Home > Best Online Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts for 2018

Best Online Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts for 2018

If you’re interested in a truly multidisciplinary education, an online liberal arts program may be the answer. Students gain a comprehensive introduction to humanities and social sciences topics in bachelor’s in liberal arts online programs. In addition to an understanding of history, other cultures, and the natural universe, you’ll develop the problem-solving and communications skills that employers seek.

Many online liberal arts degrees allow you to focus your studies around a career interest, such as elementary education or pre-law. Whether you use your online liberal studies degree for immediate employment or as preparation for graduate school, your career outlook is good. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ Fall 2015 Salary Survey, salaries for graduates of liberal arts bachelor’s programs averaged $45,000 per year.

What are the Best Online Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts Programs?

1

Harvard UniversityCambridge, MA

Admissions Rate 6%
Default Rate 1%
Retention Rate 98%
Graduation Rate 98%
Online Enrollment 7%

Harvard University is one of the most prestigious private universities in the world and counts U.S. presidents, Nobel laureates, and global business leaders among its accomplished alumni. Its extension school offers online and hybrid degree programs, including the bachelor of liberal arts. The curriculum blends traditional liberal arts coursework with focused subject areas such as psychology, computer science, or business. The 128-credit program accepts adults age 21 or older who have not already earned an undergraduate degree. Before students can apply they must earn at least a B in three required online courses to ensure they have the writing and math skills to succeed at Harvard. Once accepted, distance learners can pursue most of their liberal arts degree online but must complete at least 16 credits at Harvard in intensive three-week or weekend on-campus courses.

2

Regis UniversityDenver, CO

Admissions Rate 66%
Default Rate 5%
Retention Rate 79%
Graduation Rate 73%
Online Enrollment 36%

Regis University is a private Jesuit university in Denver, Colorado. Online learners who enroll in the school's 120-credit bachelor of arts in liberal arts gain a strong foundation in communication, critical thinking, and problem solving skills. Regis's accelerated bachelor's of liberal art's online program consists of five-week or eight-week terms that start six times per year, which gives students the flexibility to begin their studies when it’s most convenient for them. Online courses are synchronous, meaning they are not self-paced and adhere to a structured weekly schedule. Some coursework may fall under Regis's directed study format, which allows students to design their own eight-week courses and work independently. Applicants with prior college coursework, military credit, or work experience may earn credit for previous learning and professional experience.

3

Endicott CollegeBeverly, MA

Admissions Rate 73%
Default Rate 3%
Retention Rate 86%
Graduation Rate 71%
Online Enrollment 14%

Endicott College's accelerated bachelor degree programs are ideal for busy professionals who need to balance their education with work and family responsibilities. Endicott offers classes in seven-, eight-, or 15-week online sessions. The school's 126-credit bachelor of arts in liberal studies offers four concentrations: early childhood education, homeland security studies, Montessori education, and trauma studies. The liberal studies online degree program culminates in a capstone project that demonstrates the student's proficiency in their concentration and reflects their professional goals. Applicants for the college's online degree programs must have at least two years of full-time work experience to qualify for admission. Endicott is a military-friendly, post-9/11 G.I. Bill Yellow Ribbon School, and covers costs that exceed the G.I. Bill cap.

4

University of Massachusetts-LowellLowell, MA

Admissions Rate 57%
Default Rate 7%
Retention Rate 86%
Graduation Rate 56%
Online Enrollment 21%

The bachelor in liberal arts is one of 50 degree and certificate programs that UMass Lowell offers online. Distance learners pursuing an online liberal arts degree get a well-balanced, highly customizable program. They select two concentrations from nine areas: art history, economics, English, gender studies, history, legal studies, philosophy, political science, and psychology. The flexibility of this 120-credit program makes it ideal for working professionals who can complete coursework entirely online or as a hybrid program, with a blend of online and on-campus courses. UMass Lowell's online division accepts students from all states except Arkansas, Kansas, and Minnesota. Applicants must hold a high school diploma or equivalent, and transfer students can transfer up to 65 credits from another accredited institution. Residents and out-of-state students pay the same tuition for online programs.

