Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

Introductory Seminar

Students enroll in either January or July and begin with the required introductory seminar, a week-long intensive course held on the Skidmore campus. Taught by Skidmore faculty from different areas of the liberal arts, the seminar introduces students to the power of interdisciplinary study, prepares them for graduate-level scholarship, and connects them to the wider MALS community.

Instead of surveying a collection of general topics, each seminar explores a single topic from different angles, thereby modeling the interdisciplinary approach that students will bring to their own studies. Past seminars have examined topics ranging from weddings (through literature, sociology, and visual art), to constitutional theory (through political science, history, and linguistics), to human landscapes (through geology, history, and philosophy). In so doing, the seminar challenges students to draw connections between the focus of their own course of study and the seminar’s topic—to do the kind of thinking-by-analogy that the Master’s program values so highly.

Students complete the course readings before arriving on campus and write a research paper during the month following the class. Students stay on campus during the seminar week, and many of the most powerful aspects of the seminar experience take place over lunch in the dining halls, by the picture windows in Scribner Library, or while exploring downtown Saratoga.

During the seminar, each student meets with his or her faculty advisor to develop the plan of study that clarifies the theme organizing the student’s curriculum and maps out the courses the student will take.

After completing the on-campus introductory seminar, students continue their programs of study without being in residence at Skidmore, through various modes of study.