Broaden your perspective and learn to communicate across cultures. Broaden your perspective and learn to communicate across cultures. Broaden your perspective and learn to communicate across cultures. Broaden your perspective and learn to communicate across cultures. Broaden your perspective and learn to communicate across cultures.

School of Graduate and Professional Studies

Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

Questions?

Graduate Admission

630-637-5555

grad@noctrl.edu

Why choose Liberal Studies at North Central College?

A Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) will help you become a more seasoned writer, critical thinker and change leader, while exploring topics across disciplines that suit your professional needs and intellectual curiosity. North Central’s MALS is distinguished from a master’s degree in liberal arts because it offers two specialized programs. You can choose to focus on one of the following areas:

  • Writing, Editing and Publishing: A unique combination of professional and creative writing, plus editorial and management skills that prepare you to write, edit and publish in today’s wide-open writing environment.
  • Culture and Society: A flexible master’s program that allows students to combine MALS courses to create a comprehensive curriculum specifically tailored to your needs and interests.

Both tracks are committed to common goals that are grounded in principles of a liberal arts education at North Central College.  Each program equips you to:

  • Write and communicate with grace, power and precision
  • Think critically, creatively and ethically
  • Combine knowledge from many disciplines to gain a more holistic view of crucial issues
  • Lead in bringing social change that betters family, work and community

Small seminar courses are taught by many of the College’s most distinguished teachers and writers, who are passionate about their students’ success. All courses meet during evening hours. North Central’s ideal location—just 30 minutes west of Chicago by train and two blocks from the Naperville, Illinois train station—makes the MALS program accessible to city and suburban professionals.

Writing, Editing and Publishing, MALS

The Writing, Editing and Publishing Program offers an innovative curriculum specially designed for people from diverse backgrounds committed to sharing their work with a wider audience. The program cultivates a mature workshop environment, both challenging and nurturing writers as they draft, refine and market their work. Focused on the craft of writing, the ways forms of writing are related to and can be transformed into one another, and the process of bringing personal and professional projects to fruition, the program also builds crucial professional skills in editing and managing. It offers writers practical strategies for navigating today's wide-open writing environment and for understanding the entrepreneurial spirit, elements of design and aspects of the digital world that will help them do so. The program's breadth and flexibility, its concern with the importance of writing for career and community, and its conviction that writers today must be able to write in many forms and for many audiences are carefully balanced with the individual writer's desire for self-expression, for mastery of specific genres and content areas and for locating popular and literary markets where well-crafted work is appreciated.

Degree Requirements

A total of 33 credit hours required: Nine credit hours of core courses, 15 credit hours of emphasis courses, one Master's Project or Theses and six credit hours of Liberal Studies elective courses.

Common Core

  • MLS 506 - Ethics in Contexts

    MLS 506 - Ethics in Contexts

    3.00 credit hours

    A survey of normative theories of ethics (consequential, deontological, virtue and justice based), and their application to personal moral decision making and contemporary issues in public and professional contexts. Topics include: ethical pluralism, identifying ethical aspects of public policy and organizational issues and analysis of potential conflicts between civic, professional, religious and personal morality.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • MLS 590 - Public Discourse

    MLS 590 - Public Discourse

    3.00 credit hours

    A study of the many levels of public discourse, as well as a broad range of examples of public discussion past and present. The course seeks to foster a sense of public responsibility, and to enable students to understand ways their own interests and academic concerns may be brought effectively into the arena of public awareness, debate and action.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • MLD 683 - Leadership for Social Change and Renewal

    MLD 683 - Leadership for Social Change and Renewal

    3.00 credit hours

    A study of contemporary leaders who have developed organizations and programs addressing critical environmental and social issues. Their strategies for building consensus and constituencies will be considered in light of social and ethical theory.

    Prerequisite(s)


    Student must have completed at least one course in all three theme areas and one elective.

