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All page numbers refer to the 2014-15 MLS HANDBOOK

Interdisciplinary Study in the Liberal Arts

1. What exactly are the "liberal arts?"

Academic disciplines such as languages, literature, history, philosophy, mathematics and science that provide information of general cultural concern" (p. 12; see also p. 11).

2. What exactly does "interdisciplinary" mean?

It means study and inquiry through the perspectives and methods of more than one academic subject (p. 5).

3. Is there a "liberal arts" department I can contact?

No. The MLS resides in the College of Arts and Sciences as a whole, not in any one department. The MLS contact person is the MLS Director, Dr. Lawrence Moe. See p. 2. Email preferred: Lawrence.Moe@metrostate.edu

4. How does the Metropolitan State program compare to other programs such as those at Hamline University or the University of Minnesota, including how students are placed into careers?

Graduate liberal arts programs are generally similar, using interdisciplinary seminars with opportunities for students to customize projects across liberal arts fields. Prospective graduate students should visit the web pages of multiple graduate programs to compare curricula, program requirements, costs, financial aid, and career services as well.

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Liberal Arts Study and Careers

5. What kind of job may I expect to get with my masters in liberal arts?

The MLS focuses on knowledge and skills that are valuable in and out of the workplace. In other words, the MLS can help prepare a student for many types of jobs.

"Because the MLS is by definition generalist and interdisciplinary, it does not seek to establish a credential for any specific profession" (p. 13).

"Liberal arts disciplines usually do not focus directly on job skills (though liberal arts can make learning job skills easier). The liberal arts disciplines are more interested in helping individuals understand themselves, other people, and the world around them" (p. 11).

6. What career placement services for which I am eligible are available at Metropolitan State University, particularly as I near the end of my program?

Our university's Career Services Office stands ready to assist all students with job searches. Contact that office at 651-793-1528.

7. What links or sites could I explore to get an idea of career possibilities for an MLS degree?

Google terms like "Masters of Liberal Studies Careers" and you will find many sites from universities and other entities that discuss liberal arts skills and career possibilities.

The point is that advanced analytical and verbal skills are valuable and widely applicable.

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8. What types of careers do current Metropolitan State MLS students have?

Of 142 students admitted to the MLS, there were 55 separate job titles, showing a range of jobs in which MLS students work. Besides, those who are retired, here's a sample:

  • Business company owners, executive assistant, manager, paralegal
  • Education faculty, teaching assistants, tutors, advisors, coordinator
  • Health, Human Services counselor, service providers, paramedic, social workers
  • Information Technology data architect, computer technicians, clerks, web master
  • Services bartender, caterer, editor, housing contractor, musician 

Applying to the MLS Program

9. Whom should I contact to receive admissions material, including information on how to apply?

The MLS Director (pp. 2, 47-48). Email is preferred: Lawrence.Moe@metrostate.edu

10. What is the minimum required undergraduate GPA for admission to the MLS program?

3.00

11. Are standardized tests required for admission, and, if so, which tests and what minimum test
scores are necessary for admission?

No standardized tests are required (pp. 47-48).

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12. What's the percentage of students who are admitted from the applicant pool?

About 92%.

13. Once I apply, how long will I wait to hear about my admission?

The application decisions of the MLS Admissions Committee are usually reported to applicants by US Mail, three to four weeks after the application deadline.

The MLS Program

14. What are the program requirements?

All MLS students take MLS 600, MLS 690, 3 sections of MLS 620, and 12 Supporting Study credits, for a total of at least 32 credits of coursework (pp. 4, 7, 15-45).

15. What's the cost of the program, and what are the financial aid possibilities?

As of summer 2014, one graduate credit costs $336 (resident rates), so the 32-credit MLS has a tuition cost of $10,752 (plus books, supplies).†Financial aid is a possibility, and for ††††††††† detailed information about that, please contact the Financial Aid Office (651-793-1414).

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16. How long will it take me to complete my degree?

It depends on how many courses a student takes each term. Most MLS students take one course per term, so most will take two-and-a-half to three years to finish, "subject, of course, to the availability of classes" (p. 4).

17. Is there any limitation on how long I can take to complete the degree?

Completing in five years is strongly recommended. A student needing more time should consult with the MLS Director. Financial Aid may have its own time-to-degree limits.

18. What is the recommended course sequence?

"MLS 600 is a student's first MLS course and MLS 690 is the last. Apart from that there is significant flexibility in the order or pace at which a student takes MLS courses" (p. 4).

19. What if I'm unable to stay in sequence?

See the two answers immediately above. In unusual circumstances, a student may take one MLS 620 before MLS 600, but only with the MLS Director's permission. See p. 47.

20. What happens if I have to take some time off?

"An admitted MLS student may sit out (registering for no courses) for up to a year without jeopardizing admitted status, but a student who chooses or needs to sit out for that long (or longer) should consult with the MLS Director.†Students who sit out for more than a year without consulting with the MLS Director may be dropped from active status.†If you are a student in good academic standing who has not registered for courses for three or more calendar years, you must reapply to the MLS program.† If readmitted, you would be required to satisfy the degree requirements in force at the time of readmission, even if those requirements differ from those in force at the time of original admission" (p. 47).

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21. What degree of rigor should I expect from the MLS program?

