Liberal Studies, MA

The part-time Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program cuts a wide swath through the humanities and social sciences, studying the work of some of the world’s most powerful thinkers. As students explore a broad variety of subject matter, they enrich their understanding of social and cultural issues and improve their ability to analyze, write and complete research. MALS graduates strengthen and refine the analytical, critical and communicative skills that are highly transferable to any number of professional contexts. Secondary school teachers gain a competitive edge by deepening their subject area knowledge. For other students, the program can clarify the next stage in career or in life or provide excellent preparation for further graduate study. Nine total courses are required for the degree. Students need to complete three core courses including a thesis and six elective courses. There are six specializations: American StudiesChicago StudiesDigital StudiesHistory, Interdisciplinary Studies, and Religious and Ethical Studies.

Northwestern's MALS is a full member program of The Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs

Curriculum

Core Courses (3 units)

Course Title
IPLS 401-0Seminar in Liberal Studies I
IPLS 410-0/410-DLIntroduction to Graduate Studies in Literary and Cultural Analysis
IPLS 590-0Thesis Research

Specialization Courses (4 units)

Students who wish to lend more structure to their MALS experience can elect to complete a specialization. A specialization may be especially beneficial to educators, students who are thinking of going on to a PhD program, or anyone who wants to focus their liberal studies more precisely. Students complete four thematically linked courses for a specialization. There are six specializations: American StudiesChicago StudiesDigital StudiesHistory, Interdisciplinary Studies, and Religious and Ethical Studies.

Elective Courses (2 units)

Two graduate-level courses in liberal studies, humanities, and related social sciences. Students may take courses in the areas of Chicago Studies, Digital Studies, History, Religious and Ethical Studies, or other areas approved by the SPS Graduate Office. 

About the Thesis 

Students sign up for the final course in the program during the term in which they start their master's thesis. The capstone project for the MALS program is an essay of 45 to 60 double-spaced pages written under the supervision of an approved faculty member. The project presents an opportunity to research and explore a topic thoroughly. Students often elect to expand a seminar paper from a previous course. With the approval of the program director, students may create an interdisciplinary final project rather than a traditional thesis.