Master of Arts in Liberal Studies FAQ

Am I eligible for the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program?

A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited school, or its foreign equivalent, is required for entry into the program, as is an admissions essay that demonstrates your understanding of the program and how you will personally benefit from it. Instructions for writing the essay are included on the application form.

Do continuing education units apply to the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program?

No. Only graduate-level credits apply toward the program.

Do you offer financial aid?

Federal and Financial aid is available regardless of income, with low interest rates and flexible payment options. Excelsior College is the pioneer in offering federal aid for a completely online education. Certificate programs do not qualify for financial aid.

Visit the Financial Aid pages

Does the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degree meet state licensing or certification requirements in my field?

The MA in Liberal Studies program may support your career objectives if you are seeking licensing or certification, depending on the requirements in your state. However, depending on your state’s regulations, it may not. Please consult licensing/certifying bodies in your state for confirmation of whether or not the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degree will serve your purposes.

How long will it take me to complete the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program?

How long it will take you to complete the program depends on the credits you may have earned previously which may apply to the program. It also depends on your level of discipline and ability to focus on your studies. Because most MA in Liberal Studies students are working adults, we estimate that most students will complete the program in less than three years, but you will have six years from the date you enroll to complete the program.

How much will the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies cost?

The cost of the program varies, depending on how many eligible graduate credits you have earned prior to enrollment. If you use credit from other institutions to meet requirements, you will pay those institutions for the credit, not Excelsior College. You should budget for tuition, fees, and books for tier I courses and, where necessary, for tier II courses as well. You may also incur research expenses for tier III. Detailed information is available on the Graduate Fee Schedule (PDF).

How will my Master of Arts in Liberal Studies application be evaluated?

Your application will be evaluated by the MA in Liberal Studies Admissions Committee, which is chaired by the Program Director. The admissions essay is the primary means by which your preparedness for graduate-level study will be evaluated. The following considerations will guide the admissions committee in its assessment of your essay:

  • Your essay demonstrates that the MA in Liberal Studies degree is appropriate for your personal or vocational goals.
  • Your essay demonstrates that you understand the program and that your proposed focus is appropriate for the MA in Liberal Studies degree.
  • Through your essay, you demonstrate that you have the necessary writing skills, motivation, academic preparation, and intellectual maturity to succeed in the program.
  • Your essay demonstrates that you are capable of successfully completing your proposed program.
  • Your essay also helps us guide your studies so that the courses you take align with your interests and desired academic outcome.
Is a minimum grade point average required for admission to or graduation from the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program?

Not for admission to the program, but a minimum grade point average of 3.0 is required for graduation. Also only courses with a grade of B or better will be accepted for transfer. “Plus” and “minus” grades are not used at Excelsior College, so grades of B+ and B- are both computed as a B.

What is an Independent Learning Contract (ILC)?

An Independent Learning Contract (ILC) is a written agreement between you and Excelsior College regarding an independent study project you wish to undertake to earn credit to satisfy Tier II requirements. You are not required to complete an ILC; it is an option that is available to you. Your Independent Learning Contract must be related to your area of focus. A faculty member will be assigned to you and will serve as your mentor on the project.

What is the Degree Completion Plan (DCP)?

The Degree Completion Plan is a document that you will prepare at the conclusion of the Tier I core courses and is only required of students enrolled in the Thesis Option. In it you will explain how you plan to earn credit for Tier II of the program. Also, in the reflective essay which is part of the plan, you will examine the interdisciplinary relationships among the components of your proposed program of study. You must show how your Tier I and II coursework relates to your area of focus and lays the groundwork for your thesis (Tier III). In addition to the DCP Guidelines (PDF), samples are available for guidance. It is important to note that it is at the time that you submit the DCP that your proposed transfer credit, if any, is approved, not at the time of admission.

What is the difference between the Capstone Option and the Thesis Option?

The Capstone Option is designed for students who have an interest in interdisciplinary liberal studies and want the flexibility to tailor their coursework to their own special interests. Students will choose 15 credits of elective graduate credit in any liberal studies disciplines (minimum two disciplines). Once Tier II is complete, they will move directly to Tier III where they will complete a MLS*697 Methodology (or MLS*703 Historiography or MLS*703 Literary Theory) before moving on to one of the MA Capstone classes (MLS 798A: The Harlem Renaissance or MLS 798B: Brave New World: Globalization and its Consequences). Both of these courses approach a complex topic from an interdisciplinary perspective and both culminate in a substantial research project. No degree completion plan (DCP) is required with this option.

The Thesis Option gives you an opportunity to develop your research and writing skills by completing a project on a topic of personal or professional interest.

There are two options for fulfilling the thesis requirement:

The Creative Thesis
For this option, you would choose a topic important to you and which would reflect your personal intellectual curiosity and passions. The end product would be a creative piece and an accompanying research piece. You could choose to write a collection of short stories, novella, book of poetry, screenplay, or original artwork or musical composition.

The Research-based Thesis
Choosing a topic that is meaningful for you and excites you is the key to successes in meeting the thesis requirement. Choose an interdisciplinary topic you want to know more about and become expert in. Your topic should include at least two liberal studies disciplines.

In either case, you will work with three distinguished faculty readers to help accomplish this goal including the Program Director and Academic Advisor who will have worked with you throughout your program of study and will provide continued support.

When can I start the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies?

Once you are accepted into the program and make your first tuition payment, you may begin taking courses. However, you are not considered enrolled and cannot receive academic advising until you pay the graduate student fee.

Will any of my previous courses apply toward the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program?

Up to 15 graduate-level credits from regionally accredited institutions, with grades of B- or better, may apply toward the program, pending advisor approval. Please review the degree requirement chart (PDF). It is important for you to submit official transcripts for all courses to be considered for transfer. Certain conditions apply. Consult your advisor for guidance.

Will the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degree help me gain admittance to a Ph.D. program?

The goal of the MA in Liberal Studies program is to promote the values of liberal learning rather than to provide vocational or professional training or specific preparation for Ph.D. programs. Of course, completion of this or any other program does not guarantee acceptance into another graduate degree program, but graduates of MA in Liberal Studies programs are accepted into Ph.D. programs regularly.