Liberal Studies MA

College of Liberal Arts
Graduate degree / Master of Arts

About this program

"In the age of tunnel vision and specialization, graduate liberal arts education can help prepare one for the full range of human perspectives in our global community. It works to extend the individual's reach beyond the sum total of all his/her parts," Akmed Khalifa, Master of Liberal Studies program graduate.

The Master of Arts in Liberal Studies is a student-centered, interdisciplinary graduate program designed for individuals who have successfully completed a bachelor's degree. Admitted students progress from an introductory seminar through a series of team-taught courses to explore advanced liberal arts themes and issues through methodologies drawn from several disciplines. Students create major research projects aligned with their personal educational goals, and support and develop their work on these projects through a series of graduate-level supporting study courses or independent studies.

For each student, the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program culminates in the creation of a self-directed capstone project that draws from and builds upon the program as a whole. Metropolitan State University's student-centered Master of Liberal Studies (MLS) program will enable you to broaden and deepen your knowledge of the liberal arts. Master of Liberal Studies coursework will enhance your potential for analysis, communication, multicultural understanding and research through interdisciplinary study within the liberal arts.

In an era of information explosion and rapid global development, these liberal studies skills and knowledge will be applicable in your workplace, your community and your personal sphere. MLS graduates will broaden and deepen their store of knowledge through the specific liberal arts content of their MLS seminars, MLS Exploration, and MLS supporting study course work. MLS graduates will gain enhanced, graduate-level skills, which include:

  • Research: locating and organizing information
  • Analysis: critical thinking, source evaluation
  • Communication: writing, oral presentation, discussion

MLS graduates will have succeeded in applying skills and knowledge within structured opportunities for self-directed research, employing interdisciplinary perspectives inclusive of diverse viewpoints and anchored in the liberal arts, leading to effective presentations of research within a student-centered community of motivated adult learners similarly engaged.

The Master of Liberal Studies program will:

  • Offer flexible scheduling, with all classes available on evenings or weekends.
  • Offer courses for you to explore topics and issues from several liberal arts disciplines.
  • Offer intensive faculty advising as you create an individualized plan of study aligned with your educational goals and interests in the liberal arts.
  • Culminate in the creation of a self-directed capstone project drawing on interdisciplinary Master of Liberal Studies Program coursework, elective courses, or independent studies.

Trajectory of courses

An admitted Liberal Studies student begins by taking the "MLS 600: Introductory Seminar," which teaches methods of interdisciplinary inquiry through variable topics within which students craft individual projects. Arising from interactions with seminar team teachers and with other students, one of the seminar's outcomes is analysis and refinement of each student's educational objectives within the framework of Master of Liberal Studies program resources.

Following MLS 600, a student then selects at least three iterations of "MLS 620: Master of Liberal Studies Exploration." Topics vary, but each MLS 620 encourages interdisciplinary inquiry with opportunities to pursue individual interests as these relate to the exploration's theme.

  • For example, a student interested in world politics and economics might take an Exploration on the topic of globalism.
  • Students also select 12 credits of supporting study at the 500G or higher level, which can include independent studies or internships. All MLS supporting study credits must be clearly relevant to the student's MLS program.

A student may register for "MLS 690 Master of Liberal Studies Capstone" upon completion of MLS 600 and at least 24 credits in the Master of Liberal Studies program (at least 8 supporting study credits, and at least 8 credits in MLS 620's); and with an approved Capstone Project Proposal. The MLS 690 Capstone revolves around the final revisions and completion of students' self-directed capstone projects.

Academic advising

Since its founding, Metropolitan State University has emphasized a student-centered educational philosophy, with strong faculty involvement in advising. For MLS students, advising occurs in several ways.

  • One is embedded in "MLS 600 Introductory Seminar," where students articulate their MLS educational objectives.
  • Each MLS student will also be assigned a graduate faculty advisor, who can advise students towards appropriate course selection, and also help to arrange creative learning strategies, including customized independent studies and internships.
  • As a student nears completion of the MLS, the advisor also helps with the appointment of a faculty reader from a discipline related to the student's evolving capstone project. The faculty reader reviews a student's capstone project, and thus in addition to the team teachers of MLS 690, can advise to reinforce cohesion and quality in the final stages of a student's MLS.

