2022 – Top Picks for the Best Public University Bachelor of Liberal Studies Programs

Best Public Universities in Liberal ArtsIt’s hard to go wrong with a four-year bachelor of liberal studies degree to launch both your career and your life.

  • Your career: Because the bachelor of liberal studies (BLS) involves a broad, interdisciplinary course of study rooted in the classic problem-solving, general knowledge, and inquiry-based foundation of the liberal arts and sciences, you can use it as a platform to expand your knowledge in almost any career field.
  • Your life: A BLS is primarily a course of study that prepares you to be a more effective learner. In essence, it’s about learning how to learn. The curriculum in a liberal studies program prepares you with the knowledge you need to be an effective and informed citizen of the world, but it also makes you a more well-rounded and capable human being.

For most people, though, bachelor’s degrees in liberal studies bring to mind private liberal arts colleges, as expensive as they are exclusive. You know, the kind of schools that aren’t easy to get into, or to pay for even if you do get in. Places that are often located halfway across the country, and often in small university towns with few amenities or housing options.

But the liberal arts tradition isn’t owned by private liberal arts colleges. It’s actually part of the larger canopy of Western education, making it a fundamental part of just about every American university at some level. And in its truest sense, a liberal arts education is meant to be available and accessible to all; a fundamental education in the tradition of ancient Greek academia designed to prepare people to be responsible, ethical, capable members of society.

So, if you’re looking for a top-flight liberal studies degree program, you don’t need to restrict your search to just private liberal arts colleges. As you’ll see from our list, you can find some of the best options in the country close to home, and at an affordable price, at state universities.

How We Selected the Best Bachelor of Liberal Studies Programs at State Universities

Liberal arts bachelor degree programs can be hard to compare to one another because each of them represents a unique experience to the students who pursue them. Part of the genius of a liberal arts program is the way it can be shaped to match exactly your interests, not some cookie cutter curriculum with a bunch of stuff that may not be relevant to your goals.

Still, there are some common elements of a liberal arts education that are pretty critical to meeting the basic criteria for a quality program. We dove into the details and looked at several different pieces of the educational puzzle in order to identify the very best prospects for BLS programs offered at state universities in your neck of the woods.

A Great Liberal Arts Program Requires Expertise in Diverse Academic Fields

One of the big strengths that a typical state university will have over a traditional private liberal arts school is the much broader array of expertise in different fields of study it’s able to offer. The course catalog at a big state school will dwarf what a tiny liberal arts college can offer. And the big departments and professional and research degree fields at a state school mean they draw in a deep bench of expertise across those fields.

That means that state schools can offer you a much broader selection of choices to customize your degree program. And each of these top schools has a wealth of interesting concentrations to choose from, letting you specialize in everything from gender studies and sexuality to economics and the natural sciences.

Socratic-style Teaching Relies on the Best Instructors to Score Hits in Liberal Studies

Even at big state schools, liberal studies programs have an emphasis on smaller, seminar-style courses that involve a lot of learning through dialog. The Socratic method is a time-tested and proven technique for getting students to engage all their brain cells and think critically about interdisciplinary subjects. But this is a style of teaching that is a lot more demanding than giving a lecture and tossing out some reading assignments.

Professors who are genuinely good at leading a seminar course are a rare find. Not only do they have to be tops in their own field, but also expressive, articulate, and mentally nimble. Professors of this caliber have the ability to sense an opening in an instant and reach for a teachable moment. It’s instructors like these who can deliver a shock of insight in a split second that teaches more than any droning lecture ever could.

Each of these schools has a teaching staff who is both academically skilled and highly respected in their field of expertise. Their own preparation in their field comes together with experience in teaching, allowing them to skillfully convey heady concepts to any student.

Maybe equally important is their commitment and caring. Professors in the best liberal arts programs have empathy and a real desire to boost the success of their students. They’re not distracted by research or publication glory. Instead, they see learning itself as a value worthy of passing along to every student.

Universities Can Earn a Reputation on the Merits of a Strong Liberal Arts Program

It’s true, you usually hear about private liberal arts colleges when people start talking about a great bachelor of liberal studies program. But that doesn’t mean that state colleges don’t get their own accolades and recognition for their liberal arts training. We looked for schools that have drawn the attention of other third-party rating and evaluation organizations, big-name outfits like U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review.

We also looked at what graduates had to say about these schools. With real-world experience and careers built on what they learned in those classrooms; alumni are exactly the people you want to hear from when considering what a school can do for you and your career.

All of these colleges get high marks across the board.

Deep Resources for Research and Investigation Support the Many Directions a Liberal Arts Degree Can Take You

One of the best and most distinctive reasons to consider a state college for a liberal studies degree is the sheer size. While small liberal arts schools get all the raves for being highly focused, a traditional liberal arts education can actually benefit from a lot of exposure to a lot of different fields. You want a school that has the resources and the expertise in as many different fields as possible to support your journey through the liberal arts and science.

State universities have a broad mandate to build research and facilities for all different fields of study, which means they are more likely than a tiny private school to have the expertise, the reference material, and the facilities to support you in any direction you want to go with your studies.

