Loyola University Maryland

Graduate Program in Liberal Studies

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Graduate Program in Liberal Studies?

Loyola's Graduate Program in Liberal Studies (GPLS) seeks to “liberate” in the classic sense of that term, delivering a rich and satisfying intellectual experience in an environment which respects a broad spectrum of cultural traditions and perspectives. At the heart of the GPLS is the commitment to better understand the world as well as the place each of us has within it, driven by an acute recognition of, and respect for, the profound diversity of human character and human experience. Completion of the program culminates with the awarding of the degree Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS).

Is the GPLS a genuine, bona fide, rigorous academic program?

You bet it is! The GPLS (originally called the Graduate Program in Modern Studies) has been a staple of the Loyola graduate curriculum for more than 45 years. The GPLS is a full member of the Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs (AGLSP), as well as a full member of the AGLSP National Honor Society. What’s more, AGLSP’s official publication, Confluence: The Journal of Graduate Liberal Studies, resides within the GPLS—our very own Director of Program Operations, Dr. Steven A. Burr, is Editor of the Journal.

How many credits are required to earn the MALS?

Thirty-six credits are required to earn the MALS. Although many students choose to earn their credits through the completion of twelve three-credit courses, there is also an option to take ten courses and complete a Capstone Project, which encourages students to engage in extended, cross-disciplinary research and to present a sustained composition and a public presentation.

How much time can I take to earn the MALS?

Students have up to five years to complete their degree.

Are there any required core courses?

“Self and World: Fundamental Issues in Human Existence” is required of all students enrolled in the program and should be taken in the student’s first semester. This course provides incoming students with an introduction to the methods, topics, and expectations that will shape their time in the GPLS, addressing the major intellectual issues as well as the use of appropriate resources. All subsequent GPLS courses are divided among three divisions: Historical Approaches (emphasizing the origin, evolution, and development of ideas and movements crucial to the modern experience), Themes in Modern Experience (concentrating on the central elements of the structure and ways in which these elements contribute to the uniqueness and relevance of the idea or institution), and Creative Processes (stressing the importance of students discovering their own forms of expression and emphasizing the communication of ideas). Students must complete at least one course from each division in addition to the initial foundations course.

What types of courses do you offer?

The program offers courses linked to each other by the Liberal Arts tradition of intellectual rigor and eloquence of expression which is the hallmark of a Jesuit education. Coursework in the program covers philosophy, literature, history, politics, and art, as well as contemporary social issues. Students choose the courses within the program that appeal to them personally, making the program a reflection of each student’s unique educational goals. Class meetings are held in the evenings on our Baltimore, Timonium, or Columbia campuses, and some course content can be delivered online.

Is there intelligent life outside of the GPLS seminar room?

Absolutely! Of fundamental importance to the GPLS is a lively and engaged community of students, alumnae/i, faculty, and friends. The program regularly hosts film screenings, book discussion groups, and other social gatherings. Additionally, students in the program are strongly encouraged to engage in enterprises outside of the program, including participation in Loyola’s Emerging Scholars program, attendance and participation in relevant conferences (such as the national AGLSP conference as well as its regional counterparts), and pursuit of publication of work done both inside and outside of the curriculum.

Can students concentrate in a particular field or area of study?

Currently, there are no formal concentrations within the program curriculum as students are strongly encouraged to take a wide variety of courses during their time at Loyola. However, the program is constantly working with faculty to develop thematic links between and among courses and thus provide more uniformity in the educational experience among students.

How do I decide what courses to take?

After completion of the required foundations course, students are completely free to choose which courses to take and when. Though advising is not normally required, the Director of Program Operations is always available to discuss course choices, academic goals, and any other student needs as required.

Who teaches courses in the GPLS?

The faculty in the GPLS are drawn from multiple disciplines and a number of departments across the university to provide a broad spectrum of knowledge and course offerings for students. They are experts in their field and passionate about their subject matter. They are anxious to share their knowledge with their students and promote dialogue and further exploration of the course material.

Can I transfer courses into the GPLS from another school or program?

Students who have completed three or more courses at Loyola and who are in good academic standing may apply to transfer up to six credits from a relevant program at another graduate institution or another Loyola program. All transfers of credit are approved by the Director of Program Operations on a case-by-case basis. At least ten courses (thirty credits) must in any event be completed within GPLS at Loyola.

Can I take a course from another program and have it count towards my requirements?

Students who have completed three or more courses at Loyola and who are in good academic standing may be permitted to take up to six credits outside of the GPLS. Permission to take courses outside of the program must be secured in advance from the Director of Program Operations; approval is granted on a case-by-case basis. At least ten courses (thirty credits) must in any event be completed within GPLS at Loyola.