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Best 15 Online Master’s in Liberal Arts in 2021

September 30, 2021 | Staff Writers

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Most master’s programs, like that of an MBA, specializing in educating students for a particular subject, one in which they will master. A Masters in Liberal Arts (MLA) differs in that instead of focusing on one subject, students explore various topics to gain a broad (liberal) knowledge base.

Is An MLA Degree Marketable?

The short answer is yes. Graduates with an MLA degree become better critical thinkers and are more curious about intellectual topics. These skills are imperative for problem-solving in the business world, offering a “think outside the box” perspective and developing creative endeavors. 

Top 5 Online Master’s in Liberal Arts

Rank School Location
1University of MaineOrono, Maine
2University of North Carolina WilmingtonWilmington, North Carolina
3University of North Carolina at GreensboroGreensboro, North Carolina
4University of RichmondRichmond, Virginia
5University of South DakotaVermillion, South Dakota

At some educational institutes, an MLA may be all that is required to teach. Your MLA degree also serves as a stepping stone to acquiring teaching certificates. Being well versed in a variety of subjects, graduates become well-rounded teachers.

Working for the government is another career path to consider. There is a vast array of government agencies where someone with an MLA degree could excel. 

Of course, your MLA is the ticket to getting into a doctoral program, leading to positions at major universities, organizations, and some businesses.  

In the event of a tie, we awarded both schools the same ranking (in no particular order.) We then skipped a number to ensure we concluded with the number 15.

Best 15 Online Schools for Masters in Liberal Arts

1

University of Maine

  • Orono, Maine
  • Points: 23

Situated in Orono, the University of Maine offers a 30-credit Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies: Peace and Reconciliation Studies. This unique degree examines the conditions that make for peace while emphasizing forgiveness (reconciliation.) These skills will translate into careers in government, conflict analysis, community development, and other organizations focused on social change.

School Overview

Total cost: $13,830
Student faculty ratio: 15-1
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2

University of North Carolina Wilmington

  • Wilmington, North Carolina
  • Points: 22

The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW), located in Wilmington, offers several 30-credit degrees to choose from in their Graduate Liberal Studies Program. Students may select Master of Arts in Liberal Studies, Graduate Liberal Studies, and Conflict Management and Resolution, and Graduate Liberal Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies.

School Overview

Total cost: $9,656
Student faculty ratio: 17-1
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3

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

  • Greensboro, North Carolina
  • Points: 21

Located in Greensboro, UNCG offers a 33-credit program to earn a MA in Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS.) Students who earn a MAAS from UNCG will amass the skills employers seek in candidates: adaptability, intellectual curiosity, integrative thinking, empathy, and cross-cultural competence. Three courses are part of the MAAS to train students to solve problems in today’s workplace: Systems Thinking, Design Thinking, and Understanding Data.

School Overview

Total cost: $9,897
Student faculty ratio: 17-1
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4

University of Richmond

  • Richmond, Virginia
  • Points: 20

Located in Richmond, Virginia, the University of Richmond offers a 30-credit program for students to obtain a Master of Liberal Arts. According to the school’s website, “As a graduate student in the liberal arts, you’ll build a valuable base of knowledge and experience to enhance your professional career and personal life.” Although the MLA program has many online courses/options, it is not an online degree. Some courses do involve an in-person component.

School Overview

Total cost: $24,480
Student faculty ratio: 8-1
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5

University of South Dakota

  • Vermillion, South Dakota
  • Points: 20

The University of South Dakota, located in Vermillion, is a public institution that offers the online Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies. Students may customize this 32-credit program to create a degree suitable to reach educational and professional goals.

School Overview

Total cost: $14,905
Student faculty ratio: 16-1
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6

Thomas Edison State University

  • Trenton, New Jersey
  • Points: 19

In Trenton, New Jersey, Thomas Edison State University offers a 36-credit program for a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degree. Students may customize their course of study to better suit career advancement. Areas of study are Digital Humanities, Geropsychology, Industrial-Organization Psychology, Online Learning, and Teaching or Professional Communications.

