The 10 Best Online Master’s of Liberal Studies Graduate Schools in 2023

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Anyone who loves learning, creating, and expanding their knowledge and critical thought patterns, may find a good fit in the Online Master’s of Liberal Studies. This liberal arts degree program enables a consistent upward trajectory throughout your career in both the ability for creative expression and mentally stimulating and challenging content.

Students in this liberal arts degree program will have the opportunity to study and work in a large variety and range of subjects, given the interdisciplinary nature of the program. Students in this field are also highly encouraged to develop and improve their communication with peers and colleagues in their chosen field, and to employ analytical, critical thinking, and logical skills in solving problems across a variety of organizations.

Through a liberal arts degree, refining these skills will place them in a position to better not only themselves, but others in their path as well, and will give them opportunities to gain employment and make a difference in the field of their choice.

online master's of liberal studies

Most Online Master’s of Liberal Studies programs include a variety of different courses including arts, literature, natural sciences, history, social issues, philosophy, and cultures of the world.

Read further to discover the ten Best Online Masters of Liberal Studies programs and all the essential pieces of information to help you find the right program for you.


Overview:

Liberal Studies degree programs are a great way to broaden your horizons, particularly if you are anticipating a job promotion in your future. Liberal Arts degrees are considered synonymous with Liberal Studies degrees. This type of degree program covers a wide array of skill sets which is ideal for those interested in earning a master’s degree. If you are interested in improving your critical thinking skills and research in history, humanities, philosophy. literature, natural sciences, and the like, then this degree is for you!


online master's of liberal studies

METHODOLOGY

Establishing itself as a valuable degree program of choice, Liberal Studies is often closely associated with job security. The broad spectrum of education and training it imparts on students equips them with the skills prized by most employers today.

With a Master’s in Liberal Studies, you keep yourself a step ahead in the game. Acquiring this graduate degree online gives you that edge in terms of career opportunities!

If you’re taking the Master’s in Liberal Studies or Liberal Arts degree route, choose a program that is offered online and reap the benefits of web-based education at the master’s level. Because choosing the right program isn’t as easy as it sounds, however, we did the research for you! We considered these factors:

  • Liberal arts degree programs that deliver fully online or hybrid and synchronous or asynchronous formats to accommodate online students who are working professionals,
  • A well-rounded, comprehensive Master’s in Liberal Studies coursework that emphasizes the acquisition of the most suitable skills for career stability, such as critical thinking, creative writing, and social concerns to benefit one’s professional life,
  • Numerous concentrations and core courses are offered to match the online students’ need for advanced learning in their field,
  • Faculty, an academic advisor, or teaching staff with an extensive background in Liberal Studies,
  • Offers students full access to virtual learning tools through a high-quality learning platform,
  • Impressive student and career services to assist graduate students in finding the best career tracks and opportunities,
  • Provides graduate liberal studies programs offering financial assistance for qualified online students, in-state and out-of-state students,
  • Fully accredited by academic agencies that safeguard the quality of Liberal Studies and Liberal Arts education at the master’s level.

Best Online Masters of Liberal Studies Graduate Schools

Kent State University

online master's of liberal studies

: 800 E Summit St., Kent, OH 44242
: +1 (330) 672-3100

Online Master of Liberal Studies

In 1910, Kent State University started as a teacher-training school headquartered in Ohio. Today, the university has become a premier institution of higher learning and a steward for the country’s workforce, cultural, and economic development.

  • The Liberal Arts online program can be completed with one required course only, and the rest of the major requirement is already in the form of electives.
  • Students must complete 30 credit hours to receive their Master of Liberal Studies degree.
  • 27 out of 30 credit hours are accomplished through students’ choice of courses across different colleges or schools in Kent State.
  • Depending on the commitment and pace of students, they can graduate in as few as three semesters.
  • Online students can either complete a Liberal Studies Essay requirement or pursue an internship program for the required course.

