FAQs: Program Basics


Q: Is the MALS program right for me?

A: Are you interested in humanities-based research topics or questions that don’t fit neatly into a single disciplinary approach? If so, the MALS program might be a good fit for you! While this graduate program encourages you to think beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries, it can’t be everything to everyone. Because MALS is housed in the Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts, your course program will need to have an anchor in at least one humanities field (and you should identify this field or fields in your application materials). If your research interests lie primarily in the social sciences or hard sciences, this program may not be right fit for you. If you have questions, or would like further clarification, please reach out to the MALS Coordinator before submitting your application.

It might be helpful to see what kinds of research topics some of our current graduate students are working on.

Q: What kinds of courses are offered in this program?

A: Every MALS student is required to take:

  • MALS 600 (Interdisciplinarity and Diversity) This course is usually offered each Fall, and you should plan to take it in your first or second semester
  • MALS 700 (Graduate Writing, Documentation, and Presentation) This course is usually offered each Spring, and you should plan to take it in your first or second semester
  • MALS 799 (Capstone/Thesis) This course is taken in your final semester and is supervised by your chosen faculty advisor. This course is expected to result in the production of an MA thesis (or project of similar scholarly substance and rigor).

Beyond these required courses, you will be designing your own course program (with guidance from the MALS program Coordinator), tailored to your research interests. A few MALS courses will be offered every semester, but you can also work with professors in the Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts to design a graduate-level version of an undergraduate course they teach.

The most important point to remember is this: the idea of the MALS program is NOT to take a random assortment of classes, but to craft a cohesive program that will help you approach your research question or topic in an interdisciplinary manner.

Q: Will I be able to take courses outside of the Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts?

A: Yes, you may take up to four courses (12 credit hours) outside of the Edwards College, but the availability of graduate-level courses in other colleges will depend, in large part, on your cultivating faculty mentors.

Q: What if I don’t already have a thesis topic?

A: Don’t worry! Most students don’t come into the MALS program with a specific thesis topic in mind. That being said, you should come into the program with a good idea of your intellectual interests or a general line of inquiry (see below, statement of intent). 

Q: How do I choose a faculty advisor?

A: A faculty advisor supervises your thesis, so they should be someone who can help guide you in your specific topic. You will want to start thinking about a faculty mentor during your first year in the program, so consider faculty you are taking courses with, as well as other faculty who share aspects of your research interests. Although the MALS program Coordinator can help you, it is ultimately your responsibility to cultivate faculty mentors, to identify potential advisors, and to meet with them to discuss their ability and willingness to supervise your thesis project.


FAQs: Application Materials

Q: Whom should I ask for recommendations?

A: You should ask people who know you well and who can speak to your abilities/potential (e.g., academic research and writing), as well as the personal qualities which will be necessary for success in graduate school (e.g., work ethic, intellectual curiosity, creativity, determination, etc.). You should also strongly encourage your recommenders to attach a substantive letter (1–2 pages) that provides detailed context for their evaluation of your abilities and potential.


Q: What should I include in my statement of intent?

A: The best statements do three things: they explain why the program is a good fit for you, they explain why you are a good fit for the program, and they reveal a little of your personality to the committee evaluating your application materials.

At a minimum, your statement should discuss…

  • why you want to pursue this specific degree (an MA in Liberal Studies at CCU)
  • what your intellectual/research interests and academic/career goals are––and, importantly, how an interdisciplinary program like this one (as opposed to a more discipline-specific degree program) will allow you to pursue them
  • what disciplinary perspectives/coursework you might want to combine in order to create a cohesive course program
  • what personal experiences or qualities you bring to the program
  • how you plan to succeed

In your discussion, you might want to reference specific courses you’d like to take and/or identify professors with whom you would like to work or take classes. Also bear in mind that this degree program is housed in the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, so, depending on your intellectual interests, you may want to explain how the humanities will comprise a significant component of your research. Remember, too, that your statement of intent is also a writing sample.

Q: What kind of writing sample(s) should I submit?

A: Ideally, you will submit a substantive academic writing sample (such as an undergraduate research paper) that demonstrates your writing ability, your understanding of academic citations, and your potential to carry out graduate-level research. Your writing sample should be research-based and you should be the only author. If you don’t have this kind of work to submit, or you’re unsure about the suitability of the writing sample you have, please reach out to the MALS Coordinator before submitting your application.