Liberal Studies Graduate Program Curriculum

Master of Arts Degree in Liberal Studies

The Master’s Program in Liberal Studies supports the varied interests of students pursuing graduate study in a variety of areas across the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. The program is focused on issues in contemporary cultural theory in a global context. Students in the program pursue an individualized course of study, focused on a particular problem or area of intellectual interest, to be defined in consultation with the program Director and participating faculty. While the areas of study are flexible and open, particularly invited are students who are interested in issues of pressing concern that cut across disciplinary boundaries – postcolonial studies; globalization; new media; race, gender and ethnicity; human rights; literary and cultural theory; feminist theory; politics, law and culture; and similar areas of work, all of which are reconfiguring the boundaries of contemporary liberal education.

Unlike most Liberal Studies programs in the United States, this program is designed for students who intend to go on to further doctoral work, or who intend to use their particular research interests as a platform for the development of their careers. This program has a national and international orientation and services students who are interested in developing an international perspective on challenging issues in contemporary social and cultural theory.

Requirements for Admission

Applications to the M.A. in Liberal Studies should be submitted to the Graduate Education Office by the appropriate deadline, so that students may begin coursework in the first semester after they are admitted to the program.

Completed applications must include (1) transcripts of all previous undergraduate and graduate-level work, (2) GRE scores, (3) a TOEFL score (for non-native speakers), (4) at least three letters of recommendation, (5) a statement of purpose that explains the applicant’s intellectual goals and interest in this program, and (6) a sample of critical writing.

Regarding financial aid: due to limited university funding, assistantship support is not available for Liberal Studies students.

Program Leading to the Master of Arts Degree (30 credits, minimum)

The program of study, designed in consultation with the Director of Liberal Studies and participating program faculty, is directed toward the student's interests and specific career objectives. It consists of the following:

(1) Two core requirements (6-8 credits), which include one course from the list of approved core courses in Humanities, and one course from the list of approved core courses in the Social Sciences, or appropriate alternate courses as advised. These core courses are typically “field courses,” or surveys of a broad disciplinary area, designed as introductory courses for graduate students in a variety of disciplines. Full time students must complete the core courses during their first year of study. Part-time students will complete them as advised.

(2) Elective courses selected in consultation with the Director or a designated faculty advisor (minimum 18 credits), which may include GLS 697 (Directed Readings, 1-4 credits), and which must include at least 2 courses at the 600 level (6-8 credits). Electives must also include courses in at least two departments.

(3) GLS 699 Master’s Thesis (4 credits). This independent research project is based on (but not reducible to) the student’s course work. This thesis is designed in consultation with a minimum of two full-time faculty supervisors, and must be approved by the program Director

Students are not permitted to register for GLS 699 until they have (1) identified a thesis committee of at least two full-time faculty members who agree to serve as first and second readers; and (2) submitted a written thesis prospectus of 8-10 pages, with a supporting bibliography of at least 25 items, that outlines the research project and is formally approved in writing by the thesis committee and the Director of Liberal Studies. It is therefore imperative that students submit the approved prospectus during the semester before they expect to write the thesis, ideally at the time of pre-registration.

The final research thesis represents the culmination of the degree. It provides evidence of the student’s academic work, and will be used to represent the student for any further doctoral program applications and/or employment following completion of the degree. In planning this thesis, students should begin to formulate a research topic as early as possible in their course of study, and should choose their individual courses accordingly. Students may also find it useful to compile and revise annotated bibliographies as a way to help define their area of study. Other recommendations will be made by the thesis committee as appropriate. 

Combined Baccalaureate-Master’s Degree Program

Qualified undergraduates may apply for admission to the combined B.A. English/M.A. in Liberal Studies or B.A. Art History/M.A. in Liberal Studies program and, if accepted, simultaneously work toward completion of the requirements for both undergraduate and graduate degrees. See Combined Baccalaureate-Master's Degree Programs page for details. Students are able to double count up to 12 graduate credits towards both the undergraduate and graduate degree requirements.