The Bachelor of Liberal Studies (BLS) is an exciting interdisciplinary degree that provides students with a unique opportunity to study and integrate concepts from the arts, humanities, natural and mathematical sciences, social and historical studies, and professional fields. The BLS degree combines many different programs of study, empowering you to cultivate a broad array of skills while you pursue your particular interests.
The Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree offers flexibility to those who wish to create their own course of study and relish the option of pursuing their interests across multiple fields. Students explore the forms of interaction within and between disciplines. They develop a capacity for critical thinking, while becoming more culturally sensitive, intellectually independent, creative, and versatile.
Students select from three different concentration areas, through which they can tailor their course of study by selecting courses from a variety of departments. Bachelor of Liberal Studies students may pursue up to three minors and add any number of certificates. Many students choose to use both minors and certificates to highlight areas of emphasis in their program of study.
Liberal Studies students should begin by taking a Critical Approaches course. Critical Approaches courses provide an understanding of the different disciplines and concentration areas represented within the Liberal Studies degree.
Each Critical Approaches course offers a wide variety of topics in the arts and humanities, social and historical studies, or natural and mathematical sciences. Talk with the academic advisor about your interests, and read about the various course options on the College of Arts and Sciences website.
Tracks and concentrations
Students majoring in Liberal Studies must select one of three concentration areas:
- The Arts and Humanities (CASE A&H) concentration includes a range of academic disciplines that explore the human experience within cultural and historical contexts throughout the world. CASE A&H courses introduce students to a variety of literary works, visual art and design concepts, cultural artifacts, and musical and dramatic performances, as well as a range of interpretive frameworks for enhancing our understanding of them.
- The Social and Historical Studies (CASE S&H) concentration explores human societies and how historical events shape the world around us. CASE S&H courses help students increase awareness of social institutions and their historical development in diverse local, regional, national, and international contexts, encouraging them to cultivate an appreciation for diversity and multicultural understanding.
- The Natural and Mathematical Sciences (CASE N&M) concentration engages students in the study of diverse physical and biological phenomena, along with the role mathematics plays in science, business, and everyday life. CASE N&M courses will provide students with opportunities to develop the tools necessary for analytical thinking and the interpretation of empirical data using the scientific method.
Check out the College of Arts and Sciences CASE Course Lists page for a comprehensive list of all CASE A&H, CASE S&H, and CASE N&M course options.
Upper level coursework
The Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree allows you to personalize the curriculum according to your own interests. As you identify an area of focus, you develop and deepen competency through upper level coursework.
Liberal Studies students are required to complete a total of 36 credit hours at the upper (300/400) level. Twelve of those hours are for coursework within a chosen concentration area. For complete degree requirements, see the current College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.
Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates
You can enhance your Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree with minors and certificates. Students can select from a variety of minors and certificates to complement their degree, emphasize areas of interest, and further their career goals. For example:
- Interested in Health and Human Services? Consider a concentration in Social and Historical Studies with minors in Psychology and Sociology and a certificate in Criminal Justice.
- Interested in Physical Therapy? Consider a concentration in Natural and Mathematical Sciences with minors in Biology and Chemistry and a certificate in Human Biology.
- Interested in Public Relations, Advertising, and Graphic Design? Consider a concentration in Arts and Humanities with minors in Studio Art, Media and Creative Advertising, and English.
There are many combinations of minors and certificates that can enhance your Liberal Studies degree. Talk with your academic advisor about your interests and goals regarding complementary minors and certificates.
Students interested in business management within the liberal arts may wish to consider the Liberal Arts and Management Program (LAMP). Those interested in political and civic careers may want to consider the Political and Civic Engagement (PACE) certificate.
- Enhance your major
Working with faculty
When pursuing a Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree, you have the opportunity to work with faculty who have expertise and experience in many fields. Take advantage of office hours to talk with your instructors about your performance in class, the content of readings and assignments, and how the course helps you work toward your goals.
As your interests develop, you may want to consider taking an independent readings course under the guidance of faculty. Talk with the academic advisor or your instructors about this possibility.
