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Life is an ever-changing journey. Human beings are constantly learning and evolving and seeking new ways to make connections with each other, our past, and what may come. For individuals who not only relish this flow of knowledge and adaptation but also seek it out, an online degree in liberal studies could be an exciting and powerful experience. Liberal Studies (sometimes called Liberal Arts or Interdisciplinary Studies) is a degree that is ideal for the student who loves the idea of learning or wants a broad-based degree that doesn’t pigeon-hole them. The Master of Liberal Studies degree usually offers many choices and cross-discipline coursework in the Humanities, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences and the Arts, usually with great flexibility and a wide range of elective topics. One of the Most Popular Online Master’s Degree Programs, students in these programs range from intellectuals who want to expand their minds and range of experiences to professionals who need a general advanced degree to achieve a promotion in the workforce, and everyone in between. Read on to learn about our picks for top liberal studies online degree programs and our methodology for choosing the schools who made the list.
Our methodology: We approached this ranking by looking at many factors—the most important being regional accreditation. Gathering information from publicly available sources such as the Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs (AGLSP), U.S. News and World Report, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the websites of schools that offer Master of Liberal Studies, Liberal Arts, or Interdisciplinary degree programs online, we narrowed down our list by looking specifically at three criteria that helped guide our choices for the ranking. The three criteria were, in no particular order:
- School reputation
- Clear Liberal Studies focus and/or the variety of offerings
- Amount of program accessible online
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#50. Saint Leo University
In 1889, Leo Haid, an Abbot of the Catholic Church in the Order of Saint Benedict (O.S.B.), received a donation of 36 acres from Edmund F. Dunne (the founder of the Catholic colony of San Antonio, Florida and an ex-chief justice of the Arizona territory). This 36 acres of land on the shores of Lake Jovita was to be used to establish a Benedictine college. Abbot Haid named the school St. Leo’s College after Pope Saint Leo the Great, Pope Leo XIII (who was pope at that time), and himself. The first Catholic college in the state, Saint Leo held class for the first time in 1890 for seven students. Going through many name changes (and even serving as a military college at three different times), the school became Saint Leo University in 1999. Over 16,000 students now study at this private, coeducational liberal arts university located in Saint Leo, Florida, and regional accreditation comes from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Program Details: Providing a “low-residency” online program, Saint Leo’s Master of Arts in Creative Writing degree focuses on the arts and humanities side of liberal studies and lands in our #50 spot. Starting with an annual eight-day residency on the Saint Leo campus, students experience an immersion of creativity, workshops and lectures. A work plan for the academic year is mapped out with a faculty advisor during this time, and support is continued throughout the year with this same advisor. In addition to that one-on-one faculty support, Saint Leo provides multiple services and resources to both prospective and current online students. Starting with enrollment counselors to guide students through the process, to a page detailing how online learning works, to a Career Services center that continues offering services after graduation, online students have the support they need. Requiring a total of 36 credit hours to graduate, students can complete the program in twenty-four months, and tuition is $615 per credit hour.
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#49. Spring Hill College
Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama claims many distinctions. Established in 1830 by the first Catholic Bishop in Mobile, Spring Hill is the oldest institution of higher learning in Alabama. It is also the first Catholic college in the Southeast, the fifth oldest in America, and the third oldest Jesuit school. Bishop Michael Portier founded the school as a seminary and boarding school on 300 acres he had purchased. In addition to a pair of Jesuits and several seminary students, thirty students were the first student body. Following the European model, male students aged nine and up were admitted. By 1932 women were admitted, and in 1935 the high school portion of the school closed. Pioneering desegregation in the area, the school admitted nine African-American students in 1954 and was mentioned in a positive light in Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” written in 1963. Now Spring Hill serves almost 1,500 students, and this private, Roman Catholic liberal arts school is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Program Details: The Master of Liberal Arts degree program at Spring Hill is a flexible, thirty credit hour program for students who are “seeking a career change, job advancement, or the opportunity to pursue a lifelong passion.” Core coursework requirements include classes like “Studies in Cultural Diversity,” “The Scientific Revolution,” “Classical Antiquity,” and “Women’s Studies.” Classes are offered mostly in the evening on-campus, but there are always some classes offered online in each semester (students need to plan with care to make sure they are able to take the classes they need to complete the degree exclusively online). Four concentrations are available; students can choose from Literature, Fine Arts, History & Social Sciences, and Leadership & Ethics. Two certificates are also possible–Leadership & Ethics or Studio Arts, and students have up to six years to complete the program. Tuition is listed as $540 per credit hour.
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#48. McDaniel College
Western Maryland College began as the result of three men’s inspiration and hard work in Westminster, Maryland. Teacher Fayette R. Buell was the original visionary who bought land after the Civil War ended to start a school. Methodist minister J.T. Ward (he would go on to be the college’s first president) and railroad owner John Smith (the original president of the College’s board of trustees) raised the financing. In 1867 the school opened with thirty-seven students–both men and women–who studied in eight areas of education. A progressive school, students were admitted from the inception without regard to race, gender, religion, color or origin. The school would remain Western Maryland College until 2002 when the name was changed to McDaniel College in honor of a man who was a professor, administrator, and trustee of the school–William Roberts McDaniel. The Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools regionally accredits McDaniel College.
Program Details: With a Master of Liberal Arts (MLA) degree program that “comes to you,” McDaniel College presents classes both on-campus and online to accommodate the working professional. An interdisciplinary program offered through the Graduate and Professional Studies division, the online classes are accessible in eight-week blocks each semester. Requiring 36-credit hours to graduate, students can choose from specializations in Environmental Literacy, Fine Arts, Language and Literature, and Social Studies, and the program culminates with a six-credit hour final project. Twenty-one credit hours are foundational courses within the MLA curriculum, and they cover topics like “Introducing Modern World Philosophies,” “Our Historic Heritage,” and “Creativity: The Aesthetic Journey.” Graduate tuition for the 2017-2018 academic year is $490 per credit hour (plus fees) regardless of residency.
#47. University of Richmond
Virginia Baptists in the 19th century thought the way to best prepare the mind to be a minister was to work the labors of the field. To that end, they established a manual labor institute in 1830 in Richmond, Virginia for future ministers. A decade later the school would incorporate as Richmond College. The Civil War influenced the college in an unfortunate way–all students joined a regiment and fought as Confederates, and the campus served both as hospital and barracks for the gray coats. The school also bankrupted itself by investing every penny in Confederate war bonds, but reopened in 1866 with a lifesaving donation of $5,000. In 1914 the school moved from downtown Richmond to the current 350-acre campus, and the name was changed in 1920 to University of Richmond (UR). This private liberal arts institution educates over 4,000 students currently, and regional accreditation is granted by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Program Details: The Master of Liberal Arts degree at University of Richmond’s School of Professional & Continuing Studies can be tailored in almost any way a student desires when “developed in coordination with the program coordinator.” Helping students “acquire an appreciation for global perspectives, traditions, lifestyles and philosophies,” UR promises an outcome in which students become people “well-rounded, knowledgeable in many subjects and able to draw from that knowledge and experience to answer questions, take sides in a debate or solve a problem.” Thirty credit hours are required for graduation–the core coursework is delivered on-campus, but the fifteen credit hours of electives can be fully online with approval from the departmental program coordinator. From Archeology to Mathematics to Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies, the sky really could be the limit with this individualized degree program. Graduate tuition for the 2017-2018 academic year is $600 per credit hour.
#46. Pacifica Graduate Institute
Started as the Human Relations Institute in Santa Barbara, California in 1976, Pacifica Graduate Institute (“Pacifica”) offered a nine-month, para-professional Counseling Skills Certificate program initially. By 1983 a four-year Master of Arts degree was added with the approval from the state of California to grant degrees. The school continued to grow and evolve, and by the late 1980s established a permanent campus in the town of Carpinteria. In 1989 the name was officially changed to Pacifica Graduate Institute, and now offers nine degrees online and at both the Lambert Campus in Carpinteria and the Ladera Campus in Santa Barbara. With a mission to “foster creative learning and research in the fields of psychology and mythological studies, framed in the traditions of depth psychology,” regional accreditation for Pacifica Graduate Institute has been provided by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission since 1997.
Program Details: The hybrid online program (there are four required on-campus residencies a year–one each quarter) MA in Engaged Humanities & the Creative Life at Pacifica is “specifically designed to enable students to become employees and citizens” in an ever-changing world. Touting the program as transformational, the MA program starts with a tutorial on the Design2Learn (D2L) online course delivery system. Each quarter, students participate in two three-credit hour (or “unit”) courses for the first six weeks to two months–this time is spent on assigned reading and D2L online with faculty and other students. After that, students all gather on-campus for four days to attend face-to-face classes together, and then return home for the remainder of the required ten-week quarter to complete readings and assignments. The 48-unit program includes classes such as “The Complex Nature of Inspiration,” “Creative Influence Across The Humanities,” and “Technology and the Psyche.” Tuition per quarter for the 2017-2018 academic year is $4,975 plus a residential fee of $833 for each residency.
