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Liberal studies is a broad, multidisciplinary field that offers exposure to a range of subjects such as culture, society, and science, and develops advanced intellectual, practical, and civic abilities which can then be applied to a wide range of career paths. 
As a learning approach, it gives students the tools that they need to handle diversity, complexity, and the constancy of change. It also allows focus onto a key area of study.
The broad goals of liberal studies education have endured even as the courses and requirements that comprise the program have changed over the years. Today, a liberal education usually includes a general education curriculum that provides broad learning in multiple disciplines and ways of knowing, along with more in-depth study through concentrations and electives.
With a liberal studies degree, students can gain a powerful sense of their social role and responsibility, as well as highly transferable skills in communication, problem-solving, analytics, critical thinking, and applied learning. 
Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the field, coursework is covered across a wide range of subjects. Students also can specialize in chosen areas, based on career goals or interests.
The Master of Liberal Studies can provide an edge when it comes to employment and further study opportunities.Some higher-ranking roles in liberal arts and humanities — including those in libraries, museums, and universities — will typically require an advanced degree for employment, so earning your master’s degree can help prevent you from hitting a ceiling in your career.
The field of study appeals to a variety of students, and admissions requirements for a Master of Liberal Studies program typically will not specify a background. The Master of Liberal Studies is of interest to working professionals, recent graduates, and career changers alike.
The Master of Liberal Studies is ideal for students who want to progress their career or open up new avenues. For example, high school teachers can strengthen their learning in key subject areas to position themselves for more senior roles or salary increases. It is also ideal for students who want to develop their intellectual capabilities and broaden their worldview and horizons, providing transferable skills and knowledge that can be applied to public service as well as to commercial roles.
Additionally, it the Master of Liberal Studies can be beneficial if you wish to pursue a Ph.D. in a humanities subject, and it can give you the opportunity to begin to specialize in your subject areas of choice.
As with most other master’s degrees, most students will enroll with a bachelor’s-level degree. Due to this degree’s interdisciplinary nature, most institutions will accept a wide range academic backgrounds.
If you wish to pursue further study after earning this degree, liberal studies degrees also are available at the doctoral level. These Ph.D. degrees can be useful if you hope to pursue a career in specialized research or academia.
Graduation with a Master of Liberal Studies can help you demonstrate that you possess the ability to think broadly and critically, and that you have breadth of knowledge that can be applied to a variety of situations. This can make you an attractive prospect to employers and help give you the tools and insight that you need to develop your career.
The broad nature of the degree means that you can use it to position yourself for a variety of roles, especially in public services, teaching, writing, and more.
Some students will pursue this degree out of a love of learning. Because each institution will offer its own program structure and a wide variety of courses, it is possible for students to tailor their programs around their interests or future direction, combining a range of academic areas into a tailored degree program.
The field of liberal studies has often been associated with low ROI. However, having this graduate degree could help you stand out from the pack when applying for jobs, and employers may find the broad skill set afforded by the MLS to be desirable. 
Curriculum, specializations, and other opportunities
It makes sense to choose an MLS program that aligns with your intended career path or interests. For example, if you are a teacher looking to earn your MLS to broaden your subject matter knowledge and open up next-level teaching opportunities, then look for a program with plenty of opportunities to do courses and electives in relevant topic areas. Remember that the Master of Liberal Studies gives you plenty of opportunity to tailor your program to your interests — far more than with many other degree types.
It is important to choose an accredited program provider/institution if you want your degree to be recognized by employers and other schools (for example, if you want to pursue a Ph.D. at a later stage). See our accreditation section to find out more.
Look for faculty who specialize or who have experience in the subjects you are interested in. For example, if you are a journalist looking to broaden your knowledge in other areas like social history or political sciences, then a faculty member who has published or worked in these fields could help you accomplish this. Often, schools and programs will publish biographies of their faculty on their program website that will outline interests, awards, and accomplishments.
School or program reputation or rankings
Look at rankings to give you a sense of value and merit — but always seek out information that explains the methodology behind a ranking. Also, while rankings are an important metric, keep in mind that they are not the most important thing to watch. Some lower-ranked universities, for example, may excel in liberal studies, or some less-prestigious MLS programs may feature faculty or subject matter important to your career or interests.
