Liberal Studies Degrees: Associate, Bachelor & Online Course Info

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What kind of job can you get with a degree in liberal studies? Find out program requirements, online options and info on courses and liberal studies degree programs.
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Studying Liberal Studies: Degrees at a Glance

Earning an undergraduate degree in liberal studies will provide you with knowledge of that touches upon several academic fields. Many liberal studies programs have an interdisciplinary design, allowing you to gain fundamental skills and knowledge within the fields of humanities, natural sciences and social sciences, among others. Liberal studies degree programs prepare you for many career paths, including writing, public relations, journalism, market research, business, law and politics. Some of these fields may require additional training or education.

Some liberal studies programs are designed so students choose a set amount of courses within 6-9 academic fields. Others offer concentration options within the liberal studies major, such as communications, organizational leadership, entrepreneurship or politics. Concentration options allow students to focus their degree programs toward meeting their career goals.

Associate Degree Bachelor's Degree
Who is this program for? Students interested in multiple fields of study Students interested in interdisciplinary career fields
Common Career Paths (with median annual salary) - Administrative assistant ($32,000)*
- Human resource assistant ($35,000)**
- Freelance writer ($55,000)*
- Author ($56,000)*
- Public relations manager ($93,000)*
-Broadcast news analyst ($56,000)*
Time to Completion 2 years, full time 4 years, full time
Common Graduation Requirements - Meet coursework requirements in liberal studies
- Complete general education requirements
- Meet elective requirements
- Complete core liberal studies courses
- Get approval for degree program track
- Fulfill liberal studies requirements
- Complete concentration classes
Prerequisites High school diploma - High school diploma
- In some cases, an associate degree or several postsecondary courses
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures), ** (July 2012 figures).

Associate Degree in Liberal Studies

Many associate degree programs in liberal studies prepare students for transferring into bachelor's degree programs. However, these programs may also prepare you for entering directly into the workforce. At some colleges, students may select between an associate in arts, an associate in science or an associate in applied sciences degree. Each type of degree has a particular focus. For example, an associate's in arts degree in liberal studies may focus more on the arts and humanities, while an associate's of science degree may be more on vocational training.

Also, students may be able to design their own degree programs if it meets certain requirements. Along with academic training, program coursework may provide you with improved skills, including the ability to think logically, analyze problems, understand complex documents and make ethical decisions.

Pros and Cons


  • Range of career opportunities available
  • Degree program may be tailored to your interests
  • Online degree programs have flexible schedule for working adults


  • Degree program may not provide you with structured guidance in selecting liberal studies coursework
  • Many careers require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree*
  • Most 2-year liberal arts programs do not offer liberal studies internships

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Courses and Requirements

Some liberal studies programs may require you to complete specific courses such as academic writing or communications. Most give you the freedom to choose your classes if they meet degree requirements that ensure you are getting a well-rounded liberal studies education. Many of these courses fall under subjects in other majors, such as:

  • English
  • Natural sciences
  • Humanities
  • Social sciences
  • Fine arts
  • Math

Some programs may require additional elective coursework. Typically, you'll need to complete a total of 60-70 units, which includes a combination of general education, elective and liberal studies core courses. Many schools also require students to maintain a minimum grade point average to graduate.

Online Degree Options

Online associate's degree programs in liberal studies are available. Some programs may be completed entirely online, while others combine online courses with classroom training or previous coursework. Completing an online program may be a good option you if you have completed some postsecondary coursework but not a formal degree program. Most online programs will allow you to transfer credits or units from previous coursework, even if your previous major was not in liberal studies.

Stand Out with This Degree

Because liberal studies programs expose you to range of subjects in several academic fields, this broad-knowledge may help you stand out to potential employers. However, liberal studies degree programs may not provide enough vocation-specific training. To get this training, you may need to enroll in a vocational certificate program.

If you know what career you're pursuing, you may earn a certificate in that field. There are certificate programs available in many industries, including business, health care and criminal justice. Your liberal studies classes may even count toward both the degree and the certificate program.

Bachelor's Degree in Liberal Studies

Bachelor's degree programs in liberal studies allow you to shape your degree. Students generally receive more guidance on selecting courses and conducting research across various fields. Some bachelor's degree programs offer concentrations that provide a more structured liberal studies program. Students will need to communicate with advisers regularly to design their liberal studies program. Because liberal studies is not a career-specific degree program, graduates may be motivated to prove themselves to potential employers.

Pros and Cons


  • Some liberal studies programs teach you to shape your degree to fit your interests
  • The range of subjects you study may provide you with a greater understanding of various fields
  • Graduates who pursue careers in public relations, communications and media may expect job growth of 10%-21% between 2010 and 2020*


  • Liberal studies graduates who seek entry-level positions in political science careers may experience strong competition*
  • Some careers, including market research analysts, require applicants to hold a master's degree*
  • Career opportunities in journalism are expected to decline by 6% between 2010 and 2020*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Common Courses and Requirements

Some degree programs may not allow students to start liberal studies coursework until completing certain general education classes. Many also require students to complete certain liberal studies core classes that may teach you about a liberal studies education as well as examine liberal studies from a historical perspective.

You'll also need to complete selected electives in liberal studies. These are usually upper division coursework from different academic fields. Your program may offer concentration options, such as American studies, international affairs, community development or leadership.

Online Program Info

There are several schools that offer an online bachelor's degree program in liberal studies. Some programs may only accept a small number of applicants. While upper division coursework in liberal studies degree programs may be offered completely online, not all lower division courses will be available. That's because several online programs are designed for transfer students who have completed coursework.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

A bachelor's degree in liberal studies may provide you with a wide set of skills that employers want, but not all programs provide enough field-specific coursework. To compensate, you could pursue a minor in a field of interest. For example, a minor in business would allow you to learn about accounting, management and marketing. Training in these areas can be applied to various career fields and may help you get ahead in the job market. You may want to talk with your academic advisers about what other minor options are available with your liberal studies degree program.

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