State Schools With an Edge in Diversity Offer a Student Experience Like None Other

A traditional liberal arts education can also really benefit from a lot of exposure to a lot of different kinds of people from all walks of life. Just like you want a school that has faculty expertise in as many different fields as possible, you want a diverse student cohort to make your social experiences just as diverse as your learning experiences.

With lower costs, a broader student base, and more accessible programs, the student body at these state colleges puts into practice one of the most important parts of a true liberal arts education: experiencing and engaging with diverse perspectives and opinions.

All of these state colleges have strong commitments to building and fostering multiculturalism. That means you are going to be learning about other cultures, languages, and ideas from people who have grown up with them. That means getting a broader and richer cultural experience that isn’t restricted to the selections curated by the publishers of some textbook.

Your education and social experiences at any of the schools that made this list will have a lasting impact that will stay with you your entire life.

The Best Liberal Arts Education is the One That Offers Unexpected Benefits

All liberal studies degrees are unique. That means there is no single perfect program out there—just different pieces in a puzzle that might click into place for different people.

So, although we have identified all these programs as some of your top options, we’ve also provided plenty of additional information to help you make your own personal decisions about where to apply. You need to find the best fit for your goals, and it helps to know all the other important details that will factor into your decision:

We also let you know what each program’s strengths are, noting schools that offer additional help in advising, or academic writing, or unique research options, and a whole lot more.

Editor’s Picks for the Best Public University Bachelor’s Degrees in Liberal Arts for 2022

So here it is – our editorial selection of the BLS programs in each region that we feel check all the boxes for unparalleled training in the liberal arts, while delivering an unforgettable student experience.

It might be an unscientific selection process, but it comes from the heart of the editorial team here at LiberalArtsEDU.org, a team that know a thing or two about what it means to get a quality education in the liberal arts. And that’s exactly the kind of guidance you want when making your decision about which BLS programs to consider.

West Region

Northern Arizona University
Personalized Learning
Flagstaff, Arizona

Website

northern arizona university new

BA/BS in Liberal Arts (online)

Total Estimated Cost: $42,600

Cost Per Credit: $ 335 (in-state), $847 (out-of-state) 

  • Personalized Learning model lets you earn your BA/BS in Liberal Arts 100% online
  • Online program boasts close faculty mentorship, 24/7 tech support, and online tutoring

Northern Arizona University’s BA/BS in Liberal Arts is part of their exciting Personalized Learning model, which allows learners to earn a degree entirely online. Choose from the Traditional Online Learning option, which features a semester-based course schedule, or the Competency-Based option, which allows you to work at your own pace, choose your own start date, and set your own schedule. Whichever option you choose, you’ll be met with outstanding resources and exceptional faculty mentorship that will guide and support you along the way. With an impressive reputation that includes more than 30 years of excellence in distance education, you’ll feel good choosing NAU for your BA/BS in Liberal Arts. Choose from exciting courses like Utopias and Dystopias, Ethical Obligation, Reflections of Society in Postwar Cinema, and Group Dynamic and Social Conflict and create a liberal arts degree that’s uniquely you!

San Francisco State University
School of Humanities and Liberal Studies
San Francisco, California

Website

san francisco state university2

BA in Liberal Studies (on-campus)

Total Estimated Cost: $29,880

Cost Per Credit: $249 (in-state), $645 (out-of-state)

  • Exciting, progressive emphases available
  • One of the top feeder schools for Apple, Kaiser Permanente, Wells Fargo, Oracle, Google, and the San Francisco Unified School District

San Francisco State’s BA in Liberal Studies is a dynamic, diversified course of study that prepares students to become lifelong learners, effective communicators, critical thinkers, and collaborators. Whether you’re interested in becoming an elementary school teacher (the Elementary Studies path, when combined with additional courses, allows future educators to waive the CSET exam) or are interested in a liberal arts education for work or future graduate study in the social sciences, the humanities, the sciences, or the creative arts, the BA in Liberal Studies offers an emphasis that will get you where you want to be. San Francisco State is the easy choice for liberal arts majors like you—it’s one of the top feeder schools for Apple, Kaiser Permanente, Wells Fargo, Oracle, Google, and the San Francisco Unified School District!

San Diego State University
College of Teacher Education
San Diego, California

Website

san diego state u

BA in Liberal Arts (on-campus)

Total Estimated Cost: $30,840

Cost Per Credit: $257 (in-state), $653 (out-of-state)

  • Also offers: MA in Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • School of Education ranked 1st among state universities, 15th in the state, and 55th in the nation by U.S. News & World Report
  • International/study abroad experiences available

San Diego State University’s BA in Liberal Studies provides students like you with an outstanding, interdisciplinary foundation that’s designed to prepare you for exciting careers in education. Whether your interests lie in teaching (choose from a five-year pathway or four-year ITEP pathway), school counseling, curriculum design, administration, or library sciences, SDSU is designed with you in mind! A broad curriculum, plentiful course options, and the required content necessary to take the CSET-MS exam are included in this liberal arts program. Exciting opportunities await at SDSU, including international and study abroad experiences that will complement the worldly, globally focused nature of a liberal arts degree.