Standout Features of Kent State University’s Online Master of Liberal Studies Program:

Kent State University is Ohio’s one out of six universities to offer an Online Master of Liberal Studies degree program. However, it’s the only university that allows students to complete courses from any school or college in the university. It is also the only program with the fewest required courses, letting students accomplish one required course and students themselves choose the rest. The LMS program is a flexible program that allows students to create their integrated and individualized plan of study.

Best Online Masters of Advanced Study Graduate Schools DYK

The US News & World Report has, on many occasions, ranked Kent State University as Northern Ohio’s top public university. The school has also received recognition from several prestigious organizations for its academic degree programs.


Fort Hays State University

online master's of liberal studies

: 600 Park Street, Hays, Kansas 67601- 4099
: 785 628 3478

Online Master of Liberal Studies

Fort Hays State University is among the Midwest’s premier state universities with an extensive global reach and highly accessible award-winning program offerings.

FHSU used to be an infirmary or army facility abandoned in 1889. At the time, students paid $5 for tuition. Today, the university has grown into a reputable school with more than 15,000 undergraduates and graduates!

  • FHSU’s Online Master of Liberal Studies program requires 31 credit hours for students to earn their MLS degree.
  • 10 out of 31 credit hours are meant for the core required course completion, while 21 credit hours are for chosen concentration.
  • Distance learners can choose from different online concentrations, such as Art, Corporate Communications, Gerontology, Global Management, Global Studies, Health Sciences, Information Analysis, and Communication, Literary Arts, Management Information Systems, Political Leadership, and Public Service, Political Science, or Public Administration.
  • Regardless of students’ preferred concentration, they will enroll in four interdisciplinary courses operating under the “Ways Of Knowing: A Foundation For Understanding and Exploring The Emerging Knowledge Society” theme.
  • A comprehensive exam is required in compliance with FHSU’s Graduate School policy. It is recommended to take the exam during students’ last semester.

Standout Features of Fort Hays State University’s Online Master of Liberal Studies Program:

Fort Hays State University’s Master of Liberal Studies was awarded as 2020’s Best Masters In Liberal Arts program by Intelligent.com. FHSU’s MLS program is also a proud member of the Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs, providing students with one-stop-shop information regarding conferences, learning resources, and publications.

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Fort Hays State University has undergone numerous name changes during its first 75 years, from a specialized teacher training school to a university. While tuition fees have increased from the $5 amount over 100 years ago, the university still has the most affordable tuition rates in the Kansas Board of Regents system and is one of the best academic systems in the US.


University of North Carolina Wilmington

online master's of liberal studies

: 601 S. College Road, Wilmington, North Carolina 28403
: 910 962 3000

Online Master of Arts In Liberal Studies

In 1969, Wilmington College became a member of the UNC System and is now recognized as the University of North Carolina Wilmington. The school that enrolled nearly 240 students in 1947 has grown into a nationally ranked university of almost 18,000 learners. As a member of the 17-institution UNC System, the University of North Carolina Wilmington offers a diverse range of undergraduate and graduate-level programs in the fields of psychology, nursing practice, marine biology, and educational leadership.

  • UNCW’s Online Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degree program is suitable for adult students who want to sharpen their skills across human, scientific, and social dimensions.
  • Students can add a certificate of their choice, such as the Women’s and Gender Studies Certificate or the Conflict Management Resolution Certificate.
  • To enroll, students will no longer submit GRE scores. They are only required to submit a graduate application for admission, a personal statement, three letters of recommendation, and official transcripts.
  • UNCW’s Master of Arts (MA) in Liberal Studies is a 30-hour graduate program.
  • Graduating students have the option to complete independent studies aligned to their interests.

Standout Features of the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Online Master of Arts In Liberal Studies Program:

Graduates pursuing an Online Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program at UNCW will have the opportunity to access the exclusive Palaver Journal. It is the school’s interdisciplinary journal created under the Graduate Liberal Studies program. Palaver continuously seeks creative academic works that challenge the norms of a single discipline. Interested participants pursuing creative pursuits while completing the MALS program can submit their artworks in any medium, including multimedia, still images, and videos.

