Most Affordable Liberal Arts Degrees 2021

By ACO Staff with contributions from Sarah Gardam

Published on September 11, 2021

Most Affordable Liberal Arts Degrees 2021

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A Bachelor of Liberal Arts

A bachelor of liberal arts (BLA) degree provides a broad, interdisciplinary education that includes humanities, social science, art, and math courses. BLA programs cultivate versatile, foundational skills in critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving. Applicants often need a minimum 2.0-3.0 GPA, high school or GED transcripts, and decent test scores.

Liberal arts degree skills prove useful in diverse careers including public relations specialist, technical writer, and social and community service manager. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social and community service managers earn a $67,150 median annual salary. The BLS projects an extraordinarily high job growth rate of 17% for this career during 2019-2029.

Leveraging Questions Students ask about Liberal Arts Programs

Q. What is a liberal arts degree?

This degree path includes social science, art, mathematics, and humanities coursework. Liberal arts students typically specialize in a particular discipline within one of these areas.

Q. What can you do with a liberal arts degree?

Liberal arts bachelor's degree graduates work in many sectors and industries, including education, business, and government.

Q. Is a liberal arts degree worth it?

Liberal arts degrees cultivate creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. These skills will likely become increasingly valuable as automation and artificial intelligence continue to replace human technicians.

Q. How much money can you make with a liberal arts degree?

February 2021 PayScale salary data cites a $61,975 average annual salary for bachelor's in liberal arts graduates.

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Most Affordable Bachelor's in Liberal Arts Degrees


Why Get a Liberal Arts Degree?

Liberal arts degrees support diverse career opportunities, professional networking, interdisciplinary knowledge, and foundational skills. See below for descriptions of these liberal arts degree benefits.

Diverse Career Opportunities
This degree path can support careers in many sectors and industries. Liberal arts degrees also serve as excellent preparation for related graduate study.
Professional Networking
Even online liberal arts degrees may offer networking opportunities through group projects, required internship experiences, and brief on-campus residencies.
Interdisciplinary Knowledge
The liberal arts include varied disciplines such as mathematics, social sciences, humanities, and art. Liberal arts graduates often benefit from this unique, broad knowledge base.
Foundational Skills
Liberal arts programs feature diverse curricula that build core skills in reading comprehension, analysis, synthesis, and writing. These foundational skills serve graduates well in various careers.
Career Advancement
Some working professionals finish their bachelor's degrees in liberal arts to achieve promotion, salary advancement, new skills, or transition to new career fields.

What Are the Requirements for a Liberal Arts Degree?

To pursue an online liberal arts degree, applicants typically need high school diplomas or equivalents and a minimum 2.0-3.0 GPA. Many schools require first-year applicants to submit standardized test scores. All applicants submit official transcripts and essays, and transfer applicants usually need recommendation letters.

Completing a bachelor's in liberal arts degree online typically entails about 120 credits. Enrollees take core courses plus specialization classes in a field of choice such as communication, psychology, or English literature. The best liberal arts bachelor's degrees usually require a senior capstone project, thesis, or internship. The nature of this capstone experience depends heavily on the curriculum concentration.

Career and Salary Outlook for Liberal Arts Majors

Liberal arts majors work in many fields, industries, and sectors. Some graduates seek careers as writers, editors, researchers, or media professionals. Many BLAs become communications specialists. Others pursue additional degrees and become licensed social workers, teachers, or social scientists. Several common career paths for liberal arts degree graduates appear below.

Public Relations Specialist

These professionals help their organizations generate and sustain a positive public image. PR specialists produce various public communications, including social media campaigns. This career requires advanced skills in writing, interviewing, design, and evaluation.

Technical Writer

These writers work in various industries and create articles, manuals, guides, and videos. Technical writers often collaborate with product designers, developers, marketers, and technical staff. These professionals may perform research, conduct observations, and edit others' work.

Market Research Analyst

This career involves researching and evaluating markets to guide company decisions. These analysts forecast trends, assess marketing programs, create reports, and give presentations to executives and marketing teams. Market research analysts sometimes create and evaluate methods for data collection.

Social and Community Service Managers

Usually working for nonprofit or governmental organizations, social and community services managers oversee organizational staff, assess community needs, design programs, and analyze data. These managers may plan outreach, create funding proposals, and meet with various stakeholders.

Career Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2019-2029)
Public Relations Specialist $61,150 7%
Technical Writer $72,850 7%
Market Research Analyst $63,790 18%
Social and Community Service Managers $67,150 17%

Source: BLS

Courses in a Liberal Arts

Liberal arts curricula usually include core courses in composition, mathematics, art, and social science. These classes develop varied skills useful in many potential careers. Participants typically study English, history, and philosophy — subjects that emphasize critical thinking, research, and writing. Many BLA programs require capstone projects that further encourage students to produce and develop their ideas.

Liberal arts bachelor's degrees often feature curriculum specializations in fields such as art, communications, or psychology. See below for a sampling of common liberal arts courses, but remember that BLA curricula vary by program.

[tabs] [tab-item title="Composition"]

Most college students, including BLA candidates, must complete college composition courses. Often called English 101 and 102, these classes cultivate core academic skills in reading, analysis, research, and writing. Participants study and practice various expositional writing, often including rhetorical analysis, comparative argument, and synthesis.

[/tab-item] [tab-item title="Introduction to Psychology"]

Often a BLA core requirement, introduction to psychology surveys fundamental psychology principles, fields, and research methodologies. Enrollees explore and evaluate key research topics, such as human development, emotion, psychopathology, and memory. This course proves foundational for BLA candidates pursuing psychology concentrations.

[/tab-item] [tab-item title="Introduction to Computer Science"]

Liberal arts degrees often require quantitative coursework in math or computer science. This introductory class familiarizes participants with programming, algorithms, data structures, and computer science-related problem-solving. Learners study resource management, software engineering, web development, and security.

[/tab-item] [/tabs]

Scholarships for Liberal Arts Students

Like other college students, liberal arts majors may qualify for scholarships. Scholarship recipients often demonstrate strong academics, financial need, interest in specified fields, and leadership potential. Some scholarships serve members of underrepresented groups. See below for three scholarships available to students pursuing a liberal arts degree online.

Against the Grain Artistic Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Against the Grain Productions awards this scholarship to Asian and/or Pacific Islander students pursuing degrees in visual arts, performing arts, journalism, or mass communications. Applicants need U.S. citizenship, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and demonstrated leadership abilities.

Amount: $1,000

Continental Society Daughters of Indian Wars Native American Scholarships

Who Can Apply: This award supports Native American undergraduates planning to serve tribal communities through education or social services. Candidates must demonstrate tribal enrollment, financial need, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and acceptance or enrollment in undergraduate programs. Applicants must take at least eight credits per semester to qualify.

Amount: $2,500-$5,000, renewable

Writers of the Future Contest

Who Can Apply: Aspiring science-fiction and fantasy writers submit their writing to this contest for a chance to win money for college. The panel judges pieces quarterly for smaller award amounts, then selects a grand-prize winner from the four quarterly first place winners.

Amount: Up to $5,000

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