Liberal Studies, M.A.

Degree Type
Master of Arts

Take advantage of self-directed study led by award-winning faculty

The Master of Arts in Liberal Studies enables adult, working students to:

  • enrich workplace credentials with graduate study that is tailored to meet specific areas of need and interest;
  • enhance skills in fact-based analysis, in-depth research, critical understanding, ethical decision making, digital literacy and public presentation to prepare for professional opportunities, further graduate study, or simply for personal development;
  • experience internship opportunities in the arts, academia, government, business, non-profit and human service areas;
  • access rigorous graduate education that is priced within the means of moderate-income, working residents of Long Island and New York.
A flexible curriculum

The MALS flexible curriculum, delivered by well-published, award-winning, full-time faculty, fosters active, analytical and synthetic learning and an ongoing pursuit of knowledge. Through an intensive focus on thematic or creative Area of Study, students gain an understanding of how interdisciplinary approaches to knowledge enhance study in traditional disciplines.

Guided by a faculty advisor, students engage in intentional, self-directed learning, structuring their own programs of study, through a combination of courses in the humanities and social sciences, to create an individual degree plan. Core and elective courses in the program develop students’ understanding of the construction of identity, culture, power, and social justice in the U.S. and global context.

The range of formal and individually- designed coursework, framed to meet students’ interests and workplace needs in cultural, governmental, business, educational and human service areas, allows students to achieve personal and professional goals.

An innovative approach to courses

Course work combines an inter-disciplinary core seminar, a selection of elective courses across disciplines that includes a cluster within a single thematic or disciplinary Area of Study as well as courses from at least three disciplines, and a capstone experience of either a master’s thesis or an internship placement with one of Old Westbury’s dozens of partners in health, government, community, business and not-for-profit venues.

In both thesis and internship capstones students engage in active, applied learning, namely the direct application of knowledge and skills gained from course work to field placements, creative projects, or guided research. Completion can be paced to meet students’ individual needs. The 30-credit degree can be completed within three semesters of full-time study; students attending part-time may take up to five years to complete their requirements.

professional certification for teachers

Teachers who possess initial certification at the Bachelor’s level in English, History (Social Studies), Modern Language (Spanish), or Visual Arts, may use the MALS degree to achieve a master’s degree required for professional certification in New York State by selecting their Area of Study in their initial field.

Students who do not yet possess initial certification should consult degree offerings within Old Westbury’s School of Education.

Applying for the Degree 

Students are admitted to the M.A. in Liberal Studies Program on a rolling basis. To be considered for admission to the program, candidates must:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university (with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 or equivalent in the highest earned degree)
  • Submit two letters of recommendation (at least one from an academic source), and
  • Submit an admission essay.

Applicants who have been out of college for some years, or those who do not meet the GPA minimum, may be advised to take a class on a non-matriculated basis, and roll over their application for one semester. If accepted to the program subsequently, a successful completion of a non-matriculated class with a grade of B or higher may be applied to the MALS course requirements.

International students must meet additional criteria, including the following TOEFL scores: paper exam=550; computer exam=213; internet exam=80. Students taking the IELTS English (Cambridge) exams must pass with a broad band score of 6.5. Students must also have their overseas documents evaluated by AACRAO international or WES (World Education Services).

Visit the Graduate Admissions page for more information

Liberal Studies, M.A. Request Information


Carol Quirke

Director, M.A. in Liberal Studies Graduate Program
American Studies
New Academic Building