Reed College Catalog


Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

The Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) is an interdisciplinary graduate program in the liberal arts and sciences. An alternative to the highly specialized course of study in the field of traditional graduate programs, which is an alternative to a flexible and rigorous program. While the MALS degree does not focus on a specific vocational or professional direction, it can prepare students for a range of career options and further study. The program then attracts a diverse group of bright and intellectually curious students of varied interests, ages, and backgrounds who are motivated to learn and who wish to pursue learning with similarly motivated students and faculty members. In short, the program advocates has lifelong commitment to .


The MALS curriculum incorporates a broad spectrum of courses in liberal studies: humanities, history and the social sciences, the arts, and mathematics and science. Graduate races are offered in the evenings and summers. These courses are frequently interdisciplinary in nature and are taught by Reed faculty members from various departments. There are three half-runs in each race, and one full-length race, along with an additional half-unit evening run, in the summer term. With the exception of the accelerated summer term, graduate races meet one and one-half hours a week for the duration of the semester. MALS students also select from 300- and 400-level undergraduate courses, with the instructor's consent, for their degree program,

An exceptional basis, a student may undertake an independent study class. The course must be approved by the Committee on Graduate Studies, which will take into consideration the individual student 's personal and educational circumstances. A proposal for the race, signed by the instructor, must be submitted to the committee no later than the last day

MALS courses are conducted as a group between 6 and 10 students, with a maximum enrollment of 15 and a minimum of 5. At least one MALS course is termed as liberal studies core. These courses are explicitly interdisciplinary and written-intensive. We strongly encourage new students to take part in the first year of the MALS program, preferably before applying for formal candidacy (see "MALS Student Admission"). Liberal studies core courses scheduled for the 2015-16 academic year are "Turn-of-the-Century Vienna and Prague" in fall, "Transformation and Identity in the Roman Empire" in spring, and "Classical Traditions and Receptions" in summer 2016 .

Race Load and Progression

The program does not specify a minimum number of courses required in a field of primary interest. The student's total program, however, should lead to a clearly defined objective and provide the theoretical basis for the final degree paper project. After completing two provisional Reed courses, all students must make application for formal candidacy to the program (see "Admission"). A faculty adviser, a faculty adviser and a director of the MALS program.

Almost all MALS students is waiting part-time; Full-time status requires concurrent enrollment in both undergraduate courses and graduate courses, and can be difficult to sustain for every week. Full-time enrollment in a regular semester is three units; half-time enrollment is one and one-half units. In the accelerated summer term, one unit is considered half-time enrollment; one and one-half units is full-time. While most students take three to six years to graduate, it is possible to complete the program in two years. The yearly course load for graduate students. There is no minimum or maximum course load, however, and students are not required Complementing this flexibility in progression,

  • If a student does not complete a course within three consecutive semesters, the student must submit a petition to continue in the program to the Committee on Graduate Studies by the last day of classes of the third term of nonenrollment. The petition for continuation must include enrollment in at least one of the next two semesters, a statement of continued interest, and a proposed time frame for completing the program. 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.
  • Students are expected to complete the MALS degree within six years of candidacy acceptance. Petitions to extend the time for degree completion must be approved in advance of the degree paper semester by the Committee on Graduate Studies.


Reed welcomes applications from individuals who wish to pursue interdisciplinary graduate work in a program that is both flexible and rigorous. Those applicants are accepted who, in the view of the Committee on Graduate Studies, are most likely to become successful members of and contribute positively to the MALS community. Admission decisions are based on many integrated factors. We recognize that qualities of character—in particular, motivation, intellectual curiosity, and openness to constructive criticism—are important considerations in the selection process, beyond a demonstrated commitment to academic excellence.

