Bachelor of Liberal Studies

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 major 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.

Coursework

Getting started

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.

For a full list of minors and certificate programs available through the College of Arts and Sciences, check your Bulletin or talk with your academic advisor.

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.

Honors

High-achieving students may be recognized for Academic Excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences or be eligible for admission to the Hutton Honors College.

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:

Internships

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 60 languages.

Below is a sampling of language study resources available to students at IU Bloomington:

Overseas study

Study abroad is an important part of undergraduate education in an increasingly globalized world. Liberal Studies students often pursue language study and other coursework through a variety of programs offered through the Office of Overseas Study.

Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations through conversation with faculty, your academic advisor, and the Office of Overseas Study.

Student groups

The Student Involvement & Leadership Center connects students to activities that promote civility, leadership, citizenship, and inclusion.

Explore beINvolved to connect with any of the 750+ student organizations that already exist, or to start a new one.

Volunteer opportunities

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:

Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations.

Professional organizations

Use the Indiana University Library system to search Associations Unlimited, an online directory of associations, professional societies, nonprofit organizations, and much more.

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 abilities, as identified by the 11 Goals of the College of Arts and Sciences:

  • Achieve the genuine literacy required to read, listen, speak, and write clearly and persuasively
  • Learn to think critically and creatively
  • Develop intellectual flexibility and breadth of mind
  • Discover ethical perspectives
  • Cultivate a critically informed appreciation of literature and the arts
  • Practice and apply scientific methods
  • Learn to reason quantitatively
  • Develop historical consciousness
  • Investigate and study the international community
  • Develop and practice communication skills in public settings
  • Pursue in-depth knowledge of at least one subject

Skills desired by employers

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks employers what skills and qualities they are looking for in recent college graduates.

The following abilities are sought in the job market across many employment sectors:

  • Communicate effectively with persons both inside and outside the organization
  • Work in a team structure
  • Make decisions and solve problems
  • Plan, organize, and prioritize work
  • Obtain and process relevant information
  • Analyze quantitative data
  • Create and/or edit written reports
  • Obtain technical knowledge related to the job
  • Proficiency with computer software programs
  • Ability to persuade or influence others

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.

Your academic advisor and career coach can also help you find ways to strengthen and deepen the knowledge you already have, becoming more prepared for whatever path you select after your college career.

Launch your career

Plan your search

A good starting point for exploring your career options is an appointment with the Liberal Studies career coach.

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.

You might want to take a career course to help you maximize your time at IU. Liberal Studies students should consider taking ASCS-Q 296 College to Career II: Navigate Your Arts and Sciences Experience. The purpose of this course is to give you the opportunity to explore the relationship between your concentration and life after graduation through the lens of marketable skills. 

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.

Talk with College faculty, your academic advisors, and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates of Liberal Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences.

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:

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.

Students with a Liberal Studies degree have enrolled in IU graduate programs in a wide variety of fields at Indiana University Bloomington, Indiana University South Bend and IU Kokomo.

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 programs in the health professions.

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:

Alumni connections

Talk with the academic advisorcareer coach, and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates of this degree.

The IU College of Arts and Sciences organizes alumni events. Check out the IU College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring alumni.

Join and use the IU Alumni Association to remain in touch, network directly, 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 possess 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

Learn more

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.

Learn about our program

Contact our academic advisors:

Kristen Murphy
kramurph@indiana.edu

Stacy Weida
sweida@iu.edu

Department website
Advisor email address
blsadv@iu.edu