"Compared to undergraduate study, the MLS has in common with other master's programs the expectation of increased sophistication in academic work. The MLS graduate student will be expected to demonstrate greater intellectual initiative and ndependence in framing scholarly inquiries and analysis, exercising critical and creative thought, and producing results; the MLS graduate student will evaluate and apply theoretical materials in order to produce analytical and informed scholarship" (p. 13).

So the level of rigor will be similar to, but somewhat higher than, that found in advanced and capstone courses in liberal arts disciplines like history, literature, and philosophy.

22. How much of the masters of liberal arts curriculum may be taken online?

The MLS core curriculum (20 credits in MLS 600, 620's, 690) is classroom-based. A student may be able to arrange online graduate courses as Supporting Study (12 credits).

23. May I design my own "MLS 620 Exploration" course?

No, Explorations are designed by faculty. Nevertheless, each Exploration offers "opportunities to pursue individual interest areas that relate to [the Exploration]" (p. 16).

24. How do I know what to study for MLS 690 Capstone Seminar?

The MLS program starts with MLS 600, where students are taught and supported in articulating the general direction of their Capstone Projects. That direction is then developed, focused, and reinforced through MLS 620's and Supporting Study. So by the time MLS students are qualified to apply for the Capstone, most of the work for the Capstone should be done. Please study pp. 40-44 thoroughly to learn about MLS 690.

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25. How much faculty interaction may I count on receiving?

MLS courses are discussion-based and usually taught by team teachers, with enrollment capped at 18. So MLS students will experience a relatively high level of faculty interaction in MLS classrooms. This interaction will be far less, of course, in an SDIS.

26. How much contact can I expect to have with my academic advisor?

Graduate students are expected to operate more independently than undergraduates. Some MLS students have little contact with their advisor and simply follow the MLS HANDBOOK. Advisor consultations are always welcome, however. So the answer would in most cases be "As much as the MLS student feels necessary."

27. What happens to admitted students if guidelines change before graduation?

As a rule, students may complete their MLS programs on the basis of policies in place at the time they entered the program.

28. Will this program prepare me for a doctoral program?

An interdisciplinary MLS can build skills and knowledge applicable to further graduate study, particularly for interdisciplinary programs. But for admission to many doctoral programs, an extensive record of successful graduate work in a single discipline is either required or desirable. So students considering doctoral programs should check admission requirements for doctoral programs of interest, to determine whether an MLS will address the admissions requirements or prerequisites of any particular doctoral program.

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MLS Supporting Study and Independent Studies

29. Who are the faculty who currently work with the MLS program?

All College of Arts and Sciences faculty can work with the MLS. On pp. 33-41 is a list of CAS faculty who are open to directing independent studies for MLS students. On p. 31 is a discussion of the independent study process.

30. What exactly is an "SDIS" and how does it apply to my program?

A “Student Designed Independent Study” is “a unique learning opportunity customized by the student with the individual faculty member” (p. 32). SDIS’s can serve as MLS Supporting Study. Students are encouraged to work with the MLS Director in setting up SDIS’s.

31. How do I contact faculty about SDIS possibilities, and how much guidance may I expect?

Sometimes a student may arrange an SDIS directly with a professor by phone, email, or conversation. This approach may be more likely to succeed if the student has already worked successfully with the professor in an MLS or other course.† Students doing this must understand SDIS policies (p. 32).† The MLS Director is often able to help identify and communicate with faculty having expertise in areas related to a student’s interests.

Some SDIS instructors will provide more guidance than others, so this point should be specifically addressed by the student and professor before starting an SDIS. Most SDIS instructors will be available during a semester to answer focused questions, but most will not conduct ongoing tutorials. In order words, the expectation is that a graduate student in an “independent” study can actually work independently.† It is essential that a graduate student have sufficient preparation or prerequisites for any graduate-level SDIS, so that too should be explicitly discussed with the professor when planning an SDIS.

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32. Can any non-liberal arts credits count towards the degree?

"Supporting Study courses are expected to be clearly relevant to the studentís MLS program.†Supporting Study courses should build skills and knowledge in liberal arts disciplines contributing to the development of the studentís Capstone Project. A professional or technical graduate course with little or no liberal arts content is not appropriate for Supporting Study; therefore as a rule, all of a studentís MLS coursework will be drawn from the curricula of the College of Arts and Sciences.† Final authority over whether or not any Supporting Study credit applies to a studentís MLS program resides with the MLS Director" (p. 31).

33. Can I transfer credits from another university?

"up to 8 graduate credits earned at another accredited institution (before or after MLS admission) may be applied to the MLS program as Supporting Study, provided that those credits are not part of any other completed degree program, and that the credits are clearly relevant to the studentís MLS program, as determined by the MLS Director" (p. 31).

34. How can students with disabilities, particularly those in need of structure, be accommodated in student-designed independent studies?

Students requesting accommodations for disabilities must register with Disability Services (651-793-1549; †Disability.Services@metrostate.edu) as early as possible.†The MLS Program will work with Disability Services to provide reasonable and appropriate accommodations for students. But please note: No MLS student has to take any SDIS; Supporting Study can also be drawn from classroom or online courses.

35.What if I have additional questions that are not addressed, or not fully addressed above?

Contact the MLS Director, Dr. Lawrence Moe.

Email preferred: lawrence.moe@metrostate.edu
Office phone:† 651-793-1429
US Mail address: Dr. Lawrence Moe
Metropolitan State University
700 East Seventh Street
St. Paul, MN† 55106

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