Updated: June 15, 2017
We live in an increasingly complex, intersectional world. And yet, a classical education—that is, a liberal arts education—can best meet the new demands coming from employers across industry sectors. A solid multidisciplinary education develops the skills and knowledge students will need in their careers: oral and written communication skills, the ability to think critically, problem solving prowess, plus a theoretical foundation in both the sciences and humanities.
It is estimated that those without a college degree make, on average, around 28k annually. However, college graduates make over 51k annually. That disparity is already impressive, but if you extrapolate that over a lifetime then a college degree earns you nearly 1 million more dollars than just a high school diploma. So, that to say, going to college or finishing your degree serves you throughout your lifetime. And with a liberal arts education you can secure a career in one of literally hundreds of professions, from business and finance to fine arts and philosophy.
Online programs in education are an affordable, accessible, and flexible way to earn an advanced degree, especially if you find yourself in a situation that makes going back to school either logistically or financially problematic. Despite the stigma online programs once held, they have mostly shed those stereotypes and have increasingly solid reputations, in large part because online programs are developed and taught by the same faculty who teach the traditional, on-campus courses. And in most cases, the diploma looks exactly the same as those garnered by “traditional students,” yet it was obtained at half the price.
What are the Best Online Liberal Arts Colleges?
While some schools on this ranking are large, elite, research universities and others are smaller colleges with interdisciplinary curricula, they all share one thing in common despite the difference of size and emphasis: they are the best at giving students a foundation in core liberal arts principles and concepts. Here at College Choice we’ve collated and compared the academic reputation, student satisfaction, affordability, and average annual salary of graduates from online liberal arts schools across the country to create a definitive ranking of the nation’s twenty-five best. We first chose programs with the most renowned academic reputation and from those pared the list down to those with high retention rates—a reflection of student satisfaction—added those with the most economical accessibility, and finally we included the averages of early career salaries (care of PayScale) to arrive at a list marked by thorough research and extensive data aggregation. Our figures come from the university and colleges’ websites as well as nationally recognized U.S. News & World Report and The National Center for Education Statistics.
Oregon State University
College Choice Score: 100
Credit Hour Cost: $280
Oregon State University is historically an agricultural school that has bloomed into a well-recognized research university that steeps its students in a liberal arts education. Its online offerings are no different; students around the globe enroll in OSU’s online and distance learning model, as OSU offers over one thousands classes in nearly one hundred subjects. Students learn from the same on-campus faculty and earn the same diploma as on-campus students, and they also are supported through digital tutoring, career services, and library resources.
Online OSU students can create an academic experience that incorporates all their interests and career goals, no matter how discrete the subjects are. They can also enroll in the online BA/BS in Liberal Studies program, which allows them to take any courses and specialize in any areas offered through the College of Liberal Arts. Disciplines and departments covered include the sciences, technology and society, humanities, social sciences, fine arts, contemporary global issues, non-Western culture, cultural diversity, literature, and Western culture. Whether you are ready to enroll in college for the first time or transfer credits to complete your degree, Oregon State is a phenomenal choice that will ensure you succeed academically and vocationally.
Based in Corvallis, Oregon State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Pennsylvania State University World Campus
College Choice Score: 99.5
Credit Hour Cost: $542
It’s hard to compete with the name recognition and renowned status of Pennsylvania State University. Similarly, their World Campus boasts national accolades for its broad approach to education that blends the arts with social sciences. Because of its liberal arts focus, students graduate ready to either enter graduate school (including medical or law school) or enter the workforce across all sectors.
One of the many online degrees you can earn at Penn State include the Bachelor of Arts in Letters, Arts, and Sciences. This versatile liberal arts degree is a comprehensive, online program that focuses on developing students’ communication skills, critical thinking abilities, and leadership potential. The curriculum stresses the ethical and diversity issues that make up our global world today while giving students the flexibility to specialize in their own passions and interests. Whether you’re interested in business, marketing, fine arts, foreign languages, or the social sciences (among many, many other subjects), this multidisciplinary, theme-oriented major can be fully designed by you and your academic advisor to reflect, and meet, your career goals.
