Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

MALS class

The Academic Program

Courseload & Progression

The MALS program enrolls between 25 and 35 students at any given time, with approximately 20 to 30 enrolled in courses in fall or spring semester, and 10 to 15 enrolled in the summer. Most students attend part time; full-time status requires concurrent enrollment in both undergraduate and graduate courses and generally is not recommended for MALS students. While the majority of MALS students take three to six years to complete the program, it is possible to finish in two years. The typical annual courseload generally ranges from one to five academic units. There is no specified minimum or maximum courseload and students are not required to enroll each term. It is important to balance this flexibility in progression, however, with continuity. All students therefore should meet the following completion time frames:

  1. Students must enroll in at least one Reed course within any three-term period or face removal from the program. By the last day of classes of the third term of non-enrollment, a student should submit a petition to the Committee on Graduate Studies that includes a statement of continued interest and a proposed time frame for program completion (including enrollment in at least one of the next two semesters). A student who does not meet these criteria and who wishes to continue study at a later date must reapply for admission to the program.
  2. Students are expected to complete the MALS degree within six years of formal acceptance as a degree candidate. Petitions to extend the time for degree completion must be approved in advance of the thesis term by the Committee on Graduate Studies.

Full-time enrollment in a regular semester is three units; half-time enrollment is one and one-half units. In an accelerated (six-week) summer term, the one-unit course is considered half-time enrollment.

Gateway Course
One or two terms prior to the thesis semester, students must designate one of their courses as a Gateway Course that serves as preparation for writing the thesis. The designated course can be either a MALS or an upper-level undergraduate course that provides the student with an opportunity to write a substantial research paper. The topic of the paper is not restricted to the field of the thesis. The student and the instructor should agree on a process and topic that takes the place of any regular course papers and that includes a proposal, annotated bibliography, draft, and rewrite in the same format as required for the thesis. The student must submit to the MALS office a description of the research project, including the instructor's note of approval, by the second week of classes of the Gateway semester.

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As a physician, the majority of my previous studies have been scientific in nature yet I've always had an interest in liberal arts, particularly history. The MALS program has allowed me to foster that interest. Reading has become more than a pastime—it is done more purposely and critically. Papers can be difficult for those of us long removed from college, but nearly every paper has been returned with meaningful and useful commentary. The strongest aspect of the program, though, lies in the close interaction with the professors and other students. I've looked forward to nearly every class as a welcome interlude during my workweek.

MALS ’04