5

Syracuse UniversitySyracuse, NY

Admissions Rate 48%
Default Rate 4%
Retention Rate 91%
Graduation Rate 81%
Online Enrollment 4%

Syracuse University is a leading private research institution in central New York's Finger Lakes region. It offers several degrees online including the bachelor of arts in liberal studies, which helps students develop their intellectual capacities and critical thinking skills. Distance learners complete the 120-credit program using a mix of several formats, including online, accelerated, blended, and on-campus weekend classes. Some online courses are asynchronous, or self-paced. Others are synchronous, requiring students to log in and participate at particular times. To enroll in SU's online liberal studies program, students must have a high school diploma or equivalent and complete an interview with an advisor. Transfer students must have a 2.5 GPA or higher. Students can transfer up to 90 credits that fit degree requirements, including up to 66 from a junior or community college.

6

Oregon State UniversityCorvallis, OR

Admissions Rate 78%
Default Rate 5%
Retention Rate 85%
Graduation Rate 64%
Online Enrollment 17%

Oregon State University's Ecampus offers more than 20 bachelor degrees online, including one in liberal studies. After completing core courses, students design their own major around their interests and educational goals. Distance learners who focus on science and technology pursue a bachelor of science in liberal studies, while those studying the arts and humanities earn a bachelor of arts. OSU operates on a quarter-based calendar, offering four ten-week terms each year. Students must complete 180 quarter credits to graduate, with at least 60 in upper division courses. Students may transfer some credits from other accredited institutions but must complete at least 45 of the final 75 credits online or on campus to earn an online liberal studies degree. All online OSU students pay in-state tuition rates.

7

Northwest Nazarene UniversityNampa, ID

Admissions Rate 56%
Default Rate 5%
Retention Rate 77%
Graduation Rate 49%
Online Enrollment 25%

Located in historic Nampa, Idaho, Northwest Nazarene University is one of eight liberal arts colleges in the U.S. affiliated with the Church of the Nazarene. The bachelor of arts in liberal studies is NNU's first program available entirely online. The program offers emphasis areas in humanities or social sciences, and new classes begin every eight weeks. Coursework is synchronous, meaning online learners complete and submit assignments on specific due dates and must participate in online discussions at designated times. Distance learners can complete coursework anywhere they have an internet connection. NNU allows on-campus students to take one class online per semester. With many financial aid options and scholarships available, the school's online liberal studies program is affordable and convenient. NNU offers part-time enrollment at a reduced rate.

8

Crown CollegeSaint Bonifacius, MN

Admissions Rate 53%
Default Rate 6%
Retention Rate 68%
Graduation Rate 56%
Online Enrollment 44%

Located near Minneapolis-St. Paul, Crown College is a private, four-year institution affiliated with the Christian and Missionary Alliance. The curriculum for the school's online bachelor of science in general/liberal studies provides students with broad knowledge in the liberal arts. Focused learners complete most courses in only seven weeks. Crown allows distance learners to customize their online liberal studies degree program to match their interests. To earn their degree, students must complete at least 125 credits in Christian studies, general education, electives, and coursework in their major. The program requires a portfolio project as a capstone course, in which students illustrate how their Christian-focused education helps fulfill their career goals. Crown welcomes high school graduates and returning college students who may transfer prior college credits regardless of academic discipline.

9

University of IowaIowa City, IA

Admissions Rate 81%
Default Rate 4%
Retention Rate 85%
Graduation Rate 72%
Online Enrollment 9%

The University of Iowa is one of the top public research institutions in the country and the oldest university in the state. Its online bachelor of liberal studies is ideal for working professionals who aspire to develop their leadership skills. Students can complete UI's liberal studies online degree either fully online or with a mix of online and on-campus courses. The program comprises 120 semester hours. After completing general education requirements, students choose at least one of six tracks: expression in writing and arts; family, community, and social support; global studies; health and human studies; justice and ethics; or organizational studies. Successful applicants have an associate degree or 24 semester hours of transferable college credit and graduated high school at least 3 years ago.

