Purpose of the MALS Program

The Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program is designed for students who possess a strong desire for intellectual growth and challenge and show an interest in interdisciplinary research. It offers students individualized programs of graduate study that transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries and yet lie squarely within the venerable tradition of liberal education. Students study the "great ideas" that have shaped the disciplines, and learn how to integrate methods and information from distinct disciplines.

Overview and Program Requirements

Thirty-three semester credit hours of course work and a cumulative GPA of 3.0 are required for the MALS degree. A maximum of 9 graduate credits may be used to satisfy both the undergraduate and graduate degrees. All double counted courses must be at a 5000 level or higher. The curriculum spans three sets of activities:

  • Three or four Great Ideas Seminars (9 hours minimum),
  • An Interdisciplinary Concentration consisting of at least six courses (18 hours minimum),
  • A Capstone Project (3 or 6 hours).

The Great Ideas Seminars examine the books, theories, and discoveries that have had the greatest influence on the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities. If students are to understand the interrelatedness of the disciplines, they must understand the ideas that have shaped those disciplines. In addition, the Great Ideas Seminars are specifically designed to teach a variety of interdisciplinary research skills.

Interdisciplinary Concentrations consist of courses in at least three distinct disciplines. These courses must be unified by a theme chosen by the student in consultation with an advisor. Dozens of different themes are available, including among others, "Atlantic Civilizations," "Conflict Resolution," "Ethics and the Environment," "International Development," and "Gender Studies."

The Capstone Project is either a Master's Essay (3 hours) or a Master's Thesis (6 hours) on a topic related to the unifying theme of a student's Interdisciplinary Concentration. It must demonstrate both mastery of the chosen topic and the ability to address that topic from interdisciplinary perspectives.