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