Colorado State University, Fort Collins
College of Liberal Arts
Fort Collins, Colorado

Website

colorado state university

BA in Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies (on-campus, online)

Total Estimated Cost: $50,160

Cost Per Credit: $418 (in-state), $966 (out-of-state)

  • Also offers: MA in History, Liberal Arts Specialization
  • Also offered as an accelerated 3- or 3.5-year program
  • Outstanding options for studying abroad

Whether online or on-campus, Colorado State University’s BA in Interdisciplinary Studies is where future leaders, changemakers, and trailblazers prepare for success. Add the Legal Studies minor to your bachelor’s degree and you’ll receive outstanding preparation for future careers and graduate study in law, human resources, business, and communications. This truly personalized course of study is focused on creating a program that’s uniquely you. Simply complete the core curriculum, choose a field (minor), and then choose from the outstanding selection of open electives (called course clusters) in the liberal arts. Course clustering allows you to easily choose courses that fit an interest, theme, or professional goal. Human rights and advocacy, communication studies, ethnic studies, journalism and technical communication, and more – the choice is yours! Practicums, internships, and study abroad opportunities here allow you to further explore your interests and take your degree to the next level. Just some of the study abroad programs here include Communication in Rome, Italy…Energy Transitions in Europe…International Internship program in Dublin, Ireland… Liberal Arts and Community Engagement in Todos Santos, Mexico… a Semester at Sea… and an exchange program at New Zealand’s Massey University.

Colorado State University Pueblo
College of Health, Education, and Nursing
Pueblo, Colorado

Website

csu pueblo2

BS in Liberal Studies (on-campus)

Total Estimated Cost: $45,384

Cost Per Credit: $366 (in-state), $550 (out-of-state)

  • Designed to prepare elementary school teachers
  • Part of the esteemed CSU system – one of the top public research universities in the nation

Colorado State Pueblo’s BS in Liberal Studies is where future educators are created! Simply complete a minor in education (40 credit hours) and choose a concentration to create a program that best matches your future career goals in elementary education. CSU is part of the esteemed three-campus CSU system, which serves more than 60,000 students and boasts outstanding resources, exciting learning experiences, and top research opportunities. Choose CSU Pueblo and you’ll benefit from the resources of the larger CSU system while enjoying the smaller, more intimate environment of a regional university.

Adams State University
Undergraduate Programs
Alamosa, Colorado

Website

adams state university

BA in English, Liberal Arts Concentration (on-campus)
BA in Music, Liberal Arts Concentration (on-campus)

Total Estimated Cost: $35,160

Cost Per Credit: $293 (in-state), $596 (out-of-state)

  • Outstanding undergraduate research and internship opportunities available
  • Ranked among the nation’s best colleges for Social Mobility in 2020 by U.S. News & World Report

Adams State University’s liberal arts degrees reflect the mission of the university to celebrate diverse cultural and social perspectives and to create programs that are directly connected to the community. In fact, Adams State is the most publicly diverse university in Colorado and has a long history of diversity and inclusion, which includes serving as an Hispanic Serving Institution for more than 20 years. Choose Adams for your liberal arts education and you’ll be part of a personalized course of learning that features a low, 16:1 student-to-faculty ratio and outstanding opportunities for extracurricular activities, student life activities, collaborative and interdisciplinary projects, original research activities, and internship and volunteer experiences.

University of Hawaii Hilo
College of Arts and Sciences
Hilo, Hawaii

Website

university hawaii hilo

BA in Liberal Studies (on-campus)

Total Estimated Cost: $29,400

Cost Per Credit: $245 (in-state), $677 (out-of-state)

  • Ranked first in the nation among the Most Diverse National Universities by U.S. News & World Reportin 2020, 2021, and 2022
  • Outstanding communication and collaboration through a low, 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio

The University of Hawaii Hilo’s BA in Liberal Studies encourages critical thinking with ethical considerations and produces well-informed, responsible, and engaged global citizens – the hallmark of excellence in liberal arts study! This truly interdisciplinary course of study features outstanding support and guidance that includes the First Year Experience – a university mission to help students reach their full academic and social potential by providing plentiful resources and delivering a supportive learning environment. A low, 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio and an average class size of just 19 ensure a personalized learning experience that’s rich in communication and collaboration.

Montana State University
College of Letters and Science
Bozeman, Montana

Website

montana state university

BA in Liberal Studies (on-campus, online)

Total Estimated Cost: $30,120

Cost Per Credit: $251 (in-state), $942 (out-of-state)

  • Online Completion program available for students who have completed at least two years of college
  • MSU boasts the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s engagement classification, which recognizes the university’s commitment to volunteer services and spreading knowledge that benefits the public

Montana State University’s BA in Liberal Studies is rigorous, dynamic, and flexible, preparing students with the knowledge they’ll need to thrive in today’s everchanging world. This course of study allows students to choose from a concentration in Environmental Studies, Global and Multicultural Studies, or the classical liberal arts experience with the Quaternity concentration, consisting of the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. You then have the option to choose a minor in Global Studies, Global Health, or Sustainability to create a decidedly progressive, globally focused program designed to produce broad-minded, progressive graduates. The BA in Liberal Studies is also offered as an Online Completion Program, which allows students who have completed at least two years of college to earn their bachelor’s degree entirely online.

