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25 Best Bachelor of Liberal Arts Degrees 2020

By the GradReports team | Updated 2/21/2020

This list showcases the best 25 colleges with a Bachelor's in Liberal Arts, in order of highest median salary for graduates with this major one year after college. Bentley University tops the list with a starting salary of $57,400. The school with the lowest median debt for this degree is third-ranked Excelsior College, with a debt of $8,778. Liberal arts alumni of these schools had median starting salaries in the $39,200-$57,400 range.

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 Waltham (MA) Waltham (MA) $54,910 $25,283 $57,400
#2 #2 Provo (UT) Provo (UT) $6,120 Not Reported $51,800
#3 #3 Albany (NY) Albany (NY) Not Provided $8,778 $46,200
#4 #4 Indianapolis (IN) Indianapolis (IN) $14,436 $25,000 $45,800
#5 #5 Philadelphia (PA) Philadelphia (PA) $47,940 $26,406 $45,600
#6 #6 Manchester (NH) Manchester (NH) $9,600 $12,500 $45,400
#7 #7 Tempe (AZ) (and 4 others) Tempe (AZ) (and 4 others) $29,438 $23,644 $45,300
#8 #8 Bridgeport (CT) Bridgeport (CT) $35,760 $31,000 $45,300
#9 #9 Cincinnati (OH) Cincinnati (OH) $42,460 $23,250 $44,600
#10 #10 Raleigh (NC) Raleigh (NC) $32,450 $22,512 $42,000
#11 #11 Cadillac (MI) (and 8 others) Cadillac (MI) (and 8 others) $12,420 $30,747 $41,900
#12 #12 Baltimore (MD) Baltimore (MD) $39,745 $22,891 $41,600
#13 #13 New Britain (CT) New Britain (CT) $8,902 - $10,654 $16,775 $41,500
#14 #14 Philadelphia (PA) Philadelphia (PA) $57,136 $26,500 $41,400
#15 #15 Moraga (CA) Moraga (CA) $51,768 $26,500 $41,000
#16 #16 Bridgewater (VA) Bridgewater (VA) $38,460 $26,500 $40,900
#17 #17 Providence (RI) Providence (RI) $55,988 $25,000 $40,600
#18 #18 Trenton (NJ) Trenton (NJ) $9,342 $9,805 $40,300
#19 #19 Geneva (NY) Geneva (NY) $60,240 $23,750 $40,300
#20 #20 Farmville (VA) Farmville (VA) $25,730 $23,337 $39,900
#21 #21 San Marcos (TX) San Marcos (TX) $22,559 $23,772 $39,800
#22 #22 Rochester Hills (MI) Rochester Hills (MI) $24,708 $25,000 $39,800
#23 #23 Denton (TX) Denton (TX) $18,186 $22,963 $39,600
#24 #24 Des Moines (IA) Des Moines (IA) $30,864 $18,750 $39,400
#25 #25 Columbia (MO) Columbia (MO) $23,840 $20,000 $39,200

2020 Best Colleges Highlights

Learn more about the top colleges for a Bachelor's 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.

Waltham (MA)
Median Salary $57,400
Median Debt $25,283
Annual Tuition $54,910
Graduation Rate 88%

Bentley University offers an interdisciplinary Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts that allows students to design their own major. Students choose ten courses in consultation with advisers and faculty. The program is designed to allow students to form a major in areas in which Bentley does not have an established major, such as gender studies.

Bentley also has a unique Liberal Studies major that can be undertaken as a dual major for students in a Bachelor of Science program, typically business. Students choosing this dual major must choose a concentration from among eight options. The options include American Studies, Ethics and Social Responsibility, Global Perspectives, and Earth, Environment and Global Sustainability. It’s designed to broaden the cultural and global perspectives of students in the program.

Students in both the liberal arts and the liberal studies majors choose from the same catalog of courses. These courses include Cross-Cultural Understanding, Global Regions, and US Government and Politics. Students will learn about culture, ethics, history, and the arts. Study abroad is encouraged.

Bentley is located in Waltham, Massachusetts, near Boston.

Visit Bentley University's website.