Penn State, accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, is a nationally and globally ranked university, ranked fiftieth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.
Arizona State University
College Choice Score: 95.75
Credit Hour Cost: $500
Through the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, Arizona State University brings together more than two dozen disciplines in the humanities and social sciences to deliver an online liberal arts education that is at once creative, critically minded, and diverse. One of their many online offerings include the Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree, a program well-suited for those just starting college and those looking to finish their undergraduate degree.
The core courses in ASU’s online Bachelor of Liberal Studies program help students hone their communication techniques, introduce them to global and diverse perspectives, and foster the kind of intellectual inquiry that will help them flourish in the workforce. This means you will take classes on cultural diversity, global awareness, immigration and ethnicity, communication in an electronic and digital age, historical contexts, and literacy and critical inquiry. Though this is a comprehensive, online degree, it’s also an ideal option for those who want to finish their degree online because of the course load flexibility and range of topics.
Arizona State University is a renowned research institution with strong rankings from U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, and Washington Monthly. It is accredited by the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.
Colorado State University
College Choice Score: 95.75
Credit Hour Cost: $444
If you’re looking for an online, undergraduate experience that specifically seeks to hone your writing, verbal communication, problem solving, and analytical thinking abilities, then Colorado State University is for you. CSU proffers many online degrees, through both completion and comprehensive programs, including a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Liberal Arts degree. Regardless of the industry you envision yourself in post graduation—be it education, corporate, non-profit, medical, or government—the well-rounded curriculum at CSU equips students with the technical skills and theoretical grounding to help them succeed academically and professionally.
In addition to the multidisciplinary, foundational coursework comprising this liberal arts degree, online CSU students can supplement the program with one of seven minors, in business administration, sociology, anthropology, economics, media studies, political science, or gerontology. Because of this option to incorporate a structured minor, the CSU liberal arts experience is ideal for those seeking some order in their customizable academic experience. Graduates have acquired work in a diverse array of areas, from journalism to museum curation, information systems, publishing, and marketing.
The flagship university in the Colorado State University System, Colorado State University is a public research school located in Fort Collins and accredited by the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.
College Choice Score: 93.75
Credit Hour Cost: $1,206
Though Duquesne University does not offer a large quantity of online education programming, the quality of their online experience is nearly unmatched, especially in regards to their liberal arts core. Their online programs primarily consist of Bachelor of Science degrees offered through an accelerated format with the academic year comprised of five terms, each structured in eight-week blocks. And as an online student you will work closely with advisors through the whole process; you will have access to online tutoring, writing center help, and the library resources; and you can either transfer credits or start anew at Duquesne.
In addition to the foundational liberal arts core curriculum, you can choose from among three majors: a BS in Behavioral Health, a BS in Computer Systems Technology, and a BS in Organizational Leadership. Clearly, earning an online degree through Duquesne is a perfect fit for those who desire a balance in the liberal arts experience and the structured nature of a typical degree program.
Duquesne is a private, Catholic university located in Pittsburgh and accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. It offers degrees across all academic levels and in nearly 200 different fields of study. Comprised of ten colleges and schools, Duquesne is home to hundreds of international students representing more than eighty countries.
University of Wisconsin
College Choice Score: 93.75
Credit Hour Cost: $319
The University of Wisconsin in Whitewater (UWW) offers many of its degrees online, including those in general business, marketing, political science, and early childhood education. Each is grounded in a liberal arts core curriculum, but for those who desire a pure interdisciplinary experience, UWW offers an online BA/BS in Liberal Studies degree. Through this program you will master such high-demand skills as compelling oral and written communication, ethical decision making, and critical problem solving. You will also foster a holistic understanding of your own culture and worldview while better understanding the workings of our global society.
Offered through the College of Letters and Sciences, this liberal studies program is a degree completion program, so you will be required to have at least an Associate’s degree already or enough credits to transfer and cover your general education requirements. Once enrolled you will have the option to either take on a 54 credit-hour major that incorporates a multidisciplinary focus area or you can choose a 36 credit-hour major with a specified minor.
Part of the larger University of Wisconsin system, this campus in Whitewater s accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. It offers around fifty undergraduate areas of study, and is particularly focused on encouraging diversity, both on-campus and through the curriculum.
Fort Hays State University
College Choice Score: 90
Credit Hour Cost: $207
Home to the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies and the Center for Civic Leadership, Fort Hays State University is a fantastic option for engaging in a liberal arts education from afar. They offer many majors, degrees, certificates, and areas of study online, all based on a liberal arts core. Through the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences they even offer an online Bachelor of General Studies degree for those who want to design their academic experience themselves.
This is a full, online degree program. You can take all your general education courses through Fort Hays, which introduce you to all the subjects comprising a liberal arts education. Then you will be required to complete at least sixty hours in your area of focus and specialty. Fort Hays provides general studies students with over a dozen areas to choose from, among them, business communication, geography, political science, rural studies, sustainability, human services, justice studies, web development, and much more.
Online Fort Hays students work closely with a personal academic advisor throughout their academic experience. Together they design a unique curriculum and academic experience that best fits with their needs, interests, and goals. Fort Hays’ Virtual College is home to over 6,000 students who hail from dozens of states and countries. It is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
University of Illinois–Springfield
College Choice Score: 87.25
Credit Hour Cost: $304
In order to be accepted into one of the competitive University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) online programs you have to demonstrate to the admissions team why you are unable to attend classes on-campus, you have to have at least sixty hours of undergraduate coursework or an Associate’s degree, and you must have a GPA of at least 3.0. However, the competitive nature of admissions reflects the high standards and the quality of the UIS’ online platform.
Founded in the principles and topics of a liberal arts education, the online degrees at UIS—most notably the BA/BS in Liberal Studies degree—give students a holistic academic experience. The Liberal Studies program goes a step further in providing students, who feel their academic curiosity is stymied by traditional degree programs, an innovative and interdisciplinary undergraduate experience. The curriculum is distinctly divided into seven broad subject categories: identity and the search for meaning, work and the value of vocation, nature and the ecology of the planet, institutions (the social web), language as connection, heritage and history, and art.
The University of Illinois Springfield is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. It is a public, research university well-ranked by U.S. News & World Report.
University of Nebraska - Omaha
College Choice Score: 86.75
Credit Hour Cost: $202
U.S. News & World Report recently named the online Bachelor of General Studies degree at the University of Nebraska – Omaha as one of the top 20 Best Online Bachelor programs in the nation. Emphasizing multidisciplinary study, critical thinking, and effective decision making, this online liberal arts program is modeled after the traditional relationship between mentor and student. You will receive individualized, personalized attention from faculty, academic counselors, and career advisors. And if you already have academic and professional experience, including military service experience, then you can apply it toward your degree in the form of course credit.
Once you’ve fulfilled your general education and liberal arts core curriculum requirements, you will then take classes organized into fundamental academic skills. You’ll take math classes and natural, social, and physical science classes as well as courses covering public speaking and communications, cultural diversity, and the humanities. The confluence of subjects works to ensure you receive a well-rounded education at an affordable rate and convenient pace. You will graduate able to apply your uniquely designed liberal arts education in an array of job roles and industries, from education to tech start ups, non-profit policy work, social media marketing, and much more.
The University of Nebraska is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Westfield State University
College Choice Score: 86
Credit Hour Cost: $297
Westfield State University offers a handful of degree completion programs that can be taken fully online. Among them, degrees in business, history, psychology, and liberal studies can be partnered with online minors in art, management, or sociology. Though each program gives students a liberal arts education, the explicit BA/BS in Liberal Studies is an interdisciplinary and flexible major that has students working closely with academic advisors to design a degree program that reflects their vocational goals and passions.
