Academics

At the heart of Graduate Liberal Studies is a rigorous yet flexible interdisciplinary curriculum that can meet personal and professional goals. Design your own program of study from interdisciplinary courses developed for Graduate Liberal Studies as well as courses from throughout Duke’s Graduate School.

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The Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) degree requires nine courses and a Master's Project for a total of 30 units of credit

  • Many students attend part-time, taking just one or two courses per semester, while continuing with full-time jobs or other responsibilities.  Depending on whether or not they take courses during the summer, such students typically graduate in three to five years.  (Six years is the maximum time allowed by the Graduate School.)
  • Others attend full-time, taking three or four courses per semester.  (Four courses per semester, or nine courses per year, is considered a maximum course load.)  Such students typically complete the degree in one and a half to two years. 

Students are encouraged to take advantage of the interdisciplinary nature of the program by exploring in a range of academic subjects with a variety of Duke faculty. Some students participate in graduate certificate programs to enhance their Liberal Studies degree with a specialty area; others value the opportunity afforded by the degree to chart their own course of study, perhaps studying outside of traditional disciplinary and methodological boundaries.

The master’s project typically is not undertaken until all other courses are completed.  There are a number of prerequisites that must be fulfilled before submitting a master’s project proposal.  The student is responsible for finding an appropriate member of the graduate faculty to serve as supervisor. While some students enter the program knowing what they want to do for their master’s projects, most do not.  Many use the first half of their time in the program to explore, while using the last few classes to make sure they have the knowledge, skills and relationships in place for the sort of master’s project they decide to pursue.

Students must abide by the standards of conduct for responsible academic behavior.  In order to be certified as making satisfactory progress towards the degree, graduate students must maintain at least a 3.0 (B) cumulative grade point average. Academic advising and writing support are always available.  

Is Liberal Studies right for you?  Explore the menu to the left to find out more.