2020 Best Colleges Badge

25 Best Associate in Liberal Arts Colleges 2020

By the GradReports team | Updated 4/1/2020

The 25 schools on this list offer the best earning potential for liberal arts students earning associate degrees. Median starting salaries for these schools range from $32,900 to $48,200. GateWay Community College students who earned an associate degree in liberal arts had the highest median salary one year after graduation. Students with the lowest median debt post-college were graduates of Central Texas College.

Tuition, median salaries, and median debt were reported by the U.S. Department of Education in November 2019. View our methodology for more details about these rankings or read more about the top-ranked schools.

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Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Rank School Location Annual Tuition Median Debt Median Salary
#1 #1 Phoenix (AZ) Phoenix (AZ) $7,854 $15,000 $48,200
#2 #2 Charles Town (WV) Charles Town (WV) $6,880 $8,821 $45,400
#3 #3 San Marcos (CA) San Marcos (CA) $8,702 Not Reported $44,300
#4 #4 Sheridan (WY) Sheridan (WY) $7,908 $9,646 $43,000
#5 #5 Marion (OH) Marion (OH) $6,822 $11,283 $42,800
#6 #6 Orange Beach (AL) Orange Beach (AL) $6,600 $17,852 $39,900
#7 (tie) #7 (tie) New Britain (CT) New Britain (CT) $9,366 - $10,854 $12,000 $39,500
#7 (tie) #7 (tie) Annandale (VA) Annandale (VA) $11,618 $12,000 $39,500
#9 #9 Trenton (NJ) Trenton (NJ) $9,967 $14,615 $38,000
#10 #10 Killeen (TX) Killeen (TX) $7,050 $4,781 $37,800
#11 #11 Columbia (MO) Columbia (MO) $22,704 $17,181 $37,100
#13 #13 Asheboro (NC) Asheboro (NC) $8,133 Not Reported $36,000
#14 #14 Vincennes (IN) Vincennes (IN) $13,959 $14,056 $35,900
#15 #15 Springfield (IL) Springfield (IL) $9,588 $12,125 $35,700
#16 #16 Mission Viejo (CA) Mission Viejo (CA) $9,392 $6,500 $34,400
#17 #17 Midland (TX) Midland (TX) $5,550 Not Reported $34,400
#18 #18 Troy (AL) Troy (AL) $13,520 $24,834 $34,000
#19 #19 Wellesley Hills (MA) Wellesley Hills (MA) $10,032 $6,329 $33,900
#20 #20 Austin (TX) (and 2 others) Austin (TX) (and 2 others) $13,020 $7,000 $33,800
#21 #21 WV 25136 (WV) WV 25136 (WV) $10,856 Not Reported $33,800
#22 #22 Rome (GA) Rome (GA) $22,370 $24,250 $33,300
#23 #23 Albany (NY) Albany (NY) Not Provided $6,135 $33,200
#24 #24 Thief River Falls (MN) (and 1 other) Thief River Falls (MN) (and 1 other) $5,549 $15,848 $33,200
#25 #25 Duluth (MN) Duluth (MN) $5,166 $14,330 $32,900

2020 Best Colleges Highlights

Learn more about the top colleges for an Associate in Liberal Arts degree. You can also read student reviews of each school by clicking on the stars. Although student reviews were not used as a ranking factor in this list, we provide ratings and reviews so students can consider the experience of alumni in their decision-making process.

#1
Median Salary $48,200
Median Debt $15,000
Annual Tuition $7,854
Graduation Rate 16%
Student Reviews None (Add review)

The Associate in Arts: Arts and Humanities (AA) at Gateway Community College in Phoenix, Arizona offers studies emphasizing art, theater, history, religion, and language.

In this program, students complete two years of coursework; many continue to pursue their four-year degrees at one of Arizona’s three state universities or another university. Students can select from a variety of courses in the subject areas of art, art history, and the humanities. Course titles include Introduction to Cinema, Renaissance through Contemporary Art, Ceramics, Sculpture, and Drawing and Composition. Aspiring artists are given weekly opportunities to showcase their work. Students have access to open studio hours and can submit pieces for college events.