As a Westfield liberal studies student you will take classes during the traditional Fall and Spring semesters, each of which are fifteen weeks long, plus two six-week sessions and one accelerated two-week Winter session. You will also choose a primary area of concentration then supplement that area with a secondary and third area of concentration. Though most choose specializations that lead to a Bachelor of Arts degree, you can also earn a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies by combining areas such as business management, computer science, or criminal justice.
Westfield State University is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
California Baptist University
College Choice Score: 84.75
Credit Hour Cost: $547
California Baptist University (Cal Baptist) is a private, Christian liberal arts school that incorporates a conservative, faith-based perspective in its curriculum. They are known for their commitment to student formation and their many strong online programs based in a liberal arts education. Among them, the Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies degree is an ideal program for students seeking a well-rounded, multidisciplinary academic experience. And for those who are thinking about teaching, this liberal arts degree is a perfect fit as the interdisciplinary curriculum introduces students to a range of teaching styles and issues of diversity that reflect today’s multicultural classroom.
But even if you’re not interested in teaching, this program will expose the intersections of many different fields of study, giving you not only the technical skillsets—such as oral and written communication—needed to succeed in those intersections, but the critical thinking and problem solving abilities that will help you flourish in whatever career you choose. As an online Cal Baptist student studying liberal arts your passions and interests are given significant weight when creating the curriculum. However, it is encouraged you take on one of the assigned concentrations: English, human development, kinesiology, or social science.
Based in Riverside, California Baptist University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
College Choice Score: 84.5
Credit Hour Cost: $641
Champlain College is known for its unique, “upside down” approach to education: students are allowed to take higher-level courses in their first few semesters as a way to familiarize themselves with their prospective majors. Likewise, Champlain’s online programs are student-centric in that they consider their students’ current situation and responsibilities. Thus, the distance education model at Champlain is based in traditional liberal arts programming but brings in professional development to best meet the needs of their online students, most of whom are returning adult learners who balance school with work and family.
For example, the online Bachelor’s in Integrated Studies degree offers a well-rounded general education core that can be supplemented with career-focused courses in healthcare, technology, or business. This is a completion degree, so it’s expected you have a number of credits to transfer, but that means that at Champlain you’ll get to dive right into your interests and passions. In addition to learning how to evaluate and integrate differing perspectives, experiences, and ideas, you will also explore ethical decision making, data mining as a way to problem solve, and how to make and achieve goals with limited resources.
Accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Champlain is a highly ranked university with many awards and accolades to its name.
University of Massachusetts–Lowell
College Choice Score: 84.25
Credit Hour Cost: $375
The University of Massachusetts system, including UMass Lowell, is recognized as being a longtime provider of quality traditional and online education. Specifically for working professionals, the UMass Lowell online liberal arts program gives students the options of studying full or part-time and of either taking classes fully online or mixing online coursework with on-campus classes. There are many online degrees to choose among, including a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree that allows you to fully explore the depths and range of a balanced liberal arts curriculum.
If you decide to pursue a comprehensive liberal arts degree from UMass Lowell then you will have the option of choosing two concentrations from many subjects, including art history, economics, English, history, legal studies, political science, psychology, and gender studies. Through your online coursework you will investigate the many psychological, historical, and social issues that affect our local, national, and global communities. You will work closely with faculty, academic advisors, career counselors, and more at UMass Lowell online, so you can be assured you will know success both academically and professionally.
Ranked among the best online programs in the country by U.S. News & World Report, UMass Online is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis
College Choice Score: 84
Credit Hour Cost: $266
Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) works with all eight IU campuses to offer many online degree completion programs. With a long history of providing a liberal arts education to its students regardless of their major or intended career, IUPUI now offers a full liberal arts degree that is multidisciplinary in scope (one that is inclusive of math and the sciences) and that guides students toward meeting their educational as well as professional goals.
