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A liberal arts or humanities education can be a good choice for a degree, as it may open many opportunities beyond the student's specific major or minor. In general, an online degree in liberal arts might give students essential critical thinking skills that could be applied to a wide variety of professions.

Online Liberal Arts Degrees

Online degrees in liberal arts and the humanities can help prepare graduates for a wide variety of positions in a number of different fields. What distinguishes liberal arts and humanities degrees from more profession-driven fields is that they tend to focus on the big picture of expanding student's intellectual horizons while teaching them critical thinking skills. Within the humanities, there are many different sub-fields, such as English, foreign languages, anthropology, philosophy, sociology, and political science.

Online Degrees in Liberal Arts and Humanities

Online humanities degrees typically cater to students who are unable to attend bricks-and-mortar classes or prefer the flexibility of an online education, which may allow them to take classes either on an asynchronous schedule or in real time depending on the program. Some universities also offer hybrid programs, which consist of both in-person classes or meetings and an online component.

Most online liberal arts degree programs do not include internships, although some, such as those for translation studies, can offer an externship. Thanks to the freedom of online learning, students studying foreign cultures or languages may even be able to complete coursework while traveling abroad, immersing themselves in the communities they're studying. Some liberal arts degrees can also help prepare students for relatively specific positions, such as political scientist, interpreter or anthropologist.

Liberal Arts Degree Specializations

Thanks to the digital revolution and the increasing availability of online classes, students may have the ability to obtain a variety of online degrees in humanities, ranging from a two-year associate degree to a full doctorate.

  • Associate Degree in Liberal Arts − Many online liberal arts schools offer associate degrees, which take most students two years of full-time study to complete. This degree may be best suited for students who either want to enter the workforce quickly or save a bit of money before transferring to a four-year college to complete a bachelor's degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree in Liberal Arts − The majority of students take at least four years of full-time study to complete a bachelor's degree in liberal arts. For many professions, a bachelor's is required to enter the work force, but employers may expect a master's degree for some academic or research positions, depending on the field. Online liberal arts bachelor's degree programs can be found in concentrations such as English or communication.
  • Master's Degree in Liberal Arts − A master's degree typically takes two years of full-time study to complete. While it's not the terminal degree in most humanities majors, a master's degree can be a fine credential to have. Master's degrees are often required for more advanced positions, such as those in anthropology, sociology and political science, and may be a good option for working professionals who want to broaden their skills or open up new employment opportunities.
  • Doctoral Degree in Liberal Arts − A doctorate is the terminal degree in a vast majority of fields, and the liberal arts are no exception. Online doctoral degrees in the humanities are rare, but may be available in such majors as general or religious studies. The degree can be offered as either a Ph.D. or a Doctor of Liberal Studies, both of which typically include coursework, examinations, and a successful defense of a doctoral thesis.

Related Careers in Liberal Arts and Humanities

Graduates who hold a degree in liberal arts may be well prepared to enter the workforce knowing that they, ideally, have acquired the critical thinking skills that could be helpful in a variety of cross-functional disciplines, jobs and careers. Opportunities and career paths vary widely depending on the student's field of study. For more information, please have a look at the career options listed below:

  • Anthropologist − Anthropologists frequently get their hands dirty, digging up human history both physically and metaphorically. These professionals may travel the world to learn more about humans in past times, their behavior, their language, their interactions, and much more. According to the BLS, anthropologists often hold a master's degree in the field.
  • Political Scientist − Most political scientists hold a master's degree in political science and study how our political systems work. Many are employed by the federal government or work for non-profit organizations, notes the BLS. You may also see political scientists commenting on the state of the country's affairs in the media, where they give insight and analysis.
  • Translators and Interpreters − These applied linguistics professionals bridge communication gaps between people, government entities and businesses by eliminating the language barrier. Translators and interpreters oftentimes hold a bachelor's degree, and while translators convert written messages from one language to another, interpreters do so with the spoken word.

Liberal Arts and Humanities Industry Trends

Given the variety of professions that graduates with liberal arts degrees may enter, it's not possible to give a general employment forecast for the field. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov, 2012), many professions that require degrees in the liberal arts may experience growth in the coming decade, including:

  • Anthropologists - 21 percent nationwide from 2010 to 2020
  • Political Scientists - 8 percent nationwide from 2010 to 2020
  • Translators and Interpreters - 18 percent nationwide from 2010 to 2020

Sources:
"Academic Units," University of California Los Angeles, http://www.humanities.ucla.edu/academic, 2013
"Anthropologists and Archeologists," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/anthropologists-and-archeologists.htm, March 2012
"Departments and Programs," University of Nevada Las Vegas, http://www.unlv.edu/liberalarts/departments, 2013
"Doctor of Liberal Studies," Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies, http://scs.georgetown.edu/departments/6/doctor-of-liberal-studies, 2013
"Interpreters and Translators," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Media-and-Communication/Interpreters-and-translators.htm, March 2012
"Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Degree Options," J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, http://www.reynolds.edu/curriculum/programs/Liberal_ArtsAA_Social_SciencesAS.htm, 2013
"Master of Liberal Arts Degree Program," Harvard Extension School, http://www.extension.harvard.edu/degrees-certificates/master-liberal-arts, 2013
"Political Scientists," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/political-scientists.htm, March 2012

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