75 high school GPA and 2.25 collegiate GPA. Additional requirements include GED scores, if applicable.
University of Illinois at Springfield
Established in 1969 as Sangamon State University, UIS has grown to support over 4,100 students across 30 bachelor's degree programs, 20 master's degree programs, and one doctoral program.
UIS offers a completely online bachelor of arts in liberal studies degree with the same curriculum as in-person offerings. Curriculum focuses on developing critical thinking skills, scientific logic, and appreciation of the humanities. The highly flexible program allows students to customize their degree from seven broad subject categories: identity, work, nature, institutions, language, heritage, and art.
Prospective students must complete 30 credits of collegiate coursework, including freshman composition, prior to applying to the online program and submit official transcripts.
Northern Kentucky University
Highland Heights, KY
Founded in 1968, NKU currently supports nearly 15,000 students across almost 120 programs of study.
NKU offers a completely online bachelor of arts in integrative studies degree requiring 120 credits for completion at a cost of $450 per credit. Students can choose one of four offered professional pathways or design coursework to meet their needs. Admission requirements include an online application, official transcripts, and a minimum 2.0 GPA.
University of Southern Mississippi
Founded in 1910, Southern Miss has grown into an institution that supports four schools and colleges with 30 divisions and departments.
Southern Miss offers an online bachelor of liberal studies degree requiring 120 credits for completion. Curriculum includes 40 credits of a major area of study and 36 credits of customizable coursework from three of the six offered areas of study. Students can achieve coursework completion in two to four years, depending on the number of transfer credits they have.
To apply, prospective students must complete an online application and submit official transcripts, SAT or ACT scores, and immunization records.
Northern Arizona University
Established in 1899, NAU currently offers 95 undergraduate degree programs, 47 undergraduate certificate programs, 76 graduate degree programs, and 30 graduate certificate programs.
NAU's online bachelor of arts in liberal arts degree requires 120 credits for completion. Students must complete at least 30 credits of upper-division courses, with a minimum of 30 total credits taken through NAU. The program requires 54 credits of liberal arts courses and 16 credits of a foreign language.
Admission requirements include minimum high school education coursework, official transcripts, and official SAT or ACT scores.
Online Bachelor's in Liberal Arts Programs Ranking Guidelines
We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.
Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our
school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased
information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a
rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.
Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the
federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each
specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at
While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we
value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break
down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.
The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the
schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.
Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual
surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college,
university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys,
which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is
publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College
Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic
Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of
schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com,
subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other
sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.
Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology
About Our Ranking Factors
Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online
education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.
Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are
weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student
We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and
graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities.
For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our
rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.
In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research
and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial
incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.
If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff
through contact page.
We thank you for your readership and trust.
Featured Online Bachelor's in Liberal Arts Programs
Choosing a Program
Pursuing a liberal arts degree online provides students with a foundation of knowledge rooted in the arts, sciences, and humanities. The wide range of courses in English, mathematics, science, and philosophy will deepen your analytical and critical thinking skills. Graduates with a liberal arts degree typically have excellent writing, communication, and public speaking abilities.
As the degree itself doesn't delve deeply into any one subject, many students opt to supplement it with a minor. Popular choices include business, communications, political science, economics, media, and computer science. A minor can help students direct their studies once they've discovered a passion without requiring them to change their major.
Online Bachelor's in Liberal Arts Careers
Earning a liberal arts bachelor's degree online prepares students for a variety of career opportunities. The general nature of the degree provides a knowledge base across many subject areas, though many specific careers may require additional training or advanced degrees. Popular professions for graduates with this degree include teaching, community work, bookkeeping, sales, and real estate.
These professionals help teachers with classroom instruction by working with students individually or in groups. Teaching assistants may also work exclusively with special education students. Childcare centers and traditional schools hire teacher assistants to execute tasks that streamline lesson planning, grading, and child supervision. A liberal arts degree is sufficient for teacher assistants, whereas certified teaching positions require advanced degrees and licensure.
Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks
These officials record incomes and expenses for companies and organizations. Bookkeepers, accountants, and auditing clerks typically make payments, manage employee payroll, and generate reports. Some positions include budgeting and forecasting responsibilities. With minimal education requirements, many applicants receive on-the-job training.
Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents
Real estate professionals assist clients with buying and selling residential or commercial properties. This profession requires excellent attention to detail and expertise in marketing concepts and strategies. Brokers and agents must pass real estate exams for licensing, and many participate in mentorship programs upon entering the field.
Header Image Credit: stefanamer | Getty Images