Skip to content
Contact USI
30 Credit Hours
100% Online
Starts a Year
3 Concentrations

Applications Closed

Our Major in Liberal Studies Prepares You for Any Career

Employers value skill and knowledge. With USI’s Masters of Arts in Liberal Studies, you will gain practical skills and interdisciplinary knowledge that are transferable to every job.

At USI, you will become a self-sufficient learner who can reason effectively in our rapidly changing world. Choose from two concentrations within our Master of Liberal Studies online program — Historical Inquiry and Professional Studies — or pursue independent study.

Our affordable and flexible Master of Liberal Studies online degree is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Our degree will teach you to:

  • Communicate effectively with diverse populations and stakeholders.
  • Analyze and use data to tell a story.
  • Develop conclusions from evidence.
  • Recognize and celebrate different cultural perspectives.
  • Research subjects and verify credible information.
  • Apply knowledge across multiple disciplines.

Our faculty includes published authors in their research fields who will guide your student research. Faculty members are engaged in projects with the public and local community.

At USI, our faculty keeps you engaged with practical, real-world content. You will delve into challenging courses in 7- and 16-week formats, ensuring you will always be learning something new as you major in Liberal Studies.

As a working professional, you will appreciate that our flexible Master of Liberal Studies online degree allows you to attend part- or full-time.

Tuition & Fees    Get Started!

Open New Career Doors: Masters of Arts in Liberal Studies

When you major in Liberal Studies, you can advance in your current career. Your skills and experience will also prepare you for a multitude of careers, such as:

  • Archivist
  • Community college adjunct instructor
  • Professional writer
  • Secondary school history teacher

“My MALS degree not only helped me receive raises for obtaining an advanced degree, but it allowed me to take course that fit my personal interests. This helped me grow and become a better educator.”

– Joshua Dodd, USI MALS Graduate, ’13

High School Art Teacher

  1. Submit an online application and $40 application fee.
  2. Upload the following to your application account:
    1. A current resume that includes the names and contact information (including emails) of three references (former professors, employers, or others who know the applicant well).
    2. A well-written letter of intent describing how the applicant’s career goals are related to or enhanced by the MALS program (500 word maximum).
  3. Submit transcripts to Graduate Studies. 
    • Official transcripts are required only from the institution at which your highest degree was earned. Electronic transcripts are preferred and can be emailed from the previous institution to 
    • Unofficial transcripts from other institutions attended can be submitted via email by the applicant to 
    • Applicants who wish to seek transfer credit for graduate coursework must submit an official transcript from the institution where that work was completed. 
    • Mailed transcripts can be sent to this address:
      Graduate Studies
      University of Southern Indiana 
      8600 University Blvd. 
      Evansville, IN 47712
  4. Read the full transcript policy by clicking here.
  5. International applicants may be required to submit additional information.

The Master of Arts in Liberal Studies helps students master practical skills that are broadly applicable. These include: 

  • Effective Communication: create sophisticated work focused on an academic audience 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.
  • Information Literacy & Research: 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 or Cultural Literacy: Locate, assess, analyze, and apply data in topic-specific contexts or within disciplines, including data visualizations for effectively and accurately communicating information OR identify and interpret the complex elements important in a particular cultural setting or era (e.g. history, values, politics, communication styles, economy, or beliefs and practices).

Students can complete the MALS entirely online using the Blackboard Course Management system; to most effectively engage with classes, students will need access to a computer with up-to-date software and reliable high speed internet. Courses are offered in a combination of 7-week and 16-week formats.


To promote advanced student ability to

  • use various research methods to generate and analyze evidence or data
  • locate, understand, analyze and draw conclusions from evidence
  • identify and communicate effectively with multiple or specialized audiences
  • understand the role of diverse cultural perspectives in historical or contemporary issues
  • develop and apply knowledge and skills across disciplinary boundaries


To equip students to be self-sufficient learners who can reason effectively in a rapidly-changing and complex world.