Students may apply to enter in the fall, spring, or summer term. Online application forms are available at Initial, provisional admission to the MALS program requires submission of the following items:

  • Completed application form with personal statements
  • Official transcripts of all undergraduate and postbaccalaureate work from each originating school, with evidence of completion of a bachelor’s degree
  • Two letters of recommendation: either a faculty member who recently taught the applicant in an academic subject, or an individual who is familiar with the applicant's intellectual and personal abilities, motivation, and accomplishments
  • $75 nonrefundable application fee
  • Interview with the MALS director and a faculty member of the Committee on Graduate Studies upon completion of the above materials.

In addition, students are encouraged to submit a writing sample from a recent academic, personal, or business-related endeavor. Please note that GRE scores are welcome but not required.

Applicants must submit all required materials by the following deadlines:

  • no later than July 1 for fall entrance;
  • no later than December 1 for spring entrance;
  • no later than April 1 for summer entrance.

Because of space limitations, we encourage applicants to begin the process earlier by requesting transcripts and recommendations several months in advance. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis throughout the year, and applicants are notified of the admission decision accordingly.

Students accepted for admission may request a deferral of entrance for up to two terms, and should attach a letter of intention to the enrollment form, explaining their reasons for the deferral. If students wish to enroll in courses elsewhere during the deferral term, they must notify the MALS office of their intention and submit an official transcript of the completed work to the MALS office for additional review.

All students are admitted to the program on a provisional basis. In order to be admitted formally as a candidate to the MALS program, the applicant must successfully complete two successive or concurrent Reed courses, at least one of which must be at the graduate level. If the student’s candidacy is approved, credit for these courses will be applied to the MALS degree. Within one term of completing the second course, the student must submit to the Committee on Graduate Studies a candidacy application that includes a self-evaluation, an outline of course progression and completion, and a class paper. The program director will solicit evaluations from the student’s instructors, including an assessment of the applicant’s potential to write a final degree paper. Once accepted as a candidate, the student should consult with the faculty adviser and program director to plan a program of study consistent with the goals of the program, leading to the completion of all requirements for the MALS degree.

Special Students

Those individuals with an undergraduate degree who wish to sample a race can only have a special student application to take one MALS race. Credit for the race may be applied to the MALS degree requirements of the student entering the degree-seeking program within five years of taking the course.


Graduate courses are open only to those who have been admitted to the MALS program. They are not open to general auditors or to undergraduate Reed students. Students currently enrolled in the MALS program are eligible for auditing undergraduate courses and under the guidelines outlined in the undergraduate admission section of this catalog (under "Special Admission Groups").

Reed MALS graduates may apply to audit one MALS course per academic year. Graduates should submit an audit to the MALS director no later than 30 days before the start of the desired semester. The director will consider the auditor's statement of interest, instructor approval, and place of entry into the race. 

Transfer Credit

A maximum of one of the nine units required for the degree can be satisfied by transfer credit. Transfer credit may not be used to meet the minimum requirement of the Reed coursework at the graduate level. The Registrar and the Committee on Graduate Studies must approve all work submitted for transfer, preferably before enrollment in the transfer race. The decision to grant credit is based on an official transcript recording of the race (s), a description and a syllabus. (If available, the student should also submit a course of paper with instructor comments.) The coursework must be a regionally accredited college or university, may not be applied to another degree, and should represent B or better work. Courses completed as a post-graduate student should be comparable to upper-level undergraduate or graduate coursework offered at Reed. Normally, all courses approved for transfer must have been completed within the past five years.

Costs and Financial Assistance

Tuition is calculated on a per-unit basis at a rate reduced from that of the undergraduate program. For the 2015-16 academic year, the MALS tuition rates are as follows:

1/2 unit

$ 2,250

  2 units

$ 9,000

1 unit

$ 4,500

  2 1/2 units

$ 11,250

1 1/2 units

$ 6,750

  3 or more units

$ 13,500

Students enrolled at least half time (1.5 units in the fall or spring terms; 1 unit in the summer term) are eligible to participate in the Direct Loan program. Students wishing to borrow under the Direct Loan program must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In addition, for each semester that a graduate student is interested in borrowing a federal loan, the student should provide the financial aid office with a letter stating the semester of attendance (fall, spring, or summer), the course titles, and the number of units per course. New borrowers at Reed must also complete a loan entrance session.