Visit GateWay Community College's website.

#2
Charles Town (WV)
Median Salary $45,400
Median Debt $8,821
Annual Tuition $6,880
Graduation Rate 42%

The American Public University System based in Charles Town, West Virginia, is a four-year, for-profit university that specializes in online education for adult learners and members of the military. The online Associate of Arts in General Studies is a flexible option for those seeking an interdisciplinary approach to higher education. The associate degree may be a precursor for students who wish to continue to a bachelor’s degree. General Studies courses guide students in reading and research, with classes in a wide range of subjects, from English to math. Elective options help students focus their academic interests while developing transferable skills.

Students complete a total of 60 credits in an 8-week, online format. 30 general education requirements combine with 30 general electives to complete the degree. Class titles include Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Applied Reasoning, and Arts and Humanities. Interested candidates must hold a high school degree or GED. There is no application fee, a free transfer credit evaluation, and zero cost for textbooks and eBooks.

Visit American Public University's website

#3
San Marcos (CA)
Median Salary $44,300
Median Debt Not Reported
Annual Tuition $8,702
Graduation Rate 29%

An Associate Degree in General Studies from Palomar College offers three concentrations: Arts and Humanities, Science and Mathematics, and Social and Behavioral Sciences. Based in San Diego, California, Palomar College is a public community institution with extra accommodations for active military members and their families.

Students who are unsure of their next career step can obtain this degree to explore a wide range of courses to hone their academic interest and passion. Candidates may also consider this program as an academic assessment before committing to a four-year degree, especially after time away from school. However, the associate degree in general studies does not guarantee completion of all course requirements for the first two years preceding a bachelor’s degree.

Because of the adaptable nature of the program, students have a breadth of classes from which to choose: foreign languages, digital broadcasting, earth sciences, mathematics, fashion, and many more. Palomar’s associate degrees require two years to complete.

Visit Palomar College's website.

#4
Sheridan (WY)
Median Salary $43,000
Median Debt $9,646
Annual Tuition $7,908
Graduation Rate 45%
Student Reviews None (Add review)

Students pursuing a general studies associate degree from Sheridan College have two options from which to choose: an Associate of Art or an Associate of Science. Part of the Northern Wyoming Community College District (NWCCD), Sheridan College is a public, two-year institution in Sheridan, Wyoming. Because of the wide range of available courses covered in the field of general studies, graduates can prepare for further study or career advancement across numerous disciplines. Whatever their academic focus is, students will learn essential skills, including team building, effective communication, research principles, and problem-solving.

General Studies participants will have access to a large and flexible curriculum. Sheridan College students benefit from small class sizes with individualized support. Most degrees require 60 credit hours to complete. The college offers a range of student services, including tutoring, math and writing centers, counseling and disability services, and career readiness support. Sheridan College’s transfer programs also have a close partnership with the University of Wyoming.

Visit Sheridan College's website.

#5
Marion (OH)
Median Salary $42,800
Median Debt $11,283
Annual Tuition $6,822
Graduation Rate 22%

Marion Technical College (MTC) in Marion, Ohio, offers flexible two-year programs and real-world skills. The Arts and Sciences department offers an Associate of Arts program that prepares students for a bachelor’s degree. Those who are unsure of their future career interests may consider the MTC associate degree as it provides the core curriculum to advance into various four-year programs. Students will take courses ranging from English and art to math and science. All Associate of Art students must complete one lab component.

Interested candidates should expect to take a placement exam that evaluates reading, math, and writing ability. MTC students will receive personalized attention from faculty, as well as advising and tutoring services as needed. MTC values real-world experience, and students will participate in some form of on-the-job practicum, internship, shadowing, or co-op before graduating. MTC’s Career Services offers job search assistance and has transfer agreements with many Ohio universities and colleges.

Visit Marion Technical College's website.