Option 1: Capstone Portfolio

Students choosing this option will enroll in LBST 695 once they have completed a minimum of 24 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 engage in professional development activities that identify key qualities/skills/knowledge areas that are desirable for their chosen career field. The student will select artifacts from courses taken in the MALS program that best demonstrate their competency in these areas and which reflect the goals of the core curriculum: 1) Information literacy and research; 2) effective communication; 3) data literacy or cultural literacy. 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 and its alignment with the key areas identified in their career path, and the selected artifacts. A committee composed of the program director and two graduate faculty members will review the portfolio and interview the candidate as a component of passing this course.

Option 2: Capstone Project or Thesis

About midway through the program, students selecting this option will propose a project/thesis topic and have that topic approved by the program director, who will help them select courses that best support research on that topic. Students who have completed a minimum of 24 graduate hours may enroll in LBST 698 where they will complete a substantial independent project/thesis that is of graduate quality and sophistication; they will work under the direction of a graduate advisor whose expertise is appropriate for the thesis/project. A completed capstone project must contain a tangible final project (summary report, recording, museum installation, script, computer program, etc.), while 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.

Choose specialized experiential learning

When you pursue our major in Liberal Studies, you will complete our required classes to give you a firm foundation for your degree. You can then choose 15 to 18 hours of elective classes that you are passionate about, including:

  • History
  • Communications
  • English
  • Liberal Studies
  • Public Administration
  • Sports Management

Our Masters of Arts in Liberal Studies allows you to pursue experiential learning projects that align with your career goals or personal interests; past projects include:

  • A historical/geographical mapping of the historic town of New Harmony, Indiana
  • A survey of contemporary ghost tours and the belief systems that they reflect
  • An analysis of special dietary needs among college students and how food services can better meet those needs

Program Curriculum for the Master of Arts Liberal Studies

The Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degree requires 30 credit hours of graduate-level work. This includes 9 hours of core studies, 3 hours of capstone, and 18 hours in a chosen concentration. 

We will work with you to help determine the concentration that best aligns with your personal and career goals. 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.

Required Courses (9 hours)

The core courses are required of all students. At least two of the three core courses must be completed with final grades of B or better. Each core course focuses on 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.

  • LBST 501 - Information Literacy and Research

  • LBST 512 - Advanced Academic Writing OR
    ENG 617
    - Professional and Technical Writing

  • LBST 520 – Topics: Culture OR
    LBST 530
    – Topics: Data OR
    COMM 603
    - Quantitative Research Methods in Communication OR
    WLC 522
    - Cultural Awareness Training 


Capstone Experience (3 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. See above for detailed information on the options for Capstone Experiences. 

  • LBST 695 - Capstone: Portfolio OR
  • LBST 698 - Capstone Project or Thesis 

In addition to the required courses and the capstone experience, students in the individualized study plan choose 18 credit hours of electives drawn from eligible graduate courses offered at USI.

In addition to the required courses and the capstone experience, students in the historical inquiry concentration take two required history courses.

  • HIST 501 - History and Historians OR
    HIST 589 - Teaching Seminar
  • HIST 650 - Research Seminar 

Students will also complete 12 credit hours of electives; a minimum of 9 credit hours must be taken from courses with the HIST prefix.


In addition to the required courses and the capstone experience, students in the professional studies concentration will select 12 hours from the directed electives.

Choose 4 of the following:

  • COMM 614 - Problematic Workplace Communication
  • COMM 621 - Strategic Communication 
  • COMM 622 - Digital Communication and Culture 
  • ENG 609 - Workshop in Creative Writing 
  • ENG 617 - Professional and Technical Writing 
  • ENG 618 - Public Digital Rhetorics
  • PA 606 - Public and Nonprofit Personnel Administration
  • PA 609 - Budgeting in Public and Nonprofit Administration
  • PA 631 - Fundraising and Volunteer Administration 
  • PA 684 - Grant Writing 

Students will also complete 6 credit hours of electives chosen from eligible graduate courses.

Flexible classes put you in control

You set the pace for our 100% online major in Liberal Studies. You may continue working while attending school part-time. Take up to 4 to 5 years to complete your Master of Liberal Studies online degree.

You may also choose to be a full-time student and complete your Masters of Arts in Liberal Studies in two years. Your degree — your choice.

Related Links