    Schedule Of Classes

Emphasis Courses

  • MLS 540 - Writing Life Stories

    MLS 540 - Writing Life Stories

    3.00 credit hours

    An innovative workshop course offering advanced practice in the creation of popular and/or literary autobiography and biography-based manuscripts. Students learn to transform and draft meaningful life stories into traditional and mixed-genre pieces suitable for publication or agenting. Particular emphasis will be given to market-ready creative nonfiction and literary journalism, memoir and travel writing, and may also include long-form poem cycles and personal essays.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • MLS 542 - Writing Fictions

    MLS 542 - Writing Fictions

    3.00 credit hours

    An innovative workshop course offering advanced practice in the creation of saleable literary fictions and meta-fictions. Via a variety of eclectic workshops students learn to transform and draft core story ideas into writer-selected, market-ready subgenres such as genre fiction, autobiographical novels, novellas, parables, fables, allegories and other experimental and/or cross-genre fictions.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • MLS 544 - Writing Performances

    MLS 544 - Writing Performances

    3.00 credit hours

    An innovative workshop course offering advanced practice in writing for performance. Students learn to transform and adapt compelling nonfiction, fiction and poetic situations and scenarios into market-ready performance pieces such as plays, dramatic sketches, monologues, audio commentaries, lyrics, oral storytelling and spoken word poetry.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • MLS 640 - Finding Markets

    MLS 640 - Finding Markets

    1.50 credit hours

    A highly individualized and small-group course in which students not only gain an understanding of the wide spectrum of markets for a writer's work, but also find specific markets for each student's particular works.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • MLS 642 - Finalizing Manuscripts

    MLS 642 - Finalizing Manuscripts

    1.50 credit hours

    A highly individualized and small-group course in which students finish manuscripts by fine-tuning them in relationship not only to the norms of a genre and carious standards of submission, but also to the demands of the specific markets and outlets to which they will be submitting.

    Schedule Of Classes

One of the following:
  • MLS 555 - Professional and Grant Writing

    MLS 555 - Professional and Grant Writing

    3.00 credit hours

    An advanced study of and practice of professional writing for various audiences, addressing style, structure and ethical considerations pertaining to a variety of document forms and publishing platforms. Special attention will be given to writing effective grant applications. Students may only receive credit for one of ENG 455, MLS 555 or MNM 551.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • MLS 648 - Social Consequences of New Media

    MLS 648 - Social Consequences of New Media

    3.00 credit hours

    A study of the confluence of "new media" technology and its implications for profound social change, impacting everything from the way we raise our children to the way we conduct war. This course explores both the beneficial and detrimental aspects of new media, focusing especially on solutions to probable detrimental effects before long term trends set in.

    Schedule Of Classes

Project or Thesis

One of the following:

  • MLS 695 - Master's Project

    MLS 695 - Master's Project

    3.00 credit hours
    Prerequisite(s)


    Students typically must have completed at least one course in each theme area, one elective and one capstone course. Before registering, students must also complete a proposal essay and obtain signatures from their faculty director and second reader attesting approval of the proposal.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • MLS 696 - Master's Thesis

    MLS 696 - Master's Thesis

    3.00 credit hours
    Prerequisite(s)


    Students must have completed at least one course in each theme area, one elective and one capstone course. Before registering, students must also complete a proposal essay and obtain signatures form their faculty director and second reader attesting approval of the proposal.

    Schedule Of Classes

Elective Courses

A minimum of six credit hours. Students are strongly urged to take courses from the emphasis courses in the Culture and Society, MALS. These MALS courses help students build expertise in such issues as race and ethnicity, gender, ethics or science. Alternatively, the growing need for people to understand health care argues for taking the course MLS 562 - The U.S. Healthcare System and Patient Advocacy. And the importance of new media suggests that students consider MLS 648 - Social Consequences of New Media if they have not already taken it as one of the emphasis courses above.

Many of the emphasis courses may connect students to internships or other hands-on experiences in writing, editing or publishing, but students may also choose MLS 697 - Internship as one of their elective courses as well as MLS 599 - Independent Study or MLS 693 - Independent Study.

If students want more work in a particular writing form, they may also choose one of the ENG 400-level writing courses in poetry, fiction or creative non-fiction with approval of the MALS program coordinator and the course instructor. Extra work, specified by the course instructor, will be required to attain graduate credit. Finally, any of the courses in the Sports Leadership course of study in the Master of Leadership Studies degree would be appropriate for those interested in sports writing.

