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The Purpose of Liberal Studies

Liberal Studies helps us to value the world by intergrating aspects of the three schools, arts and letters, natural science, and social science. By doing this, the curriculum helps us to understand why we view ourselves and our surroundings the way that we do. It encourages us to communicate better with those around us. A liberal education gives a greater appreciation for the literature, music, and visual arts that society offers us. It helps us to comprehend the complex social and political programs of the contemporary world and facilitates our ability to make use of today's rapidly evolving technology.

An Individualized Program of Study

The Master of Liberal Studies program is designed to allow students flexibility to fashion a course of study that blends their interests, talents and experience. Students, under guidance of their faculty advisor, may choose graduate courses and seminars in a variety of disciplines within the schools of arts and letters and the sciences. The program culminates with a thesis or alternative project that will grow out of the information and methodologies acquired throughout the course work. In order to complete a thesis a student must carry out an extensive amount of research and analysis on an interdisciplinary topic with assistance of a faculty committee. Three thesis options are available: traditional, creative, and applied.

Program Mission

Students who have completed the MLS program will demonstrate:

  • understanding of the methods of intellectual inquiry in multiple disciplines
  • development of broader knowledge base with sufficient depth
  • improved ability to critically analyze information
  • ability to synthesize knowledge to examine complex issues
  • capacity to apply learning to make informed decisions
  • ability to communicate effectively

Feed Your Mind

If you're a student looking to reach beyond a bachelor's degree, a Masters in Liberal Studies could be the challenge you desire. This interdisciplinary liberal arts program offers students a greater appreciation for the humanities and the sciences. In addition, graduates of the MLS program understand the reciprocal relationship between the complex social and political structures of the contemporary world and humanity.

With a Masters in Liberal Studies students can pursue careers in a variety of fields. Alumni of this program are qualified to work in education, social services, and law. Graduates may also decide to continue their education in a Ph.D. program. The options are infinite when you pursue a Masters degree in Liberal Studies.

For regular admission, students must have completed a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 (B) on a 4.0 scale. Exceptions can be made at the discretion of the Director and the Advisory Committee.

Application deadlines

Applications are accepted anytime, but deadlines exist for starting in a particular semester.

Fall August 10
Spring January 2
Summer I & II April 15

Application Requirements

Applications to Liberal studies programs (either MLS or Graduate Certificate) are submitted via this on-line process: MLS Online Application

All of the material listed below will be submitted via this link; we list them here for your information:

1. Graduate Record Exam (GRE)

Note: other graduate admissions tests will also be accepted (e.g., GMAT, LSAT)

Note: a voucher for reduction in fees for the GRE is available. Check with the Financial Aid office for further info and qualifications.

2. Three letters of recommendation.

The on-line application process will request mail and e-mail addresses of your references and it will automatically send them an email requesting a recommendation. It is in your best interest to (a) warn your references that the e-mail will be coming and (b) ask people to write letters who can speak to your ability to succeed in a graduate program. Former professors make better references than relatives or friends.

3. You will be asked to upload a statement of personal and educational objectives:
  • Why do you wish to study in the Master in Liberal Studies program?
  • What your objectives are in so doing?
  • Indicate major and minor areas of interest for your coursework in the MLS program.
  • What strengths and weaknesses do you bring to this kind of graduate study?
4. All undergraduate transcripts--complete and official.

You will be asked to list all previous schools attended, but it is your responsibility to contact the schools for official transcripts. Note that you do not need to request any IU system transcripts; the MLS office can access IU transcripts.

5. Application fee: $35.

In order to complete the on-line submission process you will have to make electronic payment of the application fee via IU PayPlus.

6. Conversation with the MLS Director.

Once the complete application has been received, the MLS director will contact you to schedule a conversation, either in-person or by telephone, at your convenience.


University Police, University Center North, Room UC 027 (812) 941-2400 In compliance with the federal Campus Security Act, IU Southeast produces a pamphlet containing information on campus safety and security that includes crime statistics information. The pamphlet is available upon request from the University Police or the University Police Website.

Two Graduate Options:

Masters Degree in Liberal Studies: 34 credit hours

Fully accredited master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies that includes foundational coursework, electives, and a graduate thesis project.

The Master’s Degree in Liberal Studies allows students to design their own course of graduate study. For those students who prefer more guidance in their selection of a course of study, concentrations within the program are available. Note that students are not required to select one of these concentrations; they are optional.

Graduate Certificate in Liberal Studies: 16 credit hours

Graduate certificate that includes foundational coursework in interdisciplinary studies and relevant electives; allows students to demonstrate their capacity for graduate work or to pursue graduate coursework.


LBST D501: Humanities Seminar (3 cr.)
Contemporary Rhetoric - Abernethy
5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. W

The last sixty years have seen remarkable changes in the ways in which messages are conveyed. The development of radio, television, and the internet has made it easier than ever for those with a message to communicate to their constituents. However, the negative aspect of these developments is that people are bombarded with more messages than ever. This course is designed to look at those communicators and messages which have made an impact in the last sixty years, specifically in the areas of politics and social reform.

LBST D502: Social Sciences Seminar (4 cr.)
Body Adornment as Identity - Allen
5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. M

Body adornment/modification (tattoo, scarification, piercing, etc.) and its role in the construction of individual and group identity will be investigated from the perspective of a number of different disciplines: psychology, sociology, cultural studies, art history, and aesthetics. In addition to the approaches and methodologies taken in each field, and emphasis will be placed on how these areas intersect to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the significance of these arts for the individual and their larger communities.

LBST D503: Natural Sciences Seminar (3 cr.)
Social Networks, Crowds, Markets - Kimmer
7:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. R

The course focuses on networks--both their structure and how they change over time. The term network does not necessarily imply a computer network such as the Internet. Instead it refers to a more abstract concept where pairs of nodes are linked by a relationship, represented as a line linking the nodes. In a social network, the nodes represent people and the relationship between the people may indicate that they are Facebook friends, two people that work on a project together in an office, etc. depending on the particular network being constructed. Following dynamics of such networks leads to insights about how videos become viral, how news spreads online, or how businesses can use social networks for increased sales and profits. The dynamics even sheds light on revolutions as when Facebook and Twitter were used in the Arab Spring uprisings to coordinate protests or disseminate information to the world at large.

LBST D5591: Graduate Workshop on Teaching (2 cr.)
6:00 p.m. – 7:40 p.m. T

Working together and independently, students will develop a basic understanding of the pedagogical issues and mechanics of teaching at the college level. Each student will select a particular course (e.g., Intro Psych) to “build” during the semester. Throughout the course, students will begin the process of building a teaching portfolio.


LBST D601: Graduate Project Proposal Seminar (3 cr.)
May 13 - August 5 - Finkel
6:00p.m. - 7:30 p.m T

Working as a group and independently, students will research and develop a thesis proposal. Students will complete the literature review, develop their methodology, identify their thesis committee, and develop knowledge of the relevant research ethics. At the end of the semester, students will be prepared to submit their thesis proposal to their thesis committee.

LBST D503: Natural Sciences Seminar (3 cr.)
Yoga, the Science of Health, and Beyond
4:15 p.m - 5:45 p.m MTWR Summer Session 1 – Manwani

The goal of the course is to understand yoga and to use it as an enhancement of mental and physical health. The course surveys the ancient philosophy behind yogic practices and scientific data concerning the benefits on the mind and body. Physical practice of yoga will be involved.

LBST D502: Social Sciences Seminar (3 cr.)
Overview of Aging in America
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m MW Summer Session 2 – Bowles

From a physiological, sociological and psychological approach, the course offers a contemporaryview of how an aging population affects our society. With the predicted growth of the Baby Boomer generation, being aware of the impact from a multitude of views is warranted. A plethora of research studies and theories for gerontological issues will be discussed.


LBST D510: Intro to Grad Liberal Studies (4 cr.)
6:00 p.m. - 7:40 p.m. MW - Finkel

The course provides a comprehensive introduction to graduate liberal studies, as well as preparing students to participate successfully in all facets of the MLS program. The course will examine principles of intellectual inquiry in the three fields represented in the MLS program: Arts & Letters, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences. These methods will be applied to the Common Experience topic for the year.

LBST D501: Humanities Seminar (3 cr.)
Remembering Auschwitz: Bearing Witness to the Impossible
5:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. T - Barry

In this course, we will examine the problem of bearing witness to the event of the death camp, an event that compromises the structures of experience and understanding for all concerned. Our work will focus on the writings of Primo Levi in particular, with special attention being paid to his last and most philosophical effort to understand Auschwitz, The Drowned and the Saved. We will examine the ways in which memory and judgment are impoverished, even neutralized, by the structures of the death camp. We will also spend considerable time considering the ways in which Levi, Arendt, and others argue that psychology of the normal world is unable to adequately account for what happens to individuals in the camps. Finally, we will examine the ways in which the loss of the very possibility of moral action renders effective history and fact-finding exceedingly problematic.

