Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS)
The Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) program at the University of Memphis allows students to customize an interdisciplinary course of study. This program is offered both on campus and fully online and features a flexible, adaptable curriculum that students can tailor for the broadest possible application and personal enrichment. It is designed to sharpen the intellectual skills necessary for lifelong learning—critical reading, scholarly writing, and the art of interpersonal communication.
Because each MALS student follows a unique course of study, students work with academic advisors to develop a curriculum proposal that satisfies both the interdisciplinary intent of the MALS program and the Graduate School's requirements for graduation.
Every MALS student is required to complete and submit a Coordinated Study grid before being admitted to the program. The Coordinated Study grid is a planning document that students use to identify the classes that will constitute their degree. Students may combine courses from any two or more disciplines with guidance and approval from an academic advisor.
The Coordinated Study is comprised of twenty-one (21) credit hours selected by the student from two or more disciplines. No more than 12 credit hours may come from any single department, and a maximum of 12 credits of Experiential Learning Credit can be applied to the degree. All courses must be at the Graduate level and at least 12 hours of the Coordinated Study must be 7000-level courses or above. Each student completes a Coordinated Study grid before starting the program, and that grid serves as a working agreement between the student and the College of Professional & Liberal Studies. The Coordinated Study grid must also identify at least three alternative courses that could be taken in the event that any of the student's primary course selections are not offered during the term of the student's enrollment.
At the time of admission to the MALS program, the student's advisor approves the course of study as reflected on the Coordinated Study Grid that accompanies the application essay. Students then enroll each semester in available courses from the approved plan in a sequence of study. Within two weeks after the start of the final semester, students will submit a final program proposal that reiterates the student's academic goals (if necessary, reflecting any changes that have developed since admission) and identifies the Coordinated Study courses actually completed. Major deviations from the original approved plan require department pre-approval and will be addressed at the time of registration each semester.
Students enrolled in the MALS degree will complete at least 33 credit hours, successfully present a Special Project (UNIV 7997), and pass an oral comprehensive examination. The 33 hours include two segments: the MALS Core and the Coordinated Study.
The MALS Core is required of all students, and consists of twelve (12) pre-selected credit hours:
- UNIV 7000 Foundations of Liberal Studies (3 hours)
- UNIV 7100 Research in Interdisciplinary Studies (3 hours)
- UNIV 7200 Liberal Studies Seminar (3 hours)
- UNIV 7997 Special Project (3 hours)
Students wishing to take UNIV 7997 must submit a proposal to their advisor in the semester prior to taking the course to receive approval. Access our Proposal Approval Form and review deadlines and additional details.
Applying for Admission to the Program
Applications for the Fall semester must be received by August 1; Spring semester by December 1; and Summer term by May 1.
All applicants must have completed an undergraduate degree with a cumulative grade point average of 2.75 on a 4.0 scale from an accredited college or university. Applicants are selected on a competitive basis, so admission is not guaranteed to all applicants who meet only the minimum requirements. Since all College of Professional & Liberal Studies Graduate Programs aim to produce lifelong learners and competitive members of the workforce, applicants' submitted materials are scrutinized not only for content and but also for presentation, organization, professionalism, and compliance with the program's specific application instructions, which are listed below
To apply for this program, you will need to complete an application, which will require the following documents:
- Resumé: The applicant's resumé should include the applicant's employment history, academic history, current contact information, and any additional relevant information, such as professional skills, training, presentations, publications, etc.
- Recommendation Letters: Applicants must submit at least one official letter of recommendation, preferably from a previous or current instructor who can attest to the student's capacity for graduate work. All recommendation letters must meet College of Professional & Liberal Studies requirements or they will not be accepted.
- Coordinated Study Grid: Applicants must submit a completed Coordinated Study Grid detailing the intended course of study.
- Personal Essay: Applicants must submit a brief, original essay (approximately 500-600 words) that
addresses the following points:
- Why is the MALS program the best choice for pursuing your personal and intellectual goals?
- How have your academic and professional experiences prepared you for this program?
- What is the theme of the program of study you want to pursue, and how will your Coordinated Study courses develop that theme?
- Why do you think you are a good candidate for the MALS program?
For technical questions regarding the application, please contact UM Graduate School Customer Support:
For questions regarding admission requirements, please contact the College of Professional & Liberal Studies Graduate Programs: cplsgrad@
The MALS program does not require the GRE for admission. However, if you have taken the GRE or any similar entrance exam, please submit your scores in your application.
Applicants may also be required to interview this program. If deemed necessary, the interview will be scheduled as a component of the application process prior to the acceptance. Interviews are conducted in person or by video conference.
Only after your application is completed and all required documents are submitted will a final decision be made on the application. Please note that the Graduate School will notify applicants once a decision has been reached.