The online Bachelor’s of General Studies degree is a highly individualized program that gives students the agency and opportunity to actively design their own academic experience. In fact, this is probably the most versatile degree on our list in terms of its breadth of concentrations, electives, and specializations. You should also expect to supplement your degree with an internship or capstone course or project. Finally, IUPUI is one of the only schools on our ranking to offer nearly half a dozen scholarships that are specifically allocated to liberal arts and general studies students.
A public university, Indiana University–Purdue University is a mid-sized research institution that specializes in providing professional education to nearly half its students population. They are accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
College Choice Score: 83.25
Credit Hour Cost: $395
Regent University is a Christian university that incorporates faith heavily into the curriculum. They are also home to a huge distance education program with dozens of online degrees, at all undergraduate and advanced levels and in a number of areas. Before enrolling, especially if you have few to no college credits to transfer, you should know that Regent requires a general education curriculum that is comprised of the standard subjects (public speaking, biology, composition, etc.) but also Old Testament studies, New Testament studies, Christian history and thought, and the making of the Christian mind.
Regent is a liberal arts school to the core. They emphasize worldview and critical thinking, community and collaboration, and the integration of passion and profession. With over a dozen online Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies degrees, students can specialize in everything from government and history to information systems, English, Christian ministry, or business. Regent even offers an Associate’s in General Studies degree that brings together history, art and aesthetics, foreign languages with math, geography, and psychology.
Regent University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. U.S. News & World Report Ranks their online learning platform as among the best in the country.
University of Massachusetts–Dartmouth
College Choice Score: 80.25
Credit Hour Cost: $322
Like UMass Lowell, the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth offers a number of flexible, affordable online degrees that are marked by their liberal arts emphasis. And also like its sister school, UMass Dartmouth programs are ideal for those who have some college credit already and are looking to finish their degree. Among the many they have to choose from, all provide a liberal arts approach; and one can even attain a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree that explicitly allows them to explore the many dimensions of the humanities and sciences.
The Bachelor or Liberal Arts (LAR) program develops in its students—both online and in the classroom—a variety of skill sets including polished communication abilities, assessment and decision making, critical thinking and analysis, and how to work both productively and independently. This program requires that you choose two concentrations from the seven provided: economics, English literature and criticism, history, philosophy, political science, sociology and anthropology, and women and gender studies. UMass Dartmouth graduates of the LAR program have found work in sales, human resources, reporting, politics, public policy, social work, and law.
UMass Dartmouth is located in North Dartmouth and is home to approximately 8,000 undergraduate students. It is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Saint Leo University
College Choice Score: 79.5
Credit Hour Cost: $470
For those interested in an education grounded in both a liberal arts and Roman Catholic approach to pedagogy, Saint Leo University is an ideal fit. It is also known for its Center for Online Learning, which enrolls thousands of students each year and is often ranked among the top online programs in the country. It allows students to start from the beginning or to transfer credits from military training, past learning experiences, certifications, and/or subject exams.
Saint Leo offers a handful of online degrees through its School of Business, the School of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Education and Social Services, including a BA in Liberal Studies. Through this broad, multidisciplinary curriculum, students explore human behavior, ideas, and values through the study of social and natural sciences, humanities and fine arts, quantitative reasoning, and business. The curriculum for this liberal arts degree is uniquely made up of five sections in addition to the liberal arts core and foundation courses. Those sections include the human adventure, the human mosaic, science in a changing world, the creative life, and the reflective and spiritual life.
Saint Leo University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
University of Maine–Augusta
College Choice Score: 76.5
Credit Hour Cost: $217
Located in the state’s capital, the University of Maine in Augusta has been educating returning and adult learners for many years through their liberal arts curriculums. They offer a number of online programs that closely mirror their “traditional,” on-campus degrees, including the Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies, which is anchored in and expands the greater campus’ liberal arts emphasis.