Portland State University
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Portland, Oregon

Website

portland state university

BA/BS in Liberal Studies (on-campus, online, hybrid)

Total Estimated Cost: $41,520

Cost Per Credit: $346 (in-state), $976 (out-of-state) 

  • User-friendly online course platform encourages communication and collaboration with faculty and peers
  • Ranked one of the nation’s Most Innovative Universities by U.S. News & World Report

Portland State University’s BA/BS in Liberal Studies is where personalized learning comes to life! Choose from an exciting variety of courses from the university’s many departments while you hone your interdisciplinary skillset. From communication skills to teamwork skills to critical thinking skills, this program provides students like you with a broad course of study that prepares you to stand out in any field you choose to go into, or to go on to graduate school. This fully customizable program is delivered online or on-campus, thereby accommodating both traditional students interested in an on-campus experience and non-traditional students who demand the flexibility and convenience of distance-based study. Work with your academic advisor to integrate courses from three broad areas – sciences, and social sciences, and humanities – and design a personalized program with your personal and professional goals in mind.

South Region

University of Kentucky
College of Arts and Sciences
Lexington, Kentucky

Website

university kentucky

Bachelor of Liberal Studies (on-campus, hybrid)

Total Estimated Cost: $50,400

Cost Per Credit: $420 (in-state), $1,054 (out-of-state) 

  • Ranked among the nation’s Top Public Schools by U.S. News & World Report in 2020
  • Designed as a bachelor’s completion degree for students who have already completed 45 undergraduate credits

The University of Kentucky’s Bachelor of Liberal Arts has it all: a variety of online courses, study abroad and undergraduate research opportunities, and three different concentration options to personalize your education to suit your personal and professional goals. Referred to as an “individualized, nontraditional program,” this liberal arts degree provides students with an outstanding selection of course options for building a tailor-made bachelor’s curriculum earn their bachelor’s degree.

University of Southern Mississippi
School of Interdisciplinary Studies and Professional Development
Hattiesburg/Gulf Park, Mississippi

Website

university southern mississippi

Bachelor of Liberal Studies (on-campus, online)

Total Estimated Cost: $36,360

Cost Per Credit: $303 (in-state), $373 (out-of-state)

  • No out-of-state tuition
  • Exciting opportunities for undergraduate research through a Carnegie R1 research institution

No matter what kind of student you are, the University of Southern Mississippi’s Bachelor of Liberal Studies is designed for you! This program offers students a customizable, interdisciplinary course of study that can be completed as a fully online program or as an on-campus program at the school’s Gulf Park or Hattiesburg campus. Ideal for traditional students, working professionals, and those looking to complete their undergraduate studies, USM’s Bachelor of Liberal Studies offers an excellent selection of courses from which to choose and no less than 89 approved concentrations! Round out your program with either an individual research project or an experiential learning opportunity.

Oklahoma State University-Main Campus
College of Arts and Sciences
Stillwater, Oklahoma

Website

oklahoma state u

BA/BS in Multidisciplinary Studies (Liberal Studies) (on-campus)

Total Estimated Cost: $55,680

Cost Per Credit: $464 (in-state), $981 (out-of-state)

  • Part of the esteemed Oklahoma State University five-campus system
  • Ranked among the state’s top public colleges and universities and among the top 50 public universities in the nation by Niche.com

Oklahoma State University’s BA/BS in Multidisciplinary Studies is your path to a truly interdisciplinary course of study that allows you to choose from more than 18 concentrations within the humanities and social sciences. This customizable program produces the next generation of leaders and trailblazers in a variety of fields, including business, human resources, the arts, journalism, sales, and much, much more. Simply choose two areas of concentration to personalize your program. Anthropology, gender and women’s studies, history, English… the choice is yours!

University of South Carolina – Columbia
Palmetto College
Columbia, South Carolina

Website

university south carolina new

BA in Liberal Studies (online)

Total Estimated Cost: $39,960

Cost Per Credit: $333 (in-state), $333 (out-of-state)

  • Designed as a bachelor’s completion program
  • Flexible online learning platform features six start dates per year

The University of South Carolina Columbia’s BA in Liberal Studies boasts online learning at its finest. Customize your degree by choosing a degree focus in either social and behavioral sciences or arts and humanities and then customize your degree with one more concentration areas – all through distance-based learning that features six start dates per year and options to complete courses in a blended or fully online format. You’ll feel good about completing your bachelor’s degree through a university that’s been ranked among the top 3% of all colleges and universities in the nation for its number of African American graduates by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education and among the nation’s top universities for Best First-Year Experience by U.S. News & World Report.

Francis Marion University
College of Liberal Arts
Florence, South Carolina

Website

francis marion university

English, Liberal Arts Concentration (on-campus)

Total Estimated Cost: $41,520

Cost Per Credit: $346 (in-state), $692 (out-of-state) 

  • Named a Best Regional University South and Top Public University by U.S. News & World Report
  • Exceptional personalized learning experience through a low, 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio

Francis Marion University’s Liberal Arts program is expertly designed and conveniently structured for students interested in a broad, interdisciplinary course of study in literature and language arts. Designed as a nine-block program, this program offers study in British Literature, American Literature, Shakespeare, World Literature, and more, thereby providing students with a truly comprehensive examination of language, rhetoric, and literature. A low, student-to-faculty ratio of just 15:1, opportunities for exciting undergraduate research, and international study abroad experiences (with no additional tuition charged) through 18 partner universities in 13 countries make this a uniquely dynamic program.