Program delivery method
Many MLS students have jobs and will seek out programs that can be followed via evening school or through distance or blended learning. Remember that an institution may offer more than one delivery method. If you are a working professional or if you have personal obligations, online learning may allow you the flexibility you need to work around your schedule to accomplish your goals.
Program length and credit hours
A typical full-time master’s program will take around two years to complete. A part-time program will take longer. Online learning is generally self-directed at the learner’s own pace if delivered via asynchronous methods.
Success of previous students
Look for notable alumni who have gone on to work or be prominent in fields that you are interested in. Some programs also may set up opportunities for prospective students to meet former and current students. Programs also may post student and alumni profiles on their websites. This can be very informative and give you an idea of how effectively the program might set you up to succeed at your own personal ambitions.
Liberal studies master’s programs can help you prepare you for the intellectual requirements of a professional career by developing your understanding of social, cultural, and economic issues to an advanced level. The degree also can help you improve your ability to write, analyze data, and complete research, which can be especially valuable if you intend to apply for a Ph.D. or to work in a scientific, education, legal, journalistic, or other evidence-based profession.
The Association of American Colleges & Universities, which advocates for modern liberal education, suggests that general competencies and outcomes for a liberal education should include: 
Remember that the flexible nature of the MLS means that you can specialize. Many programs allow 50% of courses to be within a specific subject area, with further scope to specialize via the capstone project. This is ideal if you know which direction you’re planning to take in your career after you graduate. For example, if you wish to work as a museum curator in a history museum, you could focus your program course choices around history, curation, learning environments, and other relevant subjects.
Because many students who earn their master’s in liberal studies have work commitments and other obligations, many programs offer flexible options such as a fully online program or an on-campus program delivered during evenings and weekends. Online programs will be more flexible and likely to be delivered on an asynchronous, self-directed basis.
The NCES found that the proportion of liberal arts graduates with a full-time job one year after graduation increased between 1975 and 2001; however, employment was lower for students with only the undergraduate degree than for other majors. For post-graduates, the outlook is strong — humanities majors have experienced a growth of 16% in employment after achieving a Master of Liberal Studies/Arts. 
Unlike many vocational master’s programs, the Master of Liberal Studies is not geared toward a career in any particular field. Instead, it is designed to develop intellectual curiosity, understanding across a range of topics, critical thinking, and broad professional skills that will position them to become dynamic leaders and professionals across a range of fields.
Humanities is key to many of the primary functions and elements of modern economies and productivity. Bodies such as universities, museums, journalism, and publishing companies — which are typical employers of humanities graduates — generate investment returns, jobs, and tax revenue. They rely on humanistic skills such as communication, analysis, critical thinking, research and intellectual curiosity — all of which will become increasingly key in the modern knowledge-based economy. 
Graduates with liberal studies or arts degrees can move into a wide array of professions or further their careers within an existing function. The Master of Liberal Studies has particularly strong utility for teachers.
The program is often very popular with educators, who use it to deepen their subject knowledge. BLS figures show that high school teachers earned $58,030 on average in 2016, and employment is expected to expand at an average pace, growing by 6% from 2014 through 2024. 
Many MLS students intend to go into secondary and post-secondary teaching. A master’s is required for teaching positions at the college level. Those who want to become professors at a four-year school often need a doctorate. Teacher salaries average $75,430 at the postsecondary level, with a 13% growth in the field expected between 2014 and 2024. 
There are several other positions for which MLS graduates may be qualified. Some of those positions, with average salaries and industry growth expectations between 2014-24, include:
Positions in science or natural history museums often require a doctoral degree, but arts and other museums will accept master’s degrees in liberal studies where there has been focus or specialization in a relevant topic area.
Other common roles include:
Liberal studies degrees are interdisciplinary and require students to complete coursework from many areas of study. Students will have the opportunity to focus their studies based on their interests or career goals. A typical program will usually blend broad learning opportunities across many disciplines and means of learning, complemented with concentrations and specializations, electives, and/or a thesis or capstone project.