As a liberal arts student at Augusta you will primarily develop four areas of professional and academic formation: interpersonal, communication, problem solving, and organizational skills. Through classes that help you understand cultural differences, collaborative partnerships, human assessment, and recognizing social processes you will hone interpersonal skills. Likewise, you’ll work on your communication techniques by presenting ideas, reading critically, and writing reports. You’ll develop problem solving abilities by learning the best research methodologies and you’re organizational abilities by taking courses on management, development, and planning. Overall, this degree will fully prepare you for whatever career direction in which you head.
The University of Maine in Augusta is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
College Choice Score: 76.25
Credit Hour Cost: $504
Northeastern University’s boasts a retention rate of 96 percent—which is way above the national average—because of its academic standards and student-centric emphasis. With a liberal arts curriculum that integrates experiential learning, study abroad programs, and co-ops, Northeastern students (including those studying from a distance) are rewarded with a diverse learning experience unlike any other. First given a liberal arts foundation, students then specialize in one of the many online majors, including the Bachelors of Science in Liberal Arts.
For those who are most interested in cultivating intellectual as well as professional dexterity, this liberal arts degree will give you the opportunity to design a degree that meets all your personal, academic, and vocational goals. Though fully online, this is a comprehensive degree program. So you can can start at Northeastern with no credits in your pocket, ready to dive into writing, business, math, and philosophy courses. After you finish your general education requirements you will then take at least 33 credits in your area of interest plus fifteen credits to cover a minor. Whether you see yourself leading a tech start up or getting a PhD in continental philosophy, this degree from Northeastern can help you get there.
Northeastern University is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and located in Boston, Massachusetts. It is nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report, ARWU, Forbes, The Princeton Review, Washington Monthly, and more.
Eastern Oregon University
College Choice Score: 74.75
Credit Hour Cost: $218
Eastern Oregon University (EOU) proffers dozens of online undergraduate degrees at an affordable rate (in fact, EOU has one of the lowest credit hour costs on our list!). Known for giving students a broad liberal arts base regardless of major or projected degree, Eastern Oregon also offers a specific program for those who want to earn an online bachelors in liberal arts: the Integrative Studies major.
As an online integrative studies student you will explore multidisciplinary connections while developing intercultural knowledge. You’ll take part in purposeful civic engagement, examine ethical responsibilities of individuals and communities, engage in critical self-reflections, and apply all these connections to your current and future learning. You will work closely with an advisor to either combine two academic minors, one EUO minor plus an approved minor from another accredited university, or to design a unique, coherent plan of study with an instructor. Regardless of how your degree comes together, as an integrative studies major you will be required to complete a capstone portfolio that is meant to demonstrate your educational, personal, and vocational accomplishments.
Located in La Grande and accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, Eastern Oregon University is small school with under 5k undergraduates.
College Choice Score: 71.75
Credit Hour Cost: $615
DePaul University, in addition to its renowned name and reputation, offers a lot in the way of formation and development to its undergraduate “traditional” and online students. Foremost, students can customize and tailor their education explicitly to their career goals through DePaul’s Individualized Focus Area program, offered through the School for New Learning. This is only for adult students who want to complete an undergraduate degree through a flexible, personalized, and competence-based program. In addition to transferring previous college credits, you can also earn credit from previous life and work experience, drawing that graduation date even closer!
While you will work closely with a faculty member to design and complete your own curriculum, program tracks and concentrations are provided to give some structure. Included among those specializations are business communication, business development, criminal justice, education and counseling, entrepreneurship, environmental studies, healthcare and social change, human development, non-profit organization management, and visual arts and designs.
DePaul University is a private university affiliated with the Catholic Church and located in Chicago. It is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
St. John's University–New York
College Choice Score: 71.75
Credit Hour Cost: $1,323
St. John’s University in Queens offers comprehensive bachelors degrees that can be fully earned online. Without needing past credits to start working toward your degree, at St. John’s you can jump right into their general education core curriculum to gain a liberal arts foundation to your academic career. You’ll take 18 humanities credits, 18 social sciences credits, 12 science and math credits, plus a 3-credit seminar in liberal studies. Once these are completed you only need to acquire another 52 credits in your major. Again, all of which can be earned online and at your own pace.
