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MALS Current Students

Do courses that are graded pass/fail count toward the MALS degree?

No. In order for a class to count for the degree, students must be graded on a A-F scale. The only exception is MALS 79000, the Thesis/Capstone Project which is graded on a Pass/Fail basis.

Can MALS students e-permit to take classes at other CUNY Campuses?

With the permission of the executive officer, MALS students may e-permit to enroll in a maximum of two graduate-level courses at another CUNY campus. Students should email the EO the semester before they want to register for permission, explaining how the course(s) are relevant to their concentration and course of study.

For the Registrar's e-permit instructions, please click here

Does the thesis/capstone course count toward the thirty degree credits required for graduation?

Yes, the thesis/capstone course MALS 79000 counts toward the 30 credits required for graduation.

May I transfer credit from other graduate programs?

The Liberal Studies Program will accept a maximum of 12 credits earned in another graduate program toward the 30 credits required for the M.A. Please send the following form to the Assistant Program Officer, Kathy Koutsis ( to include the semester, course title, grade, brief description, and a CUNY GC course that you deem equivalent. Your request will be reviewed by the Executive Officer of the program. The following restrictions apply to these transfer credits:

  • The course(s) must have been completed with a grade of B or higher;
  • The course(s) must be comparable to courses offered by the Graduate Center (courses in creative or professional writing are not acceptable for transfer credit);
  • The course(s) must not be credited towards a prior graduate degree. If you have a prior graduate degree, you can transfer only credits that you earned in excess of the credits required for that degree.

May I take courses at other CUNY institutions or at universities within the consortial system?

No, MALS students can only take courses offered at the Graduate Center.
The consortial arrangement is open only to doctoral students.

How do I choose a concentration?

Students choose a concentration to explore a topic that interests them, to fill in gaps in their education, and to enhance their resumes (read below about the benefits of a MALS degree). When researching which concentration to choose, you should check the concentration's webpage for a general description, requirements, associated faculty, and course offerings. In addition, you can visit the webpages of related Graduate Center programs -- doctoral, master'scertificate, and interdisciplinary -- and read detailed descriptions of the courses offered. You can also contact faculty and/or MALS advisors to answer further questions.

A summary of MALS program requirements can be found here. The list of concentrations can be found here, as well as links to individual concentration webpages.

Can I change my concentration?

Yes, you can change your concentration at any point during the course of your program. In order to do so, please notify the MALS office via email ( You will be expected to meet all course requirements associated with the new concentration. Core courses taken in a different concentration may count towards the required 18 credits of electives, but not as core courses in the new concentration.

In what way can I use a MALS degree to further career goals outside of Academia?

Choosing a concentration that will give you new expertise is one way that a MALS degree can further your career goals. For instance, a student interested in working with immigrants could choose the Global Migration concentration. Choosing the Urban Education concentration could give you expertise for working in museums and with education non-profits. Students who select the Digital Humanities concentration or take courses in the concentration learn many highly useful technical skills that employers are often looking for. Skills honed by writing papers and giving presentations in class, such as being able to write clearly and communicate well, can also advance your career.

Getting involved in various Graduate Center activities can further advance your career goals. For example, involvement in the MALS Student Association is an opportunity to serve in a leadership capacity.

Is there a student leadership group for me to get involved in and meet other students?

Yes. There is a MALS Student Association and a MALS Student Group on the CUNY Academic Commons.

All MALS students are automatically members of the Student Association, which provides funding for student events and communicates student concerns and needs to the Program's Executive Officer and Deputy Executive Officer. To get involved, look out for upcoming events and meetings which are announced in the MALS Student Group on the Academic Commons.

MALS Student Group: This is a MALS student-only group based on the Academic Commons. In order to join the group you will first need a valid GC e-mail account. You will be assigned a GC e-mail account 3-5 days after you register for courses. Use that e-mail to create an account on the CUNY Academic Commons. Once you're registered, visit the MALS Student Group and join the group.

Where can I find funding for my degree?

GC librarians have put together a great resource on funding that lists all of the major databases.

Some of these may be subscription databases accessible only to registered students.  But, if you scroll down, you’ll see the Michigan, UCLA, and Duke databases that are open access.

In book form, there is also April Vahle Hamel’s Graduate School Funding Handbook (Penn Press, 2010), which walks you through the process (Jenny Furlong wrote the chapter on postdocs), and Pearson’s Getting Money for Graduate School (2003, so maybe a bit outdated).

You can also check the Graduate Center's webpage on outside funding sources.

Does the Graduate Center offer career planning services for Master’s students?

Yes. You may find sources specifically designed for Master’s students in interviewing, networking, job searching, resume building, and applying for a PhD through the Office of Career Planning and Professional Development.

Is there someone to advise me on career opportunities associated with my studies?

Individual departments and programs sometimes run career workshops. Check their websites for more information. Speak to faculty, advisors, and other students.
Students can also seek help at the Office of Career Planning and Professional Development. Finally, they can also contact one of the MALS Advising Fellows who provide individualized academic support to MALS students, guiding them in choosing courses, managing their workloads and meeting academic challenges, and enlisting faculty mentors to supervise their theses. 

