Master of Arts in Liberal Studies
(MALS) Final Project Instructions
Table of Contents: (click on title to go directly to that section.)
|III||Final Project Committee|
|IV||Final Project Proposal|
|V||Role of the Final Project Committee|
|VI||Final Project Defense|
|VIII||Continuous Registration Policy|
|IX||Final Project Calendar|
Current Listing of Past Final Projects - a listing (by year) of MALS final projects(last updated January 13, 2012) -- titles in the listing are linked to the Randall Library call data.
Note: Effective Fall 2007, GLS 598, although credited for three hours, will be considered a full-time course for federal financial aid and other purposes.
The culminating experience in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) degree program is GLS 598: Final Project in Graduate Liberal Studies. The final project may take the form of scholarly research or a creative work (e.g., a personal memoir; a collection of short fiction, poetry, or personal essays; a travel narrative; a family history; a documentary or narrative film; a series of original musical compositions; an original dance performance; or an exhibition of original paintings or photographs), though in either case a written analysis is required to meet degree requirements. Such an analysis would be most logically incorporated in the introduction of a scholarly investigation and beyond introducing the focus of the investigation would most likely provide relevant background information, establish the purpose and significance of the investigation, establish any relevant connections with classroom courses, and address matters of methodology. In the case of a creative work, such as an exhibition of original photographs, such a written analysis most likely would assume the form of an "artist's statement," in which the student provides a profile of his or her background in the project medium; describes various factors and influences that figured into the focus of the project; reconstructs various stages in the completion of the project; discusses any special challenges involved in the completion of the project; assesses the personal significance, meaning, and value of the project; and speculates, as relevant, on any future exhibition or performative venues for the project. As seen in the current listing, MALS final projects range from such creative works as a radio drama dealing with a fictitious mid-nineteenth century Irish whalerman and a young adult mystery-suspense novel set in the Marshall Islands during the Cold War to scholarly investigations on such topics as the efficacy of touch therapy as a healing technique, a palliative approach to Alzheimer's disease, the cultural geography of East Bladen County, NC, the homeless population in Wilmington, NC, and the "stepmom syndrome."
While many final projects are based on a topic or idea in a GLS course that a student wishes to examine more fully, the final project shall not duplicate written work in that course nor can written work completed in GLS 591: Directed Independent Study in Graduate Liberal Studies be applied toward the final project.
The required length of the final project would, of course, be determined to a large extent by the nature of the topic itself as well as matters of focus, format, and relevant disciplinary conventions. A novel, for example, would no doubt "run longer" than a scientific investigation. Since GLS 598 carries three hours of credit, in contrast to the six hours of thesis credit in many other Master's programs, as a "general rule of thumb," the amount of time invested in researching and drafting the final project should be equivalent to the time invested in a regular three-credit classroom course. In other words, the scope and nature of your final project topic should be such as to allow for the completion of the project over a single semester. Though length, once again, is a variable matter, final projects to this point in the program have ranged from 40 to 140 pages with an average length of 65-70 pages. For scholarly works, 40 pages of project-related content has been established as the minimum. 15 pages is the minimum for an artist's statement regarding a creative work project. These page counts do not include the administrative pages such as the table of contents, abstract, dedication, and citations pages.
You must have completed 21 hours in the GLS program in order to enroll in GLS 598. Though some students have registered for GLS 598 concurrently with their final 1-2 regular classroom courses, most students complete the required 27 hours of classroom course work before enrolling in GLS 598, thereby enabling them to concentrate exclusively on the final project during their final semester. You may, of course, discover a final project topic early on during your course of study and thus may lay the primary groundwork for your final project before you have completed 21 hours in the program. Such an early commitment, however, may preclude the identification of equally or even more attractive topics during subsequent course work.
