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Liberal Studies MA

College of Liberal Arts
Graduate degree / Master of Arts

About The 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

The “MLS 600 Introductory Seminar” 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 MLS program resources. MLS 600 should be taken in a student’s first or second semester after admission. 

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.

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.

How to enroll

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 are based 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

Preapplication Interviews 

It is strongly recommended that those considering the MLS program arrange an informational interview with the MLS Director before submitting their application. 

Dr. Margaret Vaughan, MLS Director 
Phone 651-793-1491


For questions about applying to the Liberal Studies MA program, email (preferred) or call 651-793-1302.


  • Fall Semester: July 15 or sooner
  • Spring Semester: December 1 or sooner

Complete applications received by 5 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 places 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 file

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 MLS Graduate Admissions Committee for review.

Part one: Apply online

  • Complete the Online Graduate Programs Application, using your Minnesota State StarID. 
    • If you don’t have a Minnesota State StarID you will create one at the beginning of the application. If you don't have or choose not to provide your Social Security number (SSN), please follow the No SSN instruction to activate your StarID. If you encounter difficulty with the online application, please email
  • Non-refundable application fee, paid online 
    • The current fee of $20 is waived for graduates of Metro State, certified veterans and active military.
  • Official transcripts
    • Must show a bachelor degree or equivalent earned from an accredited institution with grade-point average or narrative description describing courses completed.
    • Transcripts from ALL schools attended after high school and from any graduate or professional programs are required.
    • All transcripts from non-U.S. schools must be evaluated (course-by-course) by either ECE  (preferred) or  WES.
    • Electronic transcripts should be sent to
    • Paper transcripts should be sent directly from the sending institution (preferred) to: 
      • Metropolitan State University  
        Attn: Graduate Admissions  
        700 East Seventh Street  
        Saint Paul, MN 55106 

Part two

After you have submitted your online application, log in to the  Applicant Portal using your Star ID and password to upload application materials, and check on the status of your application.  The Applicant Portal will indicate any missing application items.  

  • Resume or Vita; Upload via the  Applicant Portal  using your StarID. Some applicants have valid liberal arts experience gained in non-academic settings, and the Admissions Committee will consider that.
  • Admission Essay; Upload via the  Applicant Portal  using your StarID. 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 or Sample of Creative Work; Upload via the Applicant Portal using your StarID. 
    • This could include two to three examples of creative work or a piece of analytic academic writing in one or more liberal arts disciplines; no more than 3,000 words in a well-edited standard format; such as a research paper from an upper-division liberal arts course.

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, IELTS, or Duolingo score)
    • Minimum scores: TOEFL 80 IBT, 213 CBT, 550 PBT, IELTS 6.5, or Duolingo 105-110
    • 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

Mailing Address:  
International Student Services  
Metropolitan State University  
700 East Seventh Street  
Saint Paul, MN 55106-5000 

Courses and Requirements


Graduate policies and procedures

Read the Master of Liberal Studies Handbook (PDF) for 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 or Admissions.

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.

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). In addition to the courses below, students take at least 12 credits of graduate course work at the 500G level or higher, in courses (such as TCID 583G, WRIT 541G, & WRIT 531G), independent studies, or internships that are clearly relevant to the student's evolving Capstone Project. Those admitted to the program in Spring of 2021 or after are encouraged to take a supporting study course with their capstone reader (the reader is an additional resource and expert for a student working on their Capstone Project).

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

Full course description for Introductory Seminar

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

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

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