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

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Graduate Admission

630-637-5555

grad@noctrl.edu

Why Pursue a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Degree at North Central College?

The Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) program brings today’s headlines into conversation with classic statements of humanity’s most enduring questions. Students investigate how our cultural, social and natural worlds intersect in order to understand issues in our own lives in their full complexity. Together, they examine a variety of materials across a wide array of academic disciplines in order to integrate disparate insights into a view of the whole. 

All the courses in the MALS program are run as small, discussion-based, Socratic seminars. Students develop close working relationships with each other and program faculty, whose expertise represents the range of traditional arts and sciences. In addition to intensive seminars, students work individually with program faculty on either a focused capstone project of their devising or on a problem-based project in which they integrate knowledge and insights from across the liberal arts. 

Graduates of the MALS program master assured, compelling communication, developing and honing skills in critical reading, concise writing, confident speaking and careful research. Students will find new ways to work productively in diverse settings and approach challenges creatively in their personal lives, workplaces and communities.

Join Us for an Upcoming Information Session

Register Today

Thursday, May 20th from 9:30 to 10:00 a.m.

Be introduced to the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies at North Central College and explore your options. Gain a better understanding to see if this degree program fits you and your goals.  Learn about the admission and application process.  Let the admission staff help guide you on your journey to becoming a North Central College graduate student.

Learn how you can save up to 20% in Graduate tuition

Graduate Aid and Costs

Flexible, Blended Format

The blended format (a mix of online and in-person classes) and hyflex option (choosing to be online for an in-person class) for the liberal studies degree provides you the flexibility of completing your degree while ensuring that you will be closely connected with faculty and classmates through in-person discussions. 

The program not only provides you with the research and communication skills that lead to career advancement but also allows you the freedom to create a program of study that best serves your professional or personal needs. Students will have 15 elective hours to pursue their interests and scholarly curiosity. 

Interdisciplinary Coursework Designed for Today

The MALS degree is an interdisciplinary program drawing upon coursework from many different areas such as art, humanities, and social sciences. It is designed to train you on how to think critically and contextually about your own experiences, as well as a wide range of topics. The reimagined courses focus on areas that are relevant to our culture today from healthcare, religion, and sports, to gender and sexuality, science and immigration issues.

A Short Description of Liberal Studies

To learn more about Liberal Studies, read this article written by Aron Dunlap, Visiting Assistant Professor of the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program.

short read, BIG THINK:  Join Us for Our Virtual Discussion Series

Check back for a new date and topic.

Our most recent topic: Plato's Allegory of the Cave

Click here for the short read

An energetic discussion with Dr. Adam Kotsko, professor of the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program and others from the graduate school community. 

First, a short read of Plato’s famous Allegory of the Cave where he imagines a world filled with people who believe they are seeing reality but are actually only seeing shadows manipulated by mysterious figures behind the scenes. This tale of one individual's escape from the realm of illusion has proven very influential in philosophy, literature, and film -- and remains very relevant to our world of social media and fake news.

Then a lively, BIG THINK discussion about how this reading affects you, and where to go from here. This short section from the Republic is perhaps the most important passage in all of Western philosophy and addresses a myriad of profound concerns, including issues of truth, illusion, and self-realization.  See you there!

Liberal Studies, M.A.

The Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degree is an interdisciplinary program drawing upon coursework from many different areas such as art, humanities and social sciences. It is designed to train students how to think critically and contextually about thier own experiences, as well as a wide range of topics. The reimagined courses focus on areas that are relevant to our culture today from healthcare, religion and sports, to gender and sexuality, science and immigration issues.

Degree Requirements

A total of 30 credit hours required: Six credit hours of core courses, three credit hours from each area requirement to total nine credit hours and 15 credit hours of elective courses.

Core Courses

  • MALS 500 - Great Ideas

    MALS 500 - Great Ideas

    3.00 credit hours

    Focus on both interdisciplinary and intercultural dialogue by looking at milestones of thought and expression across historical time and geographical space that deal with specific topics of universal and enduring concern, such as love, justice, family, history and nature. Graduate-level research also covered, including formulating research questions, identifying appropriate methods and conducting and presenting research.

    Schedule Of Classes

One of the following:
  • MALS 695 - Comprehensive Examination

    MALS 695 - Comprehensive Examination

    3.00 credit hours

    Students prepare for and take an exam designed to test their writing and discussion skills. A single topic (e.g. Frankenstein, poverty, "the Devil") serves as the focus of a set of readings on which students must write an extended critical essay and conduct themselves in discussion.