University of Houston
College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences
Houston, Texas

Website

university houston

BS/BA in Liberal Studies (on-campus)

Total Estimated Cost: $44,880

Cost Per Credit: $374 (in-state), $882 (out-of-state) 

  • Ranked among the nation’s Best Colleges for 2021 by U.S. News & World Report
  • Offers students the option of choosing three minors for outstanding personalization

Offering an exceptional course of personalized study, the University of Houston’s BS/BA in Liberal Studies provides the ideal path to a well-rounded education. Built around the “three-minor major,” which allows students to customize their program by choosing three minors, the BS/BA in Liberal Studies offers countless possible combinations! Round out your program by choosing a study abroad experience and you’ll gain an unprecedented global view to add to your interdisciplinary skillset.

Texas A&M University – Commerce
College of Humanities, Social Sciences and Arts
Commerce, Texas

Website

texas a m university commerce

BA/BS in Liberal Studies (on-campus)

Total Estimated Cost: $40,080

Cost Per Credit: $334 (in-state), $742 (out-of-state)

  • Ranked among the top universities in the nation by U.S. News & World Report in 2021
  • Exceptionally personalized program allows students to choose from courses across departments and disciplines

Effective communicators, critical thinkers, exceptional collaborators alike – Texas A&M University Commerce’s BA/BS in Liberal Studies produces graduates who are prepared to address the unique and challenging issues of today’s global society. You’ll work one-on-one with a faculty advisor to design a program that’s uniquely you by choosing courses across disciplines and departments that align with your personal and professional goals. As part of the Texas A&M University System, you’ll have access to outstanding resources and opportunities and coursework that has helped ranked this university among the top in the nation in 2021 by U.S. News & World Report.

University of Mary Washington
Adult Degree Completion
Fredericksburg, Virginia

Website

university mary washington

Bachelor of Liberal Studies (on-campus)

Total Estimated Cost: $34,680

Cost Per Credit: $289 (in-state), $837 (out-of-state)

  • Ranked among America’s Best Colleges in the region by U.S. News & World Report in 2021
  • Boasts a low, 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio

The University of Mary Washington’s Bachelor of Liberal Studies is designed specifically for nontraditional students who want to complete their bachelor’s degree. Offered full- or part-time and without a foreign language requirement, this bachelor’s completion program is the flexible, convenient path to a degree in the liberal arts, thereby opening up doors to outstanding careers and future graduate study in areas like law, communications, education, journalism, business, and much more. Choose from more than 30 majors in the liberal arts and sciences and explore various subjects ranging from the arts to the humanities to the natural and social sciences.

Midwest Region

University of Iowa
University College
Iowa City, Iowa

Website

university iowa

Bachelor of Liberal Studies (online)

Total Estimated Cost: $39,720

Cost Per Credit: $333 (in-state), $1,064 (out-of-state)

  • Outstanding research opportunities available – 1 in 3 undergraduates involved in research
  • Superb record of student success – 95% of graduates are employed within six months of graduation

Online study has never looked so convenient! The University of Iowa’s Bachelor of Liberal Studies offers distance learning for the adult learner. Featuring an interdisciplinary curriculum aimed at workplace and leadership skills, the Bachelor of Liberal Studies builds off your previous 24 credits (or more) to provide you with an accelerated path to your bachelor’s. Choose a concentration (track) that best fits your personal and professional goals and add an online certificate program if you want to take your degree to the next level. Certificate programs like Aging and Longevity Studies, Museum Studies, Entrepreneurial Management, Writing, and Nonprofit Management are career focused and highly relevant for today’s professionals. We love The University of Iowa for its student success rate (Iowa grads enjoy a 95% job placement rate within six months of graduation) and its standing among public universities in the nation (ranked #33 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report). You won’t find a program that’s better designed with the adult learner in mind!

Illinois State University
Wonsook Kim College of Fine Arts
Normal, Illinois

Website

illinois state u

BA/BS in Music-Liberal Arts (on-campus)

Total Estimated Cost: $61,320

Cost Per Credit: $511 (in-state), $895 (out-of-state)

  • Ranked among the nation’s best public national universities for academic excellence by U.S. News & World Report in 2022
  • Boasts one of the highest student retention rates in the nation

Illinois State University’s BA/BS in Music proves that a bachelor’s degree in music doesn’t have to be narrowly focused. Creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, teamwork… these skills and more are integrated into this interdisciplinary course of study to create the next generation of musicians who are able to succeed in any number of settings. Whether you play a musical instrument, sing, or write musical compositions, you’ll find plenty to get excited about here, including no less than 20 ensembles of bands, orchestras, choirs, opera/musical theater, and specialty ensembles. This program earned an easy spot on our best of the best list, thanks to its retention rate – more than 84% – one of the highest in the nation. We also love the civically engaged campus environment here, which has earned an Excellence and Innovation Award for Civic Learning and Community Engagement by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).