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The University of North Carolina Wilmington landed in the #95 spot and is one out of the three UNC System institutions among the Top 100 Public National Universities for 2021, according to the US News & World Report. The university has consistently been recognized for academic quality and affordability, both groundworks of its Strategic Plan.


Stony Brook University

online master's of liberal studies

: 100 Nicolls Road, Stony Brook, New York 11794 – 4434
: 631 632 7050

Online Master of Arts In Liberal Studies

Founded in 1957, Stony Brook University offers 200+ undergraduate programs, over 100 master’s programs, and 50+ doctoral programs. Some of its popular degree offerings are political science, mathematics, biochemistry, applied mathematics & statistics, economics, business management, and psychology. As of Fall 2020, Stony Brook University caters to 18,010 undergraduates and 8,772 graduates.

  • The Master of Arts (MA) in Liberal Studies degree program consists of 11 3-credit hour online courses.
  • No substitutions or transfer credits are authorized for the Liberal Studies core program.
  • Online students must complete the program requirements within five years from the date of enrollment as registered students.
  • A 3-credit hour Capstone Seminar culminates the program. For their research paper, students are guided in choosing a topic.
  • Stony Brook University is also accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

Standout Features of Stony Brook University’s Online Master of Arts In Liberal Studies Program:

The school’s Online Master of Arts (MA) in Liberal Studies is fully approved by the New York State Education Department for distance learning. The graduate program is valid for meeting the credentials required for a professional license or certification under specific provisions.

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Stony Brook University is one of the top 1% universities worldwide according to the 2018 QS World University Rankings. The university has also received recognition from prestigious organizations, such as Forbes Magazine’s Top 15 Best Value Public Colleges and the US News & World Report’s Top 40 Public Universities.


Indiana University-Bloomington

online master's of liberal studies

: 107 S. Indiana Avenue, Bloomington, Indiana 47405-7000
: 812 855 4848

Online Master of Liberal Studies

Indiana University-Bloomington is one of the ten campuses of the Indiana University System. It offers the most traditional and largest campus experience with a unique sense of Hoosier pride, thriving campus traditions, and diverse academic and extracurricular programs. The university is home to 42,552 undergraduate and graduate students, 24 student apartment complexes and residence halls, and more than 750 student organizations.

  • The Online Master in Liberal Studies degree program at IU Bloomington is available to students who already have a baccalaureate degree.
  • The MLS program’s major areas of discipline include natural sciences, social sciences, and arts and humanities.
  • To complete the online MLS program, students must complete 34 to 36 credit hours.
  • Degree requirements consist of 13-credit hour core required courses, 12 to 20-credit hour certificates/electives, and 3 to 9-credit hour capstone experience.
  • Students who completed a graduate certificate in political science, mathematics, literature, language, and literature, history, chemistry, composition studies, communication studies, or biology via IU Online can transfer a maximum of 20 credits for their MLS degree requirements. 

Standout Features of Indiana University-Bloomington’s Online Master of Liberal Studies Program:

Indiana University-Bloomington’s Online Master of Liberal Studies program provides students with the option to choose their capstone experience. Unlike most universities, IU Bloomington offers five options: a traditional thesis, creative project, peer-reviewed publication, applied project, or a public intellectual capstone course. That said, students will have the opportunity to showcase their skills and knowledge in their preferred method.

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Racial and cultural diversity are some of the cornerstones of Indiana University-Bloomington college and its campus experience. Currently, the university is home to six active institutes and centers for the LGBTQ+ community, Latino culture, First Nations culture, Black culture, Asian culture, and African-American Arts.

online master's of liberal studies

Johns Hopkins University

online master's of liberal studies

: 3400 N Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218-2608
: 410 516 8000

Online Master of Liberal Arts

Johns Hopkins University enrolls over 24,000 full-time and part-time students throughout 11 academic divisions. The faculty and student community at JHU study, teach and learn their knowledge and passion across 260+ academic programs in health professions, business, education, international studies, engineering, social and natural sciences, humanities, and arts & music.

