Free Online Lectures and Courses for Liberal Studies

Liberal studies is the generic term for any college degree that emphasizes humanities, arts, social sciences, and natural sciences in equal measure; the goal of these programs is to produce graduates with a well-rounded academic knowledge base. Liberal arts degrees are not available at every higher-learning institution, but those who do offer the major have programs for both undergraduates and graduate students. You can learn more about specific fields of study associated with this major by exploring open liberal studies courses offered free-of-charge by colleges and universities around the world.

Liberal studies degree-holders may pursue a wide range of careers in education, business, information technology, and other broad professional fields. The federal government, as well as numerous state-level and municipal agencies, also hire a large number of liberal studies graduates. These individuals tend to excel in occupations that require expertise in areas like writing, human resources, marketing, and politics. The common bond between all liberal studies majors is a love of learning and an innate desire to share knowledge with their peers and colleagues.

Sample Courses

Liberal studies degree pathways are compartmentalized differently than other majors. In addition to a course sequence in liberal arts (which focuses on the ways we learn, inquire about the world around us, and teach others), most programs require students to fulfill a certain number of credits in arts and humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Virtually every liberal studies major will complete a different series of courses, consisting of such subjects as literature, theater, political science, economics, philosophy, biology, chemistry, and physical education. Diversity of subjects is the common factor for all of these students.

Possible Specializations

Generally, liberal studies specializations are essentially the same as minors at the undergraduate level. Students may be able to concentrate their liberal studies degree in areas like art, geography, music, or public administration. But at many colleges and universities, minoring in these or any other subject that pertains to one’s desired career path will achieve the same end result. For graduate students, specializations often focus on history, education, or academic research.

Degree Types

Some liberal studies majors will be able to compete in the workforce with an associate or bachelor’s degree, while others may want to consider an advanced degree before launching their career; this decision depends entirely on the industry the student wishes to enter and the job title they would like to attain. Here is a breakdown of the four most common types of college degree for liberal studies students.

Associate

A two-year associate degree typically emphasizes introductory courses in several core subjects, so the curriculum will be somewhat similar to a liberal studies degree pathway at any level. Associate degrees are sufficient for obtaining entry-level positions in the public and private sector (as well as the federal government), but degree-holders will be somewhat limited in their options (and salary) without a bachelor’s or higher.

Bachelor’s

Many long-term, high-paying careers are available to bachelor’s degree-holders, particularly in industries associated with the arts and humanities. For any liberal studies major, job availability will depend on two factors: specialization/major and employment trends pertaining to the industry of their choice.

Master’s

Like bachelor’s-level liberal studies programs, master’s degrees in this field emphasize a multidisciplinary curriculum over specialized studies. This credential is recommended for specialized fields within the social or natural sciences, such as biology, chemistry, or anthropology.

Ph. D.

Doctoral degrees in liberal studies are somewhat uncommon, but these programs are the best bet for students who wish to teach or research liberal studies at the collegiate level. In addition to coursework, Ph.D.-level liberal studies students must write a doctoral dissertation/thesis pertaining to their specific area of expertise, and may also be required to complete an internship.

Ideal Candidates for Liberal Studies

The desire to learn and the open-mindedness to expose oneself to new, radical ideas and concepts are two hallmark qualities of successful liberal studies majors. A penchant for reading and writing will also serve these individuals in the classroom and (most likely) in the workplace. But liberal studies majors must also identify their strongest subjects, and pursue courses and specializations that will allow them to translate their passions into viable career options.

Career Pathways

Since a liberal studies education can be used to obtain a wide range of occupational titles, the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have a general listing for individuals who earn this degree at the college level. However, the website does list career statistics and trends pertaining to specific professions that are often associated with liberal studies majors.