The curriculum is heavily tailored to individual needs and interests and can encompass:
Many programs will provide general overviews of many subjects, including those listed above, but programs also may do a deeper dive with seminars focusing on more specific topics. These may include varied subjects such as poverty, specific cultures, or analysis of specific philosophical texts. Programs will often cover content from ancient history through postmodern developments. There will often also be specific courses that encourage students to analyze and make links between the varied liberal disciplines.
You will choose courses that comprise the elements of an education in liberal studies — for example, sciences, arts, education, politics, business, and history. Usually, this will be done with the support of a graduate advisor from the institution offering the program, to ensure that you create a strong program of study.
Half of the coursework is likely to be focused in a single discipline of choice, and then the remaining course credit hours requirements can generally be spread across other programs of interest. Although courses vary widely, common examples might include:
Many MLS programs will require a capstone project, which often takes the form of or includes as a component an essay (a thesis). This may be written under the supervision of a faculty mentor. The capstone gives the student an opportunity to explore and analyze a subject of interest thoroughly.
There may be an option to attend an on-campus residency. If this is offered, it will be scheduled in advance, and and it will likely take place over a weekend to accommodate students who are working. These opportunities typically offer learning enrichment, such as face-to-face seminars and group debates. They may also offer access to guest speakers who are prominent in their field.
These types of residencies are popular with students who wish to engage with other students, meet faculty, and enjoy the experience of face-to-face learning, to complement their online study and bring elements of the program to life in a more experiential way.
Liberal studies programs typically require several electives from varying areas of academia. Due to the nature of these degrees, you will likely have the opportunity to choose from a wide range of subjects and topics.
Example electives include:
Because the MLS is designed to be a generalist degree, concentrations or specializations often aren’t required. However, you may have the opportunity to pursue a specialization or area of emphasis. Choices often will align with the subjects already touched upon in the curriculum, and they can add a deeper understanding of these topics. Examples of specializations could be:
A specialization may be especially beneficial to educators, students who are thinking of going on to a Ph.D. program, or anyone who wants to combine interdisciplinary methods with specific subjects. Students complete four thematically linked courses to earn a specialization.
Concentrations, specializations, and electives can help you if you want to pursue specialized employment. In 2014, the job market had:
Internships and field placements give students the opportunity to apply the knowledge gained from their degree program to a real-world working environment. They are often mandatory as part of vocational degree programs. However, the nature of the Master of Liberal Studies means that most degree programs will not include a work experience requirement.
Although most liberal studies master’s programs won’t include an internship requirement, finding one proactively can help secure you a role in your career of choice. InternMatch found that students with paid internships under their belts were three times more likely to receive job offers when they graduated. 
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The length of an online master’s degree program can depend on a number of variables, perhaps the most prominent of which is the pace at which you choose to study. You can finish a typical master’s degree program in about two to three years if you choose to study full-time, although some accelerated programs may be able to help you finish more quickly.
Online master’s degree programs tend to offer flexibility suitable for students who choose to study part-time. This option will likely extend your time to completion, but it can allow you to study while fulfilling your familial, social, and professional obligations.
You can find more information on this topic at our program length overview page.
While each program will set its admission requirements based on its own criteria, many requirements are universal across all programs. No matter where you apply, you can expect to provide items like transcripts from previous degrees or coursework; standardized test scores; a personal statement or essay; letters of recommendation; and an overview of relevant work experience.
In certain cases, some of these requirements may be waived.
For more information about admissions, please visit our admissions requirements page.
Many fields of study have particularly accrediting bodies. For liberal studies, the specialist body is the American Academy for Liberal Education.  The Association of Graduate Liberal Arts Programs also exists to promote quality education in the field. 
Alongside accreditation and other quality markers, certain institutions may hold awards to denote the value and excellence of their liberal arts programs. For example, the Association of Graduate Liberal Arts Programs awards an Annual Faculty Award to liberal studies programs that display the highest levels of excellence in their tuition, delivery, and student experience. 
If you are going to do an online program, then consider state authorization. Any college that offers student programs in states where the program has no physical base must adhere to the educational standards laid out by each relevant state. This is regulated by the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-Sara). You can see a list of SARA states and non-SARA states (e.g. California, Massachusetts, and Florida) online as well as well as a list of institutions that participate in the agreement. 
