Programs by Campus

South Bend

Liberal Studies
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Departmental E-mail: jchaney [at] iusb [dot] edun>
Departmental URL:



Graduate Director

Associate Professor Joseph Chaney, 3169 Wiekamp Hall, (574) 520-4870

General Information

The Master of Liberal Studies (M.L.S.) program in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences provides opportunities to engage your curiosity in an intellectual exploration of the world of ideas. But the rewards of the pursuit of knowledge go beyond intellectual satisfaction. You will gain a refreshed approach to an enriched personal and professional life through a program that reinvigorates curiosity and creativity. You’ll gain fresh perspectives and the critical thinking, analytical, and communication skills so valued in today’s workplace.

Students begin with an introduction to graduate liberal studies and interdisciplinary methodology, and then enroll in at least three core seminars in the humanities, the sciences, and the social sciences.  Seminars combine detailed study of a particular topic with a broad interdisciplinary examination of ways of understanding. The M.L.S. program draws on faculty with diverse expertise to explore topics through a multidisciplinary approach.

Admission Requirements

Students are admitted to the Master of Liberal Studies program by the Graduate Liberal Studies faculty of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. To be considered for admission, students must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and must have obtained an undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.0.

A student whose native language is not English must have a minimum TOEFL score of 560 (standard grading) or 220 (computer graded). The recommended TOEFL score is 600 (standard grading) or 250 (computer graded).
Exceptions to these requirements may be made at the discretion of the Graduate Liberal Studies faculty.

Application Deadlines

Students may be admitted to the M.L.S. program to begin in either the fall or spring semester. All admission decisions are made by the members of the Liberal Arts and Sciences Graduate Liberal Studies faculty. The committee meets to review applications three times each year. The deadlines for submitting completed applications for review by the committee are as follows:

  • March 31 Early admission, fall semester
  • August 1 Final admission, fall semester
  • October 31 Admission, spring semester

Students wishing to enter in the fall are strongly encouraged to submit their materials by the March 31 early admission deadline to assure there will be an opening in the program. Students are also advised to give reference letter writers at least two to four weeks’ notice so that their letters will arrive prior to the deadline. Applications that are not completed by a given deadline will not be considered until the next deadline and may cause a delay in admission by one semester. Completed applications include the following:

  • Application form
  • Personal essay
  • Three letters of reference
  • Transcripts of all previous undergraduate study
  • Application fee

All students wishing to enter the program should contact the director before submitting an application.

Master of Liberal Studies Degree

Academic Curriculum (34 cr.)

(All courses are 3 credit hours unless otherwise designated.)

After successfully passing the introductory proseminar and the core seminar requirements for the program, students may select from one of two options to complete their M.L.S. degree.


  • D510 Introduction to Graduate Liberal Studies
  • Q510 Topics in Information Literacy (1 cr.)

Core Seminars

  • D501 Humanities Seminar
  • D502 Social Sciences Seminar
  • D503 Science Seminar

Each of the core courses is a graduate seminar combining detailed study of particular topics with broad interdisciplinary perspectives. These courses give students the opportunity to explore the connections that exist among the diverse disciplines and perspectives that define contemporary knowledge.


  • D511 M.L.S. Humanities Elective
  • D512 M.L.S. Social Science Elective
  • D513 M.L.S. Science Elective
  • D514 Graduate Liberal Studies Overseas Study
  • D594 Liberal Studies Directed Readings*
  • D596 Liberal Studies Independent Research*

Electives offer students a wide variety of choices with which to create programs of study suited to their individual interests. These elective courses may be selected to build support and background for the graduate project or to enable students to participate more ably in the public intellectual, artistic, and cultural life of their communities. In addition to the above, students may also repeat core seminars (each may be taken up to two more times under a different topic) and/or take graduate courses from other IU South Bend departments, divisions, and schools.*

To complete the Master of Liberal Studies degree, students must choose one of the following curricular options:
Independent Research/Creative Activity Option (34 cr.)

The Independent Research/Creative Activity Option offers students the opportunity to work closely with a faculty committee and to complete a final project designed around their unique interests. Students must take 12 credits of electives and then successfully complete their program with a graduate project. The graduate project is an independent scholarly enterprise in which the student demonstrates mastery of a specific topic. Examples include a thesis, a computer program, a translation of a work of literature, or an artistic composition or performance.

Electives (12 cr.)

Capstone Experience (9 cr.)

  • D601 M.L.S. Project Proposal Seminar (3 cr.)
  • D602 Graduate Project (6 cr.)

Public Intellectual Option (34 cr.)

Upon completion of two additional core seminars and 12 credits of electives, the Public Intellectual Option offers students the opportunity to work within a learning community made up of other students and led by a faculty facilitator to explore the variety of genre through which public intellectuals communicate, and to create their own portfolio of public intellectual work to be submitted for completion of the M.L.S. degree.

Additional Core Seminars (6 cr.)

Electives (12 cr.)

Capstone Experience (3 cr.)

  • D600 Public Intellectual Practicum (3 cr.)

Academic Regulations

Students must have their programs of study approved by the M.L.S. program director.

An average grade of B (3.0) is required for graduation, and no course with a grade lower than B– (2.7) will be counted toward the degree. Students are required to retain good academic standing, i.e., to maintain a GPA of at least 2.7. Failure to maintain good standing may result in dismissal from the program.

Other academic regulations and policies are established by the Graduate Liberal Studies faculty of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Students should consult the M.L.S. program director for further information.

*M.L.S. students may take no more than a total of 6 credit hours of D594 and D596 combined.

Academic Bulletins

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