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 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. New schools of thought, such as multiculturalism, post-modernism and feminism, have challenged older 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 sections of Models of Critical Inquiry from which to choose. All share the same pre-residency assignment introduced at orientation and on the webpages of the online part of your course. All sections 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 sections include a graduate research paper assignment later in the term. You can choose the section that is the best fit for you. This information is available on the online registration information on MyESC.

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

You will register for your section of Models by selecting the topic of greatest interest to you. The different Models topics available are described in the online registration list of term courses.

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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 liberal studies 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 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 residency is one of the most important events of your core courses. In this short-term conference setting you will have the opportunity to discuss the concepts of the core courses in depth with on-site faculty interaction. 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.

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 of the courses will open one week before the term begins. You will also receive an introduction to these assignments at the orientation.

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Note: You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to read PDF documents. If Acrobat Reader is not installed on your computer, you can download it for free from AdobeIf you are unable to use the file, please contact Graduate Student Services for assistance.