Master of Arts in Liberal Studies
The Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (M.A.L.S.) is designed for educators, artists, writers, activists, advocates, lifelong learners and others who, in collaboration with their faculty mentor, want to create the design and focus of their own unique graduate degree plan. These are people with experience, imagination and creativity — active learners who value an interdisciplinary sequence of studies focused on a central theme, concept or issue.
The M.A. in liberal studies is a highly individualized program consisting of 12 3-credit courses. Your program begins with two courses that provide the tools you need to understand and adopt the perspectives of multiple disciplines. These courses are intended to help you explore the questions and topics of interest to you that are central to your individualized degree plan.
- Seminar in Liberal Studies: examine the nature and value of liberal study
- Models of Critical Inquiry: develop the skills necessary for graduate-level critical reading, writing and thinking
- Perspectives on Interdisciplinary Studies: explore interdisciplinary study and lay the foundation for your educational plan
- Literature Review: review literature relevant to your individual program
- Theory of Methods: master the theory and methods appropriate for your individual program
Take six electives that reflect and reinforce the focus of your degree.
Your final project can be a thesis, practicum, creative project or series of papers. You work with your faculty mentor to produce a project that integrates your course work and reflects your individual focus.
Explore this website for more details or submit a request for information.
Program Chair: Mark Soderstrom, PhD, Mark.Soderstrom@esc.edu
The distinctive feature of the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies is that you have the freedom to design a highly individualized, interdisciplinary program in your own focused area of interest. You can pursue an intellectual or creative interest and develop theoretical understandings by approaching that interest from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. The disciplines must be drawn primarily from the liberal arts (e.g., the humanities, social sciences and/or natural sciences).
Every Liberal Studies degree program is unique. Nonetheless, there are some common approaches to designing programs.
- The Creative Project Approach — Perhaps you have a large project in mind. It may be a book, either fiction or nonfiction, or it may be an artistic work that can be produced, performed or exhibited. This program can help you achieve your goal. Each of the electives planned will be a step that leads to a final project. With the support of faculty who will guide and coach you, you can acquire the knowledge and tools needed to actualize your project. Examples of such projects include a book on utopian thought, a novella about an elderly woman, a “tree of life” quilt.
- The Thematic Approach — Perhaps you have a topic of special interest. You may be interested in the lives of college students, Elizabethan England, the study of leisure or the family in contemporary society. Each of the electives can address a different aspect of the theme. For example, you can do electives on the psychology, history, art, biology, philosophy or politics of your theme. The final project for the program can be an in-depth look at some aspect of the theme. You may not have a definite idea for a final project when you begin the program, but it can emerge as electives are completed.
- The Professional Approach — This program is fundamentally liberal and interdisciplinary in nature, rather than professional and applied. Yet some students find that liberal studies can meet their professional needs. There are many graduate programs that will help develop professional skills (e.g., M.Ed., M.B.A., M.S.W.). The M.A. in Liberal Studies is different: it allows you to view your field from a broad social and historical perspective, to explore alternative perspectives, and to draw upon a variety of disciplines to enrich your professional practice. Often a final project will be of an applied nature: a practicum on commercial theater, development of an online program or a plan for a holistic health center, to give some examples.
Admission to the M.A. in Liberal Studies program is selective. This program begins new students in the fall and spring terms only.
Apply for Admission
To apply for the M.A. in liberal studies, review the admissions requirements and submit an online application.