Master of Arts in Liberal Studies


Especially designed for working adults, the Master's program offers students a wide range of ways to pursue their course of study:

Independent Studies

Independent studies allow students to work with faculty to design courses focused on their particular areas of interest. Together, the student and professor develop the independent study's content and form, agreeing on the course materials, requirements, and dynamics. Most often, students take these courses at a distance from Skidmore's campus and conduct their studies via e-mail, surface mail, or phone. Independent studies are not tied to the semester schedule of the academic year: they can begin or end at any time; they can be intensive courses that cover a great deal of ground in a short time, or they can move more slowly and last longer. This flexibility enables students to balance their coursework with the rest of their lives, and to shape the pace of their studies to match the way they learn best.

Although usually directed by members of the Skidmore faculty, independent studies may also be led by non-Skidmore faculty whose credentials have been approved by the student's advisors. These instructors range from faculty affiliated with other colleges and universities, to independent scholars, to accomplished professionals in the visual and performing arts.

In-class Graduate Courses

In order to enrich their experience of intellectual community, MALS students must take at least six semester hours of in-class, graduate coursework as part of their programs of study. With the guidance of their faculty advisors, students may enroll in courses at regionally accredited universities near their home, or travel to others in America or abroad during the regular school year or the summer.

Study Abroad

Sarah Bertucci, on the Andaman Coast of Southern Thailand.
Sarah Bertucci, on the
Andaman Coast of Southern
Thailand, reading for an
independent study in the
"Historical and Philosophical
Roots of American Education."

Master's students may take courses at universities throughout the world, as long as their advisors approve those courses. The expanding number of high-quality summer programs offer students the chance to take a wide range of courses—to study history or drama at Oxford University, for example, or painting, photography, art history, or creative writing in Florence.


Some Master's students pursue their theoretical explorations through practical experiences as well as academic coursework. Students can design an internship in collaboration with their advisors and the internship supervisor. The student's faculty advisor oversees the work and reviews the award of academic credit.

Online/Correspondence Courses

Students may also fulfill the course requirements specified in their academic plans through online or correspondence coursework at regionally-accredited universities. Guidance toward high-quality course offerings is available from the MALS office.

Prior Graduate Coursework

Many of our students enter the program having already completed graduate coursework at other universities. In cases when this prior coursework contributes significantly to the focus of their program of study, students may petition to have this coursework incorporated into their program. There is no limit to the number of semester hours that students may transfer into their program; however, students must complete 24 or more semester hours of work while enrolled at Skidmore.