#45. East Carolina University
The citizens of two different eastern North Carolina towns both petitioned the NC General Assembly for a Carolina Normal School to train teachers in the eastern part of the state. Wilson residents in 1901 and Elizabeth City locals in 1905 were all denied the school, but the ball was rolling to establish a school in the area. In 1907 the General Assembly passed an act stating “That there shall be established and maintained at some suitable point in eastern North Carolina a teachers’ training school for the training of young white men and women under the corporate name of the East Carolina Teachers’ Training School.” $15,000 was set designated as startup monies to fund the school, and an additional $5,000 was to be appropriated annually. Eight towns put in bids to be the location of the school, but after much debate and several rounds of voting Greenville won with its pledge of $100,000 minus the cost of the land and election bond expenses. This was the birth of East Carolina University (ECU), and now this public research university encompasses almost 1,600 acres and has over 28,000 students enrolled. The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools regionally accredits ECU.
Program Details: The College of Arts and Sciences at ECU offers a Master of Arts in English degree with a fully online Concentration in Multicultural and Transnational Literatures. The degree program’s “approach to understanding and appreciating literatures is interdisciplinary, involving the study of historical, political, artistic, geographic, and environmental contexts.” A 33-credit hour program with a goal of providing students with an “understanding of multicultural and global peoples, arts, traditions, histories, interactions, and issues as represented and interpreted through literature and criticism,” classes include topics such as “Literary Theory,” “World Literatures Written in English,” “Cultural Studies Theory and Method,” and “Folklore.” Students can choose interdisciplinary electives from other departments with advisor approval in order to tailor their degree to their particular academic needs and career goals. The program culminates with a thesis or portfolio project. Tuition and fees for the 2017-2018 academic year per credit hour are $249.26 for residents of North Carolina and $893.92 for out-of-state students.
#44. Prescott College
In the mid-1960s, a minister in the Congregational Church denomination, Dr. Charles Franklin Parker, envisioned a “Harvard in the West” to be located in the town of Prescott, Arizona. The impetus for the school had come from ideas gleaned at a gathering funded by the Ford Foundation a few years prior. With a rich tradition of social justice and intentionality, Prescott College “is a pluralistic community where respect for differences and dialogue are key aspects of true experiential education.” Even through financial hardships the school has continued, and this private, coeducational liberal arts college has many unconventional approaches to education. Rather than a majoring or minoring in a subject, in their junior year students design a “competence” (major) and a “breadth” (minor) which will be in one of six study areas–Adventure Education, Arts and Humanities, Education, Environmental Studies and Sustainability, Psychology and Counseling, or Cultural and Regional Studies. Prescott College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Program Details: Prescott College Online offers a “limited-residency format” in which students begin the 36-credit hour Master of Arts in Arts & Humanities degree program with an on-campus orientation. Once a semester, students then return for an on-campus colloquium in which they meet with their professors and fellow students. With many different options to craft the degree to fit their specific needs and goals, students can choose from academic pursuits such as Photojournalism, African-American studies, Mythology or Gender studies–just to name a few. Coursework examples include classes like “Engaging in Place: An Active Introduction to Civic Ecology,” “Worldviews and Sustainability,” and “People and Nature: An Exploration of our Relationships with the Natural World.” Prescott has been offering limited-residency programs since 1978, so students can be assured that they are in a solid program with a proven delivery method. Students can start the program in August or January, and tuition is listed as $845 per credit hour for the 2017-2018 academic year, plus fees.
#43. Faulkner University
Montgomery Bible College was founded in 1942 by Dr. Rex Turner, Dr. Leonard Johnson and Joe Greer in Montgomery, Alabama. With the original focus of training preachers and offering education grounded in the Christian faith, this private school affiliated with the Churches of Christ denomination grew over the next decade to become Alabama Christian College in 1953. By 1964 the school had outgrown its original campus and moved to its current location. Satellite campuses in Birmingham, Huntsville and Mobile were opened in 1975, and in 1983 the Thomas Goode Jones School of Law became part of the school. In 1984 the school received full accreditation as a four-year university, and the name was changed a year later to Faulkner University after Board Chairman and Trustee Dr. James Faulkner. Five colleges make up the university, and over 3,500 students are currently enrolled. Faulkner University is regionally accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Program Details: The online Master of Arts in Humanities degree program offered through Faulkner University’s Honors College is a stepping-stone program for “students who are intent on pursuing doctoral studies in disciplines like history, humanities, literature, philosophy, and religion.” The 36 credit hour program offers classes such as “Introduction to Humane Letters and Learning,” “Great Ideas, Authors, and Writings: Historical Investigations,” and “Scholarly Inquiry/Writing” at scheduled online times to encourage student discussion and deep-thinking while hearing from the experienced faculty professors. Being “deeply rooted in Christian identity” translates into a great deal of student support whether on-campus or online, and Faulkner offers many student support services to all current students, as well as a Faulkner Online Blog to help with technical questions that online students may encounter. Tuition for the program for all students regardless of residency is $440 per credit hour with a $55 per credit hour online fee.
#42. Goddard College
This “college for living” dates back to the failed Goddard Seminary, which began as the Green Mountain Central Institute in 1863. In 1938 a band of teachers, headed by Seminary President Tim Pitkin, re-envisioned the school and moved it to a sheep farm in Plainfield, Vermont. Fifty students and a truckload of books and used furniture moved into the farmhouse on campus and begin their education in community with these three guiding principles: the most fundamental fact of life is change; people learn only what they inwardly accept; and education is a moral concern. In 1963 Goddard pioneered the low-residency model, in which students (mostly working adults with families and obligations) came to campus for two-week seminars and then returned home to complete their studies with faculty mentoring from a distance. Since 2002 all programs at Goddard follow the low-residency format, and over 700 students currently are enrolled. Goddard College is regionally accredited as an institution by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Program Details: Providing the “best of what distance education, online programs and traditional campus learning have to offer,” the Goddard low-residency model of eight-day on-campus residencies at the beginning of each semester gives students in the Individualized Master of Arts degree program a rigorous and flexible education. Requiring 48 credits over a period of four semesters full-time, the intent of the program is to help students “find and hone a focus of inquiry that brings together deep interests with relevant theory and actual practice.” There are two established concentration options: Transformative Language Arts or Consciousness Studies. An accelerated 36-credit hour degree is a possibility for students who have “already conducted much of the exploratory work . . . where they would like to focus their studies and a developed idea of the final product they would like to complete.” Tuition per semester for the 2017-2018 academic year is $9,146 for full-time students (twelve credit hours) and $5,945 for part-time (six credit hours).
#41. Hebrew College
Hebrew College, founded in 1921 in Roxbury, Massachusetts as Hebrew Teachers College, was established as a “model of the Hebraist approach to education. Not just for the training of educators, a focus on Hebrew language and literacy was central to the school’s purpose, and all classes were originally taught only in Hebrew (classes are now taught in English with Hebrew for advanced subjects). Twenty-three students were enrolled by the end of the first year of the school’s existence, and enrollment continued to increase. In 1952 benefactors of the school purchased and donated a mansion in Brookline, MA to accommodate the growth of the student body, and fifty years later the school moved to “its first true campus” in the town of Newton Centre. A private, degree-granting institution, Hebrew College joined the Boston Theological Institute, which is made up of ten theological schools and seminaries of different faiths and denominations in the Boston area. Hebrew College is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Program Details: Hebrew College’s Master of Jewish Liberal Studies (MJLS) degree program is completed mostly online with a required week-long summer on-campus residency. This interdisciplinary thirty-one credit hour program is an “exploration of Jewish culture and civilization, viewed through the lens of the Jewish humanities,” and students can opt to include in their degree a specialization in Global Interreligious Leadership. Courses for the program include a focus on Jewish history and culture through different required texts and electives (topics offered fall 2017 include “Sacred Beginnings: An Introduction to Jewish Mysticism and Spirituality” and “Torah for Transformative Social Change”), and all online students are expected to complete an hour-long synchronous study session with a fellow student. Two start dates a year are offered–in the spring and fall–and students need to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and basic comprehension in the reading of Hebrew. Tuition for the 2017-2018 academic year is $990 per credit hour for enrolled students.
#40. Regent University
Construction on a new Christian faith-based university on 70 acres in the town of Virginia Beach, Virginia began in 1977. The Christian Broadcasting Network University, the brainchild of Pat Robertson (the conservative evangelical spokesperson of the 700 Club), promoted the idea of a university that would help prepare “capable men and women for the challenge of representing Christ in their professions.” The following year 70 students began their education in rented space nearby the campus while it was still under construction. The university’s name was changed in 1990 to Regent University, in order to show the world that the students were on this earth as regents of Jesus. Now almost 9,000 students study more than 125 academic degree program, and this private, interdenominational, evangelical, coeducational research university is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Program Details: The Master of Arts in Practical Theology degree program with a concentration in Interdisciplinary Studies in offered both online and on-campus at Regent University’s School of Divinity. Students choose classes from the School of Divinity and from other graduate schools to develop a well-rounded and comprehensive degree. The required 48 hours include context classes from the School of Divinity in topics like “Biblical Hermeneutics,” “Intercultural Communication,” and “Theology of Global Missions.” Beyond the coursework, Regent desires a positive experience for all students, and both current and prospective online students are offered resources, tutorials and even a quiz to determine if they would succeed as an online learner. Prospective students can even “testdrive” a course to see what it is like–most classes are offered asynchronously and can be logged into at times that are most convenient for their schedules. Tuition is $495 per credit hour.
