Guide to Getting Your Associate Degree in Liberal Arts Online

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If you want to learn how to think, getting an online liberal arts associate degree is a great start. You’ll learn:

Find out everything you need to know about earning an associate degree in liberal arts, including what you’ll learn, potential careers, and higher education opportunities.

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

Many subjects fit under the umbrella of liberal arts, including:

While the subjects are distinct, common concepts exist between them. The best online liberal arts degrees prepare students with critical thinking, analysis, research, and written and verbal communication skills — all of which associate degree holders can use in the workforce.

Here are some common courses students should expect in an online associate degree in liberal arts:

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

In natural science, you’ll study the physical world, such as physics, chemistry, geology, and biology. You’ll also learn the scientific method and read scientific literature.

English Composition

This class introduces students to forms of academic discourse, including narrative and analytical writing. While students work on their 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 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.


Students learn this skill through reading, research, and writing. Liberal arts majors examine sources to determine their biases, reliability, and informational value.


Research skills allow students to find sources of information that others might overlook. A good researcher understands how to evaluate a source’s reliability and 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 aren’t 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 in liberal arts-holder might find.

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.

Average Annual Salary: $65,230

Administrative assistants help employees within a company. Duties vary depending on the company, but most assistants oversee secretarial work, speak with customers, and possess strong organizational skills.

Average Annual Salary: $40,990

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 retail.

Average Annual Salary: $38,510

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

Average Annual Salary: $56,610

Transferring to a Four-Year Program After an Online Associate Degree in Liberal Arts

Graduates who would like to continue their education after earning an associate degree in liberal arts online may pursue several options. An associate degree is a natural stepping stone to a bachelor's degree.

Since an associate degree in liberal arts online covers many topics, degree holders may choose from various fields for their bachelor's degree. Graduates can 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 the 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, journalism, and public relations, to name a few. An associate degree in liberal arts gives students an advantage because they already know how to communicate effectively through written words and speech.

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