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Apply by 12/01/22 | Start Class 01/09/23

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Increase Your Knowledge and Advance Your Career with a Master's of Arts in Liberal Studies.

Offered by the College of Liberal Arts at USI, the 100% Online Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) provides a graduate degree that takes an interdisciplinary approach, focusing on developing key skills for understanding the modern world that can be applied in a multitude of professions. 

MALS students can take specialized courses in Liberal Studies to explore historical and contemporary issues and topics. In addition, they can take courses from other graduate programs at USI to focus on specific topics, skills, and issues. The 100% online degree is flexible enough to accommodate both full-time and part-time students.

Tuition & Fees    Get Started!

"What students find so attractive about [the MALS degree] is that the degree is applicable to so many different fields."

- Dr. Tamara Hunt, Program Director, USI

  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 official transcripts to Graduate Studies.
  4. 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.

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.

Earn Your Master of Arts in Liberal Studies on Your Time

Our 100% online Master's degree gives you the freedom to schedule your coursework around your availability. With 6 starts a year, you don't have to wait to begin the journey towards career advancement.

Course Start Application Deadline Document Deadline Registration Deadline
01/09/23 12/01/22 12/08/22 01/06/23
03/13/23 02/24/23 03/03/23 03/10/23
05/08/23 04/21/23 04/28/23 05/05/23
06/26/23 06/09/23 06/16/23 06/23/23
08/21/23 08/04/23 08/11/23 08/18/23

Get Started on Your Online Master's in Liberal Studies.

Take the next step on your journey at the University of Southern Indiana. Start your online MALS application or request more information today.

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