Provo (UT)
Median Salary $51,800
Median Debt Not Reported
Annual Tuition $6,120
Graduation Rate 63%

Brigham Young University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Humanities. This degree requires 56 to 87 credits, depending on the choice of courses.

The program is designed to give students a broad understanding of the arts as modes of human expression. The approach is interdisciplinary and allows students a great deal of choice in creating their programs. Requirements cover music, literature, the fine arts, philosophy, foreign language, and history. A strong emphasis is placed on developing skills in writing, research, and critical thinking. Many students continue on to graduate programs. Students must take at least 12 credits in a specified track; the track options are Art History, English, Environmental Humanities, Foreign Literature, History, Media Arts (Film), Philosophy, or Theater. There is also a foreign language requirement.

Among the courses in the program are Western Humanities: Antiquity to Renaissance, Introduction to Humanities of Asia, Interpretation of Literature and the Arts, and Middle East History from 1800. Study and travel abroad are recommended.

BYU is located in Provo, Utah, in the Salt Lake City area.

Visit Brigham Young University's website.

Albany (NY)
Median Salary $46,200
Median Debt $8,778
Annual Tuition Not Provided
Graduation Rate N/A

Excelsior College has a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts. This 120 credit program is entirely online. It’s designed as a degree completion program. The amount of time it takes to complete depends on the number of credits transferred. Credits can be earned by exam.

There are core and distribution requirements. Sixty credits must be taken in the general arts and sciences, with 21 distributed among humanities, social science/history, and natural science/math. There’s also a required capstone project. Two “depths” of 15 credits each are required; these are linked courses giving students’ programs a breadth of exposure. The program emphasizes critical thinking, communication, ethics and decision making. There are several optional concentrations: Logistics Operations Management, Population Health, Professional and Technical Writing.

Courses will vary depending on a student’s choices. Among them are Writing and Communication in the Health Sciences Professions, Psychosocial Impact of Chronic Illness on Person and Environment, and Scientific and Technical Writing. Students have a wide range of electives to tailor the degree to their specific interests.

Excelsior’s administrative offices are located in Albany, New York.

Visit Excelsior College's website.

Indianapolis (IN)
Median Salary $45,800
Median Debt $25,000
Annual Tuition $14,436
Graduation Rate 28%

Purdue Global offers an online Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies. This is a degree completion for working adults. The program requires 180 credits (on the quarter system). It typically takes two years to complete, depending on course load. After one term, students formulate an Individualized Learning Plan, in consultation with their advisers. Students choose one or more focus areas and formulate goals.

The program accepts transfer credits. Credit may also be awarded, after evaluation, for military training and experiential learning. The program requires general education courses in the arts and humanities, as well as math and science, but allows extensive student selection of electives to shape an individual program. One concentration is available, in Leadership. The concentration requires 24 leadership-related credits.

Courses vary considerably, depending on a student’s interests. Among the courses offered are Communication and Conflict, Reshaping the American Dream, and Communication: Concepts and Skills. For qualified students, there are several accelerated Bachelor’s to Master’s degree options.

Purdue Global is based on Purdue’s home campus in South Bend, Indiana.

Visit Purdue Global's website.

Philadelphia (PA)
Median Salary $45,600
Median Debt $26,406
Annual Tuition $47,940
Graduation Rate 83%

Saint Joseph’s University offers an online Bachelor of Liberal Studies in General Studies. This is a degree-completion program designed for working adults.

The degree requires 120 total credits, of which 45 minimum must be taken from Saint Joseph’s. The required coursework will familiarize students with the arts and humanities. The emphasis is on communication and career-related skills in the context of a liberal arts curriculum.

There are two concentrations available: Autism Studies and Professional Studies. The Autism option will facilitate a career in some aspect of Autism education or care but does not itself lead to any certification. Courses include Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorders and Advanced Applied Behavior Analysis. The Autism option includes three 16-week fieldwork courses and requires a minimum of 1,000 hours of supervised fieldwork. The Professional Studies concentration concerns organizational development topics. Courses include Career and Personal Development and Writing for Organizations.

St, Joseph’s is a Jesuit and Catholic institution. Founded in 1851, it is located in Philadelphia.

Visit Saint Joseph's University's website.