Indiana University – Purdue University – Indianapolis
School of Liberal Arts
Indianapolis, Indiana

Website

iupui

BA in Law in Liberal Arts (on-campus)
BA in Economics Liberal Arts (on-campus)

Total Estimated Cost: $40,200

Cost Per Credit: $335 (in-state), $1,070 (out-of-state)

  • Ranked 2nd in the nation in sustainability according to Times Higher Education
  • Outstanding research opportunities available

Comfortably situated in not one, but two of Indiana’s top universities, IUPUI’s BA in Law in Liberal Arts and the BA in Economics in Liberal Arts is where the best in academic excellence and student success are found. The merger of two universities has resulted in more exciting and diverse learning opportunities than ever before and a status as the state’s premier urban research university. The BA in Economics offers the option of a general or quantitative track and outstanding preparation for future graduate work, while the BA in Law in Liberal Arts provides excellent preparation for careers in the paralegal profession and for future graduate study. Both offer the grounding in academic excellence that you’d expect from a premier state university.

University of Kansas
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Lawrence, Kansas

Website

university kansas

Bachelor of General Studies in Liberal Arts and Sciences (on-campus)

Total Estimated Cost: $40,680

Cost Per Credit: $339 (in-state), $902 (out-of-state)

  • Outstanding record of student success and academic excellence has earned it a spot among just one of 66 universities in the nation to receive the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU) designation
  • Exceptional undergraduate research opportunities include research certificate programs

The University of Kansas’ Bachelor of General Studies in Liberal Arts and Sciences is where a broad-based, interdisciplinary education merges with exceptional preparation for a variety of careers and for future graduate study. Design your program by choosing a major and another field of study as a second major, minor, or certificate; or complete a broad foundation in the liberal arts and sciences, along with courses in world language and culture and natural sciences and mathematics, and supplement your course of study with undergraduate research and experiential learning opportunities for a well-rounded course of study. The University of Kansas takes its research seriously, offering several research certificate programs through its Center for Undergraduate Research. Choose from certificate programs like Arts Engagement, Service Learning, Entrepreneurship, and Global Awareness and take your degree in the liberal arts to the next level!

Oakland University
College of Arts and Sciences
Rochester, Michigan

Website

oakland university

BA in Liberal Studies (on-campus)

Cost Per Credit: $505 (in-state), $825 (out-of-state)

  • Also offers: MA in Liberal Studies
  • Outstanding level of personal attention through a low, 19:1 student-to-faculty ratio
  • Exciting research opportunities available with organizations like the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Education and top business and industry partners
  • Ranked among America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report

Oakland University’s BA in Liberal Arts is where the next generation of creative thinkers, critical minds, collaborators, and communicators flock for an outstanding, interdisciplinary course of study. This swiftly growing program boasts small class sizes, one-on-one advising and mentorship, and plenty of personal attention. Choose from a list of approved minor-minor combinations (you’ll choose two minors) or design a new duo that best fits your personal and professional goals – the choice is yours to create a program that’s uniquely you! Biology and Music… Dance and History… Entrepreneurship and Anthropology… African American Studies and Political Science – the options to create a dual discipline are exciting and varied! You’ll also find superb opportunities to engage and learn by doing through research experiences with corporate partners, internships, and more.

University of Missouri – St. Louis
College of Arts and Sciences
St. Louis, Missouri

Website

umsl

Bachelor of Liberal Studies (on-campus, online)

Total Estimated Cost: $45,480

Cost Per Credit: $379 (in-state), $1,019 (out-of-state)

  • Ranked first in the state for its online bachelor’s degree programs by U.S. News & World Report in 2020
  • Superb record of student success includes a 94% employment/graduate school rate post-graduation

The University of Missouri – St. Louis’ Bachelor of Liberal Studies is where you have the freedom to choose your own educational path. Choose from on-campus or online delivery and then design a program that best reflects your personal and professional goals and preferences. This highly customizable program boasts diverse coursework and concentration options that allow you to create an interdisciplinary program that meets your unique needs! Whether you’re preparing for graduate study, starting your career, or pursuing a new one, you’ll find everything you need for success through UMSL. We love this program for its dedicated faculty, most of whom are actively engaged in research and scholarship; for its status as a Tier I national research university (U.S. News & World Report); and for its ethnically and culturally diverse student body of more than 15,000.

University of Toledo
College of Education, Humanities, and Social Sciences
Toledo, Ohio

Website

university toledo

BA/BS in Liberal Studies (on-campus, online, hybrid)

Total Estimated Cost: $45,480

Cost Per Credit: $379 (in-state), $691 (out-of-state)

  • Also offers: Master of Liberal Studies
  • Fully customizable program allows students to work with an advisor to create a program that best meets their personal and professional goals
  • Your choice of online or on-campus courses

Yes, you can design a liberal arts degree that’s uniquely you! Choose a concentration that best meets your professional and personal goals and then choose to take those classes either on-campus or online – or both! Working with your personal advisor, you’ll choose from 26-29 electives to create a program that’s built with you in mind. The University of Toledo’s BA/BS in Liberal Studies allows students like you to earn a degree that’s built on seminar-formatted, student-driven classes and focused on creating an interdisciplinary skillset that’ll prepare you for graduate study and/or make you a valuable asset to your current or future employer.

