Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

MALS classroom

The Academic Program

Degree Requirements

The MALS degree requires the completion of nine units of course work. One Reed unit is the equivalent of four semester or six quarter hours. Each student selects an individual program, incorporating the following degree requirements:

  1. Eight units of courses. A minimum of four of the eight units must be in Reed courses at the graduate level (numbered 500 or higher); no more than four units from 300- and 400-level undergraduate classes may be applied to the eight required course units.
  2. A one-unit degree paper.
  3. No more than five units (including the degree paper) in any one department or division, or in liberal studies core courses, may be applied to the total nine units required for graduation. The academic divisions of the college include the arts; history and the social sciences; literature and languages; mathematics and natural sciences; and philosophy, religion, psychology, and linguistics.

Exceptions to the above requirements must be approved in advance by the Committee on Graduate Studies. Petitions should be addressed to the committee no later than the first day of classes of the term preceding the degree paper.

All students initially enter the program on a provisional status. After completing at least two concurrent or consecutive courses at Reed (at least one of which must be at the graduate level), the student must submit an application for admission to formal candidacy to the Committee on Graduate Studies. The student may not enroll in additional courses until formal acceptance as a degree candidate, or with prior approval from the program director. (See Graduate admission & financial aid.)

The program does not specify a minimum number of courses required in a field of principal interest. The student’s total program, however, must lead to a clearly defined objective and must be approved by the Committee on Graduate Studies when the student applies for admission to candidacy. A faculty adviser and the director of the program will assist students in designing a course of study that will meet their particular intellectual interests while providing a broad academic base.

MALS graduates

The interdisciplinary structure of the MALS courses eased my entry into subject areas that I would not otherwise have considered for study. The professors provided generous reading lists for the courses, encouraging students to read with depth. As the individual MALS students shared unique perspectives in our class discussions, the experience of inquiry and discovery became a delightful core of each course. When I entered the MALS program, I knew that I would gain immensely from the courses. However, I was surprised to find that the rigor of the MALS experience could also become a joy.

MALS '06