Contact information

For questions or application materials contact:

Professor Lawrence Moe Director, Master of Liberal Studies program
Lawrence.Moe@metrostate.edu
Phone 651-793-1429
Fax 651-793-1446

Mailing address

Master of Liberal Studies Program
Metropolitan State University
700 East Seventh Street
Saint Paul, MN 55106-5000 MLS

Student outcomes

  • Perform interdisciplinary research skills
    • demonstrate the ability to locate appropriate scholarly and/or creative materials that will contribute significantly to the project, drawing upon more than one liberal arts discipline.
    • evaluate sources in terms of
      • relevance,
      • scope
      • credibility
  • Apply analytical skills on liberal arts issues
    • demonstrate the ability to
      • think critically using primary and/or secondary sources as they are integrated intellectually and creatively with original insights, to establish the general effectiveness of the project ,
      • interpret secondary sources as they are integrated intellectually and creatively with original insights, to establish the general effectiveness of the project. 
  • Implement polished communication skills
    • perform with advanced proficiency in
      • written communication skills, according to the nature of the disciplines involved
      • oral communication skills, according to the nature of the disciplines involved.

Enrolling in this program

Program eligibility requirements

  • BA or BS degree from an accredited institution
  • major or significant coursework (at least 20 upper-division courses) in liberal arts disciplines: Arts, History,Philosophy, Communications, Humanities, Religious Studies, Ethnic Studies, Linguistics, Social Sciences, Gender Studies, Literature, Writing
  • 3.0 GPA (Exceptions to this standard would be rare and based only upon the MLS Admissions Committee’s recognition of special circumstances for the lower GPA and the candidate’s clear demonstration of additional compensatory strengths.)

Transfer credits

Up to 8 graduate credits earned at another accredited institution (or at Metropolitan State University before MLS admission) may be applied to the MLS program's supporting study requirement, provided those credits are clearly relevant to the student's MLS program, and not part of any other completed degree.

Application instructions

Deadlines

Fall Semester: September 1, October 1, November 1, December 1

Spring Semester: January 1, February 1, March 1, April 1

Summer Semester: Between May 1 and August 1

Complete applications received by 5:00 p.m. on any of these dates will be reviewed by the MLS Admissions Committee, which will report its decision to each applicant in about three weeks. Applicants accepted in fall semesters typically begin their MLS programs the following spring; those accepted in spring (or August) typically begin the following fall.

The number of "seats" for students in the program is limited, so admissions are always on a space-available basis. The MLS Admissions Committee's criteria are constant through the year, but there may be fewer places available the later the application. Thus in some semesters it may be necessary to offer qualified applicants deferred admission.

Application process and components

A complete application file consists of two parts (three for international students.) Begin the application process by first applying online using the online graduate application. All application materials become the property of Metropolitan State University and are not returned. All application materials must be received in the Graduate Studies Office by the application deadline, and will be made available to the MSCS Graduate Admissions Committee for review.

Part one - apply online

  • Complete the Online Graduate Programs Application. You will use your Minnesota State StarID to complete the application.
    • If you don't have a Minnesota State StarID, you will create one at the beginning of the application.
    • If you encounter difficulty with the online application please email graduate.studies@metrostate.edu.
  • Pay the non-refundable application fee online using the online application. The current fee of $20 is waived for graduates of Metropolitan State University. 

Part two - upload remaining documents

The second step is to complete the rest of the MLS Application Dossier, either online, or on paper mailed or emailed to the MLS Director. There are five parts:

