Online Associate Degree in Liberal Arts

What You’ll Learn & What You Can Do After Graduation

The liberal arts encompass history, literature, philosophy, social sciences, writing, and creative arts. Liberal arts degrees impart upon students a general knowledge of these subjects and develop in them a broad intellectual curiosity (as opposed to preparing them for a professional, vocational, or technical career). In addition, students who study the liberal arts build a solid foundation of communication, writing, and researching skills.

In 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that those who earned associate degrees, the lowest degree available in higher education, earned an average of $836 a week. The information below will help prospective students choose the right online associate degree program to fit their needs. Topics include possible courses, career options, and further education.

What Will You Learn in an Online Liberal Arts Associate Degree Program?

Many subjects fit under the umbrella of liberal arts: literature, linguistics, communication, and history, for example. While the subjects are distinct, common concepts exist between them. Students learn skills in critical thinking and analysis, research, and written and verbal communication — all of which associate degree holders can use in the workforce.

Common courses students should expect in an online associate degree in liberal arts are as follows. Course titles and descriptions may vary based on the program or institution.

Common Courses

Applied Social Sciences

In this inquiry-based course, students choose a current issue and explore it through the lenses of different social sciences, such as psychology, sociology, and anthropology. This course encourages students to take a systematic approach to problem-solving and make conclusions based on evidence and data.

Public Speaking

Students use public speaking skills both in and outside school. This course helps students develop their public speaking ability by teaching organization, writing, and delivery across different speaking situations. Beyond the technical aspects, students learn to improve their voice, diction, articulation, and posture.

Natural Sciences

Natural science is the study of the physical world, such as physics, chemistry, geology, and biology. This course builds on foundational natural science concepts, promoting empirical learning and competency in science literature. Students use the scientific method to discuss and solve real-world issues.

English Composition

This class introduces students to forms of academic discourse, including narrative and analytical writing. While students work on their technical writing skills, this course also teaches them critical analysis, research methods, and writing styles.

Applied History

Applied history helps students understand how past events inform and shape society. Students learn skills that enable them to become engaged and informed citizens. Furthermore, this course promotes research and analysis skills, while helping students learn to make connections and think independently.

Core Skills

An education in liberal arts creates well-rounded individuals with the kind of core skills that employers across many fields find useful. Liberal arts students learn to think critically, analyze documents, complete research, and develop writing and public speaking skills.

  • Critical Thinking
    Critical thinking prepares students to think outside the box and bring fresh, creative ideas to the table. This skill aligns with analysis, allowing students to draw conclusions from documents and data without anyone handing them the answers.
  • Analysis
    Students learn this skill through reading, research, and writing. Liberal arts majors examine sources to determine their biases, reliability, and informational value.
  • Research
    Research skills allow students to find sources of information that others might overlook. A good researcher understands how to evaluate the reliability of a source and how to find answers, even when information on a topic seems scarce.
  • Writing and Communication
    Communication, including writing and public speaking, is a valuable skill for liberal arts students. From writing emails, reports, and press releases to giving pitches and presentations, the ability to express information clearly benefits employees across disciplines.

These abilities transfer across career paths. While some degrees specialize in one subject or competency, a liberal arts education gives students a strong base of knowledge that can lead to jobs in many different sectors.

What Can You Do With an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts?

Liberal arts majors are not restricted to specific career fields. An associate degree opens doors to several entry-level positions in job markets that require organized, independent thinkers with strong communication skills. The following section explores potential careers and salaries an associate degree holder in liberal arts might find.

Potential Careers and Salaries

Liberal arts majors can find jobs in education, art, marketing and communication, consulting, linguistics, and political science. Degree holders might also find themselves working in event planning, research analysis, social services, or government positions. Some of these positions are considered entry-level, but there may be room for advancement. Graduates entering the workforce should always consider salary outlook, advancement opportunities, and job requirements when searching the job market.

Executive Assistant

Average Annual Salary: $54,203

Executive assistants provide clerical support to upper-level management within a company by managing scheduling, travel, and other demands. Assistants must have strong written and verbal communication skills and maintain strict organization.

Assistant General Manager

Average Annual Salary: $46,442

Assistant general managers work closely with general managers. They helps oversee staff, day-to-day operations, and oversight of company procedures. Assistant managers need strong interpersonal and communication skills.

Administrative Assistant

Average Annual Salary: $38,957

Administrative assistants provide help to employees within a company, either for specific individuals or across departments. Duties vary depending on the company, but most assistants oversee secretarial work, speak with customers, and possess strong organizational skills.

Customer Service Representative

Average Annual Salary: $37,907

Customer service representatives must handle multiple tasks at once. Strong interpersonal and communications skills are a must-have. These representatives work across many industries including insurance, manufacturing, and rental.

Paralegal

Average Annual Salary: $47,473

Paralegals oversee research and provide support services for lawyers in law offices, firms, and corporate legal departments. Paralegals also interview clients, edit pleadings, write technical papers, and review legal documents for courts.

Source: PayScale

What's Next After an Online Associate Degree in Liberal Arts?

Graduates who would like to continue their education after earning an online associate degree in liberal arts may pursue several options. An associate degree is a natural stepping stone to a bachelor's degree (a master's and doctorate may follow). Below, you can consider information on transferring to a four-year degree program and explore bachelor's degrees that complement an associate degree in liberal arts.

Transferring to a Four-Year Degree Program

Associate degrees can jump-start a student's college education and lead to a bachelor's degree and beyond. But with this process, learners should plan ahead, researching schools and programs, speaking with academic advisors, ensuring their credits will transfer, and working out any potential financial aid.

What Degrees Can You Pursue After Earning an Associate in Liberal Arts

Since liberal arts covers many topics, associate degree holders may choose from various fields for their bachelor's degree. Graduates can continue to keep their focus broad with a bachelor's in liberal arts, or they can hone in on a topic like business administration or communications.

Bachelor's in Liberal Arts

A bachelor's in liberal arts builds on the same subjects and foundational skills earned through an associate degree in liberal arts. Students study English literature, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, and history.

Bachelor's in Business Administration

A bachelor's in business administration teaches students necessary skills for managing a business, including communication, accounting, finance, and marketing. Students with an associate degree in liberal arts can use this degree to round out their skill set for employers.

Bachelor's Degree in Communication Studies

A bachelor's degree in communication studies prepares students for careers in business or in fields like journalism and newscasting. An associate degree in liberal arts gives students in this major an advantage because they already know how to communicate effectively through written words and speech.