Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

The Master of Arts in Liberal Studies at Reed College is a graduate program in the liberal arts and sciences. It is intended for those students who wish to pursue interdisciplinary graduate work in a rigorous program that is both flexible and diverse.

With no specific vocational or professional orientation, the MALS degree is an alternative to the highly specialized course of study characteristic of most traditional graduate programs. As such, the degree may lead to a range of career opportunities and to further study.

The pursuit of wisdom suggests that one needs more than specialized knowledge or mastery of one particular technique. One must study the heritage of the modern world and develop the ability to see people, ideas, and events from a perspective that is wider than one’s own. The Reed MALS program provides motivated adults with just such an opportunity. Learn more about Reed College's mission and principles.

The Program

The broad scope of the program allows students to choose from a wide range of courses not available in traditional graduate programs; the interdisciplinary nature of the program encourages an enriched intellectual experience in the study of great works and ideas. The resulting experience extends students’ intellectual resources and ranges, promotes openness to new ideas and tolerance for differences, stimulates students to find connections between their learning and their personal and professional lives, and advocates a lifelong commitment to learning.

The program is open to anyone with a bachelor’s or higher degree whose quest for knowledge and its integration into one’s personal and professional life is “unfinished business.” Students put together their own course of study, selecting from graduate courses, and, if desired, a limited number of upper-level undergraduate classes. The curriculum incorporates a broad spectrum of courses in the liberal studies: the arts, humanities, history and the social sciences, mathematics, and the sciences. All instructors are members of the Reed College faculty.

Program Administration

The MALS program is administered by the program director. The Committee on Graduate Studies, which includes four to five members from different academic divisions, monitors the administration of the program and recommends to the faculty any changes in program or policy. The committee acts as a division in regards to grade reviews and approval of new courses. Committee members also assist the director with the evaluation of initial and candidacy applications, serve as academic advisers to MALS students, and attend thesis orals.

Reed College is a member of the Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs, an international organization of close to 100 institutional members that share a common interest in graduate-level liberal education primarily serving adult, part-time students. Information on the association and its affiliated member institutions can be found through its website:

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The MALS program upholds Reed College policies for inclusion, diversity, and accommodation.