Liberal Studies is a flexible academic plan available to students in the Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree program, allowing students to take a wide variety of courses, full-time or part-time, at a pace that suits them. 

Advantages of a Liberal Studies degree

Enjoy flexibility

Students registered in the Liberal Studies academic plan include:

  • Students transitioning between Arts majors
  • Students who internally transfer into the Faculty of Arts from another UW Faculty
  • Students who externally transfer into the Faculty of Arts after beginning their studies at another University or College
  • Students completing a Bachelor of Arts degree completely online

For students transitioning between majors or seeking to regain standing in a prior major, the Liberal Studies plan provides support for your continuing education with respect to these expectations. For more information see the Arts Declare your Major webpage.

For UW internal faculty transfer students, the Liberal Studies plan enables you to get a start in the Faculty of Arts and establish yourself in an Arts major. For more information see the Transfer to Arts webpage.

For many external transfer students (who arrive with up to 10.0 units of transfer credit from other post-secondary institutions), the Liberal Studies plan offers the opportunity to complete your undergraduate education without having to spend more than an additional two years acquiring credit towards a major plan. For more information see the Arts Transfer students course selection webpage.

Study online

Students taking online courses are an important part of the University of Waterloo's community and each term there are more than 100 Arts courses offered online to help students complete their studies no matter where they are. Online learners are also welcome to utilise most of the resources and support services provided on campus. For more information see the Centre for Extended Learning website here.


The Honours Liberal Studies plan can be completed with co-op, and Honours Liberal Studies co-op can also taken in combination with the Honours Arts and Business co-op academic plan. Note that co-op is not available for students pursuing fully online degrees. Learn more about Arts co-op eligibility and speak with an academic advisor to discuss your eligibility. 

How to apply for Liberal Studies

  • UW Internal Transfer students (from another UW faculty) - review the Arts transfer website and contact the Arts transfer advisor to apply for a transfer to Arts.
  • UW Arts students - submit a plan modification form to request to change from your current academic plan to Liberal Studies.
  • High school students - apply to Honours Arts on OUAC and work with your academic advisor once you are a Waterloo student. 
  • External Transfer students (who have completed some study at a College or University) - apply to Liberal Studies via OUAC

Liberal Studies academic plan requirements

The Faculty of Arts offers an Honours Bachelor of Arts (Liberal Studies) degree as well as 3-Year and 4-Year General Bachelor of Arts (Liberal Studies) degrees. Students pursuing the Honours Liberal Studies academic plan can also combine this with the Arts and Business academic plan.

Students should consult the undergraduate academic calendar for further information about their Liberal Studies requirements. Students pursuing a BA with Liberal Studies must meet common degree requirements, minimum program-level (BA degree) requirements, and plan-level (Liberal Studies) requirements, as well as maintain minimum cumulative averages to be in satisfactory standing. More information about these requirements can also be found in the Liberal Studies section of the BA Degree Requirements page, and students are encouraged to consult with their Liberal Studies academic advisor to plan their studies effectively. 

Academic Advice

Liberal Studies students have access to an academic advisor on main campus, and also at Renison University College and St Jerome’s University College for students co-registered at those institutions.

Your academic advisor can help you understand your degree requirements, choose courses, navigate Quest and LEARN, discuss further education, campus resources and more.

Preparing to study

For students who are resuming their studies after time away from the University, here are some key resources to help you prepare.


    Liberal Studies alumni

    Jennifer in her commencement gown and hoodJennifer

    Jennifer completed a Bachelor of Arts (General) in Liberal Studies, graduating on the Dean’s Honours List and winning the J.D. Leslie Prize, awarded to a graduating student who has achieved a first-class standing and earned at least half of their credits through online courses.