Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

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In 2005, Georgetown University became the first institution to offer a doctorate in liberal studies. The Doctorate is offered jointly by the School of Continuing Studies and the Graduate School at Georgetown

The Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MA, ALM, MLA, MLS, or MALS) is a graduate degree that aims to provide both depth and breadth of study in the liberal arts. It is by nature an interdisciplinary program, generally pulling together coursework from a number disciplines such as behavioral sciences, humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences designed to train students to think critically and contextually about their own fields of discipline as well a diverse range of issues. Similar graduate degrees are known as Master of Liberal Arts (MLA), Master of Liberal Studies (MLS), Artium Liberalium Magister (ALM, or Art. Lib. Mgr.), Magister Artium Liberalium (Mgr. Art. Lib.), and Doctor of Liberal Studies (DLS). Characteristics that distinguish these degrees include curricular flexibility and interdisciplinary synthesis via a Master's thesis or capstone project.

Like other Master's degree programs, students generally enroll in a master's in liberal studies only after receiving a bachelor's degree. As of 2005, there were over 130 colleges and universities offering liberal arts master's programs. Admissions criteria vary by institution.

Postgraduate liberal studies originated at Wesleyan University in 1953. Administrators sought to 'break graduate education free' from what they perceived as 'the bonds of overspecialization' that were then prevalent at colleges and universities throughout the United States and Europe. Initially aimed at professors and teachers, postgraduate liberal studies quickly gained popularity and became a cause célèbre during the progressive education movements of the 1960s. Another early program began at Johns Hopkins University in 1962 and quickly gained national recognition. Then as now, Liberal Studies programs tend to draw courses and instructors from across a university's postgraduate curriculum. Students often devise unique courses of study to suit their individual interests, passion, and scholarly curiosity. Typically liberal arts graduate programs are designed to counter the trend in modern education toward specialization and toward a career focus, offering instead the opportunity to explore ideas, to pursue knowledge for the sake of knowledge, and learning for the joy of the intellectual challenge.[1]

Graduate Liberal Studies Institutions

Many institutions followed Wesleyan's initiative. Here are the institutions that offer graduate liberal studies[2]

Full Members of the AGLSP

  • Arcadia University: Glenside, PA
  • Baker University: Overland Park, KS
  • CUNY Staten Island: Staten Island, NY
  • Dallas Baptist University: Dallas, TX
  • Dartmouth College: Hanover, NH
  • DePaul University: Chicago, IL
  • Dominican University of California: San Rafael, CA
  • Duke University: Durham, NC
  • East Tennessee State University: Johnson City, TN
  • Excelsior College: Albany, NY
  • Georgetown University: Washington, DC
  • Hollins University: Roanoke, VA
  • Indiana University South Bend: South Bend, IN
  • Indiana University Southeast: New Albany, IN
  • Johns Hopkins University: Baltimore, MD
  • Lake Forest College: Lake Forest, IL
  • Loyola University in Maryland: Baltimore, MD
  • Marshall University Graduate College: South Charleston, WV
  • Marylhurst University: Marylhurst, OR
  • McDaniel College: Westminster, MD
  • North Carolina State University: Raleigh, NC
  • North Central College: Naperville, IL
  • Northwestern University: Evanston, IL
  • Oakland University: Rochester, MI
  • Ramapo College of New Jersey: Mahwah, NJ
  • Reed College: Portland, OR
  • Rice University: Houston, TX
  • Rollins College: Winter Park, FL
  • Simon Fraser University: Vancouver, BC
  • Skidmore College: Saratoga Springs, NY
  • Southern Methodist University: Dallas, TX
  • St. Edward’s University: Austin, TX
  • St. John’s College-Annapolis: Annapolis, MD
  • St. John’s College-Santa Fe: Santa Fe, NM
  • Stanford University: Stanford, CA
  • SUNY Brockport: Brockport, NY
  • SUNY Empire State College: East Syracuse, NY
  • SUNY Stony Brook: Stony Brook, NY
  • Texas Christian University: Fort Worth, TX
  • Tulane University: New Orleans, LA
  • University of Central Florida: Orlando, FL
  • University of Delaware: Newark, DE
  • University of Houston – Clear Lake: Houston, TX
  • University of Memphis: Memphis, TN
  • University of Miami: Coral Gables, FL
  • University of Michigan-Dearborn: Dearborn, MI
  • University of Minnesota: St. Paul, MN
  • University of North Carolina-Asheville: Asheville, NC
  • University of North Carolina-Charlotte: Charlotte, NC
  • University of North Carolina-Greensboro: Greensboro, NC
  • University of Oklahoma: Norman, OK
  • University of Pennsylvania: Philadelphia, PA
  • University of Richmond: Richmond, VA
  • University of St. Thomas: Houston, TX
  • University of Toledo: Toledo, OH
  • Valparaiso University: Valparaiso, IN
  • Villanova University: Villanova, PA
  • Wake Forest University: Winston-Salem, NC
  • Wesleyan University: Middletown, CT
  • Widener University: Chester, PA
  • Winthrop University: Rock Hill, SC

Associate Members of the AGLSP

  • Arizona State University: Tempe, AZ
  • Barry University: Miami Shores, FL
  • Clayton State University: Morrow, GA
  • Drew University: The Caspersen School of Graduate Studies: Madison, NJ
  • Emory University: Atlanta, GA
  • Henderson State University: Arkadelphia, AR
  • Lourdes University: Sylvania, OH
  • Madonna University: Livonia, MI
  • Midwestern State University: Wichita Falls, TX
  • Mount St. Mary’s University: Los Angeles, CA
  • Nova Southeastern University: Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  • Rutgers University: Camden, NJ
  • San Diego State University: San Diego, CA
  • Spring Hill College: Mobile, AL
  • St. John’s University: Queens, NY
  • St. Norbert College: De Pere, WI
  • Temple University: Philadelphia, PA
  • University of Central Oklahoma: Edmond, OK
  • University of Dallas: Irving, TX
  • University of Denver: Denver, CO
  • University of Detroit Mercy: Detroit, MI
  • University of New Hampshire: Durham, NH
  • University of North Carolina-Wilmington: Wilmington, NC
  • University of Washington-Tacoma: Tacoma, WA
  • University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee: Milwaukee, WI
  • Ursuline College: Pepper Pike, OH
  • Utica College: Utica, NY
  • Vanderbilt University: Nashville, TN
  • Washburn University: Topeka, KS
  • Western Illinois University: Macomb, IL
  • Western New Mexico University: Silver City, NM
  • Wright State University: Dayton, OH

In 2005, Georgetown University became the world's first university to offer a Doctor of Liberal Studies. The Doctorate in Liberal Studies is offered through The School of Continuing Studies and the Graduate School at Georgetown. Along with Georgetown's DLS program, one graduate school, at Drew University offers a Doctor of Letters, the only such degree not offered in the honorary fashion in the U.S. The other two North American programs, at Emory University in Atlanta, GA and Simon Fraser University: Vancouver, BC, are Doctor of Philosophy degrees in interdisciplinary studies.

The Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs supports the work of the many member universities and colleges by holding a national conference each year and by publishing Confluence: The Journal of Graduate Liberal Studies, which features writing by faculty and students of the member institutions.