The FAFSA is available online at The Reed College code for the FAFSA is 003217. The maximum unsubsidized Direct Loan available to a graduate student is $20,500 per academic year. The exact amount of unsubsidized loan eligibility is based upon the number of units enrolled in at Reed each semester. Graduate students may, in some circumstances, borrow under the Graduate PLUS loan program to cover educational expenses. Eligibility for the Graduate PLUS program is credit-based and students wishing to borrow under this federal program must file a FAFSA. Generally, a student may borrow sufficient amounts to cover educational expenses under the Direct Loan program; therefore, it is unlikely that a MALS student will qualify for additional funding through the Graduate PLUS loan. Loan terms for the Direct Loan are more favorable than terms for the Graduate PLUS loan, and students should always borrow under the Direct Loan before considering the Graduate PLUS loan.

For financial aid purposes, the academic year at Reed College begins in summer, continuing through fall and spring.

A Reed College monthly payment option, administered by Tuition Management Systems, offers a flexible alternative to semester payments to the college. Participants make 10 equal monthly payments, beginning July 15, for the academic year. (A five-month payment option also is available for one-semester participation.) Please call TMS at 800-722-4867 or visit for information about this program. Families can also use TMS to make payments using a credit card or with a direct deduction from a checking or savings account. A 2.99 percent convenience fee is charged for using a credit card and there is no fee for a direct deduction.

The MALS program sponsors a small scholarship each year to help defray tuition costs for two or three students. Recipients are chosen by the Committee on Graduate Studies based on an application process which is primarily based on the financial requirements of FAFSA form, but also academic and personal merit. Generally, the committee will call for scholarship applications in the spring and make a final decision on awards no later than fall of the new academic year.

Degree Requirements

The MALS degree requires the completion of nine units of coursework. Each student designs an individual program, incorporating the following degree requirements:

    1. Eight units of courses. 

        at. A minimum of one of the eight units must be in Reed courses at the graduate level (numbered 500 or higher).

        b. No more than four units of 300- and 400-level undergraduate courses may be applied to the eight required 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.

Exceptions to the above requirements must be approved by the Committee on Graduate Studies. Petitions should be addressed to the committee no later than the first day of the class before the degree paper.

Degree Paper

A required final project, the degree paper is a one-unit, one-semester study of a specific topic that should emerge from the student's courses and critical studies. The experience of writing the degree of a paper in the field of research is of particular relevance to the field of inquiry. A description of the degree paper subject and methodology, with an outline and a bibliography, to be approved by the Committee on Graduate Studies. The committee also encourages students to work with a degree of responsibility. Candidates should submit the degree paper to the MALS office according to the following schedule:

  • proposals for fall papers are due;
  • proposals for spring papers are due the last day of the classes of the preceding fall term;
  • Proposals for summer papers are due the first Monday in April of the preceding spring term.

The committee is cautious about approving creative degree paper proposals and considers carefully the nature of the project, the educational benefit of the project for the student, and the availability of an appropriate adviser. It is imperative that the project arise out of prior coursework at Reed. Since creative projects also include a critical component, they generally require substantial work on the part of the student. Students may contact the MALS office for additional information on the creative degree paper requirements and guidelines.

We have an exceptional basis, students can write to two-unit, two-term degree paper, leading to a 10-unit degree program. This opportunity is for the student who wishes to research and write a longer, more ambitious paper. The student must explain the permission of the paper adviser.

The degree is in the academic year for senior thesis submission. The college registrar and the MALS program director determines the schedule and deadlines for summer degree papers. The degree paper requirement is completed with a two-hour oral defense of the project. The committee of examiners typically includes the student's paper adviser, one member of the Committee on Graduate Studies, at least one of the additional faculty members, and the program director. The committee should represent at least two different academic divisions of the college. The reed library houses of all degrees papers and undergraduate senior theses, easily accessible for both reference and borrowing.

