Typically the GLS program has about 50 full-time students and 70 part-time students enrolled each semester.  Up to 30 new students enter the program each Fall, while up to 15 new students enter each Spring.

GLS students come from all walks of life: salesmen and civil servants; physicians and police officers; technicians and CEOs.  Some have liberal arts backgrounds, while others have technical or professional degrees in the sciences, engineering, medicine, law, business, or journalism.  Many students already live in the area, but some move here from elsewhere in the United States or from abroad.  They represent all ages, as well as a wide variety of cultural backgrounds and life experiences.  Most are part-time students taking one course a semester, but many are full-time students who complete their degree requirements at a faster pace. 

This diversity of background enriches the GLS experience, because what our students share is a deep desire for intellectual challenge and personal growth. Curious about their world, they seek to go beyond the superficial to explore more profound meanings and values, with each student contributing his or her own knowledge, background and experience to Liberal Studies seminars.

This exploration is a cooperative process in which GLS students engage with faculty and fellow students in a mutually supportive environment.  Indeed, one of the best aspects of Duke’s GLS program is being part of a community of fellow students who are intellectually active and engaged.  This community includes past students as well, through the GLS student/alumni organization, GLS AfterHours.  One of the enduring dividends of the program are the personal and intellectual friendships that develop along the way.


Student News

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26 GLS Students Awarded MALS Degrees

May 14, 2016

On Saturday, May 14, 2016, Graduate Liberal Studies awarded 26  MALS degrees. Gregson Davis, Andrew W. Mellon Research Professor of the Humanities and a GLS Advisory Board member, addressed the graduates. Kim Smith served as graduate student speaker, while Director Donna Zapf and Assistant Director Kent Wicker presided over the commencement ceremony.

Seven graduates received the distinction of Exemplary Master's Project. They are:

  • Natalya Barker, “Revising Justice: Punitory Thought  and Action in the Works of Atwood, Jordan and Oates.”
  • Richard Barlow , “From Prose to Policy: Leonard Woolf’s Literary Journey from Unconscious Imperialist to Conscientious Internationalist.”
  • Kaitlin Henderson, “Ambiguously Human: Questioning the Dichotomy between Human and Object.”
  • Francesca Prince, “Compensatory Education: Approaching the Problem from the Wrong Direction.”
  • Laura Ruble, “How Cities Became Kindling: Racism and the Decline of Two Once-Great American Metropolises: Detroit and Baltimore.”
  • Dan Scheirer, “Thinking Like a Mountain: the Antiquities Act in its Political and Ideological Milieu.”
  • Kim Smith, “Book of Harriet: The Disambiguation of Five North Carolinian Siblings 1840-1941.”

Click here for a full list of graduates and their master's projects. View our Graduation 2016 photo album on Facebook.


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John Bechtold Presents at 2016 Grad-X

April 8, 2016

John Bechtold was one of 18 selected graduate student speakers who presented their work at Duke’s 2016 Grad-X talks on April 6. Drawing on ideas and photographs from his GLS master’s project, John contrasted the image of the patriotic hero in American culture with the images and experiences of actual veterans. You can see a video of the Grad-X talks here. John’s presentation starts around 2:16:00.