1 MASTER OF LIBERAL STUDIES Thank you for inquiring about the University of Minnesota s Master of Liberal Studies (MLS) degree. This program, offered jointly by the Graduate School and the College of Continuing Education, responds to the academic needs of motivated adults who want a coherent graduate degree that is not confined to a single discipline or specialty. Each student, in consultation with an academic advisor, designs an individual program of study around an interdisciplinary theme or topic. The curriculum includes discussion-oriented liberal studies seminars, electives drawn from other departments of the University and a culminating final project. The atmosphere is collegial; students get to know each other and their professors. Nearly all MLS students are studying part-time, and they come from a wide variety of educational and professional backgrounds. MLS seminars are scheduled in the evening or on Saturday to accommodate their needs. Admission is granted Summer, Fall, or Spring Semester. If you would like to learn more about the program, have specific questions, or wish to schedule a meeting with a member of the MLS staff to see if this program is right for you, please call You can also visit our web site at Thank you, Sherry Wagner-Henry Director of Graduate Programs College of Continuing Education
2 TIMELY AND TIMELESS INTERDISCIPLINARY EDUCATION FOR ADULT STUDENTS IS THE MLS FOR YOU? Adult and part-time students those who work and need a flexible program with scheduling choices. Liberal arts graduates who want to continue studies that lead to an advanced degree but without the predetermined curriculum that more structured majors and minors provide. People in specialized professions teachers, engineers, technical experts, health professionals who want to broaden and deepen their understanding of their society in almost any area that interests them. Students who want to bring together perspectives traditionally divided by disciplinary boundaries, to develop interests that require multiple points of view (e.g., the humanities and health care; business and philosophy; artistic expression and politics). Working people for whom a master s degree is an important career credential, one that may offer opportunities for career advancement, promotion, and scheduled salary improvements. PROGRAM FEATURES AND REQUIREMENTS Under the semester system, 30-semester credits will be required. Curriculum requirements include nine credits of Liberal Studies seminars (LS 5100), 15 credits of elective courses, an introductory seminar (LS 8001), and final project course (LS 8002). The MLS program faculty committee and faculty director review and approve required courses, recruit and evaluate faculty, and assure the quality of the program in all respects. Liberal Studies courses are offered evenings and Saturday mornings. Students for whom it is convenient may take elective courses during the day. Students may register via the web, by mail or fax to the registrar s office. Priority is given to students admitted to the program. Financial aid programs are available to part-time students (subject to individual eligibility). ADMISSIONS INFORMATION Completed applications are due by: March 1 for Summer and Fall Admission or September 1 for Spring Admission Although the MLS is designed for working adults, there are no specific vocational implications related to admission or program requirements. The student must have earned bachelor s degree from an accredited institution. Admission is based on academic record and other indicators of the student s ability to succeed in graduate study.
3 MASTER OF LIBERAL STUDIES (MLS) The Master of Liberal Studies (MLS) at the University of Minnesota is a master s degree for persons with a lively intellectual curiosity and wide-ranging professional and educational backgrounds. It is interdisciplinary in scope and intent, with a schedule built to serve the part time evening student. GOALS: Sharpen your verbal and written communication skills; Broaden your general knowledge; Broaden your understanding of contemporary issues; Strengthen your capacity to think critically and creatively; Gain insights into the relationships between disciplines, ideas, and historical developments. CURRICULUM: MLS DEGREE REQUIREMENTS LS 8001 Introduction to Interdisciplinary Inquiry. Required. 3 credits LS 5100 or LS 5950 Liberal Studies Seminars. Required. At least 3 seminars totaling: 9 credits Electives should come from two or more disciplines. 15 credits Electives chosen from disciplines throughout the Graduate School; Directed Study (not more than six credits); Advanced Interdisciplinary Inquiry (LS 8100); or additional Liberal Studies seminars. LS 8002 Final Project. Required. 3 credits TOTAL 30 credits
4 HOW TO APPLY TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL AND THE MASTER OF LIBERAL STUDIES (MLS) PROGRAM COMPLETE AND SUBMIT THE ONLINE GRADUATE SCHOOL APPLICATION FORM TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL WITH THE $75 PROCESSING FEE (CREDIT CARD ACCEPTED) What is your proposed major and degree objective? choose: Liberal Studies M L S Applicant Statements Many of these questions can be addressed in the Statement of Purpose sent directly to the MLS office. Since this is a major component of your application to the MLS program, you are advised to seek the review of MLS staff before submitting your final draft. Statement 1 You may attach your Statement of Purpose in this field. If you do not have a final draft at the time you complete your on-line application, you may enter Statement sent directly to department. Statement 2 You may address the questions asked, however this statement is optional. Extenuating Circumstances If your grades and/or test scores are not strong, you may provide an explanation. This statement is also optional. Send a photocopy of the application form to the MLS office. OBTAIN TRANSCRIPTS Request an official copy of your transcript from each college or university you attended for your undergraduate degree and subsequent coursework taken for credit be sent to the Graduate School office. Send official transcripts to: University of Minnesota Graduate School 309 Johnston Hall 101 Pleasant Street SE Minneapolis, MN Request an unofficial copy be sent to the MLS office. (U of M graduates may submit unofficial transcripts, available over the counter or by mail at no charge, from the Office of the Registrar, 200 Fraser Hall; go to: for information.) CONTACT A STAFF MEMBER FOR PRE-ADVISING ( or START WRITING YOUR STATEMENT OF PURPOSE See explanation in application packet on page titled Admission to the MLS Program. If you have any questions or concerns while you are writing, feel free to call the MLS office for assistance. MLS staff members are available to read a rough draft of your Statement of Purpose; fax to or e- mail OBTAIN LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION Two letters are required. Collect them from past professors, employers, etc. Give the letter writers a copy of your Statement of Purpose so they know your intentions of study in the program. The letters should be sent directly to the MLS office. GATHER EXAMPLES OF YOUR WRITTEN WORK Approximately 10 to 20 pages are required. We suggest past research papers, reports from your workplace, or published pieces that show your writing abilities. The samples should be sent directly to the MLS office. Please refer to Admission to the MLS Program in the application packet for further information about the Statement of Purpose, Letters of Recommendation, and Writing Sample. Contact the MLS office at or with questions.
5 ADMISSION TO THE MLS PROGRAM What the faculty will look for when considering your application The final decision about your admission will be made by the Graduate School, but it is heavily influenced by the recommendation of the MLS faculty admissions committee. Each application receives a comprehensive review. That means that your application for admission will be viewed holistically, taking many things into account. The committee asks such questions as: Are you likely to succeed academically in the Graduate School? Is there a good fit between the MLS program and your stated educational objectives? Can you express yourself well in writing? What are the positive qualities (leadership for example) and experiences that you will bring into the program? Previous academic work. As a general rule, prior academic success is the single best predictor of academic success in Graduate School; therefore, transcripts showing previous college work are carefully reviewed as part of the admissions process. The committee will not base its assessment solely on your cumulative GPA but rather on the entire transcript. Improvement over time, grades received in advanced courses, types of courses taken, and recent graduate-level work are all factored into the assessment. The Graduate School s preferred performance level is a minimum 3.00 (B average) cumulative GPA, but a lower GPA can be assuaged by evidence of maturity and motivation. If your GPA is below 3.00 you need to submit a brief, written explanation. Statement of Purpose. The Statement of Purpose is a short essay about you and your academic interests. Briefly tell us about yourself and what you would contribute to the MLS community. Describe your personal and/or professional goals and why you think a self-designed, interdisciplinary program like the MLS will help you achieve them. Explain how you would focus your program of study, noting the particular issues and questions you would like to explore. Be as specific as you can. What academic disciplines would you expect to draw upon? Cite 3-4 elective courses from at least two disciplines that you might include in your program. Also cite 2-3 actual Liberal Studies topics seminars that you might want to take. Make it 3-4 pages long (double spaced). You are encouraged to send or a draft of your Statement of Purpose to the MLS office before submitting your final application. The MLS staff will be happy to offer feedback about how to create a strong statement.