When necessary, students can take a three-day extension for submitting the paper, provided a $ 50 late fee is paid and the bound copies are submitted to the library by the regular deadline.

If a student does not have a passing grade in the degree paper, the student must submit a new proposal to a different topic to the committee, following the normal deadlines, and register again for the paper. A student who fails the degree paper is a second time ineligible for graduation.


MALS students are expected to perform at the graduate level and to earn grades of B- or better in all their courses. The grade of C is allowed for students who is complete with credit, but whose work was unsatisfactory. The grade of F designates failure. Students are eligible for an incomplete degree with the same constraints applicable to undergraduate students, with the exception of the degree paper. For the degree paper, B- is the lowest passing grade. The Committee on Graduate Studies conducts a grade review at the end of each semester.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

Satisfactory academic progress refers to a minimum grade point average (GPA) expectation, the number of units completed during the academic year, and the time it would normally be taken to complete the MALS degree. For federal financial assistance purposes, a student is expected to maintain at least a 2.0 GPA. Full-time status at Reed is 3 units in a regular semester (fall or spring) and 1.5 units in summer. Based on the degree requirement of 9 units, a full time student would typically take two years to complete the program. Students are eligible for federal funding for up to 150 percent of the regular time to complete a degree; therefore, MALS students may be eligible for full-time study. A student who enrolls part-time during any semester can be eligible for additional semesters of federal aid.

Reed's institutional definition of the highest level of education in the country. It differs, however, from the federal definition in minimum GPA and time frame. MALS are expected to maintain a GPA of at least 3.0. They must apply for formal candidacy in the program after completion of their first two courses, and must complete the degree within six years of acceptance as a degree candidate.

Dropping Races, Refunds, and Withdrawal from the Program

MALS students who drop races during a semester must complete an add / drop form, available from the registrar's office. The signatures of the instructor, adviser, and student are required for acceptance of the form. Deadlines for registration is published in the academic calendar. The date that the completed form is submitted to the registrar's office is the effective date for any tax refund.

The refund of tuition is based on the percentage of the payment period completed by the student. The effective drop date determines the period of completion. The method of determining the rate of return to nonfederal Title IV financial aid (eg, alternative loans or the Menashe scholarship). The business office has detailed information on the refund policy.

No deviations from the refund schedule will be made except in cases of extreme hardship, from which the college shall be the sole judge. The Administration Committee may, with the recommendation of the MALS program director, approve petitions for such exceptions. Reed College's policy is based on the fact that it is an institution with a semester-based program and instructors are not required to take over. The refund policy applies to all graduates who drop out of the market during a semester, whether or not they have federal Title IV financial assistance, except as noted in the section below.

Any student who wishes to withdraw formally from the MALS program must provide written notification to the MALS office. If the student is enrolled at the time of withdrawal, the student must complete the add / drop form.

Credit balances under $ 10 will not be refunded.

Tuition Refund for Federal Title III Financial Aid Recipients

Federal Title IV financial assistance is available to MALS students primarily through unsubsidized Federal Direct Stafford Loan. For students who are recipients of federal Title IV financial aid, additional calculations must be made for tuition refunds.

First, the college calculates the amount of Title. If the percentage of payment is greater than 60 percent, the student is considered to have earned 100 percent of its Title IV aid; otherwise, the student has earned the actual percentage calculated.

Second, the college compares the amount earned with the amount of Title IV programs. The amount disbursed to the student's account, plus the Title IV, which could have been disbursed to the student's account (such as memo scales).

Third, the college determines the amount of Title. Direct Loans, Direct Graduate PLUS Loans.

Health Insurance

All degree-seeking in the field of health and well-being. Students are allowed a term of nonenrollment in their progression to the MALS degree; a second term of nonenrollment would result in termination of coverage. A student who is unable to return to classes because of an additional requirement for an additional period of time.

