Online Bachelor's in Liberal Studies

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What Is Liberal Studies?

Embarking on the path to a postsecondary education by pursuing the liberal studies bachelor’s degree available online from Maryville University can help students create the viable foundation they may need for many career opportunities.

What is liberal studies? Here, we’ll examine the essential aspects of this educational opportunity — everything from potential paths of study to the jobs one may be able to pursue.

Smiling liberal studies student standing in archway

Liberal Studies Definition

Liberal studies encompasses a wide range of subject areas, including literature, humanities, history, philosophy, and science. Liberal studies programs provide students with the tools and skills to be critical and creative thinkers, researchers, and communicators in almost any field.

What Is a Liberal Studies Degree?

Liberal studies degree programs offer students access to a multidisciplinary major that can be personalized to their interests and career aspirations. Courses provide fundamentals in the humanities and social sciences, complemented with additional coursework specific to any of various professional disciplines and chosen based on the students’ interests.

Maryville University’s online liberal studies program builds a foundation in the humanities and social sciences to help students broaden their worldview and strengthen their cultural competencies. Through exposure to areas such as philosophy, literature, and history, students can develop critical thinking and writing skills as well as a deeper understanding of human nature. In addition, students can expand this liberal arts experience further by personalizing their course of study with a professional discipline — choosing from course offerings that span subjects such as business, computer science, healthcare, and human services.

Many Ways to Make an Impact with Liberal Studies

The wide spectrum of liberal studies actually plays into its flexibility, educating students for a variety of careers. Not only is the field itself immensely broad, but choosing a particular discipline doesn’t mean that your future career is inextricably tied to your specific course of study.

For example, a liberal studies major who initially zeroed in on communication wouldn’t, by default, be bound to a role in media relations or another career directly focused on that vertical. It could lead down the road to a career in marketing or advertising. Those fields will always need hard workers with distinct, robust communication skills.

Not dissimilarly, someone who starts out majoring in liberal studies with a criminal justice discipline might find they have a knack for intensive research into old criminal cases, even if they aren’t fully committed to a traditional law enforcement career. Developing this skill could lead to numerous professional roles, such as becoming an archivist or delving into the field of nonfiction writing by documenting true crimes.

So, what is liberal studies and how can it help professionals advance their careers? The answer is wide ranging. Consider that prominent corporate CEOs have come from educational backgrounds focused on disciplines under its umbrella, according to Time magazine. For example, former Starbucks leader Howard Schultz majored in communications, while one-time HBO chief executive Richard Pepler studied government. Liberal studies disciplines, such as communication and organizational leadership, much like more specialized communications or government degrees, can lead students to many different career options.

Liberal Studies Salary Opportunities

In an article for Town & Country, journalist Charles Isherwood writes that modern-day students are now more frequently told to pursue college paths that virtually guarantee them avenues to financially lucrative careers — business or law degrees, for example. However, no degree fully guarantees a career, and liberal studies majors can pursue careers with high earning potential just like graduates from other programs. With dedication and hard work, students following liberal studies disciplines can find notable career opportunities related to their skills.

According to 2020 data from PayScale, the average salary of professionals with a Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree was around $59,000.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported 2017 wage information for professionals aged 35 and younger in fields related to liberal studies, including:

  • Communications — The median annual salary for a communications professional under the age of 35 was $41,600.
  • Economics — The median annual salary for an economics professional under the age of 35 was $52,450.
  • Journalism — The median annual salary for a journalism professional under the age of 35 was $41,330.
  • Government — The median annual salary for a government professional under the age of 35 was $43,730.

The Future of Liberal Studies

The answer to the question, What is liberal studies? will change as the field evolves to incorporate cultural and educational trends and gaps in the employment market.

Liberal studies graduates, for example, can fill a need for professionals in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. As CNBC reported, there were more than 2.4 million vacant STEM jobs in 2019. The number of STEM jobs will only continue to grow as new technologies and digital strategies impact how organizations operate. They can bring soft skills, such as leadership and communication, and knowledge of social science to these disciplines, which can benefit from creative and innovative thinking. LinkedIn reports that the most in-demand skills in 2020 include creativity, collaboration, adaptability, and emotional intelligence. As a result, liberal studies programs may begin to combine these soft skills with hard skills that can be used in technological fields.

Consider a Liberal Studies Degree

On the surface, taking an educational path centered around liberal studies might not be as straightforward as going to law school with the intent to be a lawyer or taking a similarly direct route toward any other established trade. But those considering this option may be interested in the flexibility and multidisciplinary approach of liberal studies. The fully online bachelor’s degree program in liberal studies offered by Maryville University may be an excellent starting point to begin such an intriguing journey, without being tied to a classroom-attendance schedule or having to sacrifice one’s personal priorities.

Now that you’ve read the background behind liberal studies, learn more about popular liberal studies career outcomes and contact an enrollment adviser today.

Recommended Readings
From Blogs to Books: Exploring the Versatile Careers in Writing
Future Education Technology: How Digital Trends Are Shaping Teaching
Trends and Skills for the Future of Research

The Atlantic, “The Unexpected Value of the Liberal Arts”
CNBC, “The Liberal Arts Degree Is Alive and Well — and Critically Important to the Future of Tech”
Encyclopaedia Britannica, Liberal arts
Forbes, “Could the Liberal Arts (Better Named) Revolutionize Corporate Education?”
NerdWallet, “Ask Brianna: How Can I Get a Job with a Liberal Arts Degree?”
PayScale, Bachelor of Arts (BA) Degree
PayScale, Bachelor of Liberal Studies (BLS) Degree
Quartz, “STEM May Be the Future—but Liberal Arts Are Timeless”
Time, “10 CEOs Who Prove Your Liberal Arts Degree Isn’t Worthless”
Town & Country, “Why a Liberal Arts Degree Still Matters”
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Putting Your Liberal Arts Degree to Work”