One of the most commonly used and least understood phrases in higher education is liberal arts. It seems to be a sort of catch-all do describe quite a few areas of study, but what’s at the heart of liberal arts? And why do so many students choose to pursue it?
Interestingly, the liberal arts as we now understand them have their roots in Ancient Greece. These arts were the skills and subject matter that were considered an essential part of active civic life. In other words, if you wanted to become a productive citizen – whether in the military, a career in the courts, or to simply hold your own in public debate or discourse – you had to have not only a familiarity, but a proficiency with these skills.
The final product of a liberal arts education was a well-rounded, intellectually emboldened citizen who possessed a strong grasp of logic and reason, rhetoric, and grammar. Later on, following medieval times, these were joined by music, astronomy, geometry, and mathematics.
It’s a shame, then, that in modern times the phrase liberal arts is so often misunderstood, and even used derisively in some cases.
For the modern student, pursuing a career in the liberal arts can mean a great many different things to different people. Today, a liberal arts education can vary from college to college; sometimes it may be a general education, while other times it involves a very specific focus. There are, however, four general branches:
- Humanities education
- Mathematical-scientific education
- Modern languages
- Economical and social-scientific education
The end result of an undergraduate education in the liberal arts is typically a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree. One of the most attractive qualities of a liberal arts education is the fact that the teaching style emphasizes close interaction between students and instructors. To that end, classes are typically kept small.
Degrees in writing, language studies, and musical education make up a significant portion of the liberal arts offerings of modern colleges, though liberal arts colleges typically offer a wide variety of majors to choose from. For many students, an undergraduate education in the liberal arts is a great stepping stone towards grad school should they want to narrow their focus even further later on.
Of course, there’s no reason why a liberal arts education can only be completed in a “traditional” brick-and-mortar university. The best online schools are now offering a great selection of courses in the liberal arts, allowing you to earn your BA or BS from the comfort of your own home.
To find the online colleges that will best fit your needs, make eCollegeFinder the first step toward earning your degree. Whatever your current education level, you can easily pursue the degree of your choosing from beginning to end, all without relocating to a different city or changing your current living conditions.
The advantages of attending an online college are many, not the least of which is the less imposing investments of time and money, as compared with a traditional college. You can earn the same degree for less money, and in some cases even less time; many online colleges allow for the completion of coursework at an accelerated rate.
Visit eCollegeFinder today and take the first steps toward a bright new future.
Photo Courtesy of Earlham College via Flickr