Master of Arts in Liberal Studies


The Intimacy of a Small College, The Breadth of a University

Working closely with faculty advisors, MALS students handcraft individualized programs of study in any area of the liberal arts. Students do not enroll in pre-established courses listed in a standard curriculum. Instead, they focus on subjects that intrigue them most, collaborating with their advisors to develop a course of study that examines a central theme, issue, or question from a number of different disciplinary angles. Many of these courses are unique, designed by and for the student with input from academic advisors and faculty.

One MALS student, for example, took courses in economics, political science, and architecture to investigate how large cities can create affordable housing for the elderly. Other MALS students have combined studies in Adirondack history and geology; developed models for self-sufficient school systems in small African communities; and delved into psychology, exercise science, and sociology to understand how an athlete’s motivation changes when competing individually or as part of a team.

Although our students often explore traditional subject areas such as business, literature, or education, they do so in a way that combines these subjects into a more comprehensive, multifaceted exploration that is not possible in a more traditional degree program. For example, one recent graduate focused her work on the question: How can corporations reconcile their responsibility to their shareholders with what they owe to their human community and natural environment? Her program of study incorporated coursework in ethics, sociology, and environmental studies—in a way that made her work here very different from what she could have done in a typical MBA or Environmental Science program.