Programs by Campus

South Bend

Liberal Studies

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Departmental E-mail: jchaney [at] iusb [dot] edu

Departmental URL:

Graduate Director

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

(Please note that when conferring University Graduate School degrees, minors, certificates, and sub-plans, The University Graduate School’s staff use those requirements contained only in The University Graduate School Bulletin.)



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.)

Three degree options are available to students: the Independent Research/Creative Activity Option, the Public Intellectual Option, and the Sustainability Leadership Option. The Sustainability Leadership Option is more specialized than the other two options; it incorporates the curriculum of the Graduate Certificate in Strategic Sustainability Leadership in place of electives. The three options are also distinguished by different capstone experiences.

All three options require successful completion of the introductory proseminars and the MLS core seminars. Each of the core seminars combines 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.

Proseminars and Core Seminars (13 cr.)

COAS-Q 510 Topics in Information Literacy (1 cr.)
LBST-D 510 Introduction to Graduate Liberal Studies
LBST-D 501 Humanities Seminar
LBST-D 502 Social Sciences Seminar
LBST-D 503 Science Seminar

The Independent Research/Creative Activity Option and the Public Intellectual Option give students the choice of a wide variety of elective courses suitable to their individual interests. These elective courses may be selected to build support and background for the graduate project, or to enable students to more ably participate in the public intellectual, artistic, and cultural life of their communities. In addition to the courses below, students may also repeat core seminars as electives (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.

Electives (12 cr.)

LBST-D 511 Master of Liberal Studies Humanities Elective
LBST-D 512 Master of Liberal Studies Social Science Elective
LBST-D 513 Master of Liberal Studies Science Elective
LBST-D 514 Study Abroad
LBST-D 594 Liberal Studies Directed Readings*
LBST-D 596 Liberal Studies Independent Research*

The Independent Research/Creative Activity Option and the Public Intellectual Option each require a distinct form of capstone experience.

Capstone Experience (9 cr.)

To complete the degree under one of these two options, students choose one of the following capstone experiences.

  • 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.

Sustainability Leadership Option

An MLS degree with a strong emphasis in sustainability leadership gives graduates the tools to contribute creatively to a growing international movement among businesses and communities. The student is able to add specific expertise in sustainability to the general communications skills and academic interdisciplinary skills developed in the MLS core courses. A student is able to shape the degree to fit specific professional and personal goals, but at the core of the educational experience are the values of interdisciplinary scholarship and practice, as well as the understanding of how to lead effective sustainability efforts in several contexts. The Sustainability option incorporates the curriculum of the Graduate Certificate in Strategic Sustainability Leadership into the core requirements of the IU South Bend Master of Liberal Studies degree. It includes two capstone courses, the Public Intellectual Practicum and the seminar on Sustainability Leadership and Planning.

Sustainability Required Courses (9 cr.)
SUST-S 501 Sustainability Strategies and Applications
SUST-S 520 Sustainability and Innovation
SUST-S 530 Sustainable Technologies and Alternative Energy</p>

Sustainability Electives (choose one) (3 cr.)
SUST-S 630 Sustainable Food Systems
SUST-S 660 Sustainability and the Built Environment

MLS Elective Hours (3 cr.)

Select three credit hours of electives from among graduate course offerings, including independent study credit, with approval of the academic advisor.

Two Capstone Seminars (6 cr.)
SUST-S 690 Sustainability Leadership and Planning
LBST-D 600 Public Intellectual Practicum

Academic Bulletins

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