6 Writing skill. Are you a proficient writer? The MLS is a writing intensive program. Students who lack mature, graduate-level writing skills will be handicapped in this program. The faculty committee will assess your writing ability based on your Statement of Purpose and other writing samples that you submit. The Statement of Purpose needs to represent your very best writing. It should not only convey information about you and your plans, it must be well organized, succinct, persuasive, and exhibit clarity of thought and expression. We would also like to see other examples of what you consider to be your best writing, totaling about pages. These writing samples can be on any topic in any style or genre so long as it is prose. If possible, include academic writing that demonstrates critical thinking and analysis. Do not send poetry, bulleted outlines, or scripts. If you send writing that is co-authored, please indicate the portion(s) authored by you. Avoid business or technical reports laden with jargon. Recommendations. We ask for at least two recommendations. Recommendations can augment your application by allowing others to attest to your qualifications, experiences, and characteristics. When taken into account with other information, recommendations shed more light on what you might bring to the MLS program and whether an interdisciplinary program like this is right for you. They can be from employers, teachers, clergy, friends, or colleagues people who know you well and who can tell us why you would be a good candidate for Graduate School. A professor s recommendation is desirable, but not required. Optional materials: Résumé or Curriculum Vitae: You may include a résumé or CV if you feel these would be relevant to our faculty s assessment of your goals and potential for success in the MLS Program GRE Scores: Although the GRE is not required, if you have taken the exam you may report your score. Explanation of extenuating circumstances: If your undergraduate g.p.a. falls below 3.0, you should include a separate explanation of your previous performance and an indication of how your present situation has changed to indicate future success. Other: Expecting diversity among those applying for this degree, the faculty committee allows individual applicants to submit whatever materials they wish to bolster their case for admission. Optional materials will be reviewed as supplemental to your application, and cannot take the place of required materials.
7 APPLICATION FOR ADMISSION CHECKLIST Please refer to Admission to the MLS Program sheet for what factors the admission faculty considers. RECOMMENDED PRE-ADMISSION ADVISING Contact a staff member for pre-admission advising Call the MLS office at or write for an appointment. REQUIRED APPLICATION AND SUPPORTING MATERIALS Graduate School Online Application Form Complete the application online at: Application fee of $75 (nonrefundable) must be paid on submission with a credit card. Contact the MLS office if you don t have a credit card. When completed, please print and submit a copy of your application to the MLS office. Obtain transcripts Obtain transcripts from each college or university you attended for your undergraduate degree and subsequent coursework taken for credit. U of M graduates may submit unofficial transcripts available at no charge from the Office of the Registrar, 200 Fraser Hall or online at Official transcripts must be sent directly to the Graduate School. Statement of Purpose If you have questions or concerns while you are writing, feel free to call the MLS office for assistance. MLS staff members are available to read a good rough draft of your Statement of Purpose. draft to or fax to Two Letters of Recommendation Sent from your letter writers directly to the MLS office. Writing Samples Approximately 20 pages. OPTIONAL SUPPORTING MATERIALS Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. Résumé or curriculum vitae Explanation of Extenuating circumstances if your GPA is lower than the Graduate School s preferred performance Level of 3.0. Other Expecting diversity among those applying for this degree, the faculty committee allows individual applicants to submit whatever materials they wish to bolster their case for admission. DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS Deadlines are : March 1 for Summer and Fall Admission, or September 1 for Spring Admission. Send Official Transcripts to: Send all other materials to: University of Minnesota College of Continuing Education UofM Graduate School MLS Program 309 Johnston Hall Classroom Office Building Suite Pleasant Street SE 1994 Buford Ave Minneapolis, MN St. Paul, MN You will receive a response in approximately six weeks after the application deadline from the MLS office and the Graduate School. After submitting your paperwork, please do not call the Graduate School to check on the progress of your approval; this will only delay the process. Please call the MLS office after that time period if you have not received written notification.