  • Official transcripts from all institutions you attended while earning a four-year degree, and from any graduate courses or programs you may have completed. The MLS requires a BA or BS from an appropriately accredited institution, a major or significant coursework in liberal arts disciplines, and a minimum GPA of 3.00 from the BA/BS degree-granting institution. Please see page 10 of the MLS Handbook (.pdf document in CLA) for more information about academic preparation for the program.
  •  Two and only two letters of recommendation. The most effective letters tend to come from liberal arts professors familiar with your work in upper-division liberal arts courses, and able to comment on your preparation for advanced liberal arts study.  
    • Letter of Recommendation Guidelines
      • Each letter of recommendation must include a Recommendation Form
      • Letters of recommendation must be sealed by the recommender, and submitted either with your complete packet OR they can be mailed directly by the recommender to:
        Master of Liberal Studies Program
        Metropolitan State University
        700 East Seventh Street
        Saint Paul, MN 55106-5000
      • A letter of recommendation should comment on intellectual ability, capacity for critical thinking, professional skill and excellence, motivation, or any other aspect of the referrer’s knowledge of how well the candidate is suited for a graduate program that calls for teamwork in interactive seminars. Be aware that strong and effective letters of recommendation often tend to come from professors of liberal arts courses in which the applicant has had an excellent learning experience. Naturally, the MLS Admissions Committee is particularly interested in an applicant’s intellectual preparation for advanced liberal arts study, and so this should be very directly addressed in any letters of recommendation. Letters that focus on other matters may not be as helpful for the candidate.
  • Your resume or vita. (Some applicants have valid liberal arts experience gained in non-academic settings, and the Admissions Committee will consider that.)
  • Your Purpose Essay. No more than 1000 words, addressing these questions:
    • Why are you interested in graduate interdisciplinary liberal arts study?
    • How have you prepared for the MLS program, academically or otherwise?
    • What subjects and what liberal arts disciplines are you interested in?
    • What skills and knowledge do you expect to gain?
    • How do you anticipate being able to apply the MLS in the future?
  • Your Writing Sample. A piece of analytic academic writing in one or more liberal arts disciplines; no more than 3,000 words, well-edited in a standard format; a research paper from an upper-division liberal arts course is preferred.

The MLS Admissions Committee will make admissions decisions on the basis of the above components, for complete applications only. Note that students may apply while still completing a four-year program, but they cannot start MLS coursework until they have finished the bachelor's degree.

International students only

In addition, international applicants in the U.S. or abroad, on any type of visa, are required to provide this information for admission to the university.

Proof of English proficiency (official TOEFL or IELTS score)

Minimum scores: TOEFL 80 IBT, 213 CBT, 550 PBT or IELTS 6.5

IBT=internet based; CBT=computer based; PBT=paper based

Financial statement (F1 visa only)

Immunization records

Copies of passport, visa, I-94, and international home address and phone numbers

Visit International Student Services graduate admissions for part three details.

Submit materials to the Graduate Studies Office via mail using the mailing address below or by email to graduate.studies@metrostate.edu

Contact information
Graduate Studies Office
MEC Building, Office 4003
1300 Harmon Place
Minneapolis Campus

Mailing address
1501 Hennepin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55403

Email address: graduate.studies@metrostate.edu

Program requirements

Graduate policies and procedures 

Please read the MLS Handbook for additional important details.

 

Academic progress For MLS students

  • To remain in good standing and to be qualified for graduation, you must maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0. Grades below C do not apply to program requirements, but are calculated in the cumulative grade point average. 
  • Policies relating to academic probation, dismissal and reapplication are determined by the school or college in which you are enrolled. CLA determines these policies through its programs.

Program requirements

Program requirements supported by published policies, which are effective at the time a student is admitted to a graduate program, cannot be appealed. Students must meet the requirements for a degree as listed in the Metropolitan State University Graduate Catalog or other official program materials in place at the time of admission to Metropolitan State.

If a student is not enrolled over three consecutive years, the program requirements will be those in place when the student is readmitted to the graduate program.

Time limit

You must meet all graduation requirements within the time limit specified by your school or college.  Alternatively, you may petition your school or college to extend the specified time limit.  Please note that MLS credits do not expire.

Transfer policy

The MLS Program accepts up to 8 transfer credits if:

  1. clearly pertinent as Supporting Study in the judgment of the MLS director,
  2. not part of a completed degree program anywhere else, and from an appropriately accredited institution.

This determination is made by the MLS program not the College of Liberal Arts.

