What Can I Do with a Liberal Studies (MALS) Degree?

Anyone considering a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) degree needs to be aware that it does not represent certification for any one particular career, nor does it certify an under­standing of any one established body of knowledge.  However, it does offer the following possibilities:

Enhance Your Critical Thinking Skills

Liberal Studies is founded on the ideal of broad, interdisciplinary learning.  There­fore, a Duke MALS degree is more than anything else a degree in critical thinking -- in the ability to put information in context and make sense of it from various perspectives.  Such analytical skills – along with the research and writing skills one can also sharpen in our program -- are highly valued not only in academia, but in the worlds of business, government, art and journalism as well.  

Expand Your Possibilities

Our students come from diverse professional backgrounds and experiences -- whether in business, the non-profit sector, or other professional endeavors.  Therefore, they use our program in diverse ways.

  • Some tell us that the broader interdisciplinary education represented by our degree helps them be more intellectually nimble in their professional lives.  
  • Others take our degree to compensate for what they feel was an overly narrow undergraduate education, or to better understand the context of issues surrounding their profession, so that they can capitalize on those insights in their professional lives. 
  • Some take our degree because they want to shift over to a related profession within their chosen field.  
  • Still others use our program to transition into a completely new direction in their lives and careers.  

Create Your Own Specialization

Duke Liberal Studies gives students access to a wide array of graduate level classes at Duke University.  Because the Duke MALS degree is so flexible, it can be tailored to address your own personal or career concerns. 

  • Some students use our program to enhance their expertise in an interdisciplinary field of their own design.  They take courses that allow them to develop understanding, skills and faculty contacts concern­ing a particular issue or process, and often undertake a master's project that explores in depth some aspect of that focus, or allows them to apply what they have learned to a real-world situation.  
  • Other students use their electives to supplement the GLS degree with a Duke graduate certificate in a particular specialization.  
  • Still other students choose not to specialize, but use the degree to explore what interests them.

Prepare for Further Graduate Education

Increasing numbers of students use the flexibility of this degree to explore various academic fields in order to discern whether or not they should pursue a higher degree, and what field might be most appropriate for them.  Within the past few years, our students have been accepted to several Ph.D. programs -- as nearby as UNC-Chapel Hill and as far away as the University of Oxford -- in fields that include American studies, East Asian studies, cultural history, art history, philosophy, English, translation and cybersecurity.

Enrich Your Life

Many students enter the program purely for the personal intellectual growth and stimulation of discussing vital ideas in seminars taught by Duke Graduate Faculty members.