  • The Master of Liberal Arts degree program is offered through JHU’s Krieger School of Arts & Sciences.
  • The graduate degree consists of ten 3-credit hour courses, including one core course, eight electives, and one capstone project.
  • Graduate students will have the opportunity to build their program of study aligned with their interests through a creative selection of interdisciplinary courses per semester. Some of the areas of discipline include archaeology, ecology, psychology, bioethics, world cultures, politics, sociology, literature, music, art, film, and history.
  • Students can either pursue a non-credit portfolio, graduate project, or one-course internship for the capstone requirement.
  • Online students have five years (from their enrollment date) to earn their MLA degree.

Standout Features of Johns Hopkins University’s Online Master of Liberal Arts Program:

Established in 1962, JHU’s Online Master of Liberal Arts program was ranked #3 in the US by Online Master and has garnered recognition as the “Most Established” university. This online MA degree is the country’s first-ever program to allow students to tailor their academic programs according to their personal and professional aspirations.

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Johns Hopkins University derived its name from Maryland’s 19th-century philanthropist Johns Hopkins. He was an entrepreneur with Quaker roots who believed in improving education and public health in Baltimore and the rest of the world. Given his accomplishments and investments, he was responsible for the biggest philanthropic bequest in the history of the US.


Louisiana State University

online master's of liberal studies

: 340 E. Parker Boulevard, Baton Rouge, LA 70808
: 833 280 5634

Online Master of Arts In Liberal Arts

Whether you’re pursuing a full-time program or short training, LSU Online & Continuing Education offers 100+ online certificates and degrees across a diverse range of high-demand areas of study. As a flagship university of Louisiana, LSU offers its distance learners the same top-quality program as its traditional on-campus counterparts.

  • LSU’s Online Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degree can be earned once students have taken 36 credit hours of coursework completion only.
  • The 36-credit hour graduate program consists of two 6-credit core courses and students’ options for the career-focus clusters.
  • For career-focus clusters, students must accomplish a maximum of 12 credit hours.
  • The program has five areas of concentration, such as Interdisciplinary, Analytics, Sport Management, Business, and Emerging Technologies, and Leadership.
  • To enroll, students must submit their GRE Verbal + Quantitative scores.

Standout Features of Louisiana State University’s Online Master of Arts In Liberal Arts Program:

Students pursuing a degree at LSU Online will receive continuous support from the university. Each student will have a dedicated Learner Concierge starting from the enrollment process until graduation. It’s an ideal program for non-traditional students returning to college or university to receive their degrees for personal enrichment and career advancement.

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Louisiana State University is ranked in 65th spot among the Top 100 Public Colleges by Kiplinger. It is the highest-rated public university in Louisiana. The university is known for delivering exceptional education, giving students an excellent return on investment. With $300M financial aid and scholarships awarded per year, 92% of LSU students receive scholarships or other types of financial aid, indicating that 2 out of 3 students graduate with no debt at LSU.


SUNY Empire State College

online master's of liberal studies

: 2 Union Avenue, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
: 800 847 3000

Online Master of Arts In Liberal Studies

In 1971, SUNY Empire State College was founded by the US Commissioner of Education Ernest L. Boyer and the SUNY Board of Trustees as a frontrunner SUNY institution to educate students on their status in life. Today, SUNY Empire continues its commitment to more accessible, affordable, and flexible education with over 110 online certificates and degrees, several locations, and seven international facilities.