Culture and Society, MALS

The Culture and Society Program is the most flexible of the options in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies, allowing students to most freely combine courses from anywhere in the MALS catalog to create a coherent curriculum specifically tailored to their needs and interests, whether on the job, or in their families and communities. In addition, students have created focused programs to prepare them for further graduate studies in such subjects as law, history, English and anthropology. Historically, MALS courses have been combined to form strong concentrations not only in these subjects, as well as the two other formal programs described above, but also in areas such as multiculturalism and diversity, gender and women's studies, history of science and ethics—four areas represented below under Emphasis Courses. Examples of ways to create concentrations are given in the Elective Courses section below.

Degree Requirements

A total of 33 credit hours required: Nine credit hours of core courses, nine credit hours of emphasis courses, one Master's Project or Thesis and 12 credit hours of Liberal Studies elective courses.

Common Core

  • MLS 506 - Ethics in Contexts

    MLS 506 - Ethics in Contexts

    3.00 credit hours

    A survey of normative theories of ethics (consequential, deontological, virtue and justice based), and their application to personal moral decision making and contemporary issues in public and professional contexts. Topics include: ethical pluralism, identifying ethical aspects of public policy and organizational issues and analysis of potential conflicts between civic, professional, religious and personal morality.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • MLS 590 - Public Discourse

    MLS 590 - Public Discourse

    3.00 credit hours

    A study of the many levels of public discourse, as well as a broad range of examples of public discussion past and present. The course seeks to foster a sense of public responsibility, and to enable students to understand ways their own interests and academic concerns may be brought effectively into the arena of public awareness, debate and action.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • MLD 683 - Leadership for Social Change and Renewal

    MLD 683 - Leadership for Social Change and Renewal

    3.00 credit hours

    A study of contemporary leaders who have developed organizations and programs addressing critical environmental and social issues. Their strategies for building consensus and constituencies will be considered in light of social and ethical theory.

    Prerequisite(s)


    Student must have completed at least one course in all three theme areas and one elective.

    Schedule Of Classes

Emphasis Courses

One course from the "History of Science" sequence:
  • MLS 510 - Changing Models of the Universe: Plato to Kepler

    MLS 510 - Changing Models of the Universe: Plato to Kepler

    3.00 credit hours

    An examination of the interdependence of religion, philosophy and scientific theories. Focus is on the cosmologies and physical theories of Plato, Ptolemy, Copernicus and Kepler, and how these led to radical changes in our concept of the structure, size and meaning of the universe. First of a three-course sequence on the nature and history of science (see MLS 610 and MLS 612).

    Schedule Of Classes

  • MLS 610 - From Certainty to Chaos

    MLS 610 - From Certainty to Chaos

    3.00 credit hours

    This course begins with Isaac Newton, whose brilliant ideas led scientists and philosophers to envision a time when all facts about the universe would be known and precisely based on mathematical knowledge. It then investigates how continuing work in theoretical mathematics, logic, computability and the new theory of chaos has seriously questioned this vision and placed severe limits on how broad and precise human knowledge can get.

    Prerequisite(s)


    MLS 510 recommended.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • MLS 612 - Changing Concepts of the Earth and Its Life

    MLS 612 - Changing Concepts of the Earth and Its Life

    3.00 credit hours

    An investigation of the history of geology and evolutionary biology. The course begins with Darwin's theory of adaptive evolution under uniform and regular geological conditions and ends with Gould's theory of punctuated equilibrium acting under cyclically catastrophic geological conditions. The effects of an increasingly contingent view of our origin as a species will also be investigated.

    Prerequisite(s)


    MLS 510; MLS 610 recommended.

    Schedule Of Classes

Two of the following:
  • MLS 512 - Religion, Ritual and Symbol

    MLS 512 - Religion, Ritual and Symbol

    3.00 credit hours

    A cross-cultural examination of how religious beliefs and institutions, concepts of the magical and myths and rituals shape our view of reality. The course will survey some of the major ways our understanding of these things has evolved, focusing particularly on structural analysis of symbol systems.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • MLS 518 - Gender and Art

    MLS 518 - Gender and Art

    3.00 credit hours

    The study and critique of feminist strategies for analyzing art and culture. The course explores how women have portrayed their experience in literature and the visual arts in comparison to how men have traditionally depicted their experience.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • MLS 534 - Gender in Public Life and the Professions: Literature, Theory and Practice

    MLS 534 - Gender in Public Life and the Professions: Literature, Theory and Practice

