In this article, we highlight the top 30 online master’s in liberal studies degree programs for 2016.

A graduate degree in liberal studies can open the door to various careers in education, law, politics, or sociology. Most master’s degrees in liberal studies are interdisciplinary programs that cover a wide range of courses. Students are exposed to variety, and may hone their interests based on the classes they take. To accommodate busy and working students, some of the top institutions in the country now offer online graduate degrees in liberal arts, liberal studies, or related interdisciplinary programs.

Methodology

We examined 43 accredited colleges and universities that offered online master’s degrees in liberal studies, liberal arts, interdisciplinary studies, or a related discipline. We selected schools with rankings from major publications like Forbes magazine, The Princeton Review, and U.S. News and World Report. We then ordered the schools based on the most recent graduate tuition/fees published by NCES College Navigator. We listed the schools in order of affordability, with the #1 spot going to the most affordable.

Below are our resulting selections of the top 30 online master’s in liberal studies degree programs or related field.

#30 – Johns Hopkins University

Online Master of Liberal Arts

Baltimore, Maryland

Website

Johns Hopkins University - online master's in liberal studies

Johns Hopkins University is a top-ranked institution that offers an online master’s in liberal arts degree.

Graduate tuition/fees: $50,510

While not the most affordable online master’s in liberal studies, Johns Hopkins University offers one of the top programs of its kind in the country. The online master of liberal arts degree can be completed entirely via distance education to provide a convenient and flexible learning environment for busy and working students. Online courses include cultural eras, exploring the liberal arts, film and public memory, history of the papacy, poetry and the visual arts, and Shakespeare and film. A MLA portfolio, graduate project, and internship are also required. Johns Hopkins is ranked by major publications like Forbes magazine, The Princeton Review, and U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News ranks the school as the 10th best national university and the 20th best value school. Also, several of the institution’s online graduate programs rank in the top 10.

For more information: John Hopkins University

#29 – University of Denver

Online Master’s in Arts, Literature, and Culture

Denver, Colorado

Website

University of Denver - online master's in liberal studies

While not the most affordable, University of Denver offers a top-notch online liberal arts master’s degree.

Graduate tuition/fees: $43,458

The online master’s in liberal studies offered at University of Denver is a unique blend of the arts, literature, and culture. Courses are delivered entirely online and in ten-week terms. Required classes include cultural participation and program planning, emerging trends in art, from romance to realism, literary genres for writers, and world visual and performance art. Students also have the option to customize their degree and build their own plan, although core requirements still apply. The University of Denver does not offer the most affordable program but is top-ranked and accredited. U.S. News and World Report ranks the school as the 86th best national university.

#28 – Texas Christian University

Online Master of Liberal Arts

Fort Worth, Texas

Website

Texas Christian University - Online Master’s in Liberal Studies

Students explore topics in literature, religion, and writing in the online master’s of liberal arts at Texas Christian University.

Graduate tuition/fees: $25,518

Whether you’re looking for a master’s in liberal studies or liberal arts, online options are available at Texas Christian University. Online courses explore a variety of literature, history, and arts and culture topics. In fact, some of the courses include creative writing – advanced fiction writing, global persuasive campaigns, religion and violence, and the ethics of communication. The program is designed to offer graduate studies in multidisciplinary areas of liberal arts. Texas Christian University is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News ranks the school as the 82nd best national university and the 67th best college for veterans.

#27 – Union Institute and University

Online Master’s in Creativity Studies

Cincinnati, Ohio

Website

Union Institute - Online Master’s in Liberal Studies

Union Institute’s online master’s in creativity studies is an alternative to the online master’s in liberal studies.

Graduate tuition/fees: $18,780

Union Institute and University offers an accredited and online master’s in liberal studies program that focuses on creativity studies. Successful degree candidates earn a master’s in creativity studies that can be applied to fields like business, education, law, and liberal arts. The program is entirely online and requires a thesis that is designed by the graduate student. Students interested in pursuing a doctorate degree may use their master’s thesis as a foundation for their doctoral research. The program may be completed in as little as 24 months. Online courses include modes of creative inquiry, qualitative research methodologies, and quantitative creative studies. The university is listed by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a best national university.

