Doctor of Liberal Studies Online Programs

Online PhD in Liberal Arts Programs include an array of unique programs. These range from interdisciplinary and self-constructed programs, to ones focused on individual arts and humanities disciplines. As such, there’s considerable variety in the top paths your studies could take. The majority of these programs are academically inclined, focused on humanities research and higher education. However, some more artistic or professional doctoral programs may also be offered.

Despite being offered online, some programs do still have on-campus requirements, such as short campus residencies, or proposing or defending one’s dissertation. To find out more about the best program format and what may be required, contact the school.

What Is Liberal Arts?

“Liberal Arts” is often used as an umbrella term to describe the family of academic disciplines in the arts and humanities. As a result, many programs you’re already familiar with may fall into this category, including history, writing, literature, language, philosophy, archeology, and law. Liberal arts doctoral programs—also referred to as liberal studies—are often ones that touch on several of these subject areas. That said, the term could also be used to describe a school or department within a university, rather than an individual program.

Types of Liberal Arts Doctoral Programs

Online liberal arts doctoral programs may confer a few different types of degrees, depending on the school, the curriculum, and the overall goals of the program in question. Two such examples are the PhD and the Doctor of Arts.

  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD): The most common doctorate type, PhD programs are academic in nature, often emphasizing research skills and academic writing to advance the field. Students in PhD programs may apply their learning in service to a range of unique goals, from teaching in a university to thought leadership in a variety of careers.
  • Doctor of Arts (DA): A less common degree type, Doctor of Arts programs emphasize expertise in one’s discipline and generally build toward education roles (e.g. teaching in a university) rather than research.

PhD in Humanities Online

A subset of liberal arts, online Humanities PhD program center on human history and culture. As such, subjects that fall within this umbrella include history, philosophy, anthropology, theology, language and linguistics, and other such topics.

Often, students earning a humanities PhD might pick either a single topic of interest (e.g. anthropology), or a specific intersection of topics related to a defined research interest. The specific paths of study afforded to you in an online PhD in Humanities program may vary considerably between schools, so make sure you contact the ones you’re considering for additional details.

Interdisciplinary PhD Programs

Some universities may offer online interdisciplinary PhD programs within their liberal arts departments. This could be pre-defined by the school. That means the course of study has already been established, and it just so happens to fall between several subject areas. However, other schools may enable students to design their own path of study in conjunction with the university, allowing them to pursue their preferred research area even if it doesn’t align neatly with the programs they already offer.

Because interdisciplinary PhD programs encompass such a wide variety of options, it’s important to contact the programs you are interested in to learn more about what’s available.

Philosophy Doctoral programs

Not to be confused with a Doctor of Philosophy (or PhD), philosophy doctoral programs study the nature of knowledge, reality, existence, and human experience. Programs often center on a specific school of philosophy, like existentialism, metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and even politics.

While philosophy programs do spend a great deal of time studying the writing, teachings, and ideas promoted by influential philosophers, doctoral programs may offer students a chance to build on those ideas with original research.

Find Online PhD in Liberal Arts Programs

Begin your search for online PhD in Liberal Arts Programs with! If you’d like to narrow down your options, use the menu to choose your preferred area of study. Click on the name of a program you’re interested in, or the “request info” link to find out more about it.