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The Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) program is a multidisciplinary approach to graduate education which emphasizes liberal education and enhanced intellectual skills that are valuable in a wide variety of careers. It is particularly designed for serious learners, or those who wish to become serious learners, from recent college graduates to men and women in later life.
The MALS program is grounded in a set of team-designed core courses. These courses establish the aims and themes of the program, orient the student to a multidisciplinary approach to graduate education, and develop in the student advanced learning skills. These are designed to foster academic rigor, intellectual adventure, and cultural breadth. If MALS core courses are not offered, students may choose equivalent courses to be established by program advisors.
The other components of the program are electives and a variety of options for a culminating project. Electives are usually graduate and upper-level courses chosen from departmental offerings in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Students select these courses with the aid of an advisor to build a program of study tailored to individual goals and interests. Included under electives are MALS special topics courses, which are especially well-suited to the needs of MALS students.
By about the midpoint of their studies (24-32 credit hours earned), students should begin discussing possible culminating project ideas with the director, associate director, or faculty advisor. The culminating project gives MALS students the opportunity to demonstrate the intellectual and creative powers that they have developed over the course of graduate study. MALS students may choose from four options for program completion, allowing greater flexibility for students to pursue their studies. These four options may take the form of a thesis, a community-based or media project, an enhanced portfolio, or a specially selected exit course and paper.
The MALS program offers a number of concentrations, including: Standard, Executive/Leadership, and Women’s Studies. The Standard Concentration is based on a four-course core requirement, and may be tailored to the student's interests. The Executive/Leadership and Women's Studies Concentrations are based on a five-course core requirement and stipulate policies for elective selection. Program advising is available to help students choose a concentration. Each of the concentrations may be pursued with any of the four program completion options. The MALS program is jointly administered with the Master of Arts/Master of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies (IDS) program by the Interdisciplinary Self-Designed Program (ISD).
The MA in Liberal Studies may also be expanded to include select graduate certificate programs covering particular areas of interest. Students participating in a combined MA/certificate program should consult with their academic advisor to determine what coursework might count toward both programs. A separate application process for the certificate is required. Students who are interested in any of the following combination programs should contact the Graduate Student Services Office for additional information.
- MALS + Digital Humanities Certificate
- MALS + Social Research Certificate
- MALS + Women’s and Gender Studies Certificate
|Program Requirements||Quarter Hours|
|Total hours required||48-52|
Students will be able to:
- Demonstrate multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary approaches in research and writing.
- Use their knowledge of the methods and approaches of at least one particular academic or professional discipline to complete academic writing projects.
- Analyze and incorporate a variety of academic and technical resources in appropriate scholarly and professional formats.
- Research and write in a variety of academic and/or professional genres, including expository essays, critical analysis, research papers, white papers, etc. culminating in an extended capstone.
- Analyze the social and/or historical context of phenomena and value systems in social and institutional settings.
All students will keep a portfolio of significant work done for courses, such as final papers or special projects, with comments and grades from the professor. By the midpoint, there will be work from a total of at least three courses in the portfolio. At least two of the three pieces in the midpoint portfolio will be from the core courses. The third will be from an elective representing the student's best work. At the culminating point there will be work from at least six courses represented in the portfolio, two pieces from the core courses and four from the electives, representing the student's best work.
After completing the sixth course but before taking the ninth course, all students in both programs will write a 3-5 page essay examining their progress to that point, using as evidence work from the portfolio. The Midpoint Essay reflects on the student's intellectual growth, and suggests directions for the second half of the student's program.
Culminating Point Essay
All students in both programs (regardless of which final option they choose) will write an essay of 3-5 pages, reflecting on their intellectual growth in the second half of the program.
- Completion of 48 or 52 quarter hours of graduate credit, depending on the concentration and completion option (thesis, practicum, enhanced portfolio or exit course) chosen by the student.
- Cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 in the core courses: Students who have not achieved a 3.0 in the core will be warned that they will probably have serious difficulties in the elective portion of the program, and may be advised to withdraw.
- Elective courses must be selected from at least two different departments in order to preserve the multidisciplinary character of the program.
- MALS students ordinarily take no more than two approved 300-level courses for MALS degree credit unless they have sought the approval of a MALS program advisor.