#26 – Rutgers University

Online Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

Camden, New Jersey

Website

Rutgers University - Online Master’s in Liberal Studies

Rutgers University’s online master’s in liberal studies program is 100% online.

Graduate tuition/fees: $18,505

Rutgers University offers online master’s degree programs in liberal arts that are designed to provide interdisciplinary perspectives in history, literature, philosophy, and scientific methods. The program is 100% online, with small-sized classes designed to cultivate peer relationships and close interactions with faculty. Students may take classes year round and on a part-time or full-time basis. Courses include advanced studies in humanities, social sciences, and art. Rutgers is a regionally ranked institution. An independent project is also required and may be completed in the student’s area of interest. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks the school as the 36th best regional university in the North.

#25 – Utica College

Online Master’s in Liberal Studies

Utica, New York

Website

Utica College - Online Master’s in Liberal Studies

Utica College’s online master’s in liberal studies program offers full-time and part-time options.

Graduate tuition/fees: $18,397

The online master’s in liberal studies degree program at Utica College is an interdisciplinary program with three areas of study. Students may choose to focus their interest in humanities, natural sciences and mathematics, or social sciences. The program is fully accredited and approved by the New York State Education Department. Full-time and part-time options are available, and online students may work at their own pace. Students who choose to focus on humanities take classes in English, history, humanities, and philosophy, while those focusing on social sciences take courses in anthropology, economics, and sociology. Utica is a regionally ranked university by major publications like U.S. News and World Report.

#24 – Nova Southeastern University

Online Master’s in Cross-Disciplinary Studies

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Website

Nova Southeastern University - Online Master’s in Liberal Studies

Nova Southeastern University’s master’s in cross-disciplinary studies is great for students interested in an online master’s in liberal arts.

Graduate tuition/fees: $17,454

Nova Southeastern University offers online master’s degree programs in liberal arts that allow students to self-design their studies. The online master’s in cross-disciplinary studies consists of courses, practicums, and a 12-credit concentration track. Concentrations include coastal environment and society, culture and society, education and society, health and society, information systems and society, and institutional assessment. A final portfolio project is required and must include research papers, professional projects completed during the practicum sequence, course journal entries, and an oral presentation. Nova Southeastern is a nationally ranked institution by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. Many of the school’s online graduate programs have also earned top 100 rankings.

#23 – University of Massachusetts

Online Master’s in Critical and Creative Thinking

Shrewsbury, Massachusetts

Website

UMASS - Online Master’s in Liberal Studies

UMASS offers a top-ranked program perfect for those wanting an online master’s in liberal studies.

Graduate tuition/fees: $16,115

For those interested in an online master’s in liberal arts, University of Massachusetts offers a related degree program. The online master’s in critical and creative thinking is designed to provide students with tools and experience needed in education, science, creative arts, and social movements. Courses may include advanced cognitive psychology, creative thinking, critical thinking, foundations of philosophical thought, and metacognition. Several research and engagement classes are also required and include action research for education and professional change, processes of research and engagement, and synthesis of theory and practice. UMass is a nationally ranked institution by major publications like U.S. News and World Report.

#22 – Excelsior College

Online Master’s in Liberal Studies

Albany, New York

Website

Excelsior College - Online Master’s in Liberal Studies

Excelsior College’s online master’s in liberal studies program is accredited and customizable.

Graduate tuition/fees: $15,846

For those interested in finding online master’s degree programs in liberal arts, Excelsior College offers an affordable option. The online master’s in liberal studies (MALS) program is designed to meet the educational needs of busy or working adults. A customizable degree program allows students to focus studies on particular areas of interest with courses that include classical legacies, cultural perspectives and interpretive strategies, ethics in a changing world, humanity and the cosmos, and the search of meaning and identity. A thesis is required for completion of the degree. Excelsior College and its graduate programs are accredited and the school has earned recognition from major publications in recent years.

#21 – University of Toledo

Master’s in Liberal Studies Online

Toledo, Ohio

Website

University of Toledo - Online Master’s in Liberal Studies

From humanities to social sciences, the online master’s in liberal studies at University of Toledo is a top-ranked program.

Graduate tuition/fees: $14,721

The online master’s in liberal studies degree offered at the University of Toledo provides students with interdisciplinary studies and a student-centered program. It requires 33 semester hours of core and elective coursework. Required online courses include seminars in humanities, natural science, social sciences, and visual and performing arts. Online students receive the same instruction that on-campus students do, with classes taught by seasoned faculty members. The University of Toledo is a nationally ranked institution. In fact, U.S. News and World Report has listed the school as a best national university. Also, many of the online graduate programs have earned recognition as among the top 100.

#20 – Tiffin University

Online Master of Humanities

Tiffin, Ohio

Website

Tiffin University - Online Master’s in Liberal Studies

Tiffin University’s online master of humanities is a good alternative to the online master’s in liberal studies.

Graduate tuition/fees: $12,600

Tiffin University offers an alternative to the online master’s in liberal arts degree program. Students may earn a master’s in humanities and choose from five different concentrations. These concentrations include art and visual media, communication, creative writing, English – literature and writing, and film studies. Required online courses include studies in history, studies in human, political, and social sciences, and studies in philosophy. Tiffin University is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News ranks the school as the 68th best regional university in the Midwest and the 52nd best college for veterans.

#19 – Stony Brook University

Online Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

Stony Brook, New York

Website

Stony Brook University - Online Master’s in Liberal Studies

Stony Brook University’s online master’s in liberal studies can be completed on a part-time basis.

Graduate tuition/fees: $12,421

Interested in affordable online master’s degree programs in liberal arts? Stony Brook University offers a master’s in liberal studies online program with flexible scheduling and the option of completing on a full-time or part-time basis. Online courses include arts and humanities liberal studies, natural and applied sciences liberal studies, and social and behavioral sciences liberal studies. If you are a certified teacher and hold an initial license, you may complete 12 credits in a specific content area of liberal studies to obtain certification. Also, internship opportunities are available. Stony Brook is a nationally ranked university by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the publication ranks the school as the 89th best national university in the country.

#18 – SUNY College at Brockport

Online Master’s in Liberal Studies

Brockport, New York

Website

SUNY Brockport - Online Master’s in Liberal Studies

SUNY College at Brockport offers an online master’s in liberal studies that is accredited and affordable.

Graduate tuition/fees: $11,840

SUNY College at Brockport offers an accredited online master’s in liberal studies that is designed so that busy students may complete a graduate degree. The liberal studies master’s degree online program covers a wide range of classes including humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. Teacher certification options are available for those interested in earning a credential in a particular area of study. The school and its programs are accredited and ranked by major publications. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks the college as the 58th best regional university in the North. Additional rankings include #14 for top public schools and #44 for best colleges for veterans.

#17 – Thomas Edison State College

Online Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

Trenton, New Jersey

Website

Thomas Edison State College - Online Master’s in Liberal Studies

Working professionals can take advantage of the flexibility offered in Thomas Edison State College’s online master’s in liberal studies program.

Graduate tuition/fees: $11,610

Thomas Edison State College offers a master’s in liberal studies online degree program that is designed for working professionals who want to tailor their graduate degree. Several areas of focus are available, including digital humanities, geropsychology, industrial organizational psychology, and professional communications. Online courses include conflict resolution, technology and the human community, sense of community, and the liberal arts and professional life. Thomas Edison State College is an accredited and ranked institution. U.S. News and World Report has ranked the school as a top institution in recent years and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education regionally accredits the institution.

#16 – SUNY Empire State College

Online Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

Saratoga Springs, New York

Website

SUNY Empire State - Online Master’s in Liberal Studies

SUNY Empire State College offers an accredited online master’s in liberal studies that requires a thesis.

Graduate tuition/fees: $11,385

The accredited liberal studies master’s degree online program offered at SUNY Empire State College is a 36-credit master’s that incorporates online classes and two to three weekend residencies. The program is individualized and allows students to design their own degree plan. Several required classes are taken early on in the program, including literature review, methods of inquiry, models of critical inquiry, perspectives on interdisciplinary studies, and a seminar in liberal studies. Advanced certificates are also available so that students may focus their master’s degree on a specific area of interest. Also, a final project that incorporates a thesis, practicum, or case study is also required.

#15 – Arizona State University

Online Master of Liberal Studies

Tempe, Arizona

Website

Arizona State University - Online Master’s in Liberal Studies

ASU’s online master of liberal studies degree program is highly affordable.

Graduate tuition/fees: $11,304

The master’s in liberal studies online degree program at Arizona State University offers a multidisciplinary approach to prepare students for various career roles in politics, religion, law, and education. Online courses explore topics in issues articulated by the studies of individuals and society and trans-disciplinary approaches to problems and issues in society. Areas of emphasis available to students in the program include gender, religion, and culture; science, nature, and creative nonfiction writing; and borders, migration, health, and cultural identity. ASU is a nationally ranked institution by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News ranks the school as the 129th best national university, the 62nd top public school, and the #1 most innovative school.

#14 – Wayland Baptist University

Online Master of Arts in Humanities

Plainview, Texas

Website

Wayland Baptist University - Online Master’s in Liberal Studies

Wayland Baptist University offers an alternative to the online master’s in liberal studies. Students earn an online degree in humanities!

Graduate tuition/fees: $10,740

An online master’s in humanities is similar to an online master’s in liberal studies program. Wayland Baptist University offers a master’s in humanities that incorporates liberal arts and related disciplines. In fact, students may focus on two collegiate disciplines such as public relations, religion, or sociology. The program is flexible and available on a part-time or full-time basis. The program is also designed to prepare students for entry into a doctoral degree program, particularly an interdisciplinary doctorate. Wayland is a regionally ranked institution by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News ranks the school as among the best regional universities in the West.

#13 – University of Illinois

Online Master’s in Liberal and Integrative Studies

Springfield, Illinois

Website

University of Illinois - Online Master’s in Liberal Studies

Students can earn an MS or MA in liberal studies online from University of Illinois.

Graduate tuition/fees: $10,532

For those interested in online masters degree programs in liberal arts, University of Illinois offers an accredited interdisciplinary program. The MS or MA in liberal and integrative studies degree is a program that allows busy or working students to design their own curriculum by choosing courses that help achieve career goals or fit specific areas of interest. Courses include graduate colloquium, liberal and integrative studies, and master’s project and thesis. Students spend most of their time designing and researching a master’s project and carrying out independent field studies. The University of Illinois is accredited and regionally ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News ranks the school as the 42nd best regional university in the Midwest.

#12 – University of Memphis

Online Master’s in Liberal Studies

Memphis, Tennessee

Website

University of Memphis - Online Master’s in Liberal Studies

The University of Memphis’ online master’s in liberal studies program emphasizes humanities and social sciences.

Graduate tuition/fees: $10,211

The master’s in liberal studies online program at the University of Memphis is designed to allow students to plan their own interdisciplinary course of study. Courses are delivered online and chosen by students based on areas of interest and professional or career goals. Curriculum focuses on the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. Online students receive the same instruction and coursework as students attending traditional classes. The University of Memphis is a nationally ranked institution by U.S. News and World Report. Many of the school’s online graduate programs have earned rankings and recognition as being among the best in the country.

#11 – University of Michigan

Online Master’s in Liberal Studies – American Culture

Flint, Michigan

Website

University of Michigan Flint - Online Master’s in Liberal Studies

University of Michigan’s online master’s in liberal studies program is top-ranked.

