Jun 23, 2024  
2019-2020 Graduate Bulletin 
2019-2020 Graduate Bulletin [ARCHIVED PUBLICATION]

Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS)

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Graduate Studies  >>  College of Liberal Arts  


Program Description

Interdisciplinary program in the liberal arts and sciences that emphasizes information literacy, cultural and data literacy and effective communication skills to enable students to apply analytical skills and content knowledge effectively in diverse situations.

Admission Requirements

To be considered for admission to the MALS program, the following is required:

  1. Resume
  2. Written statement of candidate interest (500 words maximum)
  3. Recommendations from 3 individuals who know the candidate well
  4. Interview with the MALS director (if considered necessary)
  5. Application to Graduate Studies
  6. Non-refundable application fee
  7. Official undergraduate and graduate transcripts

Admission Deadlines

July 15 for fall semester start; November 15 for spring or summer semester start.

Curriculum (33 hours)

The Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degree requires 33 credit hours of graduate-level work. Students must maintain a grade average of B (3.0) or better in the program. No course with a grade lower than C (2.0) will be counted toward the degree.

1. Core Courses (12 hours)

The core courses are required of all students. At least three of the four core courses must be completed with final grades of B or better. Each core course focuses on a broad social science, humanities, or natural science topic while also providing a graduate-level introduction to that way of thinking. The rigor of the course will be in keeping with a graduate-level seminar, while also remaining accessible to students whose past academic work is from a different area.

Information Literacy and Research

Program goals: recognizing the need for information, using valid research methods and resources to locate relevant information, assessing evidence and data for validity and credibility, incorporating information into professional work.

Data Literacy

Program goals: locate, assess, analyze, and apply data in a variety of contexts and formats, such as graphs, charts, tables, and other visualizations. 

Cultural Literacy

Program goals: identify and interpret the complex elements important to their own and other cultures, recognize the intellectual and emotional dimensions of more than one worldview, and communicate information that reflects understanding of multiple cultural and/or ideological perspectives.

Effective Communication

Program goals: create sophisticated work in multiple modalities (e.g. text, images, audio, etc.) that develops and expresses ideas focused on the needs of the audience to increase its knowledge, foster understanding, or promote a change in its attitudes. 

2. Electives/individual program of study (15-18 hours)

The number of required electives in the individual program of study is determined by the type of capstone experience chosen by the student:

  • Students completing the capstone portfolio (Option 1) will complete 18 hours of electives
  • Students completing the capstone project/thesis (Option 2) will complete 15 hours of electives

The program director will consult with each student about appropriate courses to include in an individual program of study. At least 9 hours of the individual program of study must be taken from 600-level LBST courses, which are designed specifically for the program; only six of these hours can be supplied by core curriculum courses. Other choices can be made from among graduate-level courses offered by individual academic departments and by other graduate programs as permitted. An Independent Study course may be taken in some circumstances when faculty expertise is available. Up to 12 hours of appropriate work from other institutions could count toward the degree with the approval of the program director.

3. Capstone Experience (3-6 hours)

In addition to working with the student in developing a coherent course of study, the program director also will help the student decide on the appropriate Capstone Experience.

Capstone Portfolio (Option 1, 3 hours)

Students choosing this option will take 18 hours of elective courses and will enroll in LBST 695 once they have completed a minimum of 27 hours in the program. Students will create a portfolio that will be reviewed by the program director and a minimum of two graduate faculty. The student will select artifacts from courses taken in the MALS program that best demonstrate their competency in the areas of the core curriculum: 1) Information literacy and research; 2) data literacy; 3) cultural literacy; and 4) effective communication. No more than two of these artifacts may come from core curriculum courses. The portfolio will include a cover letter, resume, extended reflective essay synthesizing their work in the program, plan for continuing career or personal development or community engagement, and the selected artifacts. A committee composed of the program director and two graduate faculty members will review the portfolio and interview the candidate.

Capstone Project or Thesis (Option 2, 6 hours)

About midway through the program, students selecting this option will propose a project/thesis topic and have that topic approved by the program director. Students who have completed a minimum of 24 graduate hours may enroll in LBST 697  where they will focus on project planning and design of a substantial independent project/thesis that is of graduate quality and sophistication. Students will create a formal project or thesis proposal, bibliography (if appropriate), and timeline for completion; they will also provide evidence that they have access to required collections, venues, or organizations, and, if necessary, will show that they meet IRB requirements. Upon successful completion of LBST 697 , students may enroll in LBST 698 , where they will complete the proposed project or thesis under the direction of a graduate advisor. A completed capstone project must contain a tangible final project (summary report, recording, museum installation, script, computer program, etc.), which a completed thesis must meet standards of scholarship commensurate with a sustained, original investigation at the graduate level. Final projects and theses will be reviewed by the faculty advisor and a minimum of two other graduate faculty members chosen by the student and the faculty advisor with the approval of the program director.

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