Undertaking your master’s degree is a big commitment, both academically and financially. It’s important to do your research to make sure your educational plan is a good match for your desired outcome.
Due to the Master of Liberal Studies’ broad range of topics, there are several master’s degrees that may touch on similar topics and competencies, especially in arts and humanities. You might not get as broad an education, but these degrees can lead to similar outcomes, and they might be a better fit for your goals and interests. Some of these degrees include:
The Master of Liberal Studies does not necessarily lead to any specific licensure or certification. It is a broad, interdisciplinary degree designed to prepare students for rewarding careers in areas that include public service.
Many graduates from liberal arts and studies programs move into teaching and education. Those who wish to work in public school education must gain additional state certification. This can involve supervised internships, teacher education coursework, and academic exams like the Praxis tests.
Some students will pursue an academic route after completing their MLS, earning a doctorate in a subject they took at the master’s level. Popular options include history and visual culture.
The ancient Greeks defined the seven original liberal arts, which they considered vital for all educated citizens to master: grammar, rhetoric, logic, geometry, arithmetic, music, and astronomy. It was the Greeks who first posited that citizens should gain a broad educational exposure to studies that touched on math, the arts, communication, and other associated studies, underpinned with critical thinking and logic. 
Liberal arts in the last century was primarily focused on intellectual and personal development and viewed as being a non-vocational option for those who wanted to study for the sake of learning rather than vocation. It continues to be about personal and intellectual development today, and many consider a broad knowledge of liberal studies essential for success in today’s globally connected society. 
Postgraduate liberal studies were first offered by Wesleyan University in the 1950s. The university wanted to “free” graduate education from what they saw as an excess of specialization. It was originally aimed at teachers and professors, and it became a particularly prominent choice for study in the 1960s. Today, more than 100 schools offer a master’s-level program in liberal studies. 
There are a number of factors that can greatly affect how much your education will cost. These include whether you attend a public or private institution; whether you attend as an in-state or out-of-state student; and whether you qualify for financial aid like grants or scholarships.
For a more detailed breakdown of tuition, fees, and other financial issues, please visit our tuition and fees page.
A Master of Arts in Liberal Studies is an interdisciplinary program that is designed provide both breadth and depth of studies within the liberal arts. The degree pulls together studies from various disciplines including English, humanities, social sciences, and political sciences.
This degree is for students who are interested expanding their knowledge base, analytic thinking, creative understanding, and critical thinking. Many students who graduate from a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies programs choose to pursue further education at the doctoral level. Since the MLS covers a broad array of topics, students can pursue a number of Ph.D.-level degrees, including in subjects like:
Graduates who earn a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies can develop a solid foundation of knowledge that relates to many careers and interests. There are many concentrations and areas of focus to specialize your degree.
The primary focus of the Master of Liberal Studies degree is to provide students the capability to think critically and analyze various disciplines to explore and systematically uncover an understanding of the world.
When deciding on a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies, consider programs that are accredited, that provide a wide range of concentrations, and that are flexible in terms of program design. You should take special note of a program’s curriculum to ensure that it offers subject matter via core coursework, electives, or specializations that matches up with your goals and interests.
Applicants to an MLS program are typically required to have a four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Most institutions require that graduates have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, although some programs allow flexibility in this regard.
Whether you will need to complete the GRE prior to applying for a program will largely depend on what school you choose. There are many programs that do not require a GRE. Check the admissions requirements for your school before applying.
No, not necessarily. Students who have a bachelor’s in liberal studies will be accustomed to the learning outcomes and type of courses that are available. However, having an undergraduate degree in the field is not mandatory.
Most institutions do not require that you have work experience to be considered for a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies. However, having experience in a particular field will help you focus the type of concentration and specialization courses to choose.
No. A Master of Arts in Liberal Studies is an interdisciplinary degree that can be applied to almost any industry setting. Only a four-year undergraduate/bachelor’s from an accredited college or university is required for admission.
No. For most programs, there are no prerequisites required for admission for most Master of Arts in Liberal Arts programs.
