Master of Liberal Studies | M.L.S.

 Joe Chaney, Ph.D.Master of Liberal Studies (M.L.S.)

Joseph R. Chaney, Ph.D. | Program Director
Wiekamp Hall 3169 | (574) 520-4870 |

General Information

The Master of Liberal Studies (M.L.S.) degree program in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences provides opportunities for students to engage their curiosity in an intellectual exploration of the world of ideas. But the rewards of the pursuit of knowledge go beyond intellectual satisfaction. Students gain a refreshed approach to an enriched personal and professional life through a program that reinvigorates curiosity and creativity. They 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, 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. degree program draws on faculty with diverse expertise to explore topics through an interdisciplinary approach.

Admission Requirements

Students are admitted to the M.L.S. degree 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 GPA 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. M.L.S. faculty consist of Ananth, Chaney, Feighery, Lidinsky, Lucal, Marr, Nair, Scheessele, S.R. Sernau, K. Smith, and Wells.

Application Deadlines

Students may be admitted to the M.L.S. degree program to begin in either the fall or spring semesters. All admission decisions are made by the graduate liberal studies faculty. The Admissions Committee reviews applications on a regular basis. The deadlines for submitting completed applications for review by the committee are as follows:

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

Late applications may be considered under some circumstances. Students wishing to enter in the fall are strongly encouraged to submit their materials by the March 31 early admission deadline to assure an opening in the program. Students are also advised to provide reference letter writers at least two to four weeks notice so their letters arrive prior to the deadline. Applications that are not completed by a given deadline may not be considered until the next deadline if classes have been filled. Completed applications include the following:

  • Application for admission,
  • 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 prior to submitting an application.

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 M.L.S. 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.

Proseminar 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 requires 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.

Independent Research/Creative Activity Option

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. The graduate project is an independent scholarly or creative enterprise in which the student demonstrates mastery of a specific topic. Examples include: a thesis, a collection of poems or short stories, a translation of a work of literature, or an artistic composition or performance. To enter this track students must successfully complete a project proposal.

  • LBST-D 601 Graduate Project Proposal Seminar
  • LBST-D 602 Graduate Project (6 cr.)

Public Intellectual Option

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.

  • LBST-D 600 Public Intellectual Practicum

Select two of the following:

  • LBST-D 501 Humanities Seminar
  • LBST-D 502 Social Sciences Seminar
  • LBST-D 503 Science Seminar

Sustainability Leadership Option

An M.L.S. 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 M.L.S. 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 620 Sustainable Technologies and Alternative Energy

Sustainability Electives (3 cr.)

Select one of the following:

  • 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.)

  • LBST-D 600 Public Intellectual Practicum
  • SUST-S 690 Sustainability Leadership Development and Planning

Transfer Credit Hours

Applicants may request transfer of up to 6 credit hours of graduate elective credits from another accredited college or university. A written request must be sent to the director along with a copy of transcripts from the originating institution. Students may also request that up to 9 credit hours of graduate elective credit taken at an Indiana University campus be counted towards elective requirements. Again, a written request must be sent to the director identifying the specific course and describing how they contribute to the Master of Liberal Studies.

Academic Regulations

Students must have their programs of study approved by the M.L.S. program director. Students may take up to 9 credit hours of electives in a single academic program.

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

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

Academic Bulletins

PDF Version

Click here for the PDF version.