Regency BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon's network of preferred providers. Regency BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon at 888 / 526-9622 is available at or calling .

MALS students can choose their own primary care providers off campus. In addition, currently enrolled in the medical care program, or who can show proof of major medical insurance with comparable benefits and coverage provided by the Reed Plan, may use the services of Reed 's health and counseling center. The health center requires them to be fully informed and to provide the highest level of assurance.

Course Offerings - The following courses are scheduled for the 2015–16 academic year:

Art 544 - Video, Media, Politics (1968–Present)

One-half race for one semester. Video art started in the late 60's with artists turning the camera into their own studios. But far from being a privatized or insular art form, the video medium draws on various popular media, including home video, cinema, television, and, more recently, webcams and online video. We will discuss these popular media as well as the art of criticism. We also will address the role of video in the new forms of politics associated with the 60s: civil rights, queer politics, and feminism. Connecting our discussions of video and its politics will be questions of media, and especially the reception of new media. Offered fall 2015.

History 570 - The Incas

One-half race for one semester. This race will examine the Incas from their origins as a tribal power, through their extraordinary creation of a pan-Andean empire in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, to the collapse of Inca hegemony in the face of Spanish conquest and the construction of a colonial society . Particular attention will be given to the political and economic organization of the empire; Inca ideology; and the development of the Inca core around Cusco and the enormous variation in provincial societies. Methodologically, the class will address the challenges and limits of studying nonliterate civilizations through the archaeological record and postfactum accounts by Spaniards. The postconquest society and the ideology of Spanish colonialism. Offered spring 2016.

Liberal Studies 505 - Transformation and Identity in the Roman Empire

One-half race for one semester. This article focuses on several major literary, religious, and philosophical texts that emerged from the Roman Empire from the first through the fourth centuries of the Common Era, which course focuses on some of the modes (Stoic, Christian, Neoplatonist, etc.) by which writers of the period sought after with the immense changes afoot in the governance of the Mediterranean world. Specifically, the course explores some of the major responses to the deterioration of traditional Greco-Roman forms of civic participation in political life. Offered spring 2016.

Liberal Studies 520 - Turn-of-the-Century Vienna and Prague

One-half race for one semester. Viennese modernism designates multifaceted new artistic and cultural currents at the turn of the nineteenth century. These heterogeneous manifestations include the literary group Jung-Wien; coffee culture; the empirico-criticism of Ernst Mach; Freud's psychoanalytic theory; Weininger's Misogynistic and Anti-Semitic Study of Race and Gender; Wittgenstein's philosophy of language; the Secession movement in the visual arts; Schoenberg's music; Austrian anti-Semitism; and the rise of radicalized ideologies. We will explore the emerging cultural and political movements as different modes of a crisis of identity. Through an excursus to Bohemia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, we will explore the Prague culture and its most prominent figure, Franz Kafka. Offered fall 2015.

Liberal Studies 552 - Classical Traditions and Receptions

One-half race for one semester. In this course we will read a selection of major works in Greek and Roman literature, and analyze them through two lenses: their own historical context (focusing on cultural and political events) and their reception through specific examples in later literature. The fundamental goal of the race will be to develop deep knowledge of a major classical texts and critical acumen through reception. We will emphasize the diversity of "classical" texts, as well as the diversity of their reception-critical literary issues regarding colonialism, war, education, translation, imitation, inheritance, and resistance. Offered summer 2016.

Literature 537 - James Joyce

Full race for one semester. This race surveys the fiction of the writer often called the most influential and innovative novelist of the twentieth century. For all of its modernist difficulty, Joyce's fiction, when read in chronological progression, actually educates its readers in strategies of reading each of his successive new styles. Joyce's most accessible naturalistic stories from Dubliners, and then progresses to his experiments with stream of consciousness in a Portrait of a Young Man before tackling his mature explorations into changing rhetorical styles in Ulysses.We will also look at the contexts of popular, social, and political culture from early twentieth-century Ireland and Europe in which Joyce's in his fiction, as well as critical scholarship on the fiction. Offered summer 2016.