8 FINANCIAL AID OPTIONS The major sources of financial aid for MLS students are employer tuition benefits, work-study or graduate assistantships, and loans. Also look into federal education tax benefits, the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit or the deduction for tuition and required fees. STUDENT LOANS AND WORK-STUDY To apply for loans and work-study administered by the University of Minnesota Office of Student Finance (OSF), complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online at Minimum enrollment is 3 credits a semester. Check the U of M One Stop at regularly for up-to-date information about the financial aid process, types of aid, eligibility requirements, deadlines, disbursement dates, satisfactory academic progress, and other information for which financial aid recipients are responsible. EMPLOYER TUITION BENEFITS Many employers are willing to subsidize the education of their employees. Contact a company personnel officer for information. The Academic Staff Tuition Benefit and Regents Scholarships may be available to University of Minnesota employees. Information is available in U of M departments and online at Up to $5,250 in employer tuition benefits for graduate course work is tax-free. GRADUATE ASSISTANTSHIPS Teaching assistant, research assistant, and administrative fellow are academic appointments offered through various departments; tuition benefits are included. Contact the Graduate Assistant Employment Office in 170 Donhowe Building, th Avenue S.E., Minneapolis, MN ( ); website COLLEGE OF CONTINUING EDUCATION SCHOLARSHIPS Several CCE scholarships are available to MLS admits. Applications are available online at
9 FINANCIAL AID OPTIONS EDUCATION TAX BENEFITS The Lifetime Learning Tax Credit applies to any level of enrollment, is tied to modified federal adjusted gross income, and applies to out-of-pocket tuition and course fees or taxable employer tuition benefits. The maximum tax credit is $2,000 per taxpayer per year spread over any number of years. An above-the-line education tax deduction of up to $4,000 per tax year for tuition and course fees may be available for students with incomes to high to receive significant benefit from the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit. Other requirements are similar to the Lifetime Credit. A tax deduction of up to $4,000 per tax year is available for interest on qualified educational loans. Up to $5,250 of employer tuition benefits is tax free for graduate course work. The long-standing itemized tax deduction for education required by your employer or the law, or education needed to maintain or improve skills needed in your current job is still available. Deductible expenses may include tuition, books, supplies, lab fees, and similar items; certain travel and transportation costs; and certain other educational expenses. For additional information about education tax credits and deductions, go online to Click on Education tax benefits. For applicability of any of the above tax breaks to your individual situation, contact the IRS or your tax adviser. TUITION INSTALLMENT PLAN For information about the installment payment plan, go online to ADDITIONAL OPTIONS AmeriCorps awards received upon completion of a term of national service in an approved AmeriCorps program, Veteran s Administration benefits, and Army and Air National Guard financial aid programs Foundations, community and professional organizations, religious affiliation: While many scholarships are for undergrads, some may be flexible enough to fund MLS students! To continue your financial aid search, visit The SmartStudent Guide to Financial Aid at and Scholarship Help and Advice Center at These scholarship websites provide valuable advice on how to apply for scholarships and have databases as extensive as any commercial firm that charges a fee.
10 UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA GRADUATE SCHOOL DIVERSITY STATEMENT UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA MISSION STATEMENT (Mission Statement, University of Minnesota Board of Regents Policy, adopted: 1/14/94) PHILOSOPHY: The University of Minnesota is founded in the belief that all people are enriched by understanding, is dedicated to the advancement of learning and the search for truth; to sharing this knowledge through education for a diverse community; and to the application of this knowledge to benefit the people of the state, the nation, and the world. PURPOSE: In all of its activities, the University strives to sustain an open exchange of ideas in an environment that embodies the values of academic freedom, responsibility, integrity, and cooperation; that provides an atmosphere of mutual respect, free from racism, sexism, and other forms of prejudice and intolerance; that assists individuals, institutions, and communities in responding to a continuously changing world; that is conscious of and responsive to the needs of the many communities it is committed to serving; that creates and supports partnerships within the University, with other educational systems and institutions, and with communities to achieve common goals; and that inspires, sets high expectations for, and empowers the individuals within its community. GRADUATE SCHOOL COMMITMENT TO DIVERSITY The Graduate School embraces the University of Minnesota s position that promoting and supporting diversity among the student body is central to the academic mission of the University. A diverse student body enriches graduate education by providing a multiplicity of views and perspectives that enhance research, teaching, and the development of new knowledge. A diverse mix of students promotes respect for, and opportunities to learn from, others with the broad range of backgrounds and experiences that constitute modern society. Higher education trains the next generation of leaders of academia and society in general, and such opportunities for leadership should be accessible to all members of society. The Graduate School and its constituent graduate programs are therefore committed to providing equal access to educational opportunities through recruitment, admission, and support programs that promote diversity, foster successful academic experiences, and cultivate the leaders of the next generation.