#39. Liberty University
Liberty University was created in 1971 as Lynchburg Baptist College by Pastor Jerry Falwell Sr. and his Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia on Liberty Mountain. With 154 students paying tuition of only $200 that first year, the school was begun to “influence the moral and ethical course of America,” and in 1976 the name was changed to Liberty Baptist College to more accurately reflect that goal. In 1985 the school had grown to university status and the name was changed again to Liberty University–the distance learning program also began that year and has grown to become Liberty University Online. This private, coeducational university is the world’s largest Christian-faith university. Liberty now offers over 550 academic degree programs at its sixteen schools and colleges, and regional accreditation has been granted by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges since 1980.
Program Details: Liberty University Online’s MA in Interdisciplinary Studies degree begins with an introduction course in interdisciplinary studies and ends with a research course to help students “synthesize their education in interdisciplinary studies for professional application.” In the time in between however, students can choose from an array of graduate classes across nine of Liberty’s schools and colleges for a very personalized degree (students can choose from “history, English, psychology, counseling, religion, government, public health and executive leadership”). Offered through The Graduate School, this thirty-one credit hour degree is completely online, and students can transfer up to 50% of their required credits. Liberty stresses the importance of students developing a “Degree Completion Plan” to assure they reach the academic and career goals that have set out to achieve. Tuition for the 2017-2018 academic year is $565 per credit hour for students who are taking classes full-time, and $615 per credit for part-time students.
#38. Northwestern University
In 1850 nine men, with leader John Evans (who was, among other things, a politician and physician, and for whom the town of Evanston was named) determined to found a university for the Northwest Territory. A year later the Illinois General Assembly granted the men a charter as trustees of the schools. Evans purchased almost 400 acres beside Lake Michigan in 1853 for the school, and the town of Evanston, Illinois was born. Two years later classes began for the all-male student body, and females would be admitted sixteen years later. This highly-competitive private research university has a main campus in Evanston and additional campuses in Chicago, San Francisco, and Doha, Qatar. Twelve schools and colleges make up the university, and over 250 academic degree programs are offered to the 21,000 enrolled students. Northwestern is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Program Details: The Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) degree program at Northwestern’s School of Professional Studies is a part-time program that can be partially on-campus or fully online, depending on the classes students choose to take. A degree program with the intent of showing the “intellectual demands of professional life by enriching students’ understanding of a broad array of social and cultural issues while improving their ability to analyze, write and complete research,” nine courses are required to complete the degree. Students choose two core courses from a selection of classes like “Intro to Cultural Analysis” and “From Hamilton to “Hamilton,” six elective classes and a capstone project. Electives run the gamut from “History of Marriage in the U.S.” to “A Modern Look at Jane Austen” to “Black Chicago,” and students can even opt to complete one of six predefined specializations if they choose. Tuition for the MALS degree for the 2017-2018 academic year is $3,153 per course plus a $120 technology fee for online classes.
#37. Baker University
Founded by ministers in Baldwin City, Kansas in 1858, Baker University has always been closely associated with the Methodist Episcopal Church (now known as the United Methodist Church). Named for Methodist Bishop and scholar Osmon Cleander Baker, the school holds the distinction and honor of being the oldest university in Kansas. With a mission of being “committed to assuring student learning, and developing confident, competent, and responsible contributors to society,” Baker University has been governed by a Board of Trustees since its beginnings. Baker University is comprised of four colleges and schools (College of Arts and Sciences, School of Nursing, School of Professional and Graduate Studies, and School of Education) and has a current enrollment of over 3,000, and this private Christian University in the Midwest is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Program Details: A degree program “for people who want to become better thinkers, writers, and communicators,” the Baker University 36-credit hour Master of Liberal Arts (MLA) is offered online and can be completed in as little as a year and a half. With an “interdisciplinary approach to the study of humanities, science, and the arts within an academic setting,” students are required to take six credits in three key areas: creative arts, history and ideas, and the sciences. In addition, at the beginning of the program each student must take the three-credit hour class “Interdisciplinary Liberal Arts.” The remaining hours can be selected from five predefined concentration areas (Creative Arts, History & Ideas, Natural & Social Sciences, Gender Studies, or Management & Leadership), and each student must design a portfolio and perform a capstone project. Tuition is the same for in-state and out-of-state residents at $400 per credit hour with a $30 per course technology fee.
#36. University of Maine
Thanks to the Morrill of 1862 (also known as the Land-Grant College Act, it was a federal act that gave states land to sell so that the proceeds could be used to fund a school), the state of Maine received 210,000 acres to be used to fund its land-grant institution. In 1865 the Maine State College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts was chartered in Orono, Maine, and three years later classes began for the first twelve students. For the first few years the school was just for men, but in 1872 women were allowed to enroll–Louise Hammond Ramsdell was the first female student. Five years later the school was renamed University of Maine (UMaine), and this flagship university of the University of Maine System is a land-grant, space-grant, and sea-grant university (one of only nine in the country). UMaine is a public research university with over 11,000 students studying in nearly 200 academic degree programs, and it is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Program Details: The Graduate School at University of Maine presents a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS) program fully online with a concentration in Maine Studies. Offered full-time or part-time through UMaine Online, the program requires thirty credit hours to graduate. An academic advisor helps students plot out their academic course “through classes in literature, history, folklore, Native American studies, Franco-American studies, woman’s studies, geology, geography, political science, and other disciplines.” Classes start with two interdisciplinary core seminars– “A Sense of Place: Maine and Regional Identity” and “Exploring Interdisciplinary.” Students then choose fifteen to twenty-one credit hours of electives (at least five courses must cover Maine-specific topics), and then they finish with a master’s project. Tuition listed for the 2017-2018 academic year is $429 per credit hour for Maine residents and $536 per credit hour for out-of-state residents.
#35. Wesleyan University
In 1831 in the town of Middletown, Connecticut, residents and leaders in the Methodist church established a school for the community. The first students, all 48 of them, were men and boys. Three professors, a school president and a single tutor were the staff of the newly formed Wesleyan University. The school was named for the founder of Methodism, John Wesley, and claims the distinction of being one of the oldest institutions of higher education in America that was originally founded as Methodist. There was an attempt at making the school somewhat coeducational in the early years–in 1872 women could take classes and earn degrees. But by 1912 some alumni fought to keep women out, and other alumni then helped to start Connecticut College for Women in New London. Through the 1960s there was active recruitment of students of color, and women were finally allowed admission again in 1970. Now there are over 3,000 students enrolled in Wesleyan’s almost 60 academic degree programs, and regional accreditation is granted by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Program Details: Wesleyan’s Graduate Liberal Studies (GLS) program offers both a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) and a Master of Philosophy in Liberal Arts (MPhil) degree program. The 36-credit hour MALS degree program in particular is “designed with working adults in mind,” so some courses can be found online but may not be offered every semester (students will need to map out their schedule beforehand in order to finish the program at their desired time–Wesleyan allows up to six years to complete the degree). From the exhaustive list of interdisciplinary options, students can choose from classes such as “History of Rock and R&B” and “Life Among Snow and Ice,” and “The Dynamics of Character: 1800s to Present” just to name a few. For prospective students, there are multiple information sessions offered throughout the year. Tuition for the 2017-2018 academic calendar year is $2,955 per course regardless of residency.
#34. Adams State University
Colorado legislator and soon-to-be governor William “Billy” Adams tirelessly advocated for a normal school to train teachers for the rural areas of Colorado near the San Luis Valley. After decades of proposing the idea of the school, the Adams State Normal School was officially approved in 1921, and it was located on 60 acres in Alamosa, Colorado. The first group of students numbered over 100, and Harriet Dalzell Hester was the first student to graduate in 1926. She went on to work for the school as a librarian and superintendent. The school grew to educate more than just teachers, and the name was changed first to Adams State College in 1930 and then Adams State University (ASU) in 2012. ASU has about 2,500 coeducational students enrolled on campus and over 10,000 Extended Studies students. This state-supported liberal arts institution is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Program Details: The online MA in Humanities from Adams State University’s Department of History, Anthropology, Political Science, Philosophy, Spanish (HAPPS) offers students the choice of an emphasis in Cultural Resource Management, U.S. History, or Public Administration. Students are assisted as they perform directed research in their specific area of interest. The Cultural Resource Management emphasis is a thirty-credit hour program with classes such as “Philosophy, Laws, Standards,” “Cultural Geography,” and “Religion in U.S. History.” Created for students who want to understand the world as archeologists or anthropologists, or who want to go on to doctoral studies, this degree program requires a thesis which must be defended on-campus to culminate the program. Tuition for the 2017-2018 academic year is only $327 per credit hour for all students regardless of state-of-residency, and scholarships are available.
#33. University of Oklahoma
A university for Oklahoma was put into motion in 1890 when the first governor of the territory, George Steele, approved the formation of three schools–an agriculture and mechanics college, a normal school, and a state university. The university would be located in the town of Norman, and it was originally named Norman Territorial University. Norman residents donated over 400 acres for the campus, and the first president insisted upon landscaping the barren campus before the first building began construction. Classes began in 1892 in a downtown building because construction was not yet complete at that time. The school existed in the Oklahoma Territory for seventeen years before Oklahoma’s statehood was secured–when that occurred, the name of the school became University of Oklahoma (OU). Now this flagship public research university educates over 31,000 students in over 300 academic degree programs, and regional accreditation comes from the Higher Learning Commission.