  • SUNY Empire’s online program in Liberal Studies blends online courses with two to three weekends of residencies.
  • The Master’s in Liberal Studies graduate program is offered in two options: a 30-credit program consisting of ten 3-credit courses or a 36-credit program consisting of 12 3-credit courses.
  • The online MALS program starts with two courses followed by a series of elective courses that students can choose from.
  • For electives, students can select six electives from 13 areas of concentration, such as American Studies, Creative Writing, Dance and Movement Studies, Educational Studies, English Literature and Language, Health and Wellness Studies, Historical Studies, International Studies, Performance Studies, Public History or Heritage Preservation, Social Justice, Community Development and Advocacy, The Arts, and Women and Gender Studies
  • As a culminating requirement, online students must accomplish one of five types of final projects, such as a creative project, practicum, educational design project, position/advocacy paper, or academic thesis.

Standout Features of SUNY Empire State College’s Online Master of Arts In Liberal Studies Program:

SUNY Empire State College and Sunbridge Institute have partnered to offer students a unique pathway to obtaining a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degree with a self-developed concentration in Waldorf Education. That said, prospective students who already completed a teacher education program in Early Childhood or Elementary at Waldorf Education will be awarded 12 elective credits when enrolling in SUNY Empire’s MALS degree.

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SUNY Empire State College has several partnerships with non-profit organizations, private sectors, and the military for providing educational opportunities to members, employees, and students of SUNY Empire’s partnership programs.


The University of Chicago

online master's of liberal studies

: 5801 South Ellis Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637
: 773 702 1234

Online Master of Liberal Arts

The University of Chicago, founded in 1890, is an urban research university that now caters to 7,011 undergraduate students and 10,159 graduate, professional, and other students. With a commitment to outstanding research and breakthroughs in different areas of study, the university has national and affiliated laboratories, such as the Marine Biological Laboratory, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and Argonne National Laboratory.

  • University of Chicago’s Online Master of Liberal Arts is offered through the Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies. The program is particularly fit for working professionals, allowing students to earn their MLA degree on a full-time or part-time basis.
  • A concentration in Ethics and Leadership is available for students pursuing the online MLA program at the university.
  • The online student’s MLA’s curriculum comprises four core required courses, three electives, one non-Western elective, and one special project/thesis.
  • Students can earn their MLA degree within 12 months. However, they have five years from the date of enrollment to complete their program.

Standout Features of the University of Chicago’s Online Master of Liberal Arts Program:

The University of Chicago’s Online Master of Liberal Arts Program is a rare combination of academic rigor and flexibility. MLA students study the works of great philosophers in biological sciences, creative arts, physical sciences, social sciences, fine arts, natural sciences, and humanities. The MLA program involves engaging, interdisciplinary courses suitable for adult learners.

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Some of the world’s most prestigious institutions have recognized the University of Chicago scholars and alumni for their significant contributions to education, society, and the liberal arts. Honors and recognition include Nobel Laureates, Turing Award, Truman Scholars, Pulitzer Prize, and Fields Medal. The university has several UChicago awards, national medals, and national academies from different organizations. 


The University of Memphis

online master's of liberal studies

: Memphis, Tennessee 38152
: 901 678 2000

Online Master of Arts In Liberal Studies

Headquartered in a serene neighborhood of Tennessee, the University of Memphis is a major research university founded in 1912. Today, the UofM caters to more than 21,000 students every year. It is home to five state-approved Centers of Excellence and 25 Chairs of Excellence.

  • The Online Master of Arts (MA) in Liberal Studies program requires 33 hours to complete the program consisting of two segments: the Coordinated Study and the MALS core.
  • The requirements for enrollment include a completed application, resume, a minimum of one letter of recommendation, a personal essay, and a Coordinated Study Grid.
  • Every online Master’s in Liberal Studies student must submit a completed Coordinated Study Grid before being enrolled in the program.
  • Students must present a Special Project and pass an oral comprehensive exam to graduate from coursework completion.
  • Students pursuing the Special Project must submit a proposal to their faculty advisor in the semester before taking the course to gain approval.

Standout Features of The University of Memphis’ Online Master of Arts In Liberal Studies Program:

UofM’s Online Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program is a highly flexible program that allows students to design their course of study. With assistance from academic advisors, they can design a curriculum proposal that fulfills both the Graduate School and the interdisciplinary approach of the online MALS program requirements.