LBST D502: Social Sciences Seminar (4 cr.)
Environmental Psychology and Sustainable Living
11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. S – Woodward and Galvin

With the improvement of technology and communications, the Earth is an increasingly global community. Unfortunately, Hardin’s 1968 parable of the tragedy of the commons suggests that the more we are forced to share a decreasing pool of resources, the more abuse and neglect of the Earth’s ecology occurs. As resources abate, pollution intensifies, and the climate shifts, social scientists have increased their focus on the need to restore balance between humans and their natural environment. The proposed program will provide an overview of theory, research, and methods in environmental psychology—the study of the reciprocal human relationship with our environment. In addition to keeping up with the assigned readings for class discussion, students will maintain a personal journal, conduct field research, tour model eco-friendly businesses and communities, interview leaders in the local green movement, and participate in the design and construction of an off-the-grid cob house using recycled, reused, and renewable resources. When not attending field trips in the community, classes will be held at the organic farm and orchard of the class instructors.

LBST D503: Natural Sciences Seminar (3 cr.)
Cancer: Biology and Society
5:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. R - Connerly

In the first part of the course, we will use Hesketh, Betrayed by Nature: The War on Cancer, to cover the biology basics required to understand the complexity of cancer as a disease and its treatments. As we read the book, students will answer a series of short essay questions to demonstrate their understanding of critical biological concepts. As a class, we will also discuss at least one article from the primary scientific literature to help students see how scientific information is established and shared. The second part of the course will examine cancer as a disease and its treatments, in the context of looking at the history of cancer using Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. In addition to general class discussions, students will give oral presentations on sections of the book covering specific aspects of the history of cancer and cancer research. The third part of the course will utilize Leaf, The Truth in Small Doses: Why We’re Losing the War on Cancer- and How to Win It, to evaluate the author’s criticism of the current cancer culture and the failure of the war on cancer. As we read and discuss the book, students will write response essays to specific portions of the book. The final project in the course will give each student a chance to focus on an aspect of their own perspective on cancer.

Thesis Project Responsibilities

The thesis work that MLS students undertake is designed to be interdisciplinary in nature. As a result, the conduct and product of their research may be unfamiliar to faculty from a "uni-disciplinary" background. This document outlines the responsibilities of all parties.

Additional Thesis Documents


Indiana Residents pay the standard graduate tuition for courses they take. IU Southeast and the University of Louisville signed a reciprocity agreement allowing students from Jefferson, Oldham, and Bullitt Counties to enroll in the MLS program and pay in-state tuition rates.

Financial Assistance

Contact the Office of Student Financial Aid about the availability of loans and scholarships.

Phone : (812) 941-2246



The MLS program distributes $4000 in scholarship funding to new first-year students in the MLS program who demonstrate academic merit. The funds are typically used to fund 3 to 4 scholarships.  To be eligible, students must submit a complete application to the MLS program by July 15. Applicants will be notified within one month if they have been awarded a scholarship for graduate study.

What can I do with an MLS degree?

We like to say that the Master’s degree in Liberal Studies is good for nothing – instead, it’s good for everything. What we mean is that the MLS degree is not designed to prepare you for a specific career; it’s designed to exercise and develop your mind so you are prepared for a variety of career opportunities.

Albert Einstein said, “Computers are incredibly fast, accurate and stupid; humans are incredibly slow, inaccurate and brilliant; together they are powerful beyond imagination.”

The point is that many routine and even complex tasks are being outsourced to computers today, but the MLS degree is designed to foster exactly the kind of talents that people have and computers do not. Today’s successful workers need to be innovative, creative, and broad-minded thinkers who are capable of:

  • Flexibility of mind
  • Confidence in their abilities
  • Innovative methods
  • Ability to approach problems/issues from multiple perspectives with creativity

The world changes quickly and most people make many career changes during their working lives. The MLS degree allows you to enrich your personal and professional life by developing your love of learning as a survival skill in a world of constant change.

The MLS degree allows you to design your own interdisciplinary master’s degree: it gives you the opportunity to develop mastery of a self-defined discipline. In other words, instead of following lockstep in a discipline of someone else’s choosing, you get the opportunity to design your own degree and chose to develop the right knowledge base and skill set for what you want to do next.

Getting an MLS degree at IU Southeast has helped numerous students achieve advancement in their careers or develop new careers.