Program Completion (Capstone) Steps
All students must apply and be approved for the particular option they wish to use for program completion (thesis, practicum, enhanced portfolio, or exit course). This application will include the student's portfolio. The thesis and practicum options include a Formal Proposal. Approval of the proposal is necessary before the student undertakes this final stage of the program. Enrollment in MLS 499, the culminating project independent study course, takes place after approval of the proposal has been secured. If necessary, in lieu of an elective, students may enroll in MLS 498:THESIS if they require an additional quarter of research and other preparation for MLS 499.
Both MLS 498 and MLS 499 are conducted as Independent Studies. Instructions for proposing and pursuing these are available with the Program. When the project is completed both the members of the committee and the MALS director sign a Culminating Project Completion Form, which can be found on the program's D2L site.
Program Completion (Capstone) Options
In addition to the Culminating Point Essay and final portfolio submission, the student will write a paper of approximately 35-50 pages that includes 3-4 components or sections, one of which will be a research component and original exploration of the subject. (Other components might include a review of literature, a synthesis of earlier research, a reflection on various disciplinary and methodological approaches to the issue, suggestions for future research, etc.) The research component of the Master’s Thesis involves reflection on primary research, or actual primary research combined with reflection on the primary research of others. The student is encouraged to make a public presentation about his or her thesis. Students who have earned a GPA of less than 3.3 may in some cases be asked to complete their program with a different capstone choice.
- Ordinarily taken as MLS 499, the student's 12th and final course.
- Requires minimum cumulative GPA of 3.3, evaluation of "satisfactory" on the Midpoint Portfolio, formal proposal, and approval of committee.
In addition to the Culminating Point Essay and final portfolio submission, for the Practicum Option the student will create a project aimed at developing and executing a community-based intellectual or intellectual/creative activity. Examples are a public presentation as a lecture, in broadcast or print media, or on the web. Service learning projects are also encouraged. A 15-25 page descriptive/analytic essay documenting the project is also submitted. The student is encouraged to make a public presentation about his or her practicum in addition to the primary distribution of the project. Students who have earned a GPA of less than 3.3 may in some cases be asked to complete their program with a different capstone choice.
- Ordinarily taken as MLS 499 , the student's 12th and final course.
- Requires minimum cumulative GPA of 3.3, evaluation of "satisfactory" on the Midpoint Portfolio, formal proposal, and approval of committee.
Enhanced Portfolio Option
In addition to the final portfolio submission, and a Culminating Point Essay based on portfolio pieces selected from at least three courses in the second half of the program, the distinctive feature of the Enhanced Portfolio option is the writing of a new extended expository essay of 12-15 pages. This is a paper on a topic of the student's own choosing that makes an argument. (Further information on this paper and the option is available from the program.)
- Ordinarily taken as MLS 499, the student's 13th and final course.
- Requires formal proposal and approval of committee
Exit Course Option
In addition to the Culminating Point Essay and the final portfolio submission, the student proposes a particular course over and above the original 12 courses. This course should be chosen as an "exit course," in that it brings together a number of areas of interest that the student has pursued over the course of the program. By arrangement with the instructor, the student uses the final paper or final project to make connections with the goals of his or her overall MALS or IDS Program. The instructor will grade the paper, and another reader suggested by the MALS or IDS program will also review and comment on the paper.
- Requires formal proposal and approval of committee.
International Summer Programs at the University of Cambridge
DePaul’s Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program has established an arrangement with the University of Cambridge, England, for students who wish to include study abroad in their programs of study. Summer programs vary in length from three to six weeks. Variable graduate credit is offered up to a maximum of eight hours. Students make their own arrangements with the University of Cambridge and apply for transfer of credit after completing the courses. Students must make sure to follow the Cambridge procedures for "Evaluation and Credit" if they wish to transfer credit to the DePaul MALS Program.
Program Time Limitation
The MALS program is essentially self-paced. However, the university has set a four year limit for the completion of degree requirements. Extensions may be granted by the Dean in unusual circumstances upon the recommendation of the program’s director. Students must petition for such an extension in writing.
Students are expected to maintain a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0. A GPA below 3.0 will result in the student being placed on warning status. If this status persists for two quarters, the student will be requested to leave the program. If he or she decides to remain in the program, the student will be placed on academic probation and be given one quarter to raise the GPA to 3.0 If the student’s GPA falls to 2.5 or below, he or she will be immediately placed on academic probation and must raise the GPA to 3.0 in the next quarter or face dismissal from the program. If the GPA falls to 2.5 or below a second time the student will be dismissed from the program.