Literature 571 - Critical Race Theory

One-half course for one semester. Critical race theory began as a movement in the 1970s, fueled by those in the legal profession who felt that the gains of the civil rights era had either stalled or were being rolled back, and that too often, the legal profession was complicit in upholding white supremacy and the hierarchies of gender, class, and sexual orientation. Critical race theory thus attempted to reinterpret and remake the world to reveal silenced suffering and to relieve social misery. One of the ways it challenged the notion of a colorblind society was by abandoning traditional legal objective language and instead writing from a subjective perspective, using storytelling, parables, and autobiography to confront what Derrick Bell has called “the permanence of racism.” Offered spring 2016.

Mathematics 537 - The Trials of Galileo

One-half course for one semester. This course provides an introduction to classical astronomy, with particular attention to the Copernican Revolution. Students will study the problem of Plato, who required explanation of the anomalous motions of the planets in terms of circular motion at constant speed. Students will also study excerpts from Copernicus with an objective to explain his criticisms of and proposed revisions to the current form of Ptolemaic astronomy, and then to show that Copernican astronomy improved upon the Ptolemaic only in an aesthetic sense imperceptible to all but a few. The question of why the new astronomy did in time prevail will be the focus of the third part of the course. Excerpts from the relevant works of Kepler, of Galileo, and of the Jesuits will be introduced to show the gradual accumulation of observational evidence in favor of the new astronomy. The celebrated trials of Galileo (1633), in context of Counter-Reformation politics, will set the focus for the final discussion. Conference. Offered fall 2015.

MALS 670 - Degree Paper

Full course for one semester or one year.

Recent Courses - The following graduate courses have been offered in the past five years:

Art 530 Art and Life in Renaissance Florence
Art 551 Theories of Visuality
Biology 505 The Biological Legacy of Lewis and Clark
Biology 520 Pacific Northwest Forests
Classics 531 Socrates and Plato
Dance 560 Gender, Form, and Identity in Contemporary Dance
Economics 567 Financial Crises, Market Crashes, and Economic Depressions
English 530 Race and Region: Representing the American South
History 535 American Abolitionism
History 545 The Vietnam War
History 553 The French Revolution, 1770–1800
Liberal Studies 510 The Fifties in the U.S.
Liberal Studies 511 Horror and the Sublime in Russian Culture
Liberal Studies 523 Dante’s Divine Comedy
Liberal Studies 524 American Dead and Undead
Liberal Studies 527 Sex, Gender, and Political Theory
Liberal Studies 537 Women in the Ancient World
Liberal Studies 548 Sports and Social Life
Liberal Studies 553 Literary and Visual Culture in Eighteenth-Century Britain
Liberal Studies 556 Race and the Immigrant Experience
Liberal Studies 558 Islam in the Modern World
Liberal Studies 563 The Bloomsbury Group
Liberal Studies 570 The Theory and Practice of Globalization
Liberal Studies 571 The American Civil War in History and Memory
Liberal Studies 578 Politics, Culture, and the Great Depression
Liberal Studies 582 Truth and Representation in Early Modern Europe
Liberal Studies 591 Contemporary and Classical Literary Theory
Literature 510 Modern Turkish Literature: East-West Trajectories
Literature 528 Late Tolstoy: From Anna Karenina to a Religious Teaching
Literature 532 Leo Tolstoy
Literature 533 Constructions of Jewishness in Cinema
Literature 541 Two Contemporary Dramatists
Literature 547 The Literature of Love
Literature 550 The Unknown Holocaust Cinema
Mathematics 537 The Trials of Galileo
Music 565 Music and Cold War America
Psychology 522 Stereotyping and Prejudice
Psychology 550 Psychological Perspectives on Art
Theatre 521 “The Mirror Up to Nature”: Reading Theatre History
Theatre 547 New Directions in Twentieth-Century Theatre