The Indiana Commission for Higher Education (ICHE) has approved a Master of Liberal Studies (MLS) degree at Indiana University Northwest. It is the second new master’s program at IU Northwest to gain ICHE approval this year, and the first ever for the university’s College of Arts and Sciences (COAS).
In March, the ICHE approved a Master of Science degree in Educational Leadership, an upgrade to a previously existing Educational Leadership Program at IU Northwest.
COAS Dean Mark Hoyert said the MLS degree has been in the works at IU Northwest for 15 years.
“I am the eighth dean to work on the development of the Master of Liberal Studies here,” said Hoyert, who made the MLS presentation to the ICHE earlier this month. He added that students should be able to register as MLS grad students for Spring Semester 2010.
“We’ll probably admit our first students in the spring and our first big class of MLS students next fall,” he said.
The MLS degree is intended for traditional and nontraditional graduate students, and should appeal particularly to K-12 teachers, professionals and individuals who wish to pursue a general education beyond a bachelor’s degree. The program offers interdisciplinary studies that can be utilized by teachers and professionals who wish to specialize in their current areas of expertise, but it can also allow those who desire a general-studies approach the opportunity to build a program that suits their individual needs and interests.
“A graduate degree in a traditional subject area will allow you to analyze a problem from an economic perspective, or a social-science perspective, or whatever discipline your degree happens to be in,” Hoyert explained. “But in the 21st century, it’s important to be able to analyze a problem or issue from a broad range of perspectives. With the MLS, students will learn how to approach an issue from a social-science perspective, from a physical-science perspective, and from a humanities perspective.”
The minimum requirements for the MLS degree are 33 credit hours, which must include three graduate seminars on research methods in the arts and humanities, the sciences, and the social sciences, as well as one three-hour course, “Introduction to the Master of Liberal Studies.” The remaining 21 credit hours will be taken in graduate-level courses that meet concurrently with undergraduate courses but carry additional requirements commensurate with graduate expectations, plus two stand-alone graduate seminars. These credit hours may include up to six credits for a thesis or project.
Concentration areas for the MLS degree will include such subjects as: race, ethnic and gender studies; fine arts; performing arts; history and culture; writing; communication; modern languages; and region studies, among others. But, with electives making up seven of the 11 required courses, Hoyert said, students will be able to chart their own program in consultation with an advisor, based on their interests and professional goals.
“This gives the student a lot of flexibility,” said the dean. “It’s quite feasible that, out of the first 50 MLS students, no two students will follow the same course of study.”
The MLS degree program is open to all students who hold a bachelor’s degree or equivalent from an accredited university, with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or above. Individuals seeking admission will be required to have a preliminary interview with the program director or a member of the MLS faculty, and to write a brief essay of no more than 1,000 words explaining their background and interest in the program. Graduate students will be expected to receive a grade of B or higher in each of their graduate courses.
In adopting the MLS degree, IU Northwest joins fellow regional campuses IU South Bend, IU Kokomo, IU Southeast, and IU Fort Wayne. IU Northwest also offers graduate degrees in public administration, elementary and secondary education, business administration, and social work.