Individualized Studies

Flexibility and innovation within the M.A. in Liberal Studies curriculum are essential in order to allow both faculty and students to engage new trends in higher education. Though MALS offers concentrations in many interdisciplinary subjects, new areas of study, such as the digital humanities, refugee studies, human rights studies, and postcolonial studies continue to emerge at a rapid pace. The MALS program at The Graduate Center is well positioned to house this concentration. It already fosters interdisciplinary work and is home to diverse courses and faculty members whose expertise spans large areas of the academic spectrum.  

Students have the ability to discern the development of nascent fields and should have the freedom to pursue them as part of their coursework for the MALS degree. This proposed concentration in Individualized Studies empowers students who identify a new area of study for which a MALS concentration does not currently exist to work closely with a MALS faculty member to create an individualized concentration of study within the program.

Only students who are enrolled in the M.A. in Liberal Studies can submit a proposal for this concentration. Students cannot submit a proposal for this concentration before they are admitted.

Degree Requirements

In order to enroll in this concentration, students must be mentored by a GC faculty member, who will provide advisement on the concentration proposal. Students must submit a request form and a short (1-2 page) written proposal to the MALS Executive Officer outlining the proposed course of study, identifying courses that may be taken, and explaining why existing MALS concentrations are not feasible for such a course of study. The consulting faculty member must review the proposal and sign the request form before they are submitted to the EO. 

​This Master's degree program requires the following coursework for a total of 30 credits:

  • A required introductory course, MALS 70000 Seminar in Interdisciplinary Studies (3 credits).
  • Two core courses, selected from two different concentrations, will serve as the core courses of the proposed concentration (6 credits).
  • 18 credits from courses of the student's choice that are relevant to the student’s concentration or studies.
  • A master's thesis/capstone project, MALS 79000 (3 credits).


Proposals for an individualized study concentration for the spring semester must be submitted by March 15 by 5pm in order to be considered.

Proposals for an individualized study concentration for the fall semester must be submitted by November 15 by 5pm in order to be considered.


Proposals should be submitted to Nancy Silverman, MALS Assistant Program Officer (Room 4106).

Example of Possible Concentrations in Individualized Studies:

Approaches to Modernity & Western Intellectual Traditions

While the Approaches to Modernity concentration focuses primarily on the western world since the early 19th century, a student curious about the philosophical, political, and social antecedents which informed developments in the modern world could propose a concentration that also incorporates a course or two from the Western Intellectual Traditions concentration. For example, a student interested in 19th century history, art, or literature, who takes the course “The Shaping of Modernity,” might decide that major movements like Romanticism or Nationalism are hard to understand deeply without a significant grounding in 18th century thought. For this student, taking the course “Enlightenment and Critique” from Western Intellectual Traditions could serve as an important bridge between the two concentrations. A student taking this approach might, say, write a thesis on the relationship between the Enlightenment in Europe and the causes of World War I, or perhaps would do research linking the American Enlightenment of Franklin and Jefferson to the Amendments to the U.S. Constitution which were ratified in the years immediately following the Civil War.

Library Resources

Visit the GC Mina Rees Library's Liberal Studies Research Guide.
Students' contact for Individualized Studies research is reference librarian Alycia Sellie.