Why Liberal Studies?

You should consider Graduate Liberal Studies if…

  • you are looking for an intellectual workout that is demanding but deeply satisfying
  • you would like to learn new ways of thinking, develop your critical and creative thinking skills, improve research and writing skills, and gain educational breadth beyond your current specialization
  • you want to gain the sort of comprehensive understanding that can only emerge from exploring issues from more than one disciplinary perspective, or from new disciplinary perspectives
  • you are in (or would like to be in) a career which requires you to shift between multiple perspectives, methods or forms of data with intellectual nimbleness
  • you want a program that is flexible enough to meet personal and professional goals, with many evening classes and both part-time and full-time options
  • you are interested in graduate-level study, but want to explore a bit before commiting to one particular speciality
  • you seek a community of intellectual peers with whom to share ideas
  • you want to experience the joy of intellectual growth and discovery.

The foundation of GLS programs is the idea that interdisciplinary learning is central to an individual’s continuing intellectual growth and capacity for critical thought. Because this sort of learning does not stop at the boundaries of particular academic disciplines, GLS programs offer a wide range of courses not available in traditional, discipline-bound, graduate programs. From an interdisciplinary approach, students explore diverse subjects and apply fresh perspectives from a variety of fields.

The first Graduate Liberal Studies program was established in 1955, but the concept underlying Liberal Studies is much older.   It is similar to the term “liberal arts,” but while “liberal arts” is often used nowadays to identify a particular content (the disciplines of the arts and humanities) Liberal Studies refers to a more generalist, interdisciplinary approach to knowledge that can encompass the arts, humanities and sciences.  

In other words, what defines GLS is not so much a particular body of knowledge, but a more integrative approach to the construction of knowledge.  (Note that the word “liberal” in both terms is used not in its contemporary political sense, but in its more basic sense of “unrestrict­ed.”)   Liberal Studies refers to a way of thinking that is not limited by the disciplinary boundaries that have characterized modern academia.   Liberal Studies is about addressing issues not only within traditional fields and disciplines, but exploring in between those fields, around them and sometimes even beyond them into territory that is not yet well-cultivated. 

The result is a deeply satisfying educational experience that expands students’ intellectual range, promotes openness to new ideas and appreciation of differences, stimulates the application of academics to personal and professional lives, and encourages a lifelong commitment to learning and free inquiry.