Academic standing

Academic standing is calculated at the end of each semester. Graduate students must remain in satisfactory academic standing to continue in a doctoral, master's or graduate certificate program. Only courses for which students receive a letter grade of C (2.0) or better count toward degree or certificate requirements.

For MLS, the option of S/NC grades  is available for supporting study internships.

A cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 and passing grades (i.e., C or better) for all required courses in any graduate program is required for graduation. The University Retaking Courses Policy applies exactly as it does for undergraduates. There is no limit on retakes.

Dismissal due to unsatisfactory academic standing

Students who receive a grade of F in a required course must re-take the course and pass it in order to complete their program and graduate. There is no time limit between taking and retaking a course under the Retaking Courses Policy.

The MLS Program does not dismiss for one F grade; the MLS Program dismisses for sustained inability to meet GPA or Completion Ratio rules.

Appeal of dismissal due to unsatisfactory academic standing

Students who are dismissed from the program may appeal their dismissal to the College of Liberal Arts dean within 30 days of the date of the letter notifying them of the decision to dismiss them from the program. Appeals received after 30 days will not be considered. The appeal must be made in writing and provide specific grounds for the appeal. The dean has 30 days to respond in writing to the appeal.

Readmission after dismissal

Students who have been dismissed from a graduate program may apply for readmission no sooner than one calendar year after the last semester of study. To reapply, they have to complete the same process that was required for their initial admission, and they must meet all the requirements of the program at the time of readmission. Readmission decisions are made by the College of Liberal Arts dean.

Course requirements

Requirements (32 credits)

Program curriculum (32 credits)

MLS 600 is a student's first Master of Liberal Studies course, and MLS 690 is the last. Apart from that there is significant flexibility in the order or pace at which a student takes Master of Liberal Studies courses (subject to the availability of classes).

MLS 600 Introductory Seminar

4 credits

The seminar will address aspects of theory, method, research, and knowledge formation in selected disciplines within the humanities, social sciences and natural and physical sciences. The course will move from the study of selected disciplines to an interdisciplinary study of the connections among disciplines and its implications for the students' program of study and their final research project.

Full course description for Introductory Seminar

MLS 620 Master of Liberal Studies Explorations

4 credits

The MLS Explorations, a requirement within Metropolitan State's MLS degree program, brings students and faculty together to explore topics of consequence that relate to a common theme. The MLS program requires an introductory seminar, MLS 600 that introduces students to graduate study and helps them formulate a focus in the MLS program. Students then complete at least three MLS 620 explorations that, with electives and a capstone, comprise their MLS program.

Full course description for Master of Liberal Studies Explorations

MLS 620 Master of Liberal Studies Explorations

4 credits

The MLS Explorations, a requirement within Metropolitan State's MLS degree program, brings students and faculty together to explore topics of consequence that relate to a common theme. The MLS program requires an introductory seminar, MLS 600 that introduces students to graduate study and helps them formulate a focus in the MLS program. Students then complete at least three MLS 620 explorations that, with electives and a capstone, comprise their MLS program.

Full course description for Master of Liberal Studies Explorations

MLS 620 Master of Liberal Studies Explorations

4 credits

The MLS Explorations, a requirement within Metropolitan State's MLS degree program, brings students and faculty together to explore topics of consequence that relate to a common theme. The MLS program requires an introductory seminar, MLS 600 that introduces students to graduate study and helps them formulate a focus in the MLS program. Students then complete at least three MLS 620 explorations that, with electives and a capstone, comprise their MLS program.

Full course description for Master of Liberal Studies Explorations

MLS 690 Master of Liberal Studies Capstone Course

4 credits

The MLS Capstone, a requirement within Metropolitan State University's MLS degree program, revolves around the facilitation and completion of students' self-directed Capstone projects, broadly defined not only to include research papers, but projects, artwork, or performances that would, however, include a reflective written component. Students identify and develop their interdisciplinary capstone projects throughout the MLS program, and must have an approved MLS Capstone Project Proposal before enrolling.

Full course description for Master of Liberal Studies Capstone Course

Supporting study

Graduate course work at the 500G level or higher, in courses, independent studies or internships that are clearly relevant to the student's evolving Capstone Project