Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

The Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) is designed for writers, scholars, educators, visual and performing artists,  activists, advocates, and lifelong learners  who, in collaboration with their academic advisor, want to  design  their own  graduate degree plan and unique final project. Are you  experienced, imaginative and creative? Are you an active learner who values an interdisciplinary sequence of studies focused on a central theme, concept or issue? Would you be interested in  incorporating an advanced certificate into your degree program and earn a second credential? Join us in the MALS program. 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 are followed by a series of electives that you can design or select, culminating in a unique final project.

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

Elective Courses and Final Project

You design or choose six elective courses to reflect your interests and to reinforce the individual focus of your degree. Check out our areas of concentration. 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. an educational design project, a position paper, or a creative project. Take a look at some sample final projects.


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.