The core course for a Master of Liberal Studies typically are designed to offer students general understanding of liberal education. They focus on analyzing a topic from an interdisciplinary perspective. The core courses focus on critical thinking about a topic and developing understanding of how liberal arts relate to the world around us.
When deciding on a curriculum, consider a university that offers the type of courses and concentrations you are interested in learning more about. This will ultimately allow you to focus on the type of learning outcomes you want to achieve from your master’s degree.
No. A Master of Arts in Liberal Studies does not typically require you to complete fieldwork or practicum. However, many programs will encourage you to seek out internship opportunities. These often are attractive to employers and can help you stand out when searching for a job.
Yes. There are many master’s in liberal studies programs that are delivered through an online format.
Most institutions do not indicate on the degree that it was earned online.
Yes, typically schools follow the same curriculum for their online programs as they do for their campus-based programs.
Asynchronous coursework can be completed on your own time — a big plus for many online graduate students. Synchronous coursework has to be completed within a set timeframe. This is typically done for group projects, seminars, presentations, and other learning initiatives that require multiple attendees. The elements of asynchronous and synchronous learning in your online program depend on the professor and class itself. Once you enroll, reach out to teachers for specifics, but remember that the curriculum may be divided into these two subsets.
A Master of Arts in Liberal Studies can offer a wide range of concentrations to choose from. Some concentrations include art, global management, political science, public administration, business, history, English, and nursing.
When choosing a specialization or concentration for a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degree, consider what type of learning or outcomes you want to get out of the degree. Due to the considerable number options for specializations and concentrations, it is critical to align your career goals with your area of study. You must be cognizant when choosing courses that they relate to each other and that they help you develop the skills and competencies you want.
When you choose a concentration or specialization, you are focusing on learning about a specific area of study. Essentially, you are preparing yourself for a specific type of career by choosing relevant courses. Due to the broad nature of the MLS degree, students are essentially able to pick and choose from a variety of courses and specializations to design a custom master’s degree.
No. Certification is not required for the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies.
A Master of Arts in Liberal Studies doesn’t necessarily prepare for one specific career. It does, however, help prepare you with skills like analytical thinking that would be beneficial across multiple professions.  Critical thinking is a skill that can be transferrable to any field, including:
Master of Arts in Liberal Studies careers are increasingly available and diverse. Some of the top-paying jobs you can pursue with a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degree include: 
A Master of Arts in Liberal Studies is an interdisciplinary program that allows you to choose from a broad variety of disciplines that suit your interest to align to your career aspiration.
Graduates of a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program work in various fields and organizations. Organizations value the their methodical and systematic approach to problem solving, and many companies are seeing the value of a liberal studies degree.
Experts predict that many jobs available today may be obsolete in the future due to automation. The upcoming generation of workers will need to be able to explore, adapt, and broaden their experiences, which is something that a liberal arts degree offers.  A Master of Arts in Liberal Studies is a comprehensive degree that is adaptable to various disciplines.
A Master of Arts in Liberal Studies can help you sharpen your ability to think critically and solve problems. Organizations are always seeking professionals who have a holistic educational background, in combination with a strong command of writing and communication for problem solving and conceptual thinking. A Master of Arts in Liberal Studies is unique in that you are able to expand your knowledge base, analytical insight, creative research, and independent thought.
No. Attaining management/senior positions is not guaranteed through the completion of a master’s degree. These positions often require many years of experience and a significant level of career achievement. However, an advanced degree can help you develop the necessary knowledge and skills required for these positions and also prove your dedication to the field.
Accreditation helps determine if an institution meets or exceeds the minimum standards of quality set by recognized regional or national accreditation agencies. A list of regional and national institutional accrediting agencies can be found at the U.S. Department of Education.
Accreditations are a strong indication of quality, but are also a requirement for students who plan to apply for federal financial aid. Accreditation ensures that your degree is recognized by employers, professional associations, and other accredited institutions of higher education.
When considering institutions, choose one that is accredited by one of the six regional accrediting organizations in the United States. These programs are recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). They are:
Accredited programs are typically more prestigious, reputable, and respected. When earning a degree from an accredited program, the quality of education tends to be higher compared to a curriculum from a non-accredited program. Overall, earning a degree from an accredited program can make you more marketable to employers.