    3.00 credit hours

    Through a consideration of literature, theory and practice, this course will examine constructions of gender as they impact such issues as community, problem solving, leadership and organizational structure within a national and global setting. Literary texts will be read in conjunction with interdisciplinary readings drawn from such fields as the arts, business, education, law, medicine, communication, technology and social sciences.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • MLS 538 - Sport in a Multicultural World

    MLS 538 - Sport in a Multicultural World

    3.00 credit hours

    This course explores the function of sport in American society as utilized by various constituencies. It assumes an interdisciplinary format that draws from historical, sociological, anthropological and literary texts, as well as film analysis. Reading and class discussions will analyze the role of sport in the construction of culture, the nature of cultural change over time and the various meanings of sport among sub-cultures. Ethical questions, such as the role of sport in establishing, reinforcing or resisting dominant social values will be considered. This course aims to improve critical thinking and analytical skills by learning and applying theoretical frameworks. Students should develop a historical perspective on the construction of culture, and particularly, on the uses of sport in that process. Students should also gain an appreciation and respect for alternative cultures.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • MLS 550 - Ethics and Imagination

    MLS 550 - Ethics and Imagination

    3.00 credit hours

    A thematic introduction to roles played by the imagination in developing, sustaining and transforming morality. The course will approach critical thinking about the moral life from the dual perspectives of ethics and of arts such as literature, painting and film.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • MLS 632 - Race, Ethnicity and the American Experience

    MLS 632 - Race, Ethnicity and the American Experience

    3.00 credit hours

    An analysis of how race, ethnicity and concepts about these have shaped the American experience. Focusing on selected groups from both minority populations and the "white" majority population, students will study how these groups have sought to define themselves against the larger backdrop of American culture and society. Social, historical and economic perspectives will be considered and supplemented by literature and analytical methods drawn from contemporary critical theory.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • MLS 634 - The "Third World"

    MLS 634 - The "Third World"

    3.00 credit hours

    A study of literature, culture, politics and psychology aimed at understanding both the so-called "Third World's" struggle for identity, as well as ways the West has imposed its political and cultural constructs upon this world.

    Schedule Of Classes

Project or Thesis

One of the following:

  • MLS 695 - Master's Project

    MLS 695 - Master's Project

    3.00 credit hours
    Prerequisite(s)


    Students typically must have completed at least one course in each theme area, one elective and one capstone course. Before registering, students must also complete a proposal essay and obtain signatures from their faculty director and second reader attesting approval of the proposal.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • MLS 696 - Master's Thesis

    MLS 696 - Master's Thesis

    3.00 credit hours
    Prerequisite(s)


    Students must have completed at least one course in each theme area, one elective and one capstone course. Before registering, students must also complete a proposal essay and obtain signatures form their faculty director and second reader attesting approval of the proposal.

    Schedule Of Classes

Elective Courses

A minimum of 12 credit hours of MLS electives. Any MLS course is allowed, though students are expected to work with the MALS program coordinator, MALS faculty and graduate programs staff to construct a coherent program focused on an area most suited to their needs and interests. For example, students interested in history might take the entire "History of Science" sequence, as well as such history-based courses as MLS 530 - The City, long a popular, signature course in MALS. Students may choose to focus on issues of diversity and multiculturalism by taking all such courses under the Emphasis Courses section above (MLS 512, MLS 518, MLS 534, MLS 538, MLS 550, MLS 632, MLS 634). They may choose to focus on ethics by taking MLS 550 - Ethics and Imagination and choosing MLS 564 - Ethics, Political Interest Groups and the Political Process and MLS 660 - Natural Resources and Environmental Economics. Students are also strongly urged to look at the emphasis courses in the other program within MALS either as a way to further focus or to add necessary skills or further breadth to their studies. The importance of writing and media suggests serious consideration of the emphasis courses in the Writing, Editing and Publishing program, including MLS 648 - Social Consequences of New Media. Though the program cannot be all things to all people, it has served a very wide set of interests in the past.

Independent Study (MLS 599 or MLS 693) as well as MLS 697 - Internship are strong options for those wishing career/education specific goals.

Zachary Michael Jack

Associate Professor of English
ENG
5281
Stuart Patterson

Chair and Visiting Associate Professor
Shimer Great Books School
630-637-5487
Richard Guzman

Professor of English Emeritus
ENG
630-637-5280

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