DePaul University College of LAS > Academics > Liberal Studies > Graduate > Liberal Studies (MA) > FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Where are most MALS courses offered?

Most MALS courses are offered on DePaul’s Lincoln Park Campus, the home of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (undergraduate and graduate divisions), the College of Health and Science, the College of Education, the Theatre School and the School of Music. Lincoln Park is one of the most attractive residential neighborhoods in Chicago, with beautiful tree-lined streets and houses dating from the mid 1800’s. The campus is conveniently served by public transportation. Parking facilities are available, and are free to MALS students in the evenings, with a special permit, when most of our classes are held. DePaul’s other major campus is downtown in the Loop. Headquartered in the Loop are the College of Commerce, the College of Law, the College of Communication, the School for New Learning and the College of Computing and Digital Media. MALS students occasionally take courses in the Loop Campus. In addition, DePaul has a number of campus centers in the suburbs of Chicago.​ 

Who are MALS students?

Our students hunger for serious exploration of the world and its ideas. They have found that they need more stimulation than their work or even family life can provide. They have perceived that to grow intellectually is to grow emotionally and spiritually as well. They may have graduated from college three or thirty years ago, and know now that when the feast of knowledge was laid before them they did not have the maturity to savor it. MALS students lead busy lives but they want to make serious learning in the company of other adults a priority.​ 

Why choose the DePaul MALS program over others like it in the Chicago area?

The DePaul MALS Program is ideal for students seeking to pursue a graduate liberal studies program within a standard academic program rather than in a division of continuing studies.  Our program did not grow out of a continuing education program, nor is it a degree-granting division of a continuing education program. Rather it is an interdisciplinary graduate program for working adults, started by faculty who wanted to teach the humanities and social sciences to other adults outside the academy. In this way, the program reflects DePaul’s Vincentian ideal of service to the community.  All courses are taught by regular faculty who have been selected for the program. It is rigorous and demanding, yet committed to nurturing the intellectual development of students who have been away from school for some time.  Whether students come for enrichment or career change, they are formed and transformed into confident intellectuals with skills and knowledge that can be applied in the workplace or to more advanced academic study.​ 

I feel as though I'm ready for graduate study, but I haven't done any academic writing for a while. How will I succeed in the program?

The MALS Core Courses are designed to transform the adult learner’s intellectual curiosity into finely honed academic skills. You will be treated as an adult as you learn the skills of analytic thinking and writing. You will be taught research skills that employ not only traditional sources such as books and periodicals, but the vast array of electronic materials available through the DePaul libraries. A variety of specialized writing courses are also available.​ 

Are there people for whom the MALS program is not a good fit?

Students who are looking for programs with direct, technical application to job enhancement should look for a different kind of program. However, many students find enhancement of their quality of life and career path through the exposure to new knowledge and skills the program offers.​ 

Will my employer pay for my MALS graduate program?

Some far-seeing employers will understand that the MALS program produces students with enhanced analytic, judgment and communication skills. Typically MALS students are ready to initiate leadership roles as they gain confidence through their development in the program. Students wishing to make a case for degree underwriting might consider the Executive/Leadership Concentration and/or designing a program with several “technical” courses.​ 

Are there other forms of financial assistance?

We offer a partial tuition scholarship awarded on a competitive basis. Any student may apply for this assistance after completing one quarter of study in the program. The university also offers a number of loan packages. To view more details visit our Financial Aid​ section.​ 

How do MALS students generally put togethe their course of study?

Students generally begin with the Core Courses. Each core course treats a different broad aspect of human experience, but each is also designed to train students in a particular intellectual/academic skill. For example, the “Social Culture” core requirement is fulfilled either by “The American Experience” or “The City,” yet in this core students are also trained in research skills. At the present time we have three concentrations, though some new ones are under consideration. The Standard concentration consists of the core, open electives and the Master’s Thesis/ Integrating Project. The Women’s and Gender Studies Concentration offers certain substitutions for Core courses and electives which deal with the interdisciplinary, multicultural study of issues in women’s history, gender theory, feminist ethics, etc. The Executive/Leadership Concentration presents courses having to do with social, cultural and philosophical issues in the world of business. Some students select this concentration to help make a case to employers for reimbursement.