10

Colorado State University-Fort CollinsFort Collins, CO

Admissions Rate 81%
Default Rate 4%
Retention Rate 87%
Graduation Rate 67%
Online Enrollment 10%

CSU is the first institution in Colorado to offer a liberal arts bachelor's degree online. The 120-credit program offers interdisciplinary courses that develop students' writing, problem solving, and analytical thinking skills. This online program allows distance learners to earn a bachelor of arts in interdisciplinary liberal arts at their own pace, enabling them to balance education with work and family responsibilities. It requires students to complete 120 credits of foundational coursework and a minor. The liberal arts capstone seminar is mandatory for graduating seniors, who research and present a special topic assigned by their instructor. Students interested in applying for CSU's online liberal arts program must have an associate degree or at least 40 transferable credit hours at the community college level to be eligible.

11

University of Illinois at SpringfieldSpringfield, IL

Admissions Rate 63%
Default Rate 7%
Retention Rate 77%
Graduation Rate 48%
Online Enrollment 35%

Students pursuing a bachelor of arts in liberal studies at UIS design their own degree to align with their interests and career goals. They study entirely online or in combination with on-campus classes. The liberal studies online degree is a writing-intensive program, and applicants must successfully complete at least two semesters of freshman-level composition to be eligible. The online liberal studies program is selective and UIS limits the number of distance learners admitted each semester. Applicants must have an associate degree or at least 30 hours of transferrable credit for admission. They must fulfill the Illinois general education requirements before applying, and submit a two-page written statement outlining their academic or career goals, and how an interdisciplinary program will help achieve them.

12

California Baptist UniversityRiverside, CA

Admissions Rate 65%
Default Rate 8%
Retention Rate 76%
Graduation Rate 60%
Online Enrollment 21%

Founded in 1950 by the California Southern Baptist Convention, California Baptist University gears its online programs towards adults who need to balance work and family with education. The online bachelor of arts in liberal studies provides a multi-disciplinary education that develops critical thinking, leadership, and decision-making skills. Online learners customize their program with a concentration in English, human development, kinesiology, or social science. Classes start every eight weeks and are available in online, hybrid, or accelerated formats. On average, students earn their degree in 18 months. Six CBU Online Educational Service Centers are conveniently located throughout Southern California, with hybrid classrooms and study lounges for local distance learners. CBU Online requires 24 transferable college credits or a high school diploma, and a minimum 2.0 GPA.

13

Azusa Pacific UniversityAzusa, CA

Admissions Rate 81%
Default Rate 4%
Retention Rate 88%
Graduation Rate 68%
Online Enrollment 7%

Azusa Pacific University is a private, evangelical, Christian university northeast of Los Angeles. The school’s online bachelor of arts in liberal studies degree is an accelerated teaching degree that caters to prospective elementary school and special education teachers, and those seeking a career change. The 120-unit program prepares graduates to sit for the California Subject Examination for Teachers (CSET), and enter a teaching credential program if they are seeking certification in California. Its online format is convenient and affordable. Tuition for the online liberal studies program is less than its on-campus counterpart. APU's online program accepts students from 39 states. Applicants must be high school graduates or transfer students with at least a 2.0 GPA in transferable college coursework.

14

Rowan UniversityGlassboro, NJ

Admissions Rate 71%
Default Rate 5%
Retention Rate 86%
Graduation Rate 67%
Online Enrollment 7%

Rowan University is a public research university in southern New Jersey offering graduate and undergraduate degree completion programs on-campus, online, and in a blended format. Its bachelor of arts in liberal studies: humanities/social science degree is available fully online, and is ideal for returning college students who want to complete a bachelor's degree. The curriculum strengthens students' written and verbal communications and enhances their decision-making skills. Rowan's liberal studies online degree program is part-time and provides students with 39 of the 120 required semester hours. Courses run in eight week modules and it is possible to complete the program in seven consecutive semesters. The university accepts applicants with at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA and 24 transferable college credits.