Program Details: While not a strictly Liberal Studies program, the interdisciplinary online MA in Museum Studies degree offered through the College of Professional and Continuing Studies at OU is a comprehensive, multi-layered program. Rich with history, culture, architecture and the arts, this degree program prepares students for a world that is “constantly evolving and experiencing new challenges.” Requiring thirty-three credit hours, an advisor is provided to assist students as they craft their individualized course of study plan. Classes are presented asynchronously, so students have extreme flexibility for their coursework. The nine required hours of core courses focus on interdisciplinary studies with classes such as “Intro to Graduate Interdisciplinary Studies,” “Interdisciplinary Foundation,” and “Research Methods in Interdisciplinary Studies.” Students then choose concentration classes and electives, with topics to choose from such as “Museums, Cultures, and Communities” and “Directed Readings in Interdisciplinary Studies.” Tuition per credit hour is $408.14 for Oklahoma residents and military, and $1,018.94 for all others.
#32. Union Institute & University
In 1964 the president of Goddard College invited eight other liberal arts institution presidents to converge for a discussion on achieving a collaboration in the field of new educational movements and ingenuity. With buy-in from Antioch College, Bard College, Chicago Teachers North, Monteith Masson, New College at Hofstra University, Sarah Lawrence College, Shimer College, Stephens College and Goddard, The Union for Research and Experimentation in Higher Education was formed. Primarily for non-traditional students who would benefit from an off-campus emphasis on academics (distance education), the first president, Dr. Samuel Baskin was a psychologist and involved in education reform. Now known as the Union Institute & University (UI&U or simply “Union”), the school has campuses (“academic centers”) in Ohio, Florida, California, and Vermont–with the main campus in Cincinnati, Ohio. Union proudly claims regional accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission.
Program Details: Since the Union Institute & University’s main mode of degree delivery is through distance learning, students can be confident that the online MA in History & Culture is a solid degree program with a proven record of excellence. (And with students spread out over varying distances, Union has also perfected distance student support). Allowing students to choose from the disciplines that interest them the most, this interdisciplinary degree is designed for customization. A minimum of 36-credit hours is required, and students can start the program in the winter, spring or fall terms. The program can be completed in as little as two years depending on whether students are pursuing their degree full or part-time. With experimental learning being a key focus, students are “challenged to transform theory into practice in . . . community and in the world.” Tuition is $748 per credit hour for all Master of Arts degrees.
#31. University of Houston–Victoria
Created as an off-campus center of the University of Houston, the University of Houston Victoria Center opened to 100 students in 1973. It had been desired by the Victoria, Texas residents since the late 1960s, and in development since 1971. The success of the school led to the Texas legislature passing Bill 235 a decade later to allow the school full degree-granting status. The name was changed to University of Houston–Victoria (UHV) and became the fourth distinct university in the University of Houston System. Today, more than 4,000 enrolled students can choose from over 70 academic degree programs at this coeducational, stand-alone state intuition. With an almost 30% Hispanic undergraduate student body, UHV is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education, and regional accreditation is provided to the university by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Program Details: The UHV Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS) degree program is offered entirely online through the School of Arts & Sciences. With the same faculty and academic excellence that the on-campus programs offer but with the added benefit of flexibility, UHV claims the online MAIS degree cuts out any programmatic hindrances but keeps all of the advantages. Requiring at least 36 credit hours to graduate, students start with nine core courses, including the introductory class “Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies.” Students then select from two different groupings of available subjects to pick their two concentrations to complete the degree. Concentration focus areas cover the usual suspects, such as English and History, but there are also some more unique options, such as Publishing or Bioinformatics. In order to be admitted, applicants must include an essay that details why they desire to pursue an MAIS degree and how it will benefit their career goals. Tuition per credit hour is $332.87 for Texas residents and $747.87 for all others.
#30. SUNY Empire State College
Then SUNY Chancellor and soon-to-be United States Commissioner of Education, Ernest L. Boyer, conceived of SUNY Empire State College (SUNY Empire) in 1971. This member of the SUNY system would be focused on a non-traditional application, providing education to adult-learners in a student-centered approach. This approach means a unique way of achieving degrees through self-guided means–students, guided through the process–determine the course they need to reach their academic goals. The mission aims to provide “motivated adult learners with access to innovative, flexible and quality academic programs that empower people and strengthen communities. We build on the diversity of our students, their work and life experiences and their individual personal and professional goals as the cornerstone for each academic program.” With multiple sites, administrative offices are located in Saratoga Springs, New York. This public liberal arts college serves over 20,000 students, and regional accreditation is granted by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Program Details: The Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) at SUNY Empire’s School for Graduate Studies requires two to three weekend Residencies (in either Saratoga Springs or Albany, NY) in addition to the fully online coursework. Five courses (Seminar in Liberal Studies, Models of Critical Inquiry, Perspectives on Interdisciplinary Studies, Literature Review, and Methods of Inquiry) are already selected for the student, and six courses of electives (plus the residencies) make up the remainder of the program. This program is “designed for educators, artists, writers, activists, advocates, lifelong learners, and others,” but students are not just left to their own devices to pick their interdisciplinary courses–a suggested enrollment sequence and a guide on choosing your courses help to guide students through the process. Tuition for the fall 2017 semester per credit hour is $453 for New York state residents and $543 for online out-of-state students.
#29. University of Denver
A Methodist school in the beginning, the University of Denver started out as Colorado Seminary in 1864. Denver, Colorado was the home of the school, and it had only been a town for six years before the Seminary was established. The Colorado Territory embodied the wild west frontier lifestyle, and the school didn’t thrive in that environment. Changing names to University of Denver (DU) in 1880, the school moved from its original location to a more sedate and serene location—an old potato farm—which is still the site today, but has grown to encompass more than 125 acres, and the campus is a literal, beautiful arboretum. This private, coeducational university has ten schools and colleges to educate the more than 11,000 enrolled students, and regional accreditation is provided by the Higher Learning Commission.
Program Details: The 100% online Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) degree program at the University of Denver’s University College (for Professional and Continuing Studies) is a thorough program focusing on the Arts and Culture. Twelve courses–making up a total of 48 credit hours– round out the degree and are offered in ten-week quarter terms. Students participate in twenty credits of core courses (including the Interdisciplinary Capstone Seminar), sixteen concentration courses, and twelve electives, and students can customize their degree through the University College Degree Builder tool. And for students who haven’t gotten their application in on time but still want to take a class–University College has them covered with the ability to take a class the quarter before a completed application is submitted. The tuition for the entire program is estimated at $31,680, but fees do apply.
#28. California State University, Northridge
The existence of California State University, Northridge (“Cal State Northridge” or CSUN) is owed to some persistent and visionary residents of San Fernando Valley. In 1952 it was determined by state leaders that a new satellite campus for Cal State Los Angeles (known as Los Angeles State College at that time) would be located in Baldwin Hills, California. In response, community leaders organized to have the four-year school in their San Fernando Valley. Treating twenty-three legislators to a presentation and dinner at the famous Brown Derby restaurant in December 1954. The strategy worked, and the school was established in Northridge. In 1958 the school became independent of Cal State LA and is renamed San Fernando Valley State College, and by 1971 it is renamed again to California State University, Northridge. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges grants regional accreditation to CSUN.
Program Details: Focusing on a “wide range of fields, including history, philosophy, ethics, law and religion,” the Master of Arts in Humanities at CSUN’s Tseng College, in collaboration with the College of Humanities, is an accelerated thirty-three unit completely online program that can be completed in just twenty months. Students generally take one course at a time and move through the program with their fellow classmates in a cohort. In addition to the support and camaraderie from fellow participants in the program, all students are assigned a dedicated program coordinator that is with them from the point of application all the way through graduation. The curriculum includes class topics as “Gateway to the Humanities,” “Science and Magic: The Varied Modes of Knowing and Believing,” and “Nation and Empire, Law and Government,” and all are taught by the same experienced and renowned faculty as the on-campus program. Tuition for the Fall 2018 cohort is $755 per unit regardless of residency.
#27. University of Illinois at Springfield
Sangamon State University (SSU) in Springfield, Illinois was signed into creation by a legislative bill in 1969. Construction began, and a year later the first classes were held for 811 enrolled students–all upper-class or graduate students. Twenty-five years after the first class was held, SSU held its last commencement as higher education in Illinois was reorganized. SSU became one of three of the University of Illinois campuses and was renamed University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS). Remaining an upper-class school until 2001, UIS started admitting freshman first as “Capital Scholars” and finally as regular students after a general education curriculum was recognized and instituted by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees in 2005. Sitting on a 740-acre campus, this public liberal arts university has just under 5,000 students and is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Program Details: The online Master of Arts degree in Liberal and Integrative Studies graduate program at UIS allows students to create their master’s degree by choosing the courses that are most relevant to their goals. Students are not on their own however, just after admission students are assigned faculty and advisors to assist them as they construct a degree plan to best maximize their academics. The idea is that by “designing an individualized curriculum, students develop skills that promote critical thinking and facilitate significant learning,” thereby achieving the goal of developing critical thinking. Some examples of past degrees created by online students include Deaf Material Culture, Applied Existentialism, Storytelling and Folklore, and Philosophy of Ethics in Virtual Worlds. Graduates have used their degrees to either advance in their current careers or seek new ones. Tuition for all students regardless of residency is $362.25 per credit hour for the 2017-2018 academic year.
#26. Albertus Magnus College
In 1924 the Dominican Sisters of Peace, known then as the Dominican Sisters of Saint Mary of the Springs, desired to start a women’s college. They bought an estate in New Haven, Connecticut, and the school became established as Albertus Magnus College in 1925. Classes also began that year and were held in the mansion of the estate property, Rosary Hall (which is now the College library). The school grew through the years, but in 1985 two significant changes occurred–the admitting of male students and the formation of the Accelerated Degree Program (ADP) for adult and distance learners. Now this private, liberal arts coeducation college has over 60 academic degree programs for the approximately 1,500 students who are enrolled both in traditional, resident-college programs, and continuing education students. Albertus Magnus College is regionally accredited by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc.
Program Details: Offered as part of Albertus Magnus College’s Online & Flex Programs, the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degree program can be entirely online, on-campus or a combination of the two. Ideal for professionals and adult learners who want an interdisciplinary approach to broadening their minds, the MALS degree provides a “thematic exploration into social, scientific and humanistic dimensions of human experience as a framework for successful living in our increasingly interdependent world.” The degree is not self-directed, rather there are four themes which students pursue in their coursework: “Society and Culture,” “Arts and Humanities,” “Science, Technology and Environmental Studies” and “Religion, Philosophy and Moral Choice.” Students must complete 33 credit hours and a final project, which can be a master’s thesis or a creative project (or a combination). Tuition for the 2017-2018 academic year is listed by course rather than credit hour–each course is $2,004, plus fees.
#25. University of Massachusetts Boston
The University of Massachusetts Boston (UMass Boston) was founded in 1964 as a response to the overwhelming need of another State university. A wave of Baby Boomers wanted to attend college, and UMass Amherst was not able to admit many qualified Bostonian applicants. Within the following year, State Legislators voted to establish the second university in the UMass System–UMass Boston. In 1965, class was held for the first time in an old building in downtown Boston’s Park Square –1,227 students and 200 faculty members converged for the beginning of the school. Three years after the school opened a decision to move to a new campus was made. UMass Boston’s move in 1974 was somewhat controversial, campus was relocated to Columbia Point in Dorchester, which was a landfill and had been a cow pasture. Another school, Boston State College, was incorporated into UMass Boston and increased the number of students, offered programming and curriculum for the University. The University of Massachusetts Boston is regionally accredited by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc.
Program Details: UMassOnline offers a Master of Arts in Critical and Creative Thinking (CCT) degree program offered through UMass Boston. Thirty-three credit hours prepare students to “become constructive, reflective agents of change in education, work, social movements, science, and creative arts.” Students can participate in a general track, or if they are scientifically-minded they can follow the Science in a Changing World track. There are foundational courses required, and students have their choice of electives with topics ranging from “Creativity in the Literature and Arts” to “Biomedical Ethics” to “Issues in Antiracist and Multicultural Education.” A “Reflective Practitioner’s Portfolio” is required of each student during their coursework, and a final Capstone project has a “Exit Self-Assessment” component. For prospective students, there is a course demo in which they can sample a typical class experience. Tuition is $575 per credit hour for all online students (however, potential students from Alabama, Arkansas, Maryland, or Minnesota cannot be admitted into UMass online programs because of certain regulations in those states).
#24. California State University, Dominguez Hills
The 346-acre site that was to be the campus of California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH or CSU Dominguez Hills) originally belonged to the family of Spanish soldier Juan José Dominguez. Founded in 1960 as South Bay State College, there would be several changes before the university even made it to the land in Dominguez Hills (an area in a low mountain range in what would become the town of Carson, in the South Bay region of Los Angeles), the name was changed in 1962 to California State College at Palos Verdes. Because campus had not been completed, classes began at a bank for forty students and eleven faculty. After the Watts Rebellion, a race riot to protest police discrimination, a decision was made to move the university to the Dominguez Hills area to provide the “diverse, mostly minority” community with better access to a higher education. The permanent campus would be opened in 1968, and by 1977 the name would officially become California State University, Dominguez Hills. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges provides CSUDH with regional accreditation.
Program Details: The Master of Arts in Humanities (HUX) degree at CSU Dominguez Hills has been offered as a distance education program since 1974. Taking only five terms to complete and completely online, students are immersed in interdisciplinary courses covering history, literature, philosophy, music, and art. Students are organized into cohorts, and each cohort of students is assigned a central theme in which their program is focused–the current theme is “The Self and Technology.” Thirty units are required for graduation, and classes for this cohort theme include examples such as “Foundations of the Humanities,” “Philosophy and Human Being,” and “Music and Hearing Humanity.” Guided by the expert, caring and experienced faculty, a final Capstone paper, project and presentation (or creative activity, with permission) is required alongside the culminating 2018 symposium. All students pay a special tuition rate of $495 per credit (instead of in-state or out-of-state tuition), plus fees.
#23. American Public University
Retired Marine James P. Etter wanted to establish a university that would serve the needs of other military people—primarily degrees focused on relevant topics that would lead to jobs, and with a distance education delivery method since so many in the military move around so frequently. He founded American Military University (AMU) in 1991, and the main administrative headquarters were located initially in Manassas, Virginia and now are located in Charles Town, West Virginia. In 2002, AMU grew into the American Public University System (APUS) and the university became American Public University (APU). Appealing to a broader student base with the transformation led to accreditation. This private, for-profit online institution of higher education serves almost 100,000 students with over 200 online academic degree programs. Since 2006 APU has been regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Program Details: Offered through APU’s School of Arts & Humanities, the MA in Humanities degree program encourages students to explore “humankind’s fundamental topics through courses in humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.” Requiring 36 credit hours, the program allows up to fifteen transferable credits from other institutions. Known for online programs, APU’s MA in Humanities can be completed in two years if students pursue the degree full-time, and for ultimate convenience the program has start dates at the beginning of each month. Twenty-one credit hours of core courses cover curricular topics such as “Evolution of Life and Intelligence” and “Antiquity and Medieval World.” The twelve credits of major electives can be chosen from classes such as “History and Popular Culture,” “Evolution of Earth and Universe,” and “Society, Class and Wealth.” The last three credit hours are made up of the student’s final class requirement: “Humanities Capstone Portfolio Seminar.” Tuition per credit hour is $325 for students with a military grant and $350 for all others.
#22. Wayland Baptist University
Chartered in 1908, Wayland Baptist University (originally Wayland Literary and Technical Institute) owes its existence to the residents of Plainview, Texas, the Staked Plains Baptist Association, and Dr. and Mrs. James Henry Wayland. Dr. and Mrs. Wayland contributed ten acres and $25,000 towards the development of the school, and when classes began two years after the charter, just under 250 students enrolled in what had become known as Wayland Baptist College. Initially a junior college, by 1948 Wayland was a full four-year degree-granting institution, and within the next few years began freely admitting black students prior to desegregation laws–the first four-year liberal arts school in the erstwhile Confederate states to be able to claim that proud distinction. The 1980s brought university status and a new name–Wayland Baptist University (Wayland or WBU), and with the multiple campuses across the United States and beyond (sixteen to be exact), Wayland serves over 5,000 students. A private, coeducational institution, WBU has been regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools since 1956.
Program Details: Four eleven-week terms per year make WBU’s online Master of Arts in Humanities degree program both accessible and convenient. A thirty-seven credit hour interdisciplinary degree program, students choose eighteen credit hours in one discipline within English, history or religion, and then divide the remaining eighteen credits between the other two disciplines. The final credit is made up of a comprehensive exam. This program is ideal for students who wish to go onto doctoral studies–the only required courses depend upon which humanity is chosen for the specialization. For instance, students who choose English must take Literary Theory and Advanced Research classes. With a brief explanation of ways to be successful as an online student (participation, persistence, and patience), WBU helps prospective students determine if online learning is right for them, and provides a Blackboard (the online learning delivery method) tutorial. Tuition is $450 per credit hour for all graduate students regardless of residency.
#21. Tiffin University
Tiffin University (TU or Tiffin) was founded in Tiffin, Ohio in 1888. Proud of its heritage of nurturing a “student-centered setting and a strong sense of real community,” Tiffin has accomplished the successful transition from a largely traditional school with a mostly on-campus presence to a healthy mixture of both on-campus and online academic programs. Main campus encompasses 130 acres, and there are both graduate and undergraduate programs offered as satellite programs in Ohio in the cities of Cincinnati, Columbus, Fremont, Toledo and Cleveland. Over 4,000 students participate in studies in Tiffin’s three schools: School of Arts & Sciences, School of Business, and School of Criminal Justice & Social Sciences. A private coeducational institution, Tiffin is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Program Details: Providing a “far-reaching exploration of arts, philosophy, literature, language and more,” the online Master of Humanities degree program at Tiffin University is geared towards students who question the “why” of humanity and desire a career in the field of the arts or culture. With concentrations such as Humanities, Art & Visual Media, English, Communication, Creative Writing, and Film Studies, students can further their careers by answering the human question under the guidance of experienced faculty. Focused on ” broad-based background courses,” the Humanities curriculum include courses like “Studies in Human, Political, and Social Sciences,” “Aesthetics,” and “Literary Theory.” Students can start in January, May or August, and this thirty-credit hour program can be taken full or part-time with an estimated completion time of one and a half to two years. Tuition for the 2017-2018 academic year is $500 per credit hour regardless of residency, plus a technology fee of $150 per semester.