When a student is admitted to the MALS or IDS Program under the category of “Conditional Admission” he or she is considered under academic probation until the conditions are met. The conditions are usually that a student must earn a grade of B or higher in all courses taken during the first three quarters in the program. The student may request continued registration in the second and third quarters if the grades are not adequate in the first quarter. If the conditions of admission are not met by the third quarter, the student will be dismissed from the program. Other conditions may include the requirement to take certain courses, and the student must comply within the specified time period or face dismissal.
IDS students who select courses that are not on their approved List of Courses (LOC) may face warning after one quarter and probation after two quarters if they do not seek approval for their altered programs. The procedure for altering an approved List of Courses is found on the ISD D2L site.
Students whose grades fall below the minimums described above will be considered in the categories of warning or probation whether or not the program administrators are aware of the student’s grades. The program administrators may apply the categories of warning or probation retroactively if the student does not self-report his or her status. Students are required to seek advisement from program administrators when facing academic warning or probation. A student who does not contact program administrators about potential warning or probation status may face dismissal from the program.
In addition to the minimum GPA requirement, students may be dismissed for breaches of academic honesty or breaches of the code of student responsibility. MALS students may also face dismissal for failure to complete core courses with a grade of B or higher within the first half of their academic career. Students who have completed their coursework, but who are still working on their thesis, practicum or other capstone project must be enrolled in Candidacy Continuation (MLS 502) during the three quarters of the academic school year. After three consecutive terms of candidacy continuation, students should enroll in Active Status (MLS 501) if they still require time to complete their capstone. Failure to enroll in candidacy continuation or advanced status may result in dismissal from the program if the student has not formally withdrawn from the program.
When a student has withdrawn from the program or has not been enrolled in classes for three or more quarters during the academic year, he or she must apply for readmission using the Readmission and Reclassification form available from the LAS Graduate website.
A student may apply to transfer up to three courses of graduate work from another accredited institution. The courses must be approved by the Program Director as part of the student’s overall course of study for both MALS and IDS students. The courses must then be approved for transfer credit by the Office of Student Records.
Courses at the 200-level cannot be approved for graduate credit, even when a student needs to take such a course as preparation for more advanced work. Courses at the 300-level may be approved for graduate credit under the following circumstances: (1) The course is necessary as a part of the student’s overall interdisciplinary program. (2) The department does not offer courses in the same area on the graduate level. (3) The student has arranged with the professor to enhance the course to graduate level by the addition or alteration of assignments, including the final project of the course. Unless approved by the Program Director, a student should take no more than two 300-level courses as part of his or her program.
In order to graduate, students in the MALS and IDS Programs must complete the coursework specific to their programs (either 48 or 52 credit hours depending on capstone choice) with a minimum GPA of greater than 3.0, a Midpoint and Culminating Point Essay, the submission of an electronic portfolio of final and other projects from a minimum of six courses, and one of four capstone choices offered by the program. Full descriptions of the requirements for the capstones, as well as further policies and procedures for both programs, are outlined in the documents found on the ISD D2L site under Program Documents. Students in the program are expected to be familiar with these policies and procedures and to comply with them.
Graduation with Distinction
In order to have the degree conferred with distinction, students in MALS and IDS completing their programs with a thesis or practicum capstone (48 credit hours) must earn a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.75, plus earn a designation of “distinction” on their thesis or practicum by their thesis advisor and at least one of the two readers on their committee. Thesis and practicum writers eligible for distinction are required to present their projects at a ISD event within three academic quarters of completion. Students in MALS and IDS completing their programs with an exit course or enhanced portfolio essay capstone (52 credit hours) must earn a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.85 in order to graduate with distinction.
Students are normally expected to complete the MALS or IDS Program within four academic years. During quarters in which no courses are taken, students are required to maintain active status in the program by registering for Candidacy Continuation or Active Status. Students who have not taken courses for three consecutive quarters during the regular academic year and have not registered for Candidacy Continuation or Active Status must apply for readmission using the Readmission and Reclassification form listed on the LAS Graduate website.