Graduate tuition/fees: $9,986

The University of Michigan offers an online master’s in liberal arts degree program that emphasizes American thought and culture. The liberal studies curriculum is delivered in a distance-learning format with all courses offered online. Busy and working students can take advantage of the flexible schedules and independent study structure. Required courses include topics on American institutions, the American character, and the United States in comparative perspective. Research courses are also required and include directed study, research foundations, and thesis. The University of Michigan is regionally ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 99th best regional university in the Midwest and the 34th top public school.

#10 – Salve Regina University

Online Master’s in Humanities

Newport, Rhode Island

Website

Salve Regina University - Online Master’s in Liberal Studies

Individuals interested in an online master’s in liberal studies can explore the graduate humanities degree at Salve Regina University.

Graduate tuition/fees: $8,920

Interested in an online master’s in liberal studies? Salve Regina University offers an accredited and affordable online master’s in humanities that incorporates studies in ethics, history, literature, philosophy, and religion. Required online courses include global and comparative literature, global traditions and area studies, research methods, and social and ethical issues – a global perspective. Students also have the option of selecting a concentration from three areas: Humanitarian assistance, public humanities, or religion – peace and justice. Salve Regina University is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 36th best regional university in the North. The school is also known for its acceptance of military personnel and veterans. U.S. News has ranked the school as the 28th best college for veterans.

#9 – University of South Dakota

Online Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies

Vermillion, South Dakota

Website

University of South Dakota - Online Master’s in Liberal Studies

University of South Dakota offers a cheap online master’s in interdisciplinary studies.

Graduate tuition/fees: $8,557

Accredited and affordable online master’s degree programs in liberal arts can be challenging to find, but the University of South Dakota offers an online master’s in interdisciplinary studies that is geared toward adult learners on a budget. Full-time and part-time enrollment options are available, and classes are delivered entirely online. Students may design their program by selecting two to three disciplines to study, as well as electives and applied learning courses. An internship, thesis, and oral examination are also required. The University of South Dakota is ranked by major publications like Forbes magazine and U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News ranks the school as the 180th best national university.

#8 – University of Oklahoma

Online Master of Arts in Administrative Leadership, Museum Studies, or Prevention Science

Norman, Oklahoma

Website

University of Oklahoma - Online Master’s in Liberal Studies

A highly specialized online liberal arts degree program is available at the University of Oklahoma.

Graduate tuition/fees: $7,637

The College of Liberal Studies at University of Oklahoma offers five different master’s in liberal studies online degree programs that are highly specialized. Students may choose to earn a liberal arts graduate degree in administrative leadership, criminal justice, human and health services administration, museum studies, or prevention services. Courses are delivered entirely online and the program is designed specifically for adult and working students whose schedule prevents them from attending traditional classes. According to the school’s website, the foundation of all online master’s programs is a liberal arts education. University of Oklahoma is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 108th best national university and the 52nd top public school.

#7 – Kent State University

Online Master of Liberal Studies

Kent, OH

Website

Kent State University - Online Master’s in Liberal Studies

Kent State’s online master’s in liberal studies program can be tailored to fit interests and career goals.

Graduate tuition/fees: $7,524

For individuals who want to design their own interdisciplinary degree and earn a liberal studies master’s degree online, Kent State University offers such a program. Students create their own interdisciplinary degree tailored to their interests, needs, and career goals. Under the guidance of a program director, students select courses to form a unique and individualized program of study. Courses may include business, psychology, social science, or other areas of interest. Kent State is a nationally ranked institution. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks the school as the 175th best national university, the 98th top public school, and the 139th best college for veterans.

#6 – University of North Carolina – Greensboro

Online Master’s in Liberal Studies

Greensboro, North Carolina

Website

UNC Greensboro - Online Master’s in Liberal Studies

University of North Carolina at Greensboro offers a master’s in liberal studies online.

Graduate tuition/fees: $7,489

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro offers an accredited master’s in liberal studies online degree program that is designed for busy and working adults. All courses are delivered online and take approximately seven weeks to complete. The program may be completed in just 18 months, depending on transfer credits. Three core courses are required early on in the program and include design thinking, systems thinking, and understanding data. These courses address real-world problems and how to address them. UNC is a nationally ranked institution. U.S. News and World Report ranks the school as the 187th best national university and the 105th top public school.

