Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

The Academic Program

MALS class

Course Offerings

Graduate Curriculum
Information on the nature of graduate courses, including descriptions of the conference method of teaching, upcoming courses, a list of prior classes, and recent examples of thesis projects is available on the Graduate Courses link.

Undergraduate Course Options
MALS students also are eligible to take limited coursework in any of the 25 undergraduate departments at Reed:


Chinese literature
Computer science
English literature
French literature
German literature

Political science
Russian literature
Spanish literature

In addition, the undergraduate curriculum includes special programs in:

American studies
Comparative literature
Comparative race and ethnicity studies
Creative writing
Environmental studies
International and comparative policy studies

Students may apply up to four units of credit from 300- and 400-level undergraduate courses to the MALS degree. While most of these courses have Reed prerequisites and enrollment limitations, interested MALS students may consult with the professor for permission to take the class. Introductory (100- and 200-level) courses may be taken for undergraduate background credit and prerequisites, but these credits cannot be used to satisfy the unit requirement for the MALS degree. Most undergraduate courses at Reed take place between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays, although a few courses are offered in the evenings.

Undergraduate Class Independent Study Courses
MALS students may petition the MALS office to create a 500-level graduate course from an upper-level undergraduate class. It is up to the individual instructor and student to determine what, if any, additional expectations are appropriate and required to change the course to the MALS graduate level. The additional expectations may include but are not limited to an additional paper, a longer paper, additional readings, or a higher level of analysis in the final paper. The program director, in consultation with the graduate studies committee, will take into consideration the individual student’s educational circumstances and the compelling nature of the proposal. If there is a MALS course offered on the same topic and term as the desired undergraduate course, the student will not have the option of creating a course-based independent study. Students should contact the MALS office for more information and a petition.

MALS Independent Study Courses
On an exceptional basis, a student may undertake a MALS independent study course. The course must be approved in advance by the Committee on Graduate Studies, which will take into consideration the individual student’s personal and educational circumstances. A proposal for the course, signed by the instructor, must be submitted to the committee no later than the last day of classes of the preceding term.


Michael Knapp photo

MALS seminars focus on faculty members' current research and interests; the classes therefore bear an intellectual urgency not often encountered elsewhere. A Reed MALS seminar is not a survey course; although entering the semester relatively ignorant of the specific subject (be it the Catholic mystic tradition, the literature of the frontier, an anthropological critique of globalism, etc.), the MALS student invariably emerges competent not only in the core issues of the discipline but also actively engaged in furthering its current research and resolving its contemporary concerns.  Having completed the Reed MALS program, I am confident of my ability to quickly and comprehensively expert myself in any subject that should require my attention.  In a world such as ours, continually confronted with such a wide variety and large number of serious challenges and even crises, it hardly bears mention how supremely worthwhile it is to acquire this skill.

MALS '09