Bowling Green State University – Main Campus
College of Arts and Sciences
Bowling Green, Ohio

Website

bowling green state u

Bachelor of Liberal Studies (on-campus, online)

Total Estimated Cost: $50,630

Cost Per Credit: $415 (in-state), $681 (out-of-state) 

  • Outstanding record of student success includes a 97% employment rate within six months of graduation
  • Exceptional personalized learning environment includes a low, 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio

The Bachelor of Liberal Studies through Bowling Green State University comes complete with a customizable curriculum and your choice of online or on-campus courses for the best in convenience and flexibility! You’ll love the online program if you’re a busy, working professional, as it features an asynchronous format that allows you to log in and complete your work at your convenience. We love the engaging atmosphere of these online courses that allow students to connect with their peers via blogs and discussion boards. Whether you choose on-campus or online study, you’ll benefit from the Bowling Green State University experience, which has been consistently recognized for its academic rigor and student success. Can’t get any better than that!

Northeast Region

Westfield State University
Liberal Studies Department
Westfield, Massachusetts

Website

westfield state university

BA/BS in Liberal Studies (on-campus, online)

Total Estimated Cost: $45,240

Cost Per Credit: $377 (in-state), $580 (out-of-state)

  • Outstanding learning atmosphere includes a low, student-to-faculty ratio of just 15:1
  • Exciting study abroad opportunities available to more than 35 countries

Westfield State University’s BA/BS in Liberal Studies is fully customizable, allowing broad-minded, progressive learners like you to design a program that’s uniquely you. You’ll work alongside an academic advisor to either choose three areas of concentration (called the multidisciplinary track) or select courses to custom-tailor a curriculum that best match your personal and professional goals (called the interdepartmental track). Learning here is always active and exciting, thanks to hands-on experiences like internships, fieldwork, practicums, and study abroad opportunities. This interdisciplinary course of study also complements the school’s teacher licensure programs in early childhood, elementary, middle school, and special education.

University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth
College of Arts and Sciences
Dartmouth, Massachusetts

Website

umass dartmouth

BA in Liberal Arts (on-campus, online)

Total Estimated Cost: $57,600

Cost Per Credit: $480 (in-state), $1,005 (out-of-state) 

  • Also offers 4+1 BA/BS-MAT teacher preparation program
  • Blended and fully online courses available for the best in flexibility and convenience
  • Exciting opportunities for study abroad experiences and undergraduate research

Both inside and beyond the classroom, learning experiences within UMASS Dartmouth’s BA in Liberal Studies are nothing but exceptional. Take introductory courses to get a feel of which concentrations best align with your personal and professional goals (you’ll choose two concentrations), work with faculty across the university’s departments, and complement your program with an academic minor or through internships, service-learning opportunities, and study abroad experiences. Whether on-campus or online, UMASS Dartmouth liberal studies bachelor’s degree provides students with the opportunity to explore the humanities, the social sciences, and progressive, interdisciplinary programs like sustainability studies and women’s and gender studies, thereby producing worldly graduates whose broad skillset makes them valuable players in today’s society.

Framingham State University
College of Arts and Humanities
Framingham, Massachusetts

Website

framingham state university

Bachelor of Liberal Studies (online)

Total Estimated Cost: $44,760

Cost Per Credit: $373 (in-state), $576 (out-of-state) 

  • Awarded the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award every year since 2014- that’s more than any other public university in Massachusetts
  • Named a Smithsonian Affiliate – partners with the Smithsonian to share collections, exhibitions, learning opportunities, and research experiences

The Framingham State University BA in Liberal Studies produces skilled collaborators, critical thinkers, problem solvers, and communicators. Whether your interests lie in future graduate study or career preparation in areas like education, business, and the arts, this program offers a truly interdisciplinary course of study that can be designed as a General Studies concentration (by choosing eight concentration courses from two to three academic departments) or an Individualized Studies concentration (by choosing eight concentration courses in any area, with approval from the Liberal Studies Advisory Group). With an average class size of just 20 and a low, student-to-faculty ratio of just 13:1, personalized learning and individual attention are standard fare. Get a head start through Framingham’s Prior Learning Assessment Credit, which grants students up to eight course credits for learning that took place outside of the classroom. Your community service, employment, military service, educational travel, and more can earn you college credits here!

University of New Hampshire – Main Campus
Department of Music
Durham, New Hampshire

Website

university new hampshire

BA in Music, Liberal Studies Option (on-campus)

Total Estimated Cost: $62,040

Cost Per Credit: $517 (in-state), $1,125 (out-of-state)

  • Also offers: MA in Liberal Studies
  • Named a Top-Tier Research Institution by the Carnegie Classification
  • Outstanding undergraduate success rate of 93% (according to a student survey)

The University of New Hampshire’s BA in Music is an interdisciplinary approach to music education, providing students with a broad examination of everything from music in world cultures to music history to music theory and analysis. And with the addition of a foreign language, UNH’s BA in Music serves as excellent preparation for future graduate study! This program boasts a nationally and internationally renowned faculty, outstanding opportunities to conduct research through the Undergraduate Research Conference, and exceptional ensembles that include orchestras, bands, touring chamber groups, and choral groups. And if you aspire to travel internationally, you’ll be happy to know that UNH offers an exchange program in Cardiff, Wales!