#20. Salve Regina University
In 1934 the Sisters of Mercy of Providence were granted a charter by the state of Rhode Island to start an educational corporation to be called Salve Regina College. Being given a lot of freedom to create the school as they pleased, the Sisters took their time in planning the school, and when Ochre Court, a 50-room mansion in Newport, was donated to them in 1947 the school was able to house the first class of 58 female students and begin classes. Stating a mission in which the Salve Regina community “seeks wisdom and promotes universal justice,” this Catholic institution of higher education is named after a hymn (meaning “Hail Queen” in Latin). Male students were admitted in 1973, and by 1991 the school was granted full university status and renamed Salve Regina University. Over 2,700 students now attend this private Catholic university, and regional accreditation is provided by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Program Details: Salve Regina’s Graduate Studies and Continuing Education department offers an MA in Humanities degree program that students can access completely online. Focusing on an exploration of the human question as it relates to the advanced technology of today, the Humanities degree starts with eighteen-credit hours of interdisciplinary foundational courses in the fields of “arts, ethics, history, language and literature, philosophy, religion” before going on to select their twelve credit hours of electives. The electives are informed by the student’s desired specialization (focus area choices are Humanitarian Assistance, Public Humanities, or Religion, Peace and Justice) with classes offered in topics like “A History of Technology” and “Identity, Harmony, and Meaning.” A six-hour thesis course or field placement practicum/internship complete the degree. The tuition for all master’s degree programs in the 2017-2018 academic year is $565 per credit hour, plus fees, regardless of residency.
#19. Texas Christian University
AddRan Male & Female College (named by and for the founders–brothers Addison and Randolph Clark) started in 1873. Originally the brothers had founded a children’s preparatory school in Fort Worth, Texas, but the area in which the school was located quickly disintegrated into the vice district of the previously quiet town due to the new cattle trails and consequent cowboys who came along. The brothers moved to the town of Thorp Spring and opened their college–the first in Texas to be coeducational. At the beginning of the first year there were thirteen students enrolled, but by the end of that first semester 123 students were enrolled. The school thrived, and in 1889 developed an association with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), was renamed AddRan Christian University, and the Clark brothers relinquished all rights to the school so it could continue as a private university. After a brief move to Waco and a renaming of Texas Christian University (TCU) in 1902, the school relocated to its current site in Fort Worth, Texas. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges regionally accredits TCU.
Program Details: The Master of Liberal Arts (MLA) degree program at TCU is available entirely online. This is a liberal studies, “multidisciplinary program that offers a wide range of educational opportunities” that is ideal for students who have interests in various subjects that were not satisfied in their undergraduate studies. Requiring thirty credit hours–twelve hours of MLA courses under the category “Perspectives on Society,” which cover topics related to American society or cultural diversity, or other world cultures, and eighteen credits of electives. Also an on-campus program, TCU’s Online MLA presents 54 online classes, but not all are available each semester. Some choices include “The Wild West,” “Creative Writing: Advanced Fiction Writing,” and “Science, Scientists, and Society.” This degree does not lead to a specific career, but rather presents students the opportunity to “satisfy their intellectual curiosity and to broaden their knowledge.” Tuition for the 2017-2018 academic year is $890 per semester hour, plus a $125 per online course fee.
#18. University of Michigan–Flint
Flint, Michigan’s Flint Senior College of the University of Michigan was established in 1956, and the local leadership in Flint and Ann Arbor supported through financial contributions and community support this nascent school and its first 167 enrolled students. One of two University of Michigan satellite campuses, the school moved from a two-year (juniors and seniors) degree-granting institution to a full four-year school in 1964, with freshmen enrolling for the first time the following year. Accreditation in 1970 led to the official renaming of the school to University of Michigan-Flint (UM-Flint) the following year in 1971. The campus began moving in the 1970s to the downtown Flint area, but it remained a commuter-campus until 2008 when 300 students moved into the first residence hall. Now approximately 8,600 students study in over 100 academic degree programs in the five schools and colleges at this public university, and regional accreditation is granted by the Higher Learning Commission.
Program Details: University of Michigan’s Rackham Graduate School at UM-Flint is the home of the online MA in Liberal Studies in American Culture degree program. Students can participate as full or part-time students, and a final thesis is required for this program which provides a “critical, multidisciplinary examination of the American experience.” Studying “across a range of disciplines that reveal the intersection of art, literature, politics, history, sociology, business, and more,” students take thirty-three credit hours of core courses, research courses and electives. At this time, twenty-five elective courses are offered online, with the intent that the online curricular offerings will grow–some of the electives currently offered are “Black America Since the Civil War,” “Recent American Film,” “Multicultural Children’s Literature,” and “Law and Administrative Processes.” Students can start the program at three different times during the year, and the 2017-2018 tuition is listed per credit hour as $578.50 for in-state residents and $866.25 for out-of-state.
#17. The College at Brockport, State University of New York
The Brockport Collegiate Institute, which began in 1835 with support from locals and Baptists, offered an education to the many students who had aged out of the public school system after eighth grade in Brockport, New York. Within thirty years, the principal of the Institute, Malcolm MacVicar, saw a need for a larger academic attempt–a teacher-training Normal school system throughout the state. The Institute became the Brockport State Normal School in 1866. The school was successful for many years, but because it was only a three-year program and did not grant bachelor’s degrees, there was a movement to turn Normal Schools into Teachers Colleges. This movement was influential in Brockport in the early 1940s, and in 1948 the Brockport State Teachers College joined the State University of New York (SUNY) system, becoming SUNY Brockport. Now, this four-year liberal arts institution is officially named The College at Brockport, State University of New York (known as The College at Brockport or Brockport) and regional accreditation comes from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Program Details: The Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) degree program at Brockport was recently approved as a fully online program, and students benefit from receiving the same degree as the on-campus program, with the same experienced faculty. Classes are presented asynchronously, so students have a flexible program to fit their schedule, and the required thirty-credit hours are generally completed in about two years. As an interdisciplinary program, students create their own plan of study and choose classes that are of the most interest to them. Each student receives a “Personal Concierge” to act as their point person with any issue or question they may have, and to make sure students are prepared for online learning The College at Brockport through Open SUNY offers both a Readiness Assessment tool and an online class demonstration. Tuition for the 2017-2018 academic year per credit hour is $453 for part-time New York residents and $543 for residents of other states, plus a fee of $163 for both in-state and out-of-state students.
#16. Nova Southeastern University
The regular breakfast meeting of a group of businessmen in Fort Lauderdale, Florida led to the idea in 1965 to start a college or university for the community. The businessmen agreed that the school should be based in the physical and social sciences, and they bestowed the name of Nova University of Advanced Technology on the graduate-level school they had created. Originally located in Fort Lauderdale, the campus would later utilize an old World War II airfield as its home. As Nova offered a more comprehensive curriculum, another school, Southeastern University of the Health Sciences, did as well. The two would merge in 1994, and Nova Southeastern University (NSU) was born. With campuses in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Miami, Miramar, Orlando, Palm Beach, Tampa and Puerto Rico, this private, research institution has almost 25,000 students. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges grants NSU with regional accreditation.
Program Details: As the title of the degree implies, the online MA in Cross-disciplinary Studies at NSU’s College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences is an interdisciplinary program which gives students the freedom to “self-design” their degree. Depending on how many classes students take each term, the program can be completed in just over a year and a half to two and a half years. Requiring thirty-three credit hours, students participate in four core courses, two practicum courses, an elective, and twelve credits within a concentration track (students can also opt for an additional three-credit Master’s thesis for a total of 36-credit hours). There are six concentrations from which students can choose: Culture and Society, Health and Society, Information Systems and Society, Coastal Environment and Society, Education and Society, and Institutional Assessment. The two required practicums must be a combined 130 hours of placement within a community setting, and the student has support both obtaining and completing the practicum requirements with the assistance of a Practicum Coordinator. Tuition is $730 per credit hour.
#15. University of Memphis
The year 1909 brought both the title of University of Memphis to several institutions of higher education in Memphis, Tennessee and the establishment that would lead to the West Tennessee Normal School due to the Tennessee Legislature’s General Education Bill. By 1912 the West Tennessee Normal School was opened, and within the year all of the University of Memphis’ departments (except for the law school) were absorbed into the normal school. Two name changes occurred over the decades, and when the school became a full university in 1957 the name was changed yet again–Memphis State University. Two years after university status was granted, the Memphis State Eight (the school’s first black students) were admitted. Purportedly for their own safety, the students had many restrictions–they could not go anywhere on campus other than to class and had to leave as soon as class was over–these restrictions were lifted when the students’ presence was not as new and more black students were admitted. Now known as the University of Memphis (UofM), this public research university is regionally accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Program Details: A thirty-three credit hour, interdisciplinary program, the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) degree at UofM Global gives students the opportunity to customize their degree to achieve both their personal interests and professional career goals. With dedicated faculty and support services designed especially for online students, UofM Global provides assurance that they are devoted to each student’s success. From help with registration to advising and tech support to career services–students are covered from the moment they contemplate applying to the date that they graduate. With asynchronous online courses, students can literally take what course they want when they want–topic choices include anything from “Promotions in Sports Commerce” to “Intro to the Exceptional Learner” to “Museum Practices.” Tuition for the 2017-2018 academic year per credit hour is $603 for Tennessee residents and $755 for residents of other states, but UofM has Cost Reduction Options that prospective students should explore.
