Link to USI Home Link to College of Liberal Arts Home Liberal Arts banner
Link to USI Home Link 'for Students' Link 'for Prospective Students' Link 'for Alumni and Friends' Link 'for Faculty and Staff'
Master of Arts in Liberal Studies


Program Objectives

Program Requirements

Capstone Project

Contact Us

LA Home

USI Home

General Description and Program Overview

Program Objectives

The Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) provides a postgraduate credential for individuals who seek personal enrichment and whose careers would be enhanced by a formal course of graduate study, but who prefer an interdisciplinary approach. The program is a viable alternative for educators seeking professional development and for meeting state license renewal requirements. In sum, the program provides an opportunity for individuals from a variety of careers to acquire graduate-level skills and knowledge from the perspective of several academic disciplines. The program could be an appropriate step toward further degree work in doctoral interdisciplinary programs, as well as traditional doctorates that prefer interdisciplinary master's work.

It is an ideal program for students seeking a practical education who have a lively interest in intellectual and civic life, as well as personal growth, and enjoy serious discussions with other dedicated students searching for a practical yet meaningful education.

Program Requirements

This is an extremely flexible program that allows students to devise their own program of study within a framework of core classes, electives, and a Capstone Experience, consisting either of a Capstone Project or Capstone Courses. All Core courses meet in late afternoon and evening, as do most electives.

  • The core courses are required of all students.
  • Students must maintain a grade average of B (3.0) or better in the program. At least three of the four core courses must be completed with final grades of B or better. No course with a grade lower than C (2.0) will be counted toward the degree.
  • The Capstone Experience part of the program has two options.


The Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degree requires 33 credit hours of graduate-level work.

  • The Core - 12 hours

The core of the MALS is a series of interdisciplinary seminars, one in each of the Physical Sciences, Social Sciences, the Humanities, and a Capstone Seminar. They are required of all students.

Each core course emphasizes the analysis of a major liberal arts and sciences topic or theme. The rigor of this analysis will be in keeping with a graduate-level seminar. Ample opportunity will be provided for seminar participants to discuss practical applications of their new knowldege.
  • Humanities Seminar  *
  • Social Science Seminar  *
  • Science Seminar  *
  • Capstone Seminar-LBST 610  *

3 hrs.
3 hrs.
3 hrs.
3 hrs.

* These courses are especially designed for the MALS and do not have prerequisites.

  • Individual Program of Courses - 18 hours

A member of the graduate faculty, typically the program director, will consult with each student about appropriate courses to include in an 18-hour individual program of study. Choices can be made from among graduate-level courses offered in the areas of the sciences, social sciences, and humanities, and in some instances, courses from other graduate programs. Independent Study courses are available in some circumstances, and up to 12 hours of appropriate work from other institutions, including graduate level distance education courses, could count toward the degree.**

** Admission into such courses requires consultation with MALS program director and directors of other graduate programs.

  • Capstone Experience - 3-6 hours

    In addition to working with the student in developing a coherent course of study, the graduate advisor also will help the student decide on the appropriate Capstone Experience.
  1. Capstone Project - 6 hours (Option 1)

    About midway through the program, each student who chooses this option should have proposed a project topic and have had that topic approved by the graduate advisor. The project must be of a nature to warrant six hours of graduate credit. Each project will be thoroughly evaluated and approved by at least two members of a committee consisting of the student’s thesis/project advisor and two other members of the graduate faculty. In general, the project should yield a written piece of work, although products such as artistic creations and web-based projects also may be acceptable. Interested students will be encouraged to develop capstone projects which could contribute in some meaningful way to the community. The project will stress problem solving and knowledge application and synthesis. Students under this option may also write and present two essays for formal examination. These essays would be similar to a more traditional master’s thesis and would normally consist of revised and expanded work from previous courses. In some instances, a thesis of significant breadth would be acceptable. (LBST 697 & LBST 698)

  2. Capstone Courses - 6 hours (Option 2)

    This option consists of six hours of Capstone courses: the Capstone Elective and the required core course Capstone Graduating Seminar (LBST 610). The Capstone courses are taken in the second half of the student’s program. The Capstone Elective can be any approved 600-level LBST course.

  3. Capstone Links: