Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

The Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) is designed for educators, artists, writers, activists, advocates, lifelong learners and others who, in collaboration with their academic advisor, want to create the design and focus of their own unique graduate degree plan. These are people with experience, imagination and creativity — active learners who value an interdisciplinary sequence of studies focused on a central theme, concept or issue. Students can also incorporate an advanced certificate into their degree program and earn a second credential. Submit an admissions application during our Application Review period.

Program Design

Liberal Studies is a 36-credit hour master’s degree incorporating online courses with several (usually 2-3) weekend Residencies.  The degree is a highly individualized program consisting of 12 3-credit courses. Your program begins with two courses that provide the tools you need to understand and adopt the perspectives of multiple disciplines. These courses are intended to help you explore the questions and topics of interest to you that are central to your individualized degree plan.

Required Courses

  • Seminar in Liberal Studies: examine the nature and value of liberal study
  • Models of Critical Inquiry: develop the skills necessary for graduate-level critical reading, writing and thinking
  • Perspectives on Interdisciplinary Studies: explore interdisciplinary study and lay the foundation for your educational plan
  • Literature Review: review literature relevant to your individual program
  • Methods of Inquiry: master the theory and methods appropriate for your individual program

Elective Courses and Final Project

You choose six elective courses to reflect your interests and to reinforce the individual focus of your degree. You are encouraged to use your electives to build a concentration around your final project topic. Many students choose to incorporate one of the advanced certificates into their master’s degree as their focus area.

The final project focuses on a topic of your interest that draws upon your prior course work and allows for a meaningful contribution to your field of study and/or practice. This project may take several forms, including a thesis, a practicum, a case study or a paper series, or a creative final project.


We’re here to help.

SUNY Empire’s admissions and financial aid staff is ready to work with you to make earning your degree possible and affordable.


Take the Next Step

Ready to advance your education and career? There’s no time like the present. Apply now, or learn more about SUNY Empire at one of our information sessions.