Jobs with the brightest outlook for liberal studies degree-holders include technical writers, legal assistants, marketing research analysts, and other professions expected to grow more than 15% between 2012 and 2022 (which is significantly faster than the projected rate of growth for all occupations). Public relations specialists and urban/regional planners are two of the career paths expected to grow about as fast as the entire U.S. workforce. And some careers are expected to decline in the years to come; jobs in journalism, for example, will likely fall by as much as 13% between 2012 and 2022.

Liberal studies majors are encouraged to narrow their focus during their undergraduate years, and then network with local businesses, student associations, and professional organizations that are linked to the student’s career path. Internships (if available) are another useful way for liberal studies majors to learn more about their prospective professional field.

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Liberal Studies Journals & Trade Magazines

  • Journals

    • Arts Journal

      An incredibly thorough resource for news, issues, trends, and community conversation around a wide range of topics in the art industry.

    • Education Leadership Journal and Magazine

      The ACSD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) provides a breadth of resources, from their journals offline and online, to their magazines and events.

    • Journal of the American Philosophical Association

      Philosophy is a common pursuit of liberal studies majors, and this is the most prominent association for the field. There are also events and grant programs.

  • Trade Magazines

    • NEA Publications

      Provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the page hosts a searchable database of hundreds of publications across a number of liberal studies fields.

Liberal Studies Grants & Scholarships

  • Grants

    • Ford Foundation Grants

      Deadline: Varies by grant program

      Award Amount: Varies by grant program

      Focused on reducing poverty and injustice, promoting democratic values, and advancing human knowledge, creativity and achievement.

    • National Endowment for the Arts' Creative Writing Fellowship

      Deadline: March 12th

      Award Amount: $25,000

      Grants for writers of poetry, fiction and nonfiction who can then use the funding to further their research, travel expenses and the completion and production of their work.

    • National Endowment for the Arts' Translation Projects

      Deadline: December 9th

      Award Amount: $12,500 - $25,000

      A merit-based award given to individual translators whose proposed projects is deemed valuable by a board of professionals working for the NEA.

    • National Endowment for the Humanities Grants

      Deadline: Varies

      Award Amount: Varies

      The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is a federal agency created in 1965. It is one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the world, and has many grant programs.

  • Scholarships

    • Davis-Putter Activism Scholarship

      Deadline: April 1

      Award Amount: Up to $10,000

      The Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund provides grants to students actively working for peace and justice.

    • Ruth Lilly Poetry Scholarship

      Deadline: March 31

      Award Amount: $15,000 - $25,000

      Established in 1989 by the Indianapolis philanthropist Ruth Lilly, the fellowships are intended to encourage the further study and writing of poetry.

    • SHRM Scholarships

      Deadline: Varies

      Award Amount: Varies

      The Society of Human Resources Management has several scholarship opportunities, and the liberal studies skillset lends well to the requirements for these ...

    • TeachGrant Scholarships

      Deadline: Varies

      Award Amount: Up to $4,000

      These grants provide up to $4,000 a year to students completing or planning to complete coursework needed to begin a career in teaching.

Liberal Studies Internships

Liberal Studies Student & Professional Organizations

  • Student Organizations

    • Art Students Association

      One university's resource for art students looking to connect with each other, while staying informed of industry news. Sponsored by the University of Malta.

    • NEA Student Program

      A program and community built around the National Education Association, which is the largest organizations for professional educators.

    • Social Work Student Association

      A student organization created by and for social work students from Sacramento State University's Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work programs.

  • Professional Organizations

    • Americans for the Arts

      A great site to participate in the reform and support of artistic education and careers. Sortable by program or location.

    • National Education Association

      The nation's largest professional employee organization, with a focus on advancing the cause of public education. They have over 3 million members!

    • National Endowment for the Arts

      An independent federal agency that helps to promote artistic excellence and innovation toward individuals and communities.

    • National Humanities Alliance

      An advocacy organization supported by professional associations, scholarly societies, higher education associations, library and museum associations, and humanities research centers.

    • National Organization for Human Services

      This group is focused on a wide range of humanitarian objectives relevant to liberal studies majors.