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The University of Memphis remains steadfast in its commitment to providing high-quality academic programs to all learners at the most affordable cost. As a result, UofM has launched the Access Memphis Initiatives, including establishing unified tuition fees for on-campus and online courses, setting a tuition cap for students who are residents of Tennessee, and developing a guaranteed tuition plan.


Frequently Asked Questions

How much does an online Master’s of Liberal Studies graduate make?

According to PayScale, graduates with an online master of liberal studies or liberal arts degree can earn a median yearly income of $74,000. However, the earning potential of Master’s in Liberal Studies graduates will significantly vary depending on the industry and the role of the individual within the organization.

How long will it take to complete an online Master’s of Liberal Studies program?

There are no right and wrong answers to this question since it entirely depends on one student to another. Your obligations related to family and work may impact the amount of time you can invest in your courses towards completing an online Master’s of Liberal Studies program.

The majority of online Master in Liberal Studies programs require 30 to 36 credit hours for graduation. If you can commit full-time to a program with 16-week semesters, you can graduate within 12 to 24 months. Similarly, an online Master’s of Liberal Studies program with an accelerated learning format will allow students to graduate faster than the average learner.

However, if you can pursue a full-time graduate program with a year-round 8-week semester format, you can finish in less time.

Is an online Master’s of Liberal Studies degree worth it?

An online Master’s of Liberal Studies degree is definitely worth the commitment, time, and financial resources. The graduate program can help graduates start a rewarding career in a diverse range of industries.

Some of the most common professions for someone with an online master’s degree in liberal studies or liberal arts include curators or archivists, fundraising managers, public relations managers, human resources managers, technical writers, and marketing managers.

Do you need to improve your critical thinking skills? If you’re currently working in the industry, an online Master’s in Liberal Studies degree can provide you with the credentials and proficiencies for career advancement or promotion. If you’re planning to shift in a career, an online Master of Liberal Studies degree will offer a stepping stone to your dream career.

What careers can I pursue with an online Master’s in Liberal Studies degree?

Professionals who already have a Master of Liberal Studies degree can work in diverse career opportunities in different industries, such as the government, arts, education, and business sectors.

With an online Master’s of Liberal Studies degree, professionals can apply for managerial roles or demand a salary increase. For instance, they can work as a marketing manager, public relations manager, or human resources manager in the arts or business sectors.

In some cases, an online Master of Liberal Studies or liberal arts degree can help graduates pursue a career working in a museum, arts organization, community college, or public high school. Graduates wanting to teach in a public high school must accomplish additional teaching licensure or certification requirements.

Are there accreditations to look into when finding a suitable Master of Liberal Studies program?

Once you’ve decided to pursue an online Master’s of Liberal Studies degree, ensure that your chosen college or university is regionally accredited. Accreditations provide a stamp of approval for your program, ensuring that the institution has consistently achieved high-quality education standards.

Like many online liberal arts programs, pursuing a regionally accredited school means it has received accreditation from one of the seven major accrediting agencies:

  • WASC Senior College and University Commission
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  • New England Commission of Higher Education
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Higher Learning Commission
  • Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges
online master's of liberal studies

Key Takeaways:

A Master’s in Liberal Studies degree program provides many benefits, such as:

  • Liberal Studies degree programs promote creativity, research, and critical thinking skills.
  • To get that promotion you’d like, considering one of the above liberal studies degree programs is a great choice!
  • A liberal arts education shows your desire for diversity, inclusion, and liberal and integrative studies; therefore, displaying open-mindedness and interest in an interdisciplinary degree that can be used in your personal and professional life.
  • Distance education classes provide a convenient and flexible way for prospective students to earn their online Master’s in Liberal Studies degree.
  • And, if you are wondering… Yes, in most cases, a Liberal Studies and Liberal Arts program degree is considered the same academic degree program!

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Dr. Jared Goff
Chief Editor