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Graduate Course Catalog 2016-2017

Graduate School


Liberal Studies (LS)


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This program is offered in Durham.


Degree Offered: M.A.L.S.

The program offers a master of arts in liberal studies (M.A.L.S.) degree. The master of arts in liberal studies is an innovative, interdisciplinary graduate program. Housed within the College of Liberal Arts but drawing its courses and instructors from across the University, the program makes available a diverse spectrum of offerings and a wealth of faculty expertise and resources.

The liberal studies curriculum is intended to promote broad intellectual comprehension and enrichment rather than vocational or professional training within a single field or discipline. Designed to address the particular interests of students who seek to deepen their knowledge, the program offers a challenging but flexible program of cross-disciplinary learning.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the master of arts in liberal studies is selective. A bachelor's degree is required for admission. Students will be asked to provide relevant transcripts of their educational experience, a resume, and letters of recommendation. They will also be asked to submit a brief essay describing why they are particularly interested in this program and indicating the sort of interdisciplinary focus or area of learning in which they might like to concentrate their study. The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is not required but is helpful.

Degree Requirements

The program consists of seven courses (30 credits) divided into three parts: a core seminar specifically designed for and required of every student, to be taken within one year of entrance to the program; a concentration made up of five elective courses chosen from various disciplines across the liberal arts that centers on an interdisciplinary theme or topic; and a master's thesis or project, which is intended to act as an integrating capstone experience for liberal studies students.

Core seminar LS 800 (4 credits): Each liberal studies student is required to take one core seminar as an introduction to the program as a whole. The seminar must be taken within the first year of a student's matriculation in the program, preferably in the first semester. Although all core seminars focus on interdisciplinary issues and themes, each is meant to introduce students to different topics and divergent disciplines from across the liberal arts such as literature, the arts, philosophy, history, women's studies, political science, and sociology.

Concentration (20 credits): Students will work with the director of the program and a concentration and thesis adviser to develop an interdisciplinary concentration program of study, which focuses on a significant topic, issue, perspective, or cultural development, and is made up of five graduate-level elective courses offered in various departments throughout the college and University. A concentration should constitute a sustained thematic exploration and may be selected from a menu of suggested concentrations or may be self-designed by each student with the help of his or her adviser. The five courses are to be selected from 700-900-level courses regularly offered within departments and colleges across the University, including up to three independent study courses carried out as a tutorial with particular faculty members (with permission). It is expected that a student's concentration will culminate in a concluding final project or thesis.

The following are typical examples of cross-disciplinary concentration programs of study: American studies, the humanities, ecology and values, justice studies, labor studies, religious studies, urban studies, and women's studies.

LS 898, Project, or LS 899, Thesis (6 credits): With the support of their concentration and thesis adviser, students prepare a final project consistent with their concentration and interests. A capstone experience, the project can be a scholarly thesis or equivalent creative endeavor, which integrates the student's learning in a particular concentration. The director of the program will meet periodically with those students enrolled for thesis credit in order to provide a forum for discussing their research and writing.