Master of Liberal Studies

Program Requirements

Skills You Will Acquire
Master of Liberal Studies students, upon graduation, will have:

  • Demonstrated the ability to complete graduate-level independent academic research using both primary and secondary sources.
  • Demonstrated a mastery of the formal conventions of scholarly writing.
  • Acquired an understanding of the interconnection among the various academic disciplines so that “interdisciplinary” becomes an active approach to understanding and interpretation.
  • Acquired the ability to put these skills into practice by writing and presenting a capstone project that carefully analyzes a specific problem, issue, policy, etc., and does so by placing it within the context that transcends disciplinary boundaries.
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Graduation Requirements
You will need to:

  • Maintain a GPA of 3.0 in all seminars and courses to remain in good standing.
  • Complete the 30 hour requirement with a minimum GPA of 3.0 at graduation and submit a successful capstone project.
  • Complete graduate work within six years.
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How the Degree is Constructed
The 30-hour, ten-course degree divides roughly in half: 15 hours of seminars (LS 500, 501, 502, 503, 504 and 599) and15 hours of electives from a list of courses approved for MLS credit (referred to as the “Individualized Study Program”). The introduction to Graduate Research (LS 500) must be taken as soon as possible after admission. The remaining required seminars and courses included in the individualized study program need not be taken in any particular sequence; however, the capstone project must be completed last.

Required LS Seminars: 15 hours

LS 500: Introduction to Graduate Research
LS 501: Interdisciplinary Seminar in the Humanities
LS 502: Interdisciplinary Seminar in the Social Sciences
LS 503: Interdisciplinary Seminar in the Natural Sciences

LS 504: Interdisciplinary Seminar in the Fine Arts
LS 599: The Capstone Experience

LS 500: Introduction to Graduate Research
Taken as soon as possible after admission, this course emphasizes reading, research, thinking,  and writing, and prepares students for the courses that follow.

LS 501/502/503/504: The Interdisciplinary Seminars
These are interdisciplinary, team-taught seminars which vary by semester. They do not assume you possess professional-level proficiency in the disciplines that provide the courses. They are not offered in specific disciplines such as Philosophy or Chemistry but rather as Liberal Studies courses that are designed to introduce students to the underpinnings of the disciplines. As these are seminars, students are expected to produce independent work and give presentations to the seminar as a whole. They are always taught by faculty from two or more departments who approach a topic from their areas of specialism. These courses MUST be completed at Washburn University.
If you wish, you may take seminars LS501, 502, 503, or 504 more than once as part of your individualized study program, although you obviously cannot repeat a specific seminar.

LS 599: The Capstone Experience: 3 hours
With the help of the MLS director, students apprentice themselves to one faculty member to pursue a theme developed in the core interdisciplinary program and/or individualized study program. By the end of the second week of the semester in which a student is enrolled in the capstone project, she or he must submit a written proposal to her or his capstone advisor. At that point, the project is submitted to the MLS capstone committee for review and approval. The expectation is a research paper of 30 pages (minimum) or an approved equivalent. Students are strongly encouraged to develop creative alternatives. Regardless of the form the project takes, it must reflect both an in-depth understanding of a specific theme and the interdisciplinary nature of learning.

Capstone Committee
Papers or projects are defended before a three- to five- person committee consisting of the advisor and 2-4 other faculty members chosen by the student and approved by the capstone faculty advisor and MLS director.

Individualized Study Program: 15 hours
In this part of the program students follow their own interests, choosing classes that in some way contribute to their capstone projects. Here are some provisos to bear in mind when choosing courses:

  • Students may not repeat for graduate credit courses they have already taken for undergraduate credit.
  • Courses in the ISP may be dual-listed at the 300/500 level. Students receiving graduate credit will have more demanding course requirements, and will complete an appropriate research project in each class.
  • Directed readings/independent study courses: students may only take a maximum of two of these (six credit hours).
  • A maximum of nine hours transfer credit from other accredited graduation programs will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The following courses have been identified as meeting the criteria for the MLS. Please note that most of these courses are not offered every semester or even every year.