What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Liberal Arts Program?

Online master’s in liberal arts programs offer the flexibility working adults need combined with the same degree of academic quality you would find in an on-campus program. Online programs eliminate the need to commute to campus, providing you with more time for work, family, and any other commitments that you may have. Remember that no two online master’s in liberal arts programs are identical, so you must carefully review each option to find the best match for your needs and goals.

Available concentrations

Most online master’s in liberal arts programs will allow you to choose a concentration that aligns your coursework with your personal interests and career goals. Some of the most common concentration options include:

  • Creative Nonfiction: Reviews the skills needed in every stage of the writing process, from preliminary research to the final edit. The potential career outcomes with this concentration include technical writer, journalist, editor, publicist, and marketing professional.
  • Art: Provides comprehensive visual arts coverage, art history, and technical artistic skills. This concentration can prepare you to become a professional artist, art teacher, museum curator, art agent, graphic designer, or animator.
  • Sociology: Explores the role of individuals in society, including the effects of family, religion, education, and government interactions. A wide variety of career paths is available in this field, including options in human resources, public relations, and policy analysis.
  • Humanities: Incorporates numerous topics in the social sciences, including art, literature, performing arts, classical and foreign languages, religion, philosophy, and ethics.
  • Natural Science: Covers any branch of science that deals with the physical world, including biology, chemistry, botany, archaeology, geology, zoology, and physics.

Common degree curriculum

In addition to core courses and electives, some master’s in liberal arts programs will require you to complete a thesis or capstone project. While the exact curriculum will depend on which school you attend, here are some examples of courses that are often available:

  • Intro to Literacy Studies: Approaches literacy from historical, cultural, and critical perspectives, with students reading and writing about the definitions of literacy and literacy narratives.
  • Liberal and Integrative Studies: Covers the theories, resources, and skills needed for students to become independent, self-directed learners.
  • History of Ethics: Explore the historical origins of ethics and moral philosophy.
  • Food and Politics: Examine the history and development of agriculture and the inequalities related to food production and consumption.

Certification and license preparation

Unlike most majors, which are designed to prepare students for one specific career, an online master’s degree in liberal arts can prepare you for multiple jobs in numerous fields. Due to this broad focus, no professional certifications or licenses are offered for liberal arts graduates. Depending on your area of concentration and chosen career, obtaining a master’s degree can prepare you for — and may even be required to apply for — professional licensure in a particular field.

Program accreditation

Only apply to schools approved by a DOE-recognized regional accrediting organization, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education or Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Without regional accreditation, you may have trouble accessing financial aid or transferring credits to another institution, and employers may not consider your degree legitimate as well.

Ideally, your program will also be approved by the American Academy for Liberal Education — this organization holds liberal arts programs to an exceptionally high standard and only approves the best options available.

Program completion timeframe

Most online master’s in liberal arts programs require at least 30 credit hours and typically take about two years to complete. Cohort-based programs involve attending classes on a fixed schedule with other students. Those who want to earn their degree as fast as possible should attend an asynchronous program instead, as this will allow you to progress through courses at your own pace.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Liberal Arts Graduates

A master’s in liberal arts is highly versatile. You may be able to find employment in a variety of different industries and workplace settings, making this an excellent degree for those who want to further their education while keeping their career options open.

Completing a master’s degree will likely lead to additional career earnings. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers with a master’s degree earn an average income of $1,661 per week, while those with a bachelor’s earn $1,432. Over a year, that’s a difference of nearly $12,000.

Of course, your salary will also depend on where you work. Areas with a higher cost of living tend to offer higher pay. For example, historians make an average salary of $119,000 in Connecticut but just $42,250 in Mississippi.

Job Title Job Description Median Yearly Salary Projected Growth Rate (2022 – 2032)

Special Effects Artists and Animators

These artists create images and animations for television, movies, video games, and other mediums.

$98,950

8%

Environmental Specialist

Environmental specialists use their knowledge of natural sciences to collect and compile data, analyze ecological problems, and develop sustainable solutions.

$76,480

6%

Historian

Historians gather information from documents, books, artifacts, archives, and other sources to research and write about history. Their work often involves educating the public and providing guidance on preservation issues.

$64,540

3%

Professional organizations

Professional organizations host conferences and other events and offer research support, training programs, professional journals, job boards, and other benefits. Membership in one of these organizations will help you stay current on industry trends and build a strong network with your peers in the field.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Liberal Arts Degree

Online master’s in liberal arts students qualify for most financial aid opportunities available to on-campus students. Some scholarships are offered exclusively to those who are earning their degree remotely.

When searching for financial assistance, your first step should be filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which allows you to access grants and loans provided by the federal government. Many state-based programs use the FAFSA to determine eligibility as well. Also, look for any private scholarships that may be available to you.

Student Finance Resources and Guides

With all of the different financing options available, it can be challenging to determine what you should do next after submitting your FAFSA. The resources listed below will help you make sense of your financial aid situation and save as much money as possible.

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Interested in a degree?

Learn more about online degrees, their start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.