First attempt towards completion of the final project -- Actual registration for GLS 598 is done in the usual way through SeaNet when registration is open for the relevant semester. (GLS 598 is not offered in the summer sessions.) There are two sections of GLS 598 available. The section numbers are assigned to two different GLS populations. Onslow County Extension students must be careful to enroll in the 800 section. Enrollment in the 001 section would mean paying main campus prices for the course. Main campus students must use the 001 section. The GLS Program Director will be the instructor of record for both GLS 598 sections.
- GLS 598-001: Main campus students
- GLS 598-800: All Onslow County Extension MALS students
Second and later attempts toward completion of the final project -- If you have already taken the GLS 598 course and have, for whatever reason, postponed completion of the final project to the next or a later semester, your assigned grade for the GLS 598 course will be an "S" (satisfactory progress). You should NOT again register in GLS 598. Unfortunately, the SeaNet registration process may allow you to again register in GLS 598 in a later semester--if this happens, you will be required to drop the second registration in GLS 598. To "officially" work towards completion of the final project, you will usually register, using the appropriate form, in GRC 600, the continuation course. GRC 600 will not be available for registration through SeaNet-you must use the appropriate form found on the Graduate School's "Registration Forms" to register for this course. Be sure to use the form required by the number of times you have used GRC 600. If you have problems using these forms, contact the Graduate School at 910.962.7303.
Please review section VII, "Continuous Registration Policy" for the appropriate details.
Once you've decided upon a definite final project topic, you will need to form a final project committee, consisting of a project director and a reader. An additional reader is permitted, but not required. Your final project director should have some expertise in the area of your selected topic. Ideally, your reader would also have some familiarity with your topic, though this needn't be the case. In any event, like your project director, your reader would be expected to provide any relevant editing and revisory suggestions in regard to such matters as focus, format, supporting development, logical argument, organization, and any relevant research and discourse conventions. In most cases, your committee will be drawn from previous instructors whose classes you've taken. If you run into difficulties identifying potential committee members, consult with the director or assistant director of the GLS program for possible suggestions. When so consulting, please provide your project title or subject. On several occasions in the past, students have identified individuals off campus as committee members. The choice of such individuals is acceptable, though each will have to meet qualifying criteria established by the Graduate School to warrant the assignment of temporary graduate faculty status. If you have such an individual in mind, be sure to contact the director or assistant director of the GLS program for assistance.
Note: Once the makeup of the final project committee has been formalized by the submission of the final project proposal with its signed title sheet, the student cannot change the project director or reader(s) without the approval of the GLS Program Director. Students shall submit this form to obtain this approval.
Once you've formed your committee, you will need to complete a final project proposal, a 4-5 page essay in which you provide a detailed description of your proposed project, including
- a presentation of the thesis and an articulation of the purpose and objectives of your final project
- an explanation of the nature of your interest in your topic as well as a summary of any relevant background information
- a discussion, as relevant, of the relationship of your topic to your course of study in the MALS program
- a discussion of relevant theory and methodology
- an overview of the likely line of development
- an assessment of the ready availability of resources related to your topic
- a preliminary working bibliography
- a schedule of deadlines to ensure the timely completion of the project
Depending on the nature and format of your topic, your proposal may not necessarily address each of the items noted above and some items may be more fully considered than others. You, of course, should feel free to consult with your final project director in drafting your proposal, particularly in regard to the manageability of your topic; recommended research sources; methodological suggestions; and a calendar of deadlines. A number of sample proposals are offered to help you with the proposal format. 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 should be helpful for most folks. Those who need a release form (for interviewees, etc.) should use sample 6 (Note: This sample erroneously does not indicate that the final project proposal form is required as a cover page--it is required). If, however, you're thinking of a more "creative" format, then sample 7 is probably your best choice.
Once your committee has approved your proposal, they will need to sign off on the MALS Final Project Proposal form (Adobe Acrobat required), and you (or your project director), in turn, must submit the proposal form and accompanying proposal as a package to the GLS Program Director, who will, if the proposal is approved, then file it in your GLS folder. Based on this review, the GLS Program Director may ask you to correct any grammatical or sentence errors or to expand/add incomplete or missing subject areas (see the eight areas listed above). The GLