In this article, we profile the 20 most affordable online master’s in liberal studies programs from private colleges and universities.
Earning a liberal studies graduate degree can open doors to careers in a wide range of fields–from business to education. But you do not have to give up your current career to go back to school. Now some of the nation’s top private colleges offer online master’s in liberal studies programs.
We reviewed approximately 42 private colleges and universities with online master’s in liberal studies or closely related programs. To narrow our pool of schools, we confirmed accreditation at the national or regional level to ensure that all institutions on our list were accredited. We then collected data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) College Navigator, such as the most recently published graduate tuition and fees. Many of the schools on our list have received rankings from major publications like U.S. News and World Report. We listed the schools below by order of affordability.
Below is our list of the 20 most affordable online master’s in liberal studies programs from private colleges in 2018.
#20 – Johns Hopkins University
Online Master’s in Liberal Arts
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $54,050
While certainly not the cheapest program on our list, Johns Hopkins University does offer online liberal arts graduate degrees that bring reputation and prestige. This fully online master’s in liberal arts degree consists of ten courses, all of which may be completed via distance education. All classes are taught by the same professors who teach at the prestigious Johns Hopkins campus, and no residency is required. Some of the courses include British Victorian women, great ethical philosophers, and social history of medicine. Johns Hopkins is a highly ranked and accredited private institution. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks the school as the 11th best national university and the 19th best value school in the country.
#19 – Texas Christian University
Online Master of Liberal Arts
Fort Worth, Texas
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $28,038
Texas Christian University offers an accredited online liberal arts degree designed for graduate students. The online Master of Liberal Arts is designed to offer a graduate-level education within the broad areas of liberal studies. Courses may be taken entirely online and are offered on a rotating basis. Several advanced certificates can be added to the degree. These certificates allow students to tailor their program to fit areas of interest like intensive English, ranch management, and women and gender studies. The school is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 78th best national university and 69th best value school in the country.
#18 – University of Richmond
Online Master of Liberal Arts
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $24,480
One of the top online master’s in liberal studies programs on our list is the Master of Liberal Arts online degree from University of Richmond. Graduate study in MLA requires an interdisciplinary focus by taking convenient, online courses taught by university professors. The MLA program requires 30 semester hours of coursework, including several electives that allow students to tailor their degree toward areas of interest. Some of the offered courses include fundamentals of managerial accounting, knowledge management – methods of learning and thinking, and strategic reading and writing. The private university is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 23rd best national liberal arts college and 20th best value school in the country.
#17 – Excelsior College
Online Master’s in Liberal Studies
Albany, New York
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $21,285
Excelsior College offers a liberal studies master’s online degree program designed to prepare students for all kinds of career paths. Coursework can be completed entirely online and includes classes in cultural studies, ethics, global issues, humanities, organizational leadership, research and writing, and strategic problem solving. The program is designed to be flexible and convenient for working professionals trying to balance work and school. The program has been accepted into full membership by the Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs, and the school is accredited and recognized by U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News recognizes Excelsior as a top unranked regional university in the North.
#16 – Prescott College
Online Master’s in Arts and Humanities
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $20,870
Prescott College is one of the most affordable private institutions to offer liberal studies master’s online degree programs. Unlike most online programs, Prescott combines online classes with a limited-residency format that allows students to participate in in-person opportunities and connect with peers and professors. The degree can be tailored to fit personal interests or to meet career goals. Some of the courses include climate justice and climate consequences, graduate scholarship and research methodology, and worldviews and sustainability. Major publications like U.S. News and World Report rank Prescott as the 81st best regional university in the West.
#15 – Nova Southeastern University
Online Master’s in Cross-Disciplinary Studies
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $20,419
Nova Southeastern University offers a liberal studies master’s online degree program that aims at convenience and accommodation by delivering online courses and self-design options. Students may select which classes they take and tailor their degree toward areas of interest or to meet specific career goals. Six concentration tracks are offered, including coastal environment and society, culture and society, education and society, health and society, information systems and society, and institutional assessment. In lieu of a comprehensive examination, students complete a final portfolio project during the last semester of the program. Major publications like U.S. News and World Report rank Nova as the 198th best national university in the country.
#14 – Albertus Magnus University
Online Master’s in Liberal Arts
New Haven, Connecticut
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $19,832
The online master’s in liberal studies program at Albertus Magnus University is designed to provide an avenue for life-long learning. The program is multidisciplinary by design to allow students the opportunity to explore a wide range of classes and content. All courses are delivered online and taught by university professors. Successful completion of the 33 graduate credits includes a final proposal writing seminar and final project. To be admitted, students must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a GPA of 2.8 or better. Two letters of recommendation and official transcripts are also required. U.S. News and World Report ranks Albertus as the 116th best regional university in the North.
#13 – Southern New Hampshire University
Online Master’s in History
Manchester, New Hampshire
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $18,810
One alternative to the online liberal arts master’s program at Southern New Hampshire University is the online master’s in history. This degree explores a number of liberal arts classes that are applicable to careers in government, preservation, research, or teaching. Three concentrations are available and allow students to hone their history degree toward areas of interest, such as American history, military history, and public history. The general schedule requires two classes each semester, and most students complete their master’s degree in as little as 15 months. Also, admission does not require the GRE or GMAT. Major publications like U.S. News and World Report rank Southern New Hampshire as the 86th best regional university in the North.
#12 – Carlow University
Online Master’s in Creative Writing
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,612
For those interested in a liberal studies master’s online degree, other options like the MFA program at Carlow University exist to offer students a well-rounded education that is applicable to various career paths. The program is considered to be a low-residency program and is structured for those with daytime jobs. While most classes are delivered online, the residencies consist of 11 intense days in Pittsburgh and 11 days in Dublin, Ireland–both homes to countless authors. This partially online degree is intended for those students who aspire to become professional writers or to apply writing to careers in education, business, law, or teaching. Carlow is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 111th best regional university in the North.
#11 – Regent University
Online Master’s in Practical Theology
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,326
Regent University’s online master’s in liberal studies focuses on practical theology and offers a specialization for those interested in church-based worship and media. The degree is intended for individuals pursuing careers as campus ministers, directors of worship, worship artists, and worship leaders in church organizations. All classes may be taken online and are taught by Regent’s experienced instructors. Some of the classes include biblical hermeneutics, church history, foundation for biblical mission, leadership in church ministry, and technology and media in ministry. Regent is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as a top national institution (#231-#300), and several of the school’s online graduate programs have earned recognition.
#10 – Tiffin University
Online Master of Humanities
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,900
One of the top liberal studies master’s online programs on our list is offered by Tiffin University. This master of humanities program may be completed entirely online and focuses on providing students with a wide scope of classes that are applicable to many career paths. Five areas of concentration may be selected so that students tailor their degree toward interests or career goals. These concentrations include art and visual media, communication, creative writing, English, or film studies. Tiffin is a highly selective institution and is ranked and accredited. In fact, major publications like U.S. News and World Report rank Tiffin as the 93rd best regional university in the Midwest.
#9 – Regis University
Online Master of Arts
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,852
One of the most affordable online master’s in liberal studies or related programs on our list is the Master of Arts at Regis University. This multidisciplinary degree offers a rigorous online study program that provides students with the freedom to tailor their own degree. Sample degree plans are available, though students may choose to structure their own classes to suit their career. A total of 36 credits are required to complete the degree. Regis is a top-ranked private institution. In fact, major publications like U.S. News and World Report rank the school as the 27th best regional university in the West and the 28th best value institution. Also, several online graduate programs have earned top 100 placements.
#8 – Wayland Baptist University
Online Master of Arts in Humanities
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,450
Wayland Baptist University’s liberal studies master’s online degree is a flexibly designed humanities program that provides options to focus on one area while taking a wide range of interdisciplinary classes. The program consists of 36 credits which may be split between two disciplines, such as English and public relations. All classes are delivered online and taught by the same professors who lead on-campus instruction. To complete the program, students must take a one-credit comprehensive examination near the end of study. Wayland Baptist is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as a top regional university in the West. Also, several of the online graduate programs have earned recognition.
#7 – Faulkner University
Online Master’s in Humanities
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,750
Faulkner University offers one of the most affordable online liberal arts graduate programs on our list. The online master’s in humanities is an interdisciplinary program designed to accommodate working students with busy schedules that impact traditional schooling. Classes are delivered online and taught by Faulkner instructors. Some of the online courses you can expect to take include human letters, introduction to human letters and writing, and scholarly inquiry and writing in the humanities. Admission requires an earned bachelor’s from a regionally accredited college or university and a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Three letters of recommendation are also required. Major publications like U.S. News and World Report rank Faulkner as the 106th best regional university in the South.
#6 – Baker University
Online Master of Liberal Arts
Baldwin City, Kansas
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,368
The online master’s in liberal studies from Baker University is a 36-credit hour program designed for working students. The degree is structured to complete in just 18 to 24 months, but additional time is allowed. All classes are delivered online and taught by Baker instructors. Students take a wide range of courses that enable them to become better communicators, thinkers, and writers. Several concentration options are also available should the student want to tailor their liberal arts degree toward an area of interest. Concentrations include creative arts, gender studies, history and ideas, management and leadership, and natural and social sciences. Baker is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 46th best regional university in the Midwest and the 71st best value school.
#5 – Salve Regina University
Online Master’s in Humanities
Newport, Rhode Island
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,290
One of the most affordable online master’s in liberal studies programs on our list is the online master’s in humanities at Salve Regina University. The program is offered as a fully online degree and is designed to prepare students for entry into the humanities doctoral program, also offered at Salve Regina. The program integrates core classes in the humanities such as arts, ethics, history, language and literature, philosophy, and religion. Electives may be selected to help bolster the degree or to gain knowledge in an area of interest like counseling, international relations, or rehabilitation counseling. Salve is a top-ranked private college. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks the school as the 37th best regional university in the North and the 40th best value institution.
#4 – Hamline University
Online Master’s in Teaching English (TESOL)
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,148
For individuals interested in earning a teaching degree, Hamline offers an interdisciplinary online liberal arts graduate program designed to prepare students for teaching English to speakers of other languages. Students are required to take a wide range of courses in culture, language, and instruction. The wide scope of classes provides students with broad-based knowledge in the liberal arts. To be admitted to the program, students must hold an accredited bachelor’s degree with an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. Additional admission requirements include a two-page essay, two letters of recommendation, and a completed online application. Hamline is a top-ranked private institution that has earned recognition from U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the school ranks #16 among the best regional universities in the Midwest and #17 among the best value schools.
#3 – Gardner-Webb University
Online Master’s in English
Boiling Springs, North Carolina
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,050
One of the most affordable online master’s in liberal studies programs on our list is the master’s in English at Gardner-Webb University. This fully online English degree is designed to provide students with an interdisciplinary approach to the English discipline. Students learn how to read, write, and communicate effectively by taking online courses that cover a wide range of topics. Three concentration areas are also offered so that students may tailor their degree. These concentrations include English education, literature studies, and writing studies. Gardner-Webb is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 223rd best national university in the country.
#2 – Liberty University
Online Master’s in Interdisciplinary Studies
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,723
The online liberal arts degree programs at Liberty University include the online master’s in interdisciplinary studies. This fully online graduate program is designed to provide students with the opportunity to select two areas of study that can be applied to various career choices. Areas of study include counseling, English, executive leadership, government, history, psychology, public health, and religion. The degree may be completed in just two years by taking online classes that run eight weeks in length. To add to the program’s flexibility, eight different start dates are offered so that students may jump in at any time throughout the year. U.S. News and World Report ranks Liberty as a top 300 national university.
#1 – American Public University
Online Master’s in Humanities
Charles Town, West Virginia
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,600
The cheapest online liberal arts master’s program on our list is offered by American Public University. This 36-credit hour program may be completed entirely online and accepts 15 transfer credits. The standard completion time for the master’s in humanities is two years when studying full-time. To be admitted to the program, applicants must have earned a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an institution accredited and recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Courses are taught by university professors and delivered 100% online. These courses may include evolution of earth and university, history and popular culture, history of religion, and history of science. While APU is not ranked with major publications, the school is recognized among the regional universities in the South by U.S. News and World Report and is the #1 most affordable private college on our list to offer online master’s in liberal arts programs.