    Prerequisite(s)

    24 credit hours in MALS and MALS 500.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • MALS 696 - Capstone Project

    MALS 696 - Capstone Project

    3.00 credit hours

    Students draw upon what they have learned in their MALS courses as well as their own professional, personal, and communal commitments to design and carry out an interdisciplinary research project. Methods and products vary.

    Prerequisite(s)

    24 credit hours in MALS and MALS 500.

    Schedule Of Classes

Area Requirements

One course from each of the following areas:

The Cultural World
  • MALS 512 - Religion, Ritual and Symbol

    MALS 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 surveys some of the major ways the understanding of these things has evolved, focusing particularly on structural analysis of symbol systems.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • MALS 514 - Examining Identity in American Film

    MALS 514 - Examining Identity in American Film

    3.00 credit hours

    Film is in many ways the quintessential American art form. Sensational, innovative, revolutionary, it is uniquely suited to express not only the vitality and joy of the American spirit, but also to reveal the violence and oppression that ride the darker currents of our shared life. This class covers the gamut of American-made films, from the silent era to the world of Netflix and Hulu, and focuses on questions of identity, prejudice, violence and technology.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • MALS 522 - Sport in a Multicultural World

    MALS 522 - Sport in a Multicultural World

    3.00 credit hours

    Explores the function of sport in American society as utilized by various constituencies. Draws from historical, sociological, anthropological and literary texts, as well as film analysis. Reading and class discussions 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 are considered. Students should also gain an appreciation and respect for alternative cultures.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • MALS 524 - Gender and Art

    MALS 524 - Gender and Art

    3.00 credit hours

    The study and critique of feminist and gendered strategies for analyzing art and culture. The course explores how women, men and those who identify in other ways have portrayed their experiences in literature, theater, music and the visual arts, and how art forms have been shaped by evolving notions of gender across cultures.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • MALS 612 - Reading Through Time

    MALS 612 - Reading Through Time

    3.00 credit hours

    A long view of the origins of written language and, more specifically, reading as a practice within different historical contexts. Focus on the reading of literature and, more broadly, humanistic letters in an effort to understand what we mean by the "imagination." New media and transitions between orality and literacies figure in course readings.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • MALS 614 - Migration and Immigration in Mediterranean History

    MALS 614 - Migration and Immigration in Mediterranean History

    3.00 credit hours

    Explores frequent, large-scale movements of people and migration in the Mediterranean world through case studies from several periods, starting in ancient Greece and Rome and extending to the near present. Drawing on many types of sources, considers a variety of questions about immigrant experiences: Why did they leave home?; How did they travel?; What kind of lives—and what kind of welcome—did they find in places they settled? Also examines several concepts of general importance to the field of migration studies, including ethnicity, identity and diaspora.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • MALS 628 - Neoliberalism and Popular Culture

    MALS 628 - Neoliberalism and Popular Culture

    3.00 credit hours

    Study of the political-economic system known as neoliberalism and its impact on popular culture. Engage with several influential accounts of the neoliberal order from a variety of perspectives and apply those concepts to representative films, television series, and songs of the neoliberal era (approximately 1980 to the present), placing them in political and economic context.

    Schedule Of Classes

The Natural World
  • MALS 532 - Science Today

    MALS 532 - Science Today

    3.00 credit hours

    From arguments over cloning, genetically modified foods or nuclear missile defense, many of the major issues of the day emerge from the worlds of science and technology. Addresses some of these cases in order to: 1) help students understand what science is, as both a social and an intellectual enterprise; and 2) discuss what role it plays—and should play—in our society.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • MALS 536 - Spotting Bullsh*t, Fake News and Cognitive Biases

    MALS 536 - Spotting Bullsh*t, Fake News and Cognitive Biases

    3.00 credit hours

    Because we all now know that it's unhealthy to smoke, we don't fall for the old ad that once informed us that "More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette!" But other facts circulated in contemporary science and society are just as phony without being so easily recognized. Looks at how data and statistics can be used to mislead and deceive and how participants can develop a critical yet open-minded view of claims made in medicine, business and economics, and science. Also reviews recent work on fake news and cognitive bias.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • MALS 632 - Images of Nature in the Renaissance

