United States Master of Liberal Arts and Humanities Graduate Programs

A Master of Liberal Arts and Humanities Graduate Program offers learners an opportunity to cover topics in a diverse and interdisciplinary field of study.

Most Masters degree programs in liberal arts and humanities cover subject matter related to social sciences, literature and writing, languages, world cultures, social issues and philosophy. If you enjoy learning about human behavior, humanity and human relations, and are interested in cultivating a variety of potentially transferable skills into a host of possible career paths, Liberal Arts Masters programs provide a fascinating forum for curiosity as well as discovery.

Liberal Arts Masters Degree Program Information

Master of Liberal Arts and Humanities Programs: Essentials

The goal of Master of Liberal Arts and Humanities programs is to develop well-rounded learners with general knowledge of a wide range of subjects and with mastery of a range of transferable skills. Program curriculums vary between institutions but most master’s degrees consist of coursework and may include a capstone experience involving a graduate project, internship, or portfolio option.

Types of Masters degrees in Liberal Arts and Humanities

Another factor to distinguish for yourself is whether you are interested in a Master of Liberal Arts degree or a Masters Program within Liberal Arts and Humanities. For instance, if you have an undergraduate degree, you might be interested in all the master’s degrees for liberal arts majors – a different search.

FUN FACT: For public relations and fundraising management positions, some employers prefer a master’s degree, particularly in public relations, journalism, fundraising, or nonprofit management[i].

Master of Liberal Arts Degree

A Liberal Arts Masters (MLA) degree is a unique type of graduate degree program. Instead of requiring you to become extremely specialized in one area, as most grad programs do, you are encouraged to broaden and deepen your education in a cross-disciplinary approach.

Master of Liberal Arts and Humanities Programs

This being said, there are a wide variety of masters degrees for liberal arts majors within arts and humanities ranging from literature and writing to languages, business, public relations, economics, and other fields. For instance, you might earn a Master of Science in Publishing, a Master of Arts in Behavioral Economics or a Master in Strategic Public Relations, and these programs all fall under the umbrella of liberal arts, or liberal studies.

What is the difference between liberal arts and liberal studies?

The terms liberal arts and liberal studies refer to the same body of knowledge. Masters degree programs in this field allow students to derive an understanding of literature, social science, mathematics, music, history, political science, language and philosophy as well as other academic areas. 

What is the Difference between Liberal Arts and Humanities?

The term ‘Liberal arts’ refers to an academic education that provides you with a comprehensive understanding of humanities, social sciences, mathematics, and natural and formal sciences. The term ‘Humanities’ (commonly a part of a liberal education) refers to the study of the human condition, and might include such topics as history, religion, philosophy, literature, ancient and modern languages, and the arts.

To get an idea of how many disciplines are involved in a Masters of Liberal Arts program, think of the MLA as a tree with the following limbs:

  • Humanities (e.g. art, literature, linguistics, philosophy, religion, ethics, modern foreign languages, music, theater, speech, classical languages)
  • Social sciences (e.g. history, psychology, law, sociology, politics, gender studies, anthropology, economics, geography, business informatics)
  • Natural sciences (e.g. astronomy, biology, chemistry, physics, botany, archaeology, zoology, geology, Earth sciences)
  • Formal sciences (e.g. mathematics, logic, statistics)

DID YOU KNOW? Most economists need a master’s degree or Ph.D.[ii]

How to Find a Masters Degree Program in Liberal Arts and Humanities

GradSchools.com makes it easy for you to land on the Master of Liberal Arts and Humanities degree program that aligns with your interests. Since it can be daunting to navigate through all the options, following a simple methodology might help you pinpoint the appropriate path.

Types of MA Degrees

Sounds simple but there is still a complexity to the many different categories and types of Master of Arts (MA) Degrees.  There are a variety of categories and sub categories so you can go very general or very specific in terms of the Liberal Arts graduate education you are interested in. For instance, you might want a general Master of Arts in Liberal Arts, a Master of Arts in Humanities, an MSSc in Public Affairs & Social Sciences, Liberal Arts & Humanities or a Cross Disciplinary Master of Arts Degree. Conversely, you might choose to pursue a Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications (M.S.I.M.C) or an MBA in Business Ethics. Once you have explored the topics and chosen your subject, you are ready for the next step.

Here’s an Academic Road Map For Masters in Liberal Arts & Humanities Programs:

Area, Ethnic & cultural Studies Graduate Programs

Communications & Public Relations

Economics

English

History

Humanities

Languages

Liberal Arts & Sciences

Philosophy & Ethics

Women’s Studies

Continued Education in Liberal Arts and Humanities

Some masters programs may also be used as a springboard to PhD Liberal Arts programs. It is always a good idea to do a bit of homework on your intended career to help you choose the appropriate academic track. As well, each program is likely to have its own prerequisites and curriculum, so use to your advantage the ‘request info’ and ‘visit school site’ tabs.

What Type of Program Format do you require?

Master of Liberal Arts and Humanities graduate programs are available in different learning formats, each with their own particular appeal. These are campus, hybrid and online. You may not find all programs have all these learning delivery methods, but, having found your subject, let’s say Masters in Women’s Studies, you are then able to search specifically for one type of format or the other.

Essentially, if you are choosing to earn your master of liberal arts online, you may find programs that are fully online or partially online. These partial programs are called hybrid, a blend of distance-learning and on campus requirements. If you are exploring exclusively liberal arts graduate schools, you can refine your search by location. Choose your city, state or country and results are generated for that area.

Potential Benefits of Earning a Liberal Arts Masters Degree

Wondering what advantages there might be to pursuing a graduate degree in Liberal Arts and Humanities?

Build Soft Skills: The term ‘Soft skills’ does not mean that a Master of Liberal Arts degree program is easy. On the contrary, it might be quite rigorous, with lots of reading, writing and analysis. While the term ‘hard skills’ refers to skills that are measurable such as computer programming, the definition of soft skills includes[iii]:

  • Communication abilities
  • Social graces
  • Language skills
  • Personal habits (dependability, conscientiousness)

Build Transferable Skills: Aside from theoretical and technical knowledge, many different careers may benefit from the skills that are cultivated in Masters of Liberal Arts and Humanities programs. Some of these might include[iv]:

  • Learn to analyze, evaluate
  • Think critically and creatively
  • Communicate effectively in oral and written modes
  • Strategize, problem solve
  • Ability to learn and synthesize new ideas
  • Experience in quantitative and qualitative data analysis
  • Develop reading skills
  • Math skills
  • Effective research skills
  • Organization and time-management skills
  • Adaptability
  • Ethical decision-making skills
  • Ability to pose meaningful questions
  • Teamwork or leadership
  • Foreign language skills and cross-cultural knowledge

Take the Next Step

Whether you are interested in pursuing a potential career in arts, business, academia, or economic development, there are a variety of Masters degree programs in Liberal Arts & Humanities to choose from. If you are innately inquisitive, love learning diverse subjects you may find that you gain not only an education in your chosen field, but also the ability to think critically and contextually. Many programs allow you to tailor your graduate degree to your individual scholarly curiosity or passion, so why wait – explore your options today!


[i] bls.gov/ooh/management/public-relations-managers.htm |[ii] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/economists.htm |[iii]en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soft_skills |[iv] bls.gov/ooh/management/advertising-promotions-and-marketing-managers.htm | en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master_of_Arts_in_Liberal_Studies

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