William Paterson University
College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
Wayne, New Jersey

Website

william paterson university

BA in Liberal Studies (online)

Total Estimated Cost: $56,880

Cost Per Credit: $474 (in-state), $754 (out-of-state)

  • Ranked among the Top Public Schools in the North by U.S. News & World Report in 2021
  • Superb opportunities for undergraduate research and experiential learning

Adult learners take note – William Paterson University’s BA in Liberal Studies is designed to take your career in a whole new direction! This interdisciplinary course of study is offered in a convenient and flexible online format that’s perfect for busy, working professionals and for those with geographic limitations. Select two of the nine offered tracks and then round out your online program with a capstone project aimed at a research topic of interest. You’ll love William Paterson for its small campus community that boasts top-notch attention from a faculty of esteemed mentors. Small class sizes, plentiful opportunities for research and experiential learning, and an alumni network of no less than 76,000 make William Paterson a gem in the Garden State!

Rowan University
College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Glassboro, New Jersey

Website

rowan university

BA in Liberal Studies, Humanities/Social Science (online)

Program Sequence A:

Program Sequence B:

Total Estimated Cost: $57,480

Cost Per Credit: $479 (in-state), $780 (out-of-state)

  • Designed as a bachelor completion program for students with at least 24 college credits
  • Fully online, part-time format delivers on convenience and flexibility for adult learners
  • Optional sequences for teacher certification in early childhood and elementary education

Rowan University is home to the esteemed BA in Liberal Studies, offered as fully online bachelor completion program for students with at least 24 college credits. Choose one Program Sequence A and one Program Sequence B (or two Program A sequences) and you’ll earn a degree that’s designed with your specific personal and professional goals in mind. This flexible course of study is designed for adult learners who want to complete their undergraduate education and either take their careers to the next level or in a whole new direction. We love this program for its thoughtfully designed curriculum that’s focused on Rowan’s Philosophy and PR in the Workplace – a rich selection of courses aimed at interpersonal awareness, communication, and cultural sensitivity. Offered in a part-time format and designed in eight-week modules, you’ll complete your BA in Liberal Studies in just seven semesters!

Montclair State University
University College
Montclair, New Jersey

Website

montclair state university

BA in Liberal Studies (online)

Total Estimated Cost: $49,320

Cost Per Credit: $411 (in-state), $681 (out-of-state)

  • Named New Jersey’s Best Public University by Forbes
  • Outstanding support and guidance ensure a highly focused course of study that can be completed in as little as 18 months

Montclair State University’s BA in Liberal Studies is online, accelerated, flexible, and supportive, offering adult learners like you the best of the best as your undergraduate pathway in the liberal arts. Thanks to a focused curriculum and outstanding guidance from a success coach and personal advisors, you’ll stay on track at all times and complete your program in as little as 18 months! And with fully online courses that are delivered in convenient, eight-week terms, you’ll earn your degree without setting foot on campus. It’s innovative programs like this that have earned Montclair State the title of New Jersey’s Best Public University by Forbes!

Temple University
College of Liberal Arts
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Website

temple university

BA in Liberal Studies (on-campus, hybrid)

Total Estimated Cost: $67,650

Cost Per Credit: $550 (in-state), $990 (out-of-state)

  • Also offers: Master of Liberal Arts
  • Outstanding opportunities to study abroad at Temple’s Rome and Tokyo campuses
  • Choose from on-campus courses at Temple’s main campus and Ambler and City Center campuses and a variety of online courses

Temple University has always been a beacon of educational excellence in Pennsylvania, and its BA in Liberal Studies continues this legacy of excellence. Choose the BA in Liberal Studies here and you’ll have the opportunity to design a program that best reflects your personal and professional goals. Specifically designed for the nontraditional, adult learner, the BA in Liberal Studies offers on-campus courses at the main campus and at its Ambler and City Center campuses, along with a nice variety of online courses. Simply choose between the Humanities or Social Science track and then choose a single subject area on which you’ll focus your degree. Interested in taking your degree to the next level? Choose among Temple’s 22 undergraduate certificate programs and/or study abroad for an academic year, semester, or summer to places like China, Germany, Ghana, and Italy or at Temple’s Rome and Tokyo campuses.

Northern Vermont University
NYU – Lyndon
Johnson, Vermont

Website

northern vermont university

BA in Liberal Studies (on-campus)

Total Estimated Cost: $46,320

Cost Per Credit: $386 (in-state), $856 (out-of-state) 

  • Also offers: MA in Liberal Studies
  • Theme-based degree program allows students to design a bachelor’s degree around several fields of interest
  • Outstanding opportunities for study abroad experiences

Northern Vermont University offers a unique, theme-based approach to the interdisciplinary bachelor’s degree in liberal arts. Instead of focusing on just one area, you’ll choose a theme that integrates several fields. Primary and secondary focuses, plenty of exciting electives to choose from, and outstanding support and guidance from a dedicated faculty made Northern Vermont’s BA in Liberal Studies a shoo-in for our top program list. And if you want to add a global emphasis to your liberal studies experience, you’ll be pleased to know that NVU offers an exciting variety of semester- and year-long study away programs to places like Spain, South Africa, Italy, Ireland and language immersion programs to places like France, Spain, Germany, China, and Japan.