#5 – University of North Carolina – Wilmington

Master’s in Liberal Studies Online

Wilmington, North Carolina

Website

UNC Wilmington - Online Master’s in Liberal Studies

UNC at Wilmington’s online master’s in liberal studies program is for highly motivated students.

Graduate tuition/fees: $6,832

The University of North Carolina at Wilmington offers a master’s in liberal arts online degree program that is offered completely through a distance education format. Highly motivated learners are encouraged to apply. The program is designed to provide a thorough understanding of humanistic, scientific, and social dimensions of today’s world. Online courses cover curriculum like arts and literature, science and society, and social concerns and cultural systems. UNC at Wilmington is a top regionally ranked institution by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News ranks the school as the 16th best regional university in the South and the 6th top public school. All online graduate programs are accredited.

#4 – American Public University

Online Master of Arts in Humanities

Charles Town, West Virginia

Website

American Public University - Online Master’s in Liberal Studies

American Public University offers a master’s in humanities that is perfect for those interested in an online master’s in liberal studies.

Graduate tuition/fees: $6,600

For those interested in finding a liberal studies master’s degree online program, American Public University offers a unique humanities degree. Classes are delivered entirely online with studies that explore cultures, literature, and philosophy. The program emphasizes research, problem solving, and writing, which those interested in pursuing a doctoral program find useful. Also, the humanities focus helps bring added insight and knowledge to a variety of career choices like education, law, sociology, and the natural sciences. American Public University is accredited and ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. It is one of the few proprietary schools to have earned recognition from U.S. News.

#3 – Adams State University

Online Master’s in Humanities – Cultural Management

Alamosa, Colorado

Website

Adams State University - Online Master’s in Liberal Studies

Adams State’s online master’s in humanities is ideal for liberal studies online degree seekers.

Graduate tuition/fees: $6,594

An alternative to a master’s in liberal studies online program is offered at Adams State University. The online master’s in humanities is an internet-based program that offers an emphasis in cultural management. According to the program website, the degree may be used to obtain admission into a doctoral program in archaeology and anthropology. While all classes are delivered online, students must visit the campus to defend their master’s thesis or final project. Online courses include philosophy, laws, and standards; report writing; technology and techniques; and western political theory. Adams State is accredited and ranked by U.S. News and World Report as a best regional university.

#2 – Western New Mexico University

Online Master’s in Interdisciplinary Studies

Silver City, New Mexico

Website

Western New Mexico University - Online Master’s in Liberal Studies

Western New Mexico University’s online master’s in interdisciplinary studies is a highly affordable degree program.

Graduate tuition/fees: $4,500

Western New Mexico University offers a master’s in interdisciplinary studies, which is similar to the online master’s in liberal arts degrees found at some institutions. The unique and accredited program allows students to study in multiple disciplines while requiring two or three concentrations. Students may choose from 15 concentration areas, which include business, education, English, history, instructional design, nursing, political science, or special education. According to the program website, the degree is popular with those aspiring to teach at the community college level, licensed K-12 teachers, and life-long learners with career aspirations. Western New Mexico University is accredited and ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report.

#1 – Fort Hays State University

Online Master of Liberal Studies

Hays, Kansas

Website

Fort Hays State University - Online Master’s in Liberal Studies

Fort Hays State University is our #1 pick for the most affordable and top-ranked school for an online master’s in liberal studies.

Graduate tuition/fees: $3,853

Fort Hays State University offers an online master’s in liberal studies that is highly affordable and flexible. The program is designed for working students who want to design a degree that meets their personal and educational goals. Fifteen concentration areas are available and include art, corporate communications, global studies, health sciences, political science, public administration, and rural advocacy. The program is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Also, the institution is ranked with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a best regional university. Fort Hays State is our #1 pick for an online master’s in liberal studies.

This concludes our ranking of the top 30 online master’s in liberal studies degree programs or related field.

By BMD Staff
September 2016