What is a Liberal Studies Degree?

What is a Liberal Studies Degree?

The word “liberal” in education often throws people off because they are thinking in political terms. However, liberal studies are not political, aside from studying this discipline from a historical perspective.

Being liberal from an academic perspective means that one is a broad-based thinker who has learned to communicate effectively in a variety of ways. Preparing people for leadership is often the foundation for a liberal studies program.

Not surprisingly, perhaps no single skill is more critical to employers today than the ability to articulate ideas clearly, persuasively and coherently about yourself, your ideas and your research. This is the hallmark of a liberal studies education.

Teaching students how to think critically

Learning to think involves reading, writing, listening, speaking and remembering. Liberal studies coursework teaches these skills by centering on academic disciplines that examine the human condition. Classes are offered in subjects like literature, history, philosophy, psychology, religion, visual and performing arts, to name just a few.

These disciplines teach analytical and critical thinking. Learning to think and write in this way allows you to solve complex problems and interact in a positive way with colleagues. Surveys have shown that employers believe students with a broad-based education possess strong characters and the intellectual ability to become lifelong learners – a vital component in today’s world.

Liberal studies programs allow students to chose an area of study that is of interest to them, so often no two degree plans are exactly the same. You may hear the word “interdisciplinary” in relation to a liberal studies degree program. This simply means that you will study a combination of the various humanities disciplines.

Here are a few liberal arts grads whose names you might recognize:

  • John F. Kennedy, 35th president of the United States, earned a history degree in international affairs.
  • Brian Lamb, founder of and CEO of C-SPAN, graduated with a degree in speech and communication.
  • Sally Ride, first American female astronaut, has a bachelor’s degree in English.
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The College of Professional and Continuing Studies is a fully accredited academic unit of the University of Oklahoma, offering 100% online, hybrid and onsite degrees for working adults and non-traditional students.