How can I find teaching or administrative jobs in the academy?

A Master’s degree, along with an excellent academic record and recommendations, can be enough to qualify for a position in a two-year college.   A Ph.D. is a requirement for teaching jobs in four-year institutions.  Even jobs that emphasize teaching will also require research and publication.  Professor jobs are listed with field-specific organizations and in journals, such as the Chronicle of Higher Ed, which are aimed at an academic readership.

A Master’s or a Ph.D. degree in the Humanities or Social Sciences can be a strong qualification for administrative posts in the academic world even in the absence of a professional degree in administration. These degrees show that you have reading, writing, technical, and research skills and, in addition, have some knowledge of how the academic world works.

Where are academic jobs listed?

The career services is a good place to start when looking for these jobs.  Often, colleges and universities have their own job-listings.  Here are some other good listings to check:

Where are jobs outside of academia listed?

Here are some of the many websites:

For help in your job search, visit the webpage of the Office of Career Planning or make an appointment to see Dr. Jennifer Furlong, the director of the Office of Career Planning and Professional Development at the Graduate Center. Dr. Furlong also organizes panels and events for students searching for jobs.

In what ways can I seek out help in becoming a PhD candidate?

Seek out help from as many people as you can at the Graduate Center, your undergraduate institution, and the university and department where you are thinking of applying.  Professors, fellow students, program administrators, admissions officers, and career-service placement specialists all have something to offer to make you a strong Ph.D. candidate.   All of these people can help a Ph.D. candidate with essential information about institutions, faculty, grants, and the admissions process.  A successful Ph.D. candidate should have a research agenda and know the institution and professors where this agenda would best fit.  The personal statement and writing sample benefits from multiple readers.  It is important that someone familiar with the conventions of the subject read both.

How do I find a thesis advisor?

A thesis advisor is usually one of your professors. Thesis advisors must be members of the Graduate Center faculty. They do not need to be faculty members within the MALS Program.  

Your thesis advisor should teach in a field related to your concentration and have some knowledge about the subject of your thesis. Given that the thesis is interdisciplinary and original, it is unlikely that any single professor will have an expertise in everything about your thesis. Ideally, choose a professor with whom you have been able to work well in the past. Other students have found that this compatibility is more important than subject-matter expertise. Remember that your thesis advisor is not the only professor to whom you can turn for help or advice on your thesis.

Are there fellowships and scholarships available for MALS students?

Information about the Dean's Merit Scholarship and Federal Aid can be found on the Master's Scholarships and Financial Aid page

International students can look up their eligibility for financial aid at the website of the Office of US Department of Education.

Federal Aid Information
A few key points: Students must be registered for at least 6 credits to receive federal aid (Perkins, work study, Stafford and Graduate PLUS).  The amount of federal aid a student is eligible for is based on the number of credits the student registers for, a standardized cost of living amount, and the student’s financial need.  If a student drops from 9 to 6 credits, their aid eligibility decreases by the cost of those three credits.   If a student drops from 6 to 3 credits, all of their federal aid would be cancelled.
If a student completely withdraws from all classes prior to the 60% point of the the policy on our website comes into effect.  The 60% point is also when students who completely withdraw are entitled to keep their loans.  Any student who completely withdraws from their classes will give up any remaining work study eligibility.
For detailed information, visit

Do MALS students have a space to study and socialize?

Yes. The MALS Student Study in Room 4109 has computers, a printer, lockers, a large table, and a couch. The Student Study is maintained and stocked by the MALS Student Association. Please be considerate and respectful. 

Is there a common area for people from different disciplines to socialize?

There are various lounges and dining facilities at the GC, including the Robert E. Gilleece Student Center. Click here for more information.

How do I find out what is going on around the university?

The Graduate Center sponsors numerous events and lectures. They are advertised prominently on the website and in the elevators.  There are many separate centers, programs, and departments that also host events at the GC.  It is a good idea to explore the GC website and even the building to find out about all of them.  
The Center for the Humanities hosts many smaller seminars and workshops in addition to large public events.  You can go to their suite of offices on the Sixth Floor to find out about their offerings.  It is a good idea to get on the email lists of programs and centers that interest you. You may also visit the Graduate Center calendar for campus events.

What other benefits do I get as a CUNY student?

CUNY students benefit from the Cultural Passport that gives students access to many cultural institutions in NYC for free or at a discount. Also visit CUNY Central’s website for more information.

Student Affairs also maintains the Student Activities & Discounts webpage on The Graduate Center website. The webpage offers free and discounted ticket information for exhibits, museums, and shows across the 5 boroughs; student discounts on products and services; and up-to-date information on events taking place on all CUNY campuses including The Graduate Center.

Is there a place where I can go for my health and well-being?

Yes. Visit the Wellness Center in the GC.

Are there any health insurance options for students?

You may find health insurance options on the GC Health and Wellness website. On that page, there is a detailed Student Health Insurance Guide under "Uninsured Students."

How Do I Apply for a Leave of Absence?

Students are required to be in status each term. This means that students must either be registered (please see Maintenance of Matriculation section below) or be on an approved Leave of Absence.

