Master of Arts in Liberal Studies - FAQ
A bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited school, or its foreign equivalent, is required for entry into the program, as is an admissions essay that demonstrates your understanding of the program and how you will personally benefit from it. Instructions for writing the essay are included on the application form.
Your application will be evaluated by the MA in Liberal Studies Admissions Committee, which is chaired by the Program Director. The admissions essay is the primary means by which your preparedness for graduate-level study will be evaluated. The following considerations will guide the admissions committee in its assessment of your essay:
- Your essay demonstrates that the MA in Liberal Studies degree is appropriate for your personal or vocational goals.
- Your essay demonstrates that you understand the program and that your proposed focus is appropriate for the MA in Liberal Studies degree.
- Through your essay, you demonstrate that you have the necessary writing skills, motivation, academic preparation, and intellectual maturity to succeed in the program.
- Your essay demonstrates that you are capable of successfully completing your proposed program.
- Your essay also helps us guide your studies so that the courses you take align with your interests and desired academic outcome.
The cost of the program varies, depending on how many eligible graduate credits you have earned prior to enrollment. If you use credit from other institutions to meet requirements, you will pay those institutions for the credit, not Excelsior College. You should budget for tuition, fees, and books for tier I courses and, where necessary, for tier II courses as well. You may also incur research expenses for tier III. Detailed information is available on the Graduate Fee Schedule (PDF).
Several financial aid and financing opportunities are available to assist you with the cost of earning the masters in liberal studies degree. The staff of our financial aid office encourages you to take advantage of these benefits and will help you understand the various requirements and eligibility standards for financial aid. Please contact them by phone at 855-323-9235 (toll free). Or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once you are accepted into the program and make your first tuition payment, you may begin taking courses. However, you are not considered enrolled and cannot receive academic advising until you pay the graduate student fee.
The Degree Completion Plan is a document that you will prepare at the conclusion of the Tier I core courses and is only required of students enrolled in the Thesis Option. In it you will explain how you plan to earn credit for Tier II of the program. Also, in the reflective essay which is part of the plan, you will examine the interdisciplinary relationships among the components of your proposed program of study. You must show how your Tier I and II coursework relates to your area of focus and lays the groundwork for your thesis (Tier III). In addition to the DCP Guidelines (PDF), samples are available for guidance. It is important to note that it is at the time that you submit the DCP that your proposed transfer credit, if any, is approved, not at the time of admission.
An Independent Learning Contract (ILC) is a written agreement between you and Excelsior College regarding an independent study project you wish to undertake to earn credit to satisfy Tier II requirements. You are not required to complete an ILC; it is an option that is available to you. Your Independent Learning Contract must be related to your area of focus. A faculty member will be assigned to you and will serve as your mentor on the project.
The Capstone Option is designed for students who have an interest in interdisciplinary liberal studies and want the flexibility to tailor their coursework to their own special interests. Students will choose 15 credits of elective graduate credit in any liberal studies disciplines (minimum two disciplines). Once Tier II is complete, they will move directly to Tier III where they will complete a MLS*697 Methodology (or MLS*703 Historiography or MLS*703 Literary Theory) before moving on to MLS*798 Master's Capstone. This course will cover the Harlem Renaissance and focus on the art, music, history, politics, and literature of this period and will end in a culminating project. No degree completion plan (DCP) is required with this option.
The Thesis Option gives you an opportunity to fine tune and expand your written communication skills, the value of which cannot be overestimated.
There are two options for fulfilling the thesis requirement:
The Creative Thesis
For this option, you would choose a topic important to you and which would reflect your personal intellectual curiosity and passions. The end product would be a creative piece and an accompanying research piece. You could choose to write a collection of short stories, novella, book of poetry, screenplay, or original artwork or musical composition.
The Research-based Thesis
Choosing a topic that is meaningful for you and excites you is the key to successes in meeting the thesis requirement. Choose an interdisciplinary topic you want to know more about and become expert in. Your topic should include at least two liberal studies disciplines.
In either case, you work with three distinguished faculty readers to help accomplish this goal including the Program Director and Academic Advisor who will have worked with you throughout your program of study and will provide continued support.
Up to 15 graduate-level credits from regionally accredited institutions, with grades of B- or better, may apply toward the program, pending advisor approval. Please review the degree requirement chart (PDF). It is important for you to submit official transcripts for all courses to be considered for transfer. Certain conditions apply. Consult your advisor for guidance.
How long it will take you to complete the program depends on the credits you may have earned previously which may apply to the program. It also depends on your level of discipline and ability to focus on your studies. Because most MA in Liberal Studies students are working adults, we estimate that most students will complete the program in less than three years, but you will have six years from the date you enroll to complete the program.
No. Only graduate-level credits apply toward the program.
Not for admission to the program, but a minimum grade point average of 3.0 is required for graduation. Also only courses with a grade of B or better will be accepted for transfer. "Plus" and "minus" grades are not used at Excelsior College, so grades of B+ and B- are both computed as a B.
The MA in Liberal Studies program may support your career objectives if you are seeking licensing or certification, depending on the requirements in your state. However, depending on your state’s regulations, it may not. Please consult licensing/certifying bodies in your state for confirmation of whether or not the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degree will serve your purposes.
The goal of the MA in Liberal Studies program is to promote the values of liberal learning rather than to provide vocational or professional training or specific preparation for Ph.D. programs. Of course, completion of this or any other program does not guarantee acceptance into another graduate degree program, but graduates of MA in Liberal Studies programs are accepted into Ph.D. programs regularly.