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Liberal Studies


Liberal studies programs teach students about a wide variety of subjects. Students learn how these subjects relate to contemporary issues or common themes.

Liberal studies programs teach students how to think critically and communicate effectively. Students learn how various subjects relate to common themes. They take courses in many departments, often based on their own academic interests.

Liberal studies programs include topics such as:

Liberal studies programs can provide good preparation for many careers as well as further graduate study.


Most community colleges offer associate degree programs in liberal studies. An associate degree program usually takes two years of full-time study.

Many colleges and universities offer a bachelor's degree in liberal studies. A bachelor’s degree usually takes four years of full-time study to complete.

Some universities offer graduate degrees in liberal studies. A master’s degree typically requires two years of study beyond a bachelor’s degree. Doctoral (PhD) degree programs usually require two or more years of study beyond the master’s degree.

See schools that offer this program.

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Careers Directly Related to this Program of Study

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Program Admission

You can prepare for this program by taking courses in high school that prepare you for college. This typically includes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, and two years of science. Some colleges also require two years of a second language.

Below is a list of high school courses that will help prepare you for this program of study:

Graduate Admissions

Admission to graduate programs is competitive. You need a bachelor's degree and good grades. You also need to submit letters of recommendation and a personal statement.

In addition, a few schools may require you to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General.

Typical Course Work

Program Courses

Liberal studies programs, both undergraduate and graduate, vary from school to school. However, the curriculum for both kinds of programs typically looks like the following

At some schools, the core courses may be a series of seminars on liberal studies topics in different areas such as the following:

In other cases, you may take courses that prepare you for your electives. These would include courses in research methodology and critical thinking.

Your elective courses are based on your interests and in some cases, your chosen concentration in the program.

Some undergraduate and most graduate students are required to complete a final project or thesis based on your specific interests or chosen concentration. As examples, your project might be an artistic composition or performance, a computer program, or the translation of a work of literature. Your thesis is usually an academic research paper.

Things to Know

Master degree programs in liberal studies are not intended to prepare you for a doctoral degree. They're typically designed for people who earned a bachelor's degree in a professional program of study.


East Side Area

Washington State University - Pullman

Whitman College

King-Snohomish Area

Antioch University

North Seattle College

Seattle University

Spokane Area

Eastern Washington University

Gonzaga University

Tri-Cities Area

Washington State University - Tri-Cities

Vancouver Area

Washington State University - Vancouver

West Side Area

Centralia College

Evergreen State College, The

Grays Harbor College

Peninsula College

Whatcom Community College