Leave of Absence will be granted to students deemed to be in good academic standing who wish to interrupt their doctoral study. The Request for Leave of Absence Form (PDF) is downloadable.

How do I apply for readmission?

A student who is not registered for courses and is not on an approved Leave of Absence will be withdrawn from the program.

Readmission following a withdrawal is at the discretion of the MALS program. A special Application for Readmission form must be submitted to Kathy Koutsis (room 4106) for approval by the MALS Executive Officer. A $20 readmission fee will be assessed. 

If you had withdrawn from the program more than five years ago, please get in touch with the program as additional information and records may be required.

Please view the academic calendar on the Registrar's webpage for the deadline to submit the Readmission form (early January for Spring readmission, early August for Fall readmission). 


MALS Prospective Students

How would you describe the typical MALS student?

MALS students are academically oriented people who value a challenging, multidisciplinary scholarly experience and enjoy contributing to and learning from a lively intellectual community.  Read what MALS student have to say about the program here.

I am an international student; can I still apply?

Yes. We encourage international students to apply. For more information on applying to CUNY as an international student, see Prospective Students: International Students.

Is the Masters in Liberal Studies program right for me?

The diversity of concentrations and the interdisciplinary nature of the MALS program make it an appropriate academic choice for a wide variety of students with many different goals. The program is suited to those who have a professional, intellectual, academic, or personal objective for which the pursuit of scholarly graduate study in the arts and sciences is required or beneficial. Most of our students pursue careers in research and/or teaching upon graduation; many enroll in order to hone their intellectual focus for future doctoral work; and still others make the commitment to address an area of personal intellectual curiosity. We welcome inquiries from prospective students and would be happy to schedule a pre-application informational interview to answer any questions you may have.

How do I apply to the MALS program?

Applicants must meet the following criteria in order to be eligible for admission:

  1. hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university or its equivalent, with a cumulative overall GPA of 3.0 (B average) or higher;

  2. submit transcripts of all college or graduate work;

  3. submit two letters of recommendation;

  4. submit a personal statement, the preferred length for personal statements is 1000 words.
  5. A writing sample (guidelines available here).

Admission to the program must ultimately be approved by the Executive Committee.
Please consult the Graduate Center website for upcoming admissions deadlines and requirements. Prospective students may apply using these application instructions and forms.
**As of April 2013, the GRE is no longer required as part of the application for the MALS program.**

Can I create my own area of specialization within the Liberal Studies Program?

Students must select one of the concentrations of study and complete the associated core course requirements for that concentration. Electives may be selected from any of the courses offered in the MALS program or the Graduate Center.

Students also have the option to submit a proposal for Individualized Studies by selecting two core courses from two different concentrations along with proposed electives. Students must be mentored by a GC faculty member, who will provide advisement on the concentration proposal. 

May I transfer credit from other graduate programs?

A maximum of 12 credits earned prior to matriculation to MALS may be accepted. In order to be eligible for transfer, the courses must be comparable to courses offered by the PhD programs at the Graduate Center and must have been completed with a grade of B or higher. Courses in creative or professional writing are not eligible for transfer credit. Once admitted to the program, a transfer request form must be submitted to Assistant Program Officer, Kathy Koutsis ( to be reviewed by the MALS Executive Officer.

May I take courses at other CUNY institutions or at other universities within the consortial system?

No, MALS students can only take courses offered at the Graduate Center.
The consortial arrangement is open only to doctoral students.

What is the tuition fee?

You can look up the current tuition rates on the GC Tuition and Fees page. Under "Tuition Rates"  click on the corresponding academic year and scroll down to "Master's Students."

What financial aid is available?

Federal work-study awards are available to qualified applicants. Please see the Financial Aid Office’s website for more information.


The Dean’s Merit Scholarship is open to students enrolling in any master’s programs at The Graduate Center, including the M.A. in Liberal Studies. Find more information about the Dean's Merit Scholarship on the Master's Scholarship and Financial Aid page

Can I enroll as a part-time student?

Yes, students can enroll for one or more courses per semester. Please visit the Tuition and Fees page for current information.

How long does it usually take to earn the degree?

Courses are offered during the fall and spring semesters. Students who take two classes per semester can expect to complete the 30-credit degree in two and a half years.

How large are the classes?

The typical class size is about 12-15 students.

What kind of jobs do graduates find after completing the degree?

The majority of our students go on to careers in education, publishing, media, and non-profit work. Many MALS alumni pursue further graduate work in a doctoral program. The advanced critical thinking, communication, and analytical skills students learn in the MALS program are beneficial to nearly any academic or professional environment.

Does the program offer classes at night or on weekends?

A number of courses are offered on weeknights from 6:30-8:30 pm. There are no weekend classes.

Can I take summer courses?

Yes. In response to student demand, we will be running summer courses.

Do you offer online courses?


I am a non-CUNY student but I want to take a MALS course, how do I do that?

You must apply to take the course as a non-matriculated student. Students must obtain the permission of the department at least one week before the Registrar’s published deadline for non-matriculated applications. The department is not able to accommodate late requests. Please see the registrar’s website for deadlines.