15

University of North Carolina at GreensboroGreensboro, NC

Admissions Rate 59%
Default Rate 6%
Retention Rate 77%
Graduation Rate 56%
Online Enrollment 12%

The online bachelor of arts in liberal studies program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro connects the humanities and social sciences to the realities of the working world. This 122-credit hour interdisciplinary program is highly customizable and is ideal for students with some college credit who want to earn a bachelor's degree. Classes are fully online and asynchronous – there are no set class meeting times, and coursework is self-paced. Students choose seven-week or full-semester courses, and select a concentration in humanities, social sciences, or professional studies. Tuition for UNCG's online liberal studies degree is less expensive than its on-campus counterpart. Applicants must have 60 or more transferable college credits from accredited institutions or an associate degree, and a minimum 2.5 GPA.

16

Bay Path UniversityLongmeadow, MA

Admissions Rate 77%
Default Rate 9%
Retention Rate 80%
Graduation Rate 57%
Online Enrollment 29%

The American Women's College at Bay Path University offers more than 20 fully online bachelor's degrees for adult women learners, including the bachelor of arts in liberal studies. Students develop a multi-faceted perspective on the political, cultural, and social issues that define the world today. The liberal studies online degree program offers classes asynchronously in accelerated six-week sessions, with six start dates each year. Returning college students can finish their degree in one to three-and-a-half years, depending on the number of transfer credits accepted. American Women's College has rolling admissions, full-time or part-time enrollment options, and accepts online students from 41 states. It welcomes female applicants with a high school diploma or equivalent, and either 12 transferable college credits or an essay. Students may transfer up to 90 credits in the 120-credit program.

17

SUNY College at BrockportBrockport, NY

Admissions Rate 53%
Default Rate 5%
Retention Rate 82%
Graduation Rate 69%
Online Enrollment 3%

SUNY College at Brockport's online liberal studies program is perfect for distance learners who want to complete their bachelor's degree in a flexible format. They complete core courses and independent study online, and can choose to take electives online, on-campus, or in a blended format. Brockport's program focuses on the humanities and fine arts, natural and mathematical sciences, and social sciences. Students earn either a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science in liberal studies, depending on the number of liberal arts courses they choose. Students must complete at least 60 credits before enrolling in the 120-credit program. The program includes opportunities for students to participate in internships, research, and field work. Online students can take classes in spring, summer session, fall, and winter session terms.

18

University of Oklahoma-Norman CampusNorman, OK

Admissions Rate 78%
Default Rate 6%
Retention Rate 86%
Graduation Rate 66%
Online Enrollment 8%

OU's College of Professional and Continuing Studies primarily serves working adults and lifelong learners. Its online bachelor of arts in liberal studies is a fast-paced, accelerated program that helps students develop the critical thinking skills that are essential in today's job market. Courses in this 120-hour program are available fully online or in a hybrid format and are set up in five eight-week sessions. Digital learners pursuing an online liberal studies degree complete core courses, electives, and select a primary track in humanities, natural sciences, or social sciences. Applicants must transfer at least 60 hours from an accredited four-year institution or have an associate degree. It typically takes students between 18 months and three years to earn OU's online liberal studies degree.

19

University of Northern IowaCedar Falls, IA

Admissions Rate 80%
Default Rate 4%
Retention Rate 80%
Graduation Rate 68%
Online Enrollment 6%

The University of Northern Iowa's bachelor of liberal studies offers convenience and flexibility for students who want to finish their bachelor's degree. Courses are available fully online or in a blended format. Distance learners can take semester-based courses or guided independent study, which allows them to enroll in a course at any time and take up to nine months to complete it. Students in UNI's online liberal studies program choose courses in three of five distribution areas, including humanities, communications and arts, natural sciences and math, social sciences, and professional fields. UNI offers rolling admissions and welcomes applicants for its online programs from all states except California and Massachusetts. Students must have 60 hours of transferable college credit or an associate degree, and a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA.