#14. The University of Toledo
The University of Toledo (UT) began as the Toledo University of Arts and Trades in 1872 in Toledo, Ohio. Local newspaper editor Jesup Wakeman Scott thought the future of world commerce would be located in Toledo, and to that end donated 160 acres to be used for an institution of higher education. The school faced severe financial troubles and closed in 1878. The city gained control and reopened it as the Toledo Manual Training School in 1884. Despite having continued financial problems, the school expanded and by 1914 became Toledo University. Becoming a member of the Ohio state university system in 1967, financial security and the final name change occurred to secure the name University of Toledo. In 2006 UT and the Medical University of Ohio merged, and now this public research university offers over 300 academic degree programs to the 23,000 enrolled students. UT is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Program Details: The online MALS degree program at The University of Toledo gives students the space to “holistically” become “inspired by a particular course or line of inquiry” in order to find their vocational path in life. Requiring thirty-three credit hours of both core courses and electives, students are expected to coordinate a personalized study plan with the program director. Covering required seminar breadth course topics in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and the arts, the goal of the program (in addition to guiding students in finding courses that pique their interest) is to help students “develop critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, and research skills” so they can better work in the professional field of their choosing. A thesis or master’s project is required for graduation, and the approximate cost per three-credit hour course including tuition and fees is listed as $1,916 for the 2017-2018 academic year.
#13. Thomas Edison State University
With the intent to provide education in a flexible and meaningful way for “self-directed adults,” Thomas Edison State University (TESU) was founded by the state of New Jersey in 1972. One of eleven “senior public institutions” established in New Jersey, TESU (originally Thomas Edison State College until 2016) is one of the oldest schools created intentionally for adults. Initially located at the Forrestal Center near the city of Princeton, the school outgrew its space quickly. Moving to Trenton, NJ in 1979, TESU’s administrative headquarters then became located in the historic Kelsey Building. The University has been instrumental in restoring and using historic buildings around the city. Over 17,500 students–with a collective average age of 35–are enrolled in TESU’s more than 100 academic associate, bachelor, master and doctoral degree programs. Thomas Edison State University has been regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education since 1977.
Program Details: TESU’s Heavin School of Arts and Sciences offers a MALS degree program that has the distinction of creating connections between liberal arts and a student’s chosen profession. Requiring 36 credit hours, students can customize their degree by choosing the Learner-Designed Area of Study (LDAS), or they can opt for predetermined focus areas in Digital Humanities, Geropsychology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Online Learning and Teaching, or Professional Communications. Eighteen credit hours of core courses include topics like “The Liberal Arts and Professional Life,” “Technology and the Human Community: Challenges and Responses,” and “Sense of Community I – Art and Morality.” Once students choose to self-direct their degree program or follow one of the prescribed choices, they select their electives and complete the degree with a capstone. Tuition for the 2017-2018 academic year is $668 per credit hour for all graduate students regardless of residency.
#12. University of South Dakota
Prior to South Dakota’s confirmed statehood, the creation of University of South Dakota (USD) was initiated. The Dakota Territorial Legislature moved in 1862 to have the town of Vermillion be the recipient of a university. Without allocated funding however, it took the school twenty years to be able to raise enough money (through the support of Vermillion locals) to offer classes. On that last day of class that first year in 1882, 69 students were enrolled. Seven years later South Dakota was granted official statehood, and by that time USD had 500 students. A public coeducational research university with approximately 10,000 students and a beautiful 274-acre campus, USD is both the flagship university in South Dakota and an active participant in the sustainability movement in the state, aiming to help make “Vermillion the greenest town in South Dakota.” The Higher Learning Commission provides regional accreditation to USD.
Program Details: Flexibility and student choice are key with USD’s online Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS) degree program. Students choose from two (or an optional third) disciplines from which to take nine to twelve credit hours each to make up the thirty-two credit hour degree. A three-credit course in research methods and statistics, a one-credit applied learning course (Ethical Leadership), thesis, internship, and oral examination are also required to complete the program. Classes are offered in eight-week sessions, and students work with an advisor to choose from the many online class offerings in order to “create a coherent theme to meet individual educational and professional goals.” The strong USD philosophy of academic excellence and extending possibilities translates into a respected program and dedicated support services for the online student. Tuition for the 2017-2018 academic year is listed as $444.25 per credit hour for all online graduate students.
#11. Utica College
In the 1930s Syracuse University provided extension courses to the town of Utica, New York. The business owners and town leaders wanted a full institution of higher education in Utica, and in 1946 their dream was realized when Utica College (UC) was created as a full four-year school and backed by Syracuse University. Initially on a site downtown, the school moved to its permanent location in 1961. By 1995 the school became independent of Syracuse in many ways (including being independently accredited), but it took thirteen years before complete autonomy would be realized in 2008. With 38 undergraduate majors and twenty-one graduate degree programs, Utica now serves over 5,000 students on-campus and online. This coeducational, private comprehensive college claims over 25,000 alumni worldwide and a student-to-faculty ratio of only eleven to one. Utica College is regionally accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
Program Details: The Master of Science in Liberal Studies degree program at Utica College is interdisciplinary, student-focused, and highly customizable. Catering to students from an array of educational backgrounds, the program presents three disciplines from which students can choose to focus. From the humanities, social sciences, or natural sciences and mathematics, students craft their degree to meet their needs. Requiring a minimum of thirty-one credit hours (and up to thirty-seven), students take six credits of foundational method courses and nine hours of electives, and must complete a six-hour thesis, in addition to the twelve required credit hours in their chosen focus area. Electives can be chosen from one of the other focus areas or from other departments with faculty advisor approval. Tuition for the current 2017-2018 academic year is $650 per credit hour, plus fees.
#10. Rutgers University
Claiming historical distinction as the eighth oldest college in the U.S., Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey (Rutgers or RU) began as Queens College by charter in 1766. After the Presbyterians started College of New Jersey (which would become Princeton) in 1746, ministers in the Dutch Reformed Church desired to also found an institution of higher education. In 1771 New Brunswick, New Jersey was picked as the location of the school, and the school had many troubles in its early years–closing twice. After the Revolutionary War, the school reopened and was renamed Rutgers College after Colonel Henry Rutgers (whose monetary donation allowed the school to reopen). In 1864 the school benefited from the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862, and it grew and prospered, becoming a university in 1924. With three campuses across the state, Rutgers has over 68,000 students in its 30 schools and colleges. Rutgers is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Program Details: With rolling admission and three possible start dates, accessibility and convenience are just a few of the many benefits of the online Masters of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) degree program offered through Rutgers Online and the Rutgers Graduate School-Camden. A thirty-credit hour, cross-disciplinary program that is designed to entice intellectuals who want something more out of their interests and professional lives, students explore topics in at least three different disciplines, the humanities, the social sciences, and either a class in non-western culture or gender/minorities studies. Class topics range from “Studies of the Age of Revolutions” to “Studies of Culture and Criticism” to “Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality.” Stressing that online coursework, though asynchronous, does not mean easy nor solitary, Rutgers MALS online program requires a student who not only can accomplish strong academic work but also can be engaged and self-motivated. Tuition for the 2017-2018 academic year is $900 per credit hour with a $300 per class online fee.
#9. Stony Brook University
The State University College on Long Island was implemented in 1957 in Oyster Bay, New York, as a college to train middle school and high school teachers. The first students—148 of them—were enrolled tuition-free, but there was already a movement for the school to become a full liberal arts institution. A donation from philanthropic local businessman Ward Melville in 1962 of more than 400 acres and funding encouraged a move to the town of Stony Brook. A name change was in order with the new location, and the State University of New York at Stony Brook (more commonly known as Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, or SBU) was born. At the new campus, around 800 students were enrolled initially—which grew to 8,000 students by 1969. This enrollment doubled to 16,000 in 1975, and now 25,000 students are enrolled in this public research university. A sea-grant and space-grant university, SUNY Stony Brook is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Program Details: Stony Brook’s online learning through the School of Professional Development offers an interdisciplinary MALS degree program for “working adults who seek educational enrichment and professional development.” Eleven three-credit hour classes make up the program–fifteen credit hours are devoted to the required liberal studies core curriculum (with topics such as “Effective Professional Global and Cultural Awareness” and “Effective Professional Action and Leadership”) and fifteen credits towards a student’s chosen area of thematically-relevant focus. A capstone research paper culminates the program with the final three credits. Students are given multiple resources and success support services–including tutorials, overviews of the online delivery method, online etiquette guidelines, and webinars. Tuition for the fall 2017 semester was listed per credit hour as $453 for New York state residents and $925 for residents of other states, plus fees.
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#7. Arizona State University
Tempe, Arizona was granted a school to train educators for the area in 1885. The Territorial Normal School welcomed thirty-three students to classes held in a four-room schoolroom the following year. Located on twenty acres of donated land, the school awarded high school diplomas and teaching certificates to those first graduates. By 1925 the school had gone through several changes—name changes, granting four-year degrees, and a new requirement that students had to have a high school diploma to enroll brought about the renaming of the school to Tempe State Teachers College. This new name and focus of the school eventually led to the name Arizona State Teachers College in 1929. By 1958 the school’s curricular focus had expanded, and the new name of Arizona State University (ASU) reflected that expansion. With six campuses that are seen as extensions rather than different universities, ASU offers more than 350 academic degree programs and enrolls over 80,000 students. The Higher Learning Commission provides ASU with regional accreditation.