    MALS 632 - Images of Nature in the Renaissance

    3.00 credit hours

    For the ancients, nature was a kind of divinity intrinsically related to human beings. Now, nature is a thing apart, to be studied, analyzed and mined for resources. In the Renaissance, however, there was no clear agreement as to the nature of nature; instead, there was a thousand and one novel and fascinating conceptions all jostling for supremacy. Alchemists, philosophers, playwrights and artists all painted nature with their own brush and contributed to the modern understanding. Examining the splendid array of imagery and argument around nature in the Renaissance, students see the origins of our own assumptions and prejudices about nature and question them, as well.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • MALS 648 - Natural Resources and Environmental Economy

    MALS 648 - Natural Resources and Environmental Economy

    3.00 credit hours

    An examination of the market system and the impact of economic activity on the environment, focusing on the application and use of economic instruments in improving environmental quality. Other topics covered include the valuation of environmental resources and prospects for sustainable development, plus traditional regulation of the U.S. economy, including command and control policies.

    Schedule Of Classes

The Social World
  • MALS 550 - The City

    MALS 550 - The City

    3.00 credit hours

    A comparative study of urban development and the nature and growth of urban populations in various parts of the world. The course also explores various images, theories and attitudes toward the city and how these are related to ways we perceive the social problems arising with urban growth and propose solutions to them.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • MALS 552 - Power and Performance: Gender and Sexuality in the Contemporary United States

    MALS 552 - Power and Performance: Gender and Sexuality in the Contemporary United States

    3.00 credit hours

    Examines gender and sexuality in contemporary United States society, occasionally using international examples for comparison. Reviews theories of the social construction of gender and sexuality; the role of socialization in reproducing expectations of how one performs gender and sexuality; the function gender and sexuality plays in negotiating power and inequality in social institutions such as the family, work, policy and media systems; and the intersections of gender and sexuality with race, ethnicity and class.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • MALS 562 - The U.S. Healthcare System and Patient Advocacy

    MALS 562 - The U.S. Healthcare System and Patient Advocacy

    3.00 credit hours

    Examines the various components of the U.S. healthcare system, both public and private, emphasizing the ways that healthcare in the United States is organized, delivered and financed. Special attention paid to moral issues as they relate to the healthcare system and to the practical implications of this discussion in advocating for patients and their families.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • MALS 654 - East Asia on the Edge

    MALS 654 - East Asia on the Edge

    3.00 credit hours

    Society and Culture in the World's Fastest Changing Region. During the past century East Asia has undergone an unprecedented transformation that has seen it emerge as a center for global technological development and social change. Explores the new urban cultures that have emerged in countries like China, Japan and Korea, and the social issues that have arisen as a result.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • MALS 658 - The Social Consequences of New Media

    MALS 658 - The Social Consequences of New Media

    3.00 credit hours

    Studies 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. Explores perceived benefits and detriments of new media today, and considers future social consequences of this dynamic mode of technology and communication.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • MALS 660 - Philanthropy: In Theory and in Practice

    MALS 660 - Philanthropy: In Theory and in Practice

    3.00 credit hours

    Human history is full of stories of those with more resources supporting the welfare of others, with systems such as collectivism, almsgiving and patronage emerging along the way. Examines historical modes and modern theories and practices of philanthropy (foundations, humanitarianism, crowdsourcing, etc.) considering the moral, ethical and financial imperatives over time to "give" in the United States and other cultures.

    Schedule Of Classes

Elective Courses

  • 15 elective credits from courses within the program.
Note:

*Students may apply no more than three credit hours of internship credit to meet the requirement.

Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Faculty

Aron Dunlap

Visiting Assistant Professor in the Shimer Great Books School
Shimer Great Books
Stuart Patterson

Visiting Associate Professor in the Shimer Great Books School; Chairperson, Shimer Great Books School
Shimer Great Books
+1 630 637 5487
Kristin Hartsaw
Kristin Hartsaw

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Kinesiology
Kinesiology
Tammy Wynard

Assistant Professor of Health Science; Chairperson of the Department of Health Sciences
School of Educ & Health Sci
+1 630 637 5743
Gregory H. Wolf

Dennis and Jean Bauman Professor in the Humanities; Professor of German
Modern & Classical Languages
+1 630 637 5284
Jennifer Jackson

Associate Professor of English; Svend and Elizabeth Bramsen Professor in the Humanities
English
+1 630 637 5278
Daniela Barberis

Visiting Assistant Professor in the Shimer Great Books School
Shimer Great Books
+1 630 637 5485
Ann Dolinko

Visiting Professor in the Shimer Great Books School
Shimer Great Books
+1 630 637 5483

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