Choosing and Preparing for Your MALS Courses

The following are some frequently asked questions:


What courses should I take?

Most students begin the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) program with the first two required courses: Seminar in Liberal Studies and Models of Critical Inquiry.

Seminar in Liberal Studies orients you to the requirements of graduate-level critical thinking and writing. Schools of thought, such as multiculturalism, post-modernism, and feminism have challenged assumptions about knowledge. Interdisciplinary approaches have reconfigured the relationships among formerly separate fields. This seminar will familiarize you with some of these developments, help you locate yourself among the ideas and inquiries that make up contemporary academic life, articulate your questions and curiosity, and consider the relationship of liberal studies to your own personal, intellectual, and professional trajectory.

Models of Critical Inquiry is designed to help you develop more fully the competencies necessary for graduate-level critical reading, writing, and thinking. A major theme is paradigms and paradigm shifts. This course examines the various lenses through which phenomena are perceived, interpreted and given meaning, as well as the tensions, debates, and relationships between different ways of knowing the world. We offer different Models of Critical Inquiry courses from which to choose. All share the same pre-residency assignment introduced at orientation and in the online course. All Models courses focus on the ways knowledge and power interact in historical and social contexts to produce particular paradigms for interpreting the world and how these paradigms shift over time. All Models courses include a graduate research paper assignment later in the term. You choose the Models course that is the best fit for you.

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How can I be sure that I have registered for the correct Models of Critical Inquiry course?

You will register for the Models course by selecting the topic of greatest interest to you. The different Models courses available are described in the online registration list of term courses (Term Guide) through the Registration and Course Offerings button on MyESC.

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Should I take both required courses this first term, or only one of them?

Graduate courses are challenging and time-consuming. Time management will likely be an issue for you whether you take one course or both courses. If you have many commitments and have not done academic work in a long time, you might choose to take only Seminar in Liberal Studies your first term. Many entering MALS students take both courses and succeed. By taking both of these residency-based courses in the same term, you only need to attend one residency to meet the requirement for both courses.

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What if my form of financial aid requires me to carry a specific amount of course credit?

It is important to note that the majority of graduate financial aid packages require that the student be enrolled in at least 5 credits per term. Therefore, most students will enroll in two courses, 6 credits, per term. If you are not sure what your aid package requires, please check with the financial aid office.

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When is orientation?

As a new MALS student, you are required to participate in the MALS orientation:

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What does orientation cover?

One of the purposes of the program-specific orientation is to introduce you to liberal studies, the faculty, and each other. This orientation is a time when you can clarify the important steps and resources you need to succeed in your first term. You will identify and connect with the people best able to help and support you if you have questions or concerns. Finally, it will be critical for you to participate in the program-specific orientation to understand fully the approaches you will need to take in carrying out your liberal studies writing assignments.

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When and where will the residency take place?

The required residencies are held in the fall and spring terms. You can view the residency information at Graduation Residency Information on the Graduate Student Center of MyESC.

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What will the residency cover?

The opening required residency is one of the most important events of your core courses. During the residency you will have the opportunity to discuss the concepts of the core courses with other students and faculty. You will receive individual attention in small discussion groups, with feedback on your contributions, and have the opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of the readings, concepts, skills, and processes of liberal studies. Writing and research workshops, a session on the expectations of the literature review in your program, and interactions with fellow students will help you get a sound start on your assignments and your program approach. Residency attendance is required. Once the residency schedule is available, you can view it at Graduation Residency Information on the Graduate Student Center of MyESC.

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How do I prepare for the residency?

Both Seminar in Liberal Studies and Models of Critical Inquiry have a pre-residency assignment. It is included in each online course. Most courses open for preview one week before the term begins. You will also receive an introduction to these assignments at the orientation.

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