School Overview

Total cost: $24,346
Student faculty ratio: 15-1
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7

Johns Hopkins University

  • Baltimore, Maryland
  • Points: 18

Located in Baltimore, Maryland, Johns Hopkins University was one of the first universities to offer a Masters of Liberal Arts. The 10 course (30-credit) Master of Liberal Arts Program offers a diverse range of interdisciplinary courses that build upon a foundation in the history of ideas while also incorporating contemporary topics, sources, and approaches to research, analysis, and discourse.

School Overview

Total cost:  $31,030
Student faculty ratio: approx. 12:1
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8

Harvard University

  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Points: 16

Harvard University is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is a private institution. Harvard’s online program has over 20 subjects for students to consider. As part of their admission process, Harvard requires students to take two or three-degree courses and attain a B or higher grade to qualify. Online graduates may participate in the graduation ceremonies held on campus.

School Overview

Total cost:  $34,800
Student faculty ratio: 7-1
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9

University of Oklahoma

  • Norman, Oklahoma
  • Points: 16

The University of Oklahoma, located in Norman, offers a 33-credit curriculum for a Master of Arts-Integrative Studies. This unique study teaches students how to understand complicated topics in the social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities through research, critical thinking, and developing communication skills.

School Overview

Total cost: $14,916
Student faculty ratio: 18-1
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10

Stony Brook University

  • Stony Brook, New York
  • Points: 15

Stony Brook University is a public institution located in the New York City Area. The 33-credit program delves into the arts and humanities, social and behavioral sciences, and natural and applied sciences. Online students may study at their own pace and schedule, making this convenient for working professionals.

School Overview

Total cost: $17,147
Student faculty ratio: 18-1
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11

Southern Utah University

  • Cedar City, Utah
  • Points: 15

Located in Cedar City, Utah, Southern Utah University offers a 30-credit online Master of Interdisciplinary Studies degree. Students customize their degrees from three disciplines for a tailor-made education to suit their educational and professional aspirations.

School Overview

Total cost: $12,900
Student faculty ratio: 19-1
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12

Texas Christian University

  • Fort Worth, Texas
  • Points: 14

Texas Christian University is in Fort Worth, Texas, and offers a 30-credit program in Master of Liberal Arts. This master is for students of diverse educational backgrounds who are interested in broadening their knowledge of culture, American cinema, and the American West, to name but a few. In addition to the total cost, potential students must also factor in the $130 per online course TCU charges.

School Overview

Total cost: $30,900
Student faculty ratio: 13-1
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13

Rutgers

  • New Brunswick, New Jersey
  • Points: 14

Rutgers is located in Newark, New Jersey, and offers a 30-credit online program. The Master of Arts in Liberal Studies is ideal for students who need flexibility when scheduling classes. Rutgers provides four areas of concentration: Philosophy and Religion, World History and Politics, American Studies, and Creative Arts and Literature.

School Overview

Total cost: $27,000
Student faculty ratio: 16-1
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14

SUNY Brockport

  • Brockport, New York
  • Points: 12

SUNY Brockport, in Brockport, NY, offers a 30-credit Masters in Liberal Studies degree that challenges students to examine contemporary issues from different perspectives. Students will explore the fine arts, the humanities, and social and natural sciences to broaden their problem-solving ability in today’s complex world.

School Overview

Total cost: $26,316
Student faculty ratio: 18-1
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15

Arizona State University

  • Tempe, Arizona
  • Points: 5

Located in Scottsdale, Arizona, Arizona State University offers a 30-credit online program for those who need flexibility to schedule classes around their busy lives. The ASU Master of Liberal Studies is ideal for students interested in studying the integration of the humanities with religious, political, social, and scientific questions arising from today’s culture.

School Overview

Total cost: $27,164
Student faculty ratio: 23-1
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How We Ranked The Schools

We searched institutions across the United States for those offering an online masters in liberal arts degree. Next, we choose schools that varied in size, tuition, and notoriety. We compiled this data and ranked the schools based upon two criteria:

  • Cost to complete the program (not including housing, books, insurance, etc.)
  • Student to faculty ratio. 

Finally, we compiled points by ranking them based upon the lowest tuition and student-to-faculty ratio.

If you have any other questions regarding these schools or have any other questions pertaining to this degree, please contact us for assistance.

Is Your School Misrepresented?

If you work for one of these institutions but found our data incorrect, please contact us to revise. 

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BestValueSchools.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
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