Program Details: ASU Online offers many high-quality online degree programs, and the online Master of Liberal Studies (MLSt) degree program is no exception as “the largest and most diverse” offering at the school. Through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the program has multiple enrollment periods, and new students have the option of starting the program every seven and a half weeks for ultimate convenience. The program’s curriculum requires thirty credit hours of “transdisciplinary” coursework, eighteen of which are devoted to electives (which must be chosen from at least two different departments). Nine hours of required core classes are chosen from four classes: “Film and Media Studies,” “Ethics, Science and Culture,” “Religion, Health and Culture,” and “Writing About Social Issues.” A multitude of online student services and resources are available to help prospective and current ASU Online students succeed with the rigorous and demanding curriculum taught by the decorated and esteemed faculty. Estimated current tuition is $786 per credit hour.
#6. Johns Hopkins University
Quaker Johns Hopkins of Baltimore, Maryland was known to be influenced by humanitarianism and his altruistic tendencies. When he passed away in 1873 without any heirs, he bequeathed $7 million to the city for the development of a hospital and a university. The school was founded in 1876 and named Johns Hopkins University in his honor—before he died Hopkins had determined that the site of the school should be his home, but because he had stipulated that none of his monetary gift could be used for construction and the site was unsuitable, the school first became located in downtown Baltimore. As it grew, Johns Hopkins University (JHU or Johns Hopkins) needed to expand, so in 1902 the move to a 140-acre site on the former Homewood Estate was formally put into motion. Now, this private research university has campus divisions in Maryland and Washington D.C, as well as international centers. Regional accreditation is provided by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Program Details: The Master of Liberal Arts (MLA) at Johns Hopkins’ Krieger School of Arts & Sciences has been perfecting the degree since 1962 when it was first offered. Presented on-campus or entirely online with no required on-campus residency, the MLA is designed for students who want to “broaden their intellectual horizons or professional advancement.” This “dynamic” interdisciplinary program is comprised of a ten-course curriculum: one interdisciplinary core course called “Exploring the Liberal Arts” (topics covered in recent years have included “Science Fiction Film in the 20th Century,” “Poetry and the Visual Arts,” and “The Self in Question: Readings in Psychology and Literature”), eight or nine elective selections, and a final MLA Capstone (a non-credit portfolio or one-credit graduate project–students who opt for the portfolio take the additional ninth elective). Electives are broad and varied–ranging from “Bioethics” to “Ideas of Justice” to “Evil in Modern Literature” to “Food and Politics.” Tuition listed for 2017-2018 is $2,513 per course.
#5. Kent State University
Due to the need for more training schools for elementary school teachers in Ohio, the Lowry Normal School Bill of 1910 was passed to guarantee two normal schools for the state. One was to be located in the northeastern part of the state and one in the northwestern, and the town of Kent in the eastern part of Ohio was determined it would be the site of one. The famous “blue-gill dinner” saved the Kent Board of Trade reception committee’s miscommunication issues and bad weather, and kept the ensuing frustration of the state commission members from dismissing the 53-acre Kent farm as the site. Thanks to fried chicken, blue-gill fish fresh from the stream, and cigars on the porch, the foundation of Kent State University was secure, and has grown from an initial class of 47 students to almost 40,000 students today. This public research university is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Program Details: Literally allowing students to design a degree program, the online Master of Liberal Studies (MLS) offered at Kent State’s College of Arts and Sciences presents a five-step process for students to create the program that will help them best achieve the degree they desire. Students submit a “Goal Statement” and both a title for the program and a list of courses they would like to take to construct their unique, personalized program. Twenty-seven electives make up the majority of this thirty-three credit hour program–the other credits entail an introductory course and a required essay and research paper. Twelve to fifteen of the electives must be from within one department for a cohesive element, but the remaining twelve to fifteen electives can be from two or three other departments (as a caveat, at least twelve to fifteen of the electives must be from the College of Arts and Sciences). Tuition varies based on the particular departments in which courses are chosen.
#4. University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Ten acres of donated land and the vision of educator Dr. Charles Duncan McIver brought about the creation of the State Normal and Industrial School in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1891. The first teacher-training classes for the almost 200 female students were held the following year. The school grew and expanded and changed names several times before becoming University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) as the school became coeducational in the early 1960s. The following decade, all North Carolina state-supported schools came under the organization on one University of North Carolina system (each of the sixteen schools in the UNC system remains governed by its own Chancellor and Board of Trustees). Being the largest public research university in NC’s Triad region, UNCG enrolls almost 20,000 students in the more than 225 academic degree programs offered through its nine schools and colleges. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges regionally accredits UNCG.
Program Details: The Master of Arts in Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) online degree program through UNCG Online is for students who claim “intellectual curiosity, integrative thinking, adaptability, empathy and cross-cultural competence” as part of their academic make-up. Students can complete the thirty-three credit hour program in as little as one and a half years with most courses running in only seven week terms. The “collaborative” and interdisciplinary program first begins with three required courses (“Systems Thinking,” “Design Thinking,” and “Understanding Data”) which students must take before choosing the direction of their degree with electives. Designed with working adults in mind, the program allows up to five years to complete. Tuition and fees for the 2017-2018 academic year per credit hour is $278.58 for in-state NC residents and $534.41 for most other out-of-state students.
#3. Western New Mexico University
The Territorial Legislature of New Mexico passed an act in 1893 to create two normal schools in the territory–one would be in Silver City, which had been advocating for a teacher-training school for the area for years. The Governor appointed a Board of Regents to pick the exact location of the school, and one of the Regents offered twenty acres of his own land to be used for the campus. Simply known as the New Mexico Normal School, classes began in 1894 in a rented Presbyterian church while the campus was under construction. Once campus was complete, the school grew and became New Mexico State Teachers’ College in the 1920s and then Western New Mexico University (WNMU) in 1963. With a 50% Hispanic undergraduate enrollment, WNMU is proud to be an Hispanic Serving Institution, and this coeducation public university is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Program Details: WNMU’s Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies degree program offers no less than fourteen online concentration options. These concentrations can be achieved by focusing nine of the required thirty-six credit hours (or thirty credit hours for students who already have master’s degrees) in one particular discipline. Students must choose coursework from two or three disciplines, and WNMU encourages students to take eighteen credit hours in one selected discipline. However, students can opt to concentrate in two or even three disciplines for added customization and focus. Midway through the program, when a student has completed fifteen or eighteen credit hours, there is a “Mid-Point Self-Reflection Essay” requirement to assure that the student is making progress in their self-designed program. At the completion of the program students must also submit an Interdisciplinary Exit Essay to culminate the degree. Tuition rates for 2017-2018 per credit hour are $265.62 for in-state residents and $330.77 for out-of-state residents–there is a$40 per credit hour online fee as well.
#2. University of North Carolina at Wilmington
In 1946 and 1947, about 250 students took classes at an extension college center in Wilmington, North Carolina under the direction of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A tax levy was approved and Wilmington College was officially born in 1947. Five years later accreditation as a junior college was achieved, and a decade after that in 1963 the school was authorized to be a full four-year institution. As part of the University of North Carolina system, the name was changed to University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW) for the 1968-1969 academic year. Over 16,000 students are enrolled at this public, coeducational coastal university. With several extension campuses in rural counties, UNCW is also a military-friendly university. UNCW is regionally accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Program Details: The fully online, Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degree through the Graduate Liberal Studies (GLS) Program at UNCW is a “highly integrated exploration of the liberal arts” particularly ideal for students “who are flexible, creative, and capable of managing complicated schedules and demands.” The general education curricular requirements include the introductory class “Contemporary Issues in Liberal Studies,” the culminating “Final Project in Liberal Studies,” and elective courses selected from three widely-varied discipline focus areas: “Social Concerns and Cultural Systems,” “Environment, Science, and Society,” and “Literature, Arts, and Society.” Four possible certificates are also available for the thirty-credit hour MALS students who want to bridge connections between their interdisciplinary degree and specific focuses. Students can choose “Conflict Management and Resolution,” “Gerontology,” “Hispanic Studies,” and “Women’s and Gender Studies.” Tuition and fee totals for the 2017-2018 academic calendar year per credit hour are $252.46 for in-state students and $899.92 for out-of-state students.
#1. Fort Hays State University
As the Western Branch of what would later become Emporia State University—the Kansas State Normal School– Fort Hays State University (FHSU) was founded in 1902 with 57 enrolled students. Fort Hays, a military base that had been closed since 1889, served as the first location of FHSU as the Western Branch of the Kansas State Normal School. Since the base was a distance away from the town of Hays, there was impetus to move the school closer. A family of prairie dogs had to be relocated first, but by 1904 the school had moved to its present campus site. Through the years the school had many names and incarnations—by 1977 it would finally become FHSU. With five schools and colleges on the main 200-acre campus (plus an additional 3,825-acre University Farm), over 14,000 students are enrolled at this public university. The Higher Learning Commission provides regional accreditation to FHSU.
Program Details: A highly-flexible, distinctive program, the completely online Master of Liberal Studies (MLS) degree program through FHSU’s Virtual College is understandably at the top of our list. Giving students the opportunity to “systematically explore a wide realm of knowledge and wisdom” by participating in interdisciplinary classes, this thirty-one credit hour program supplies many ways to customize the degree. Ten credit hours of core courses are required covering topics like “Ways of Knowing in Comparative Perspective,” “Information Literacy,” and “Origins and Implications of the Knowledge Society.” A final three-hour culminating project is supplemented by the eighteen credit hours of the student’s chosen concentration. The concentration selections are many, and the academic support for FHSU Virtual College students is also extensive and just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the services provided for online students. Tuition for the 2017-2018 academic year is just $280.73 per credit hour for all students regardless of residency.