Students interested in publishing their research may want to submit their findings to the Indiana University Journal of Undergraduate Research (IUJUR), an interdisciplinary annual publication showcasing research from across all of IU's campuses. With a peer and faculty review process, IUJUR provides undergraduate researchers a respected publication in which to publish full-length papers, literature reviews, abstracts, and more.
Undergraduate scholarships and awards
There are several scholarship opportunities specific to Liberal Studies students. Many of these scholarships are for returning adult students who are pursuing a first degree. In most cases, it will be necessary for students to complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in addition to the scholarship application.
Other scholarship opportunities include:
- Boren Awards for International Study
- Cox Access Scholarship
- Office of Overseas Study Scholarships
- PEO Scholarships
- Service-Learning Student Travel Scholarship
Internships offer you a chance to develop both technical and transferable skills while making vital professional contacts with others in the field. Many students begin exploring internship opportunities, including overseas study programs with internships, as early as their freshman year.
Learn more about internships, including the possibility of receiving credit, through the Walter Center for Career Achievement, where you'll find many resources for both domestic and international internships.
Foreign language study
While Liberal Studies students are not required to complete any foreign language study, students are strongly encouraged to engage in language study to enhance their liberal arts education.
As one of the premier institutions in the U.S. for the study of languages, IU Bloomington offers courses and resources in over 80 languages.
Below is a sampling of language study resources available to students at IU Bloomington:
- Arabic Flagship Program
- Center for Language Technology
- Chinese Flagship Program
- Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships
- IU Language Workshop
- Language Tables
- Project GO
- Russian Flagship Program
Study abroad is an important part of undergraduate education in our increasingly interconnected world. Liberal Studies students often pursue language study and other coursework through a variety of programs offered through the Office of Overseas Study.
The College of Arts + Sciences also directly hosts a variety of study abroad programs, some even featuring IU faculty, that might be right for you. Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations through conversation with faculty, your academic advisor, and through the Office of Overseas Study.
Explore beINvolved to connect with any of the 750+ student organizations that already exist, or to start a new one.
There are numerous opportunities for volunteer engagement, allowing you to give back to the local community while developing useful job skills. The organizations below can help you connect with others from the university and beyond:
- Boys and Girls Club of Bloomington
- Bridges: Children, Languages, World
- Buskirk-Chumley Theater
- City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation
- Community Kitchen of Monroe County
- IU Corps
- Lotus Education and Arts Foundation
- Student Involvement and Leadership Center
- WonderLab Museum of Science, Health and Technology
Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations.
- Build your skills
Through the major
The Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree provides you with a set of skills and qualities that are relevant and transferable to many areas of study and work. These include:
- Utilize highly versatile skill sets in order to undertake complex tasks and solve problems
- Analyze relevant information from multiple perspectives using a diverse set of theoretical frameworks and methodologies
- Understand and investigate the causes and consequences of major events and trends on a global scale
- Identify and initiate learning experiences relevant to your personal and career goals, combining them into a coherent program of study
- Inform and interact, both orally and in writing, with experts and non-specialists in a variety of fields
- Develop coherent, evidence-based arguments, defend your own position, and make informed oral and written presentations
- Manage time effectively, prioritizing tasks and working within deadlines
Through a College of Arts and Sciences degree
Your coursework provides many opportunities to develop the following five foundational skills that will serve you well in every career path:
- Question critically
- Think logically
- Communicate clearly
- Act creatively
- Live ethically
These foundational skills will aid you in landing your first job and advancing professionally throughout your working life. Not only are these the skills that employers say they value most in the workplace, they provide the best preparation for lifelong success in a world of complexity, uncertainty, and change.
Skills desired by employers
Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks employers what key skills and qualities they are looking for in recent college graduates.
The following are some of the most commonly desired attributes across many employment sectors:
- Problem-solving skills
- Ability to work in a team
- Written and verbal communication skills
- Leadership skills
- Strong work ethic
- Analytical and quantitative skills
- Ability to take initiative
- Being detail oriented
- Demonstrating adaptability
- Technical skills relevant to the field
- Interpersonal skills
- Computer skills
- Organizational ability
As you explore various career fields, pay attention to specific job descriptions and requirements. If there are areas where your skills or knowledge are lacking, talk with your academic advisor and career coach about how you can develop in those areas while you are at Indiana University.