20

Saint Leo UniversitySaint Leo, FL

Admissions Rate 73%
Default Rate 10%
Retention Rate 71%
Graduation Rate 45%
Online Enrollment 58%

Founded in 1889, Saint Leo University is the oldest Catholic higher education institution in Florida and has been serving online learners since the 1990s. Its online bachelor of arts in liberal studies offers a broad, multidisciplinary curriculum, which emphasizes leadership skills. Students pursuing the liberal studies online degree receive a well-rounded education in social and natural sciences, humanities and fine arts, quantitative reasoning, and business. The program is 100% online and courses are available in six eight-week terms. Saint Leo admissions are rolling, enabling students to begin the 120-credit program whenever they are ready. It welcomes high school graduates and transfer students who may transfer up to 64 credits from accredited institutions. Saint Leo is also military-friendly and accepts up to 39 credits for military courses and training.

21

Westfield State UniversityWestfield, MA

Admissions Rate 80%
Default Rate 5%
Retention Rate 79%
Graduation Rate 63%
Online Enrollment 6%

The online bachelor of arts in liberal studies at Westfield State University is tailor made for students who want to complete their bachelor's degree. It is ideal for Massachusetts community college graduates in the MassTransfer compact – the program that streamlines college credit transfer within the state's public higher education system. However, students who did not attend a state community college (or participate in MassTransfer) are welcome to apply. Westfield State's online liberal studies degree offers a comprehensive arts and sciences major that serves students in virtually any profession. It's especially valuable for those seeking teacher licensure in early childhood, elementary, middle school, or special education. Coursework is fully online and available during both semesters and the accelerated winter and summer sessions.

22

The New SchoolNew York, NY

Admissions Rate 67%
Default Rate 6%
Retention Rate 81%
Graduation Rate 65%
Online Enrollment 3%

Learners entering the New School's bachelor's program for adults and transfer students design their own program to align with their interests, career goals, and availability. The liberal arts program online enables students to go to school part-time, full-time, fully online, or on-campus. Distance learners earn a bachelor of arts if they take 90 credits or more in liberal arts courses; those who take fewer than 90 liberal arts credits earn a bachelor of science degree. The 120-credit program caters to distance learners with some prior college education, though that is not a prerequisite. All applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent, and transfer students may transfer up to 84 credits with a cumulative 2.0 GPA or better from accredited institutions.

23

Northern Arizona UniversityFlagstaff, AZ

Admissions Rate 77%
Default Rate 9%
Retention Rate 74%
Graduation Rate 52%
Online Enrollment 20%

Northern Arizona University offers a different approach to online learning through its competency-based personalized learning approach. Students complete each lesson at their own pace, then take a test to assess their understanding of the competencies presented. Once they successfully demonstrate all competencies in the program, they earn a bachelor's in liberal arts online. Distance learners majoring in NAU's 120-unit online liberal arts program study literature, the arts, history, and philosophy. Those pursuing a bachelor of arts must satisfy a foreign language requirement, while those pursuing a bachelor of science complete required science courses. Personalized learning students pay tuition by subscription, not by semester. They pay a flat rate for unlimited online lessons and resources for six months, then renew their subscription until they complete their degree.

24

California State University-ChicoChico, CA

Admissions Rate 63%
Default Rate 7%
Retention Rate 84%
Graduation Rate 64%
Online Enrollment 2%

Students interested in a broad-based education or a career as an elementary school or special education teacher may want to consider California State University, Chico's online liberal studies degree. Its fully online curriculum is for individuals with at least two years of college, but no bachelor's degree. The 120-credit program culminates in a bachelor of arts in liberal studies and prepares graduates to enter a teaching credential program. Students who are not interested in teaching may take an online minor in sociology or career and life planning instead of upper division education courses. Applicants must have 60 transferable semester units or 90 quarter units, with a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher. Typically, distance learners can earn a liberal studies online degree in two to three years.