For those who want to continue on the liberal arts track, St. John’s offers both associate and bachelor degrees in liberal studies. These programs provide an interdisciplinary approach to the hard sciences, social sciences, and humanities, revealing the relationships among these subjects and forming in their students a broad understanding of Western thought and global perspectives. St. John’s is unique in its take on the liberal arts curriculum in that it allows students to pair the degree with a definitively career-focused minor, such as business, computer science, criminal justice, health services, journalism, or paralegal studies. Though on the pricier end of the tuition spectrum, St. John’s is a great option for earning an online liberal arts education, one that has, on average, graduates making at least 48k annually in the early years of their careers.
St. John’s University is a Roman Catholic research institution with campuses throughout New York City. It is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
Azusa Pacific University
College Choice Score: 70.25
Credit Hour Cost: $450
A small, Christian university, Azusa Pacific University (APU) caters to those seeking a broad, liberal arts education. APU has sizeable departments across the humanities and social sciences through which many degrees and majors are offered on campus as well as online at an affordable rate and through a flexible format. Like many of the other schools on our list, APU demonstrates its commitment to the liberal arts through a full undergraduate program: the Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies.
This program has been uniquely curated for those who want a sturdy, liberal arts base but who are also interested in teaching and education. For prospective elementary school and special education teachers, this online completion program helps you foster your own philosophy of education while understanding ethical and worldview theories. And because Azusa Pacific is a Christian school, you will be expected to integrate your Christian faith into your understanding of the strengths, learning styles, and developments of K–6 students and their needs. Graduates from this unique program have gone into clinical psychology, marriage and family therapy, counseling, social work, and private and public school teaching.
An evangelical university based outside of Los Angeles, Azusa Pacific University is a member of the CCCU (Council for Christian Colleges and Universities) and is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Granite State College
College Choice Score: 70
Credit Hour Cost: $300
Granite State College (GSC) is a small liberal arts college with a broad online learning program. They provide accessible and affordable education to adult learners, to both those who are in school for the first time and to those who are returning to complete their degree. Granite State has earned national ranking in many categories: for its affordability, academic standing, and strong online programs.
Among their many distance education bachelor degrees, Granite State College offers a fully online Bachelor of Arts in Individualized Studies degree. Students in this program experience a curriculum that emphasizes critical thinking, writing, reflection, and research across the humanities, including in arts, literature, history, philosophy, and ethics. This program is ideal for those who have transferable college course credit and are seeking an opportunity to create a cohesive, comprehensive degree from what they have. In fact, 84 percent of GSC students are transfer students, so the GSC specializes in making the most of transfer credits. This program is also for those students are self-directed and eager to become proficient in the knowledge, methods, and theories that make up their specific area of study.
Granite State is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. It is part of the University System of New Hampshire and its main campus is located in Concord, New Hampshire.
College Choice Score: 68.25
Credit Hour Cost: $290
Do you want to work closely, in a mentoring relationship, with an advisor to create an undergraduate experience that is uniquely yours? Columbia College (in Missouri) can give you that opportunity. With one of the smallest undergraduate enrollments (around 2k students) on our list, you are guaranteed an individualized experience at Columbia. You not only work closely with your advisor, but also with faculty members, library and tech staff, career counselors, and more. And all from a distance, as Columbia College offers many of their liberal arts degrees online.
In addition to the general education core—which explores all cornerstones of a liberal arts education, from biology to communication, anthropology, history, and music—Columbia College offers a comprehensive Bachelor of General Studies (BGS) degree. This online program allows students to collate different minors to create their own academic experience. On top of the core course load, BGS students are then required to take an ethics course and multiculturalism course before diving into their chosen area of study. Whether you’re interested in business, marketing, human services, math and computer science, history, philosophy, political science, nursing, or sociology, this degree in general studies is a great option.
A private, nonprofit liberal arts college, Princeton Review recently named Columbia College a “Best Midwestern University.” It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.