- Launch your career
Plan your search
The Walter Center for Career Achievement offers job search resources, career courses, job fairs, information about internships and full-time jobs, and help with social media networking through professional organizations. Get advice about how to write your resume, ask for letters of recommendation from faculty and workplace supervisors, and prepare for job interviews, too.
Explore and enroll in Career Communities to learn more about industries relevant to your interests. These offer unique information about each field, including alumni spotlights, opportunities and resources, and in-person events.
Maximize your career preparation with a career course. Liberal Studies students should consider enrolling in ASCS-Q 296 College to Career II: Navigate Your Arts and Sciences Experience. This class provides the opportunity for you to explore the relationship between your field of study and life after graduation, while developing an academic and career development plan for post-collegiate success. Choose the section of the course that best fits your interests and goals: for example, Liberal Studies students pursuing the Arts and Humanities concentration may wish to enroll in the Arts and Humanities section of ASCS-Q 296. If you are considering continuing your studies after graduation, you may wish to enroll instead in the section dedicated to graduate school preparation. Regardless of the section you select, you will leave the class with your resume, a cover letter or personal statement, and a LinkedIn profile ready to go!
The job market
The Bachelor of Liberal Studies (BLS) degree prepares students for work in a wide variety of fields, industries, and work environments. Liberal Studies students can take their broad set of knowledge and skills into hundreds of different fields and career paths.
Students with a BLS degree are well prepared to work in education, human services, public relations, academia, health care, government, and business, just to name a few job sectors.
Graduates with the BLS degree have become educators, attorneys, social workers, doctors, musicians, artists, lobbyists, film makers, nonprofit directors, human resource specialists, consultants, entrepreneurs, and much more.
Want to see where your fellow majors go right after graduating from IU? Check out the Walter Center’s First Destinations survey!
Need more ideas? The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations.
Post-graduate short-term experiences
After graduation, a short-term experience or internship can help you make connections, gain life skills, and assess your interest in future careers. Talk with your career coach and use these and other resources to find opportunities that are a good fit with your educational experience and career goals:
Fellowships for post-graduate study
Fellowships are temporary post-graduate opportunities to conduct research, work in a field, or fund your education. Most opportunities can be found through universities, nonprofits, and government organizations.
Good resources for finding fellowship opportunities include:
- Blakemore Foundation Fellowships
- Boren Awards for International Study
- Cultural Vistas Professional Fellowships
- Fulbright Programs
- Institute for Citizens & Scholars
- Institute of International Education
- IU Fellowships and Awards
- Jacob K. Javits Fellowship
- National Endowment for the Humanities
- USAID Payne International Development Fellowships
Graduate and professional study
When applying to graduate or professional schools, you'll need letters of recommendation from faculty members who are familiar with your work. Make a practice of attending office hours early in your academic career, to get to know your professors and discuss your options for advanced study in the field.
Students pursuing the BLS degree should plan ahead during their undergraduate experience to make appropriate course selections if they wish to be competitive candidates for graduate school or professional study. The BLS degree can prepare you for graduate programs in the arts, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and mathematics.
With careful planning, and in consultation with the Health Professions and Prelaw Center, you could also prepare to enter law school, medical school, or other professional programs.
Students who pursue graduate studies have gone into careers with top academic and research institutions, education, local, state, and federal government, nonprofit organizations, business, and entrepreneurship.
You might consider these Indiana University graduate opportunities:
- Maurer School of Law
- School of Education
- O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs
- School of Social Work
The IU College of Arts and Sciences has thousands of active alumni. Check out the College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring alumni.
Join the Walter Center Success Network to remain in touch, network directly with College of Arts and Sciences alumni, and let others know where your path takes you.
Is it for you?
The Bachelor of Liberal Studies (BLS) degree attracts students with a wide range of backgrounds and interests. They typically have some of the following qualities:
- Broad interests and skills
- Passionate proponents of the art of inquiry
- Resourceful and curious
- Desire to make the most of their academic career
- Innovative, self-motivated learners
- Creative and artistic individuals
Contact a Bachelor of Liberal Studies academic advisor and schedule an appointment to explore your options. Complete information on degree requirements can be found in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.
Contact our academic advisors:
- Department website
- Advisor email address