Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS)

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 features a flexible, adaptable curriculum that students can tailor for the broadest possible application and personal enrichment. It is designed to sharpen the intellectual skills necessary for lifelong learning—critical reading, scholarly writing, and the art of interpersonal communication.

Program Details

Because each MALS student follows a unique course of study, students work with academic advisors to develop a curriculum proposal that satisfies both the interdisciplinary intent of the MALS program and the Graduate School's requirements for graduation.

Every MALS student is required to complete and submit a Coordinated Study grid before being admitted to the program. The Coordinated Study grid is a planning document that students use to identify the classes that will constitute their degree. Students may combine courses from any two or more disciplines with guidance and approval from an academic advisor. Please contact the Graduate Coordinator for any questions about the Coordinated Study grid.

The Coordinated Study is comprised of twenty-one (21) credit hours selected by the student from two or more disciplines. No more than 12 credit hours may come from any single department. At least 12 hours of the Coordinated Study must be 7000-level courses. Each student completes a Coordinated Study grid before starting the program, and that grid serves as a working agreement between the student and University College. The Coordinated Study grid must also identify at least three alternative courses that could be taken in the event that any of the student's primary course selections are not offered during the term of the student's enrollment.

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 in a sequence of study. Within two weeks after the start of the final semester, students will 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.

Students enrolled in the MALS degree will complete at least 33 credit hours, successfully present a Special Project (UNIV 7997), and pass an oral comprehensive examination. The 33 hours include two segments: the MALS Core and the Coordinated Study.

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

Students wishing to take UNIV 7997 must submit a proposal to the Graduate Coordinator in the semester prior to taking the course to receive approval. Access our Proposal Approval Form and review deadlines and additional details.

Applying for Admission to the Program

Applications for the Fall semester must be received by July 31; Spring semester by December 1; and Summer term by May 1.

All applicants must have completed an undergraduate degree with a cumulative grade point average of 2.75 on a 4.0 scale from an accredited college or university. Applicants are selected on a competitive basis, so admission is not guaranteed to all applicants who meet only the minimum requirements. Since all University College Graduate Programs aim to produce lifelong learners and competitive members of the workforce, applicants' submitted materials are scrutinized not only for content and but also for presentation, organization, professionalism, and compliance with the program's specific application instructions, which are listed below.

Step 1: Application for Admission to the Graduate School

All students seeking to enter any of the University College graduate programs must first apply to the Graduate School at the University of Memphis. The Graduate School accepts applications via electronic submission. Please review their site for specific instructions and deadlines. The MALS program does not require the GRE for admission. However, if you have taken the GRE or any similar entrance exam, please submit your scores to the Graduate School.

Step 2: Application to the University College MALS Program

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

  • Resumé:The applicant's resumé should include the applicant's employment history, academic history, current contact information, and any additional relevant information, such as professional skills, training, presentations, publications, etc.
  • Recommendation Letter: Applicants must submit at least one official letter of recommendation, preferably from a previous or current instructor who can attest to the student's capacity for graduate work. All recommendation letters must meet University College requirements or they will not be accepted.
  • Coordinated Study Grid: Applicants must submit a completed Coordinated Study Grid detailing the intended course of study.
  • Personal Essay: Applicants must submit a brief, original essay (approximately 500-600 words) 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?

To expedite processing, applicants are strongly advised to submit their materials all at once rather than sending each document separately.  Each document must have the applicant's name and submission date, and may be either emailed to or mailed to the following address:

Graduate Programs Coordinator
University College
University of Memphis
201 Brister Hall
Memphis, TN 38152-3440

Step 3: The Interview

One of the University College Graduate Program Coordinators may also require an interview with the applicant. If deemed necessary, the interview will be scheduled as a component of the application process prior to the acceptance. Interviews are conducted in person or by video conference.

Only after all of these steps are completed will a final decision be made on the application. Please note that the University College only has the authority to recommend or deny admission. The Graduate School makes all final admission decisions and will notify applicants once a decision has been reached.