All the concentrations allow opportunity for broad selection of courses; none need be rigidly followed. Some students use the program to explore a wide variety of subjects they are interested in; most often these students will choose the Standard Concentration. Others will loosely follow the suggestions for courses within the Women’s and Gender Studies or Executive/ Leadership Concentration; yet even here there is much flexibility. Still others have a particular interest and use the resources of the university to create, in effect, their own concentration.​

How will I select courses beyond the core?

The program offers an array of courses specially chosen to appeal to MALS students’ interests; these are e-mailed out to students before every quarter and posted online. However, you may take almost any course offered by the university. Meetings with your advisor will help you figure out how to create a pattern appropriate to your interests and goals.​ 

Can I really take any course I want?

Yes, with certain exceptions. Since the MALS program is designed for students who are more oriented toward the exploration of knowledge than technical training, we do not often find our students filling up their elective slots with courses in such fields as computer science or business. Nevertheless, should the acquisition of this knowledge play a role in the program you have designed, you may take up to three such technical courses. (If your program seems to be more orientated towards the professions you may wish to investigate our sister program, MA/MS in Interdisciplinary Studies​.) There are also certain courses that you may not be allowed to take if you lack the formal prerequisites, though often the MALS director can help you get permission to take courses if a case can be made for your preparedness. We also discourage you from taking courses designed for beginning undergraduates.​ 

Am I on my own then, in designing my program?

Not at all; advisement is one of the hallmarks of the program. Whether your advisor is the director, associate director or other MALS faculty, you will receive guidance at every stage in your academic career. The program endeavors to help students form community through thoughtful course scheduling and social events.​ 

How long doe the MALS program take to complete?

The Program consists of twelve or thirteen courses including the Capstone Project. Most students who work full-time find that a single course per quarter is a reasonable load, but some take more. Our own courses are usually not offered in the summer, but there are courses in other divisions of the university which students can take for MALS credit, thus accelerating progress toward the degree. If you are not working at a full-time job it is possible to complete the program in a little more than two years, but most students take longer. Many students say they enjoy the program so much they are reluctant to bring it to a conclusion.​

What's involved in creating a capstone project?

Prospective students sometimes wonder: If the MALS program is interdisciplinary, how do students choose a topic for their Capstone Project? Since students know that eventually they will be creating a thesis or other Capstone Project, they generally begin to think about a topic in their first or second year.  Students work closely with a Program Advisor and their academic advisors to help shape a Capstone, and to select the particular Capstone option that is best for them.  Past Capstones have dealt with an astonishing variety of subjects in the humanities, social sciences, public affairs, business and management issues, the arts, and issues of contemporary life, all from an interdisciplinary perspective. Sometimes students use the Capstone to explore a topic that engaged them in one or several of their courses. Often an issue that relates to the personal or professional life of the student becomes the topic of investigation. The average thesis-style Capstone Project is between 35 and 50 pages, though some are longer.  Besides the thesis-type project, students can also do a Practicum--a Capstone in which a creative or community project is the main activity, but accompanied by an essay describing and analyzing the project. Students can also choose the Exit Course or Enhanced Portfolio Essay Capstones.  Copies of all Capstone Projects are deposited and catalogued in the DePaul Library, as well as in the offices of the MALS and IDS Program.  Some MALS and IDS Capstones go on to further life in publication, or distribution via the web and other media.

What can I do with my MALS degree?

The MALS program is interdisciplinary, so it is not oriented toward a single academic field. For many students, the joy of learning is an end in itself. Repeatedly we hear that even for those students who do not change careers, their entire sense of themselves in their jobs changes as a result. With greater confidence, enhanced analytic skills, writing proficiency and judgment, they take the initiative to forge new career paths even within jobs they have held for years. Many MALS graduates use their new skills and knowledge to make career changes. The program also provides such a solid grounding in the life of the mind that students are well prepared to continue in a variety of Master’s or Ph.D. programs, should they wish. We’ll be glad to discuss specific examples with you. You might also want to check out our Convergence​ newsletter for ideas from past and present MALS students.​ 

Would a MALS student answer these questions differently?

Members of the MALS Student Advisory Board have helped to create these questions and answers. If you’d like to talk with one of them, give us a call or email us.​