25

Oral Roberts UniversityTulsa, OK

Admissions Rate 64%
Default Rate 10%
Retention Rate 80%
Graduation Rate 58%
Online Enrollment 8%

Oral Roberts University is an interdenominational, Christian, liberal arts university in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Its online bachelor of science in liberal studies is a degree completion program for students with prior college credits, or for those who want to study multiple subject areas without pursuing a double major. ORU distance learners must complete 63 credit hours in two to three areas of study. Each semester has two seven-week sessions, and students in the online liberal studies program may take up to eight credit hours in each session. Applicants must demonstrate a strong Christian commitment, academic ability, and interest in a liberal arts education. ORU welcomes graduates with a high school diploma or equivalent, and transfer students with at least 15 college credit hours from an accredited institution.

What Will I Learn in an Online Liberal Arts Program?

Though liberal studies programs are consistent in their approach, individual course requirements vary. Every liberal arts program online develops its curriculum independently, so carefully investigate the course listings of any programs you’re considering. Below, we’ve listed five standard core courses for a liberal studies online degree.

  • Comparative Arts Appreciation: This course examines the intellectual, artistic, and aesthetic parallels in art history and music history. Class discussion focuses on aesthetic judgment, art and music criticism, principle forms and genres of art and music, and the historical examination of the arts from the Renaissance through the present.
  • Economics I&II: Topics covered in this course include the principles of production, exchange, alternative market structures, pricing, and supply and demand. Students examine the international economy and its relationship to the U.S. commercial banking system, fiscal policy, and the principles that impact national employment and income.
  • World Civilizations: This course provides an overview of societies and cultures within them from ancient times through the early modern era. Students conceptually relate this knowledge to our current global society.
  • Constitutional Law and Politics: This course examines the structure of the American government and the guiding principles behind the structure. Discussion covers the Bill of Rights, judicial review, and key concepts of federalism, ordered liberty, separation of powers, and due process.
  • Psychological Science: This class provides an overview of scientific methodology in cognitive, developmental, and biological psychology. Discussion emphasizes evidence-based knowledge, the effects of diversity, ethics, social actions, and variations in human functioning.

What can I do with an Online Liberal Arts Degree?

The career options for liberal arts bachelor’s degree online graduates are quite varied as the educational background is applicable to many industries. Because you hold this degree, your future employers will understand that you’ve been trained to think critically, bring multiple perspectives to the table, and problem-solve. Here, we’ve listed five liberal arts jobs that require a bachelor’s degree.

Job Outlook and Salary

A liberal arts degree online can lead to jobs in nearly any sector. In fact, the BLS reports that many hiring managers view a liberal arts degree as evidence that employees have the fundamental skills that are required to succeed in their first job after college.

Below we’ve listed the BLS employment projections for five liberal arts jobs. Remember that location can have a significant impact on salaries and the number of available jobs. You should also consider the health of appealing industries, as some are functioning more profitably than others. A bachelor’s in liberal arts online offers unique flexibility in this regard, and it may be wise to consider industry performance trends as you plan.

Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026
Graphic Designer 266,300 5% increase
Marketing Manager 249,600 9% increase
Customer Service Representative 2,784,500 5% increase
Paralegal 285,600 15% increase
Purchasing Agent 520,400 3% decline

Salary Growth by Experience

Because the job possibilities span so many industries, the careers shown in the table below reflect only a small portion of the potential salary growth for liberal arts degree jobs. Each of these roles requires a bachelor’s degree for entry, and salaries can be boosted by further education. Some fields can be considerably more lucrative than others. Salaries increase with accumulated experience, which is typical for most careers.


To determine the best online bachelor’s in liberal arts programs, we looked at the most important factors prospective students, mainly common predictors of future success and a school’s commitment to online programs. This boils down to admissions rate, student loan default rate, retention rate, graduation rate, and the percent of students enrolled in online classes. All data points are taken from information provided by colleges and universities to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Each factor is weighted evenly in order to give an objective view and determine the best online bachelor’s in liberal arts programs. To calculate our rankings, we looked at a school’s ranking when organized by a single factor, and then averaged each category’s ranking to find an overall score: Admissions Rate (20%) + Default Rate (20%) + Retention Rate (20%) + Graduation Rate (20%) + Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes (20%) = Final score.