What is Liberal Arts?

The study of liberal arts dates back to the fifth century, when a philosopher defined the seven liberal arts as: grammar, dialectic, rhetoric, geometry, arithmetic, astronomy and music.

That definition of liberal arts has evolved since then, but it still is comprised of the same basic thinking that to study liberal arts is to have knowledge in almost everything.

The liberal arts spectrum covers the following broad subjects in arts and sciences:

  • Humanities — courses in this field include art, writing, literature, philosophy, religion, music, ethics, foreign language, theatre or speech.
  • Social sciences — courses in this field include history, psychology, sociology, women and gender studies, political science, anthropology, economics, and geography.
  • Natural sciences — courses in this field include math, biology, botany, physics, chemistry, archeology, zoology and geology.

There are currently hundreds of liberal arts colleges both on campuses and online and thousands of colleges around the country offer degrees in liberal arts.

Generally, classes at liberal arts colleges and online are typically smaller than classes in other fields of study and they have a greater teacher-to-student ratio than most major universities. Classes are also taught by full-time teachers instead of graduate student teaching assistants or research professors.

What is a Liberal Arts Degree and What Is Required?

The answer to this will depend almost entirely on the school you apply to and the type of degree you’re trying to obtain.

Let’s look at each one based on the level of education you’re trying to receive.

Online associates degree in liberal arts:

The requirements for entering a liberal arts associate program are typically a high school diploma or GED and a score on the SAT or ACT. Check with the specific college to find the minimum scores you can receive on these tests in order to be admitted. This degree requires all students to complete 60 credit hours before they can receive their degree.

Online bachelor’s degree in liberal arts:

To be accepted into a bachelors liberal arts program, students must have an official high school transcript or proof of GED completion. Each college will require a certain high school GPA for admittance into their programs, though many expect students to have earned a 2.6 (on a 4.0 scale) or higher while in high school. Many online colleges require an ACT composite score of 21 or higher or an SAT score of 990 or higher. Students who have already completed 60 semester hours with a GPA of 2.0 may transfer those hours toward a bachelor’s degree.

Online master’s degree in liberal arts:

Admittance to an online master’s degree program requires students to first have completed their bachelor’s degree. The GPA requirement for students’ undergraduate degree will vary greatly from each school, but many master’s programs require a minimum of 2.5. Relevant work experience is taken into account as well and some graduate programs require students to have taken the GRE.

What Can You Do With a Liberal Arts Degree

Like with every college grad, the time after college when you have to find a job and start your career is one of the most daunting and uncertain ones.

Often you spend four years learning a subject just to ask yourself when you’re done, how can I apply this to a real job?

Luckily, with a liberal arts degree, you’ll have several options. Below is a list of job possibilities for each major. Some of the careers require increased education, like a master’s or doctorate, but many do not.

  • Art degree — consider careers in photography, commercial art and graphic and visual design.
  • English degree — consider careers in teaching, journalism, web writing, advertising, publishing or law.
  • Foreign language degree — consider government jobs, as they are one of the largest employers of dual language speakers, teaching, journalism, work as a translator, professor or in the tourism and travel industry.
  • Political science degree — consider careers in law, public policy, politics, journalism, business, non-profit and administrative work.
  • Biology degree — consider careers in healthcare, laboratory assistant, research assistant, environmental jobs, technician, or public policy.
  • Psychology degree — consider careers in education, professor, psychologist, marketing and advertising.

Regardless of what career you chose, your liberal arts degree will help you to advance both professionally and intellectually — making you more attractive to employers.

A recent study found that 69% of employers said the knowledge obtained through a liberal arts degree is “very important.”

And an article published in the educational journal, Peer review, found that students with liberal arts degrees are much more likely to enroll and complete graduate and professional school, and those students were also more likely to win graduate fellowships.