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Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

The Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) program at the University of Memphis allows students to customize an interdisciplinary course of study.  The program is for those seeking the personal enrichment provided by liberal learning and the development of intellectual skills necessary to lifelong learning—critical reading, scholarly writing, and the art of interpersonal communication.

Admission Requirements

Completion of an undergraduate degree with a cumulative grade point average of 2.75 on a 4.0 scale from an accredited college or university is expected.  It should be noted that as applicants are selected on a competitive basis, admission is not granted to all applicants who meet only the minimum requirements.

Application for admission to the program consists of three steps:

Step 1: Application for admission to the Graduate School

The Graduate School at the University of Memphis accepts applications via electronic submission at

Admission deadlines to the program:
Fall - July 1
Spring - December 1
Summer - May 1

Step 2: The Application Essay and Letters of Recommendation

As soon as possible after applying to the Graduate School, students interested in the MALS program should submit to the University College Graduate Programs office the following:

(a) Two, official letters of recommendation, preferably from previous or current instructors who can attest to the student’s capacity for graduate work.

(b) An application essay that addresses the following points:

  • Why is the MALS program the best choice for pursuing your personal and intellectual goals?
  • How have your academic and professional experiences prepared you for this program?
  • What is the theme of the program of study you want to pursue, and how will your Coordinated Study courses develop that theme?
  • Why do you think you are a good candidate for the MALS program?

(c) A completed *Coordinated Study Grid to be submitted by email to

Step 3: The Interview

Once the Graduate School has processed your application and received your transcripts, the Graduate Coordinator for the MALS program will review your application essay, transcripts and letters of recommendation to determine if you appear to be a good candidate for the program. You will then be contacted by the University College Graduate Programs office to schedule an interview.

PLEASE NOTE that the University College only has the authority to recommend or deny admission to the MALS program. The Graduate School makes all final admission decisions, and will notify students once a decision has been reached.


Program Requirements

Because each MALS student follows a unique course of study, students develop a proposal with the University College to create a program that satisfies both the interdisciplinary intent of the MALS program and the Graduate School’s requirements for graduation.

At the time of admission to the MALS program, the Graduate Coordinator approves the student’s course of study as reflected on the *Coordinated Study Grid that accompanies the application essay. Students then enroll each semester in available courses from the approved plan. Within two weeks after the start of the final semester they must submit a final Program Proposal that reiterates the student’s academic goals (if necessary, reflecting any changes that have developed since admission) and identifies the Coordinated Study courses actually completed. Major deviations from the original approved plan require department pre-approval and will be addressed at the time of registration each semester.

Program Requirements

1. Successful completion of the MALS degree requires thirty-three (33) credit hours, with a minimum of 24 credit hours at the 7000-level, 12 of which are included in the MALS Core.

The MALS Core is required of all students, and consists of twelve (12) credit hours:

  • UNIV 7000 Foundations of Liberal Studies (3 hours):  Analytical introduction to graduate liberal studies and its theoretical framework.  Readings in and concerning the humanities, social sciences, and natural science. Course may be taught with different readings during different semesters.  Must be taken within the first two semesters in the MALS Program.
  • UNIV 7100 Research in Interdisciplinary Studies (3 hours):  Methods of inquiry and research appropriate to graduate interdisciplinary studies. Permit required.
  • UNIV 7200 Liberal Studies Seminar (3 hours):  Interdisciplinary examination of major issue, historical period, or theme. Topic may vary. This course is not typically available during Summer terms. Permit required.
  • UNIV 7996 Special Project (3 hours):  Supervised research based upon knowledge and skills learned in the MALS program. Creative or performance component acceptable. PREREQUISITE:  UNIV 7000, UNIV 7100, UNIV 7200, and an approved MALS Special Project Proposal. Permit required.

The Coordinated Study is comprised of twenty-one (21) credit hours selected from two or more disciplines:

  • At least 12 hours must be 7000-level courses.

  • Courses must be selected from at least two disciplines, with a maximum of 12 credit hours from a single department.

  • UNIV 7796 Independent Study (3 hours): Research into interdisciplinary area of study supportive of individualized MALS program. May be repeated once. PREREQUISITE: Instructor of record and MALS Graduate Coordinator approval of MALS Independent Study Proposal; department approval.

  • At least three alternative courses must be included in the Coordinated Study portion of the proposal, as certain courses may not be offered during the term of a student’s enrollment.

2. Successful presentation of the Special Project and an oral comprehensive examination.

* The Coordinated Study Grid is a working agreement between the student and University College for the fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degree from the University of Memphis.

The MALS degree program consists of 33 semester hours of study in the following areas.

◊ 9 hours in liberal studies courses (UNIV 7000, 7100 & 7200)

◊ 21 hours of merged curriculum from at least two disciplines

◊ One 3 hour Special Project course tailored to the student’s area of study

◊ Successful completion of an oral comprehensive examination.

Review a typical 2 year sequence.


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University College Graduate Programs
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201 Brister Hall
Memphis, Tennessee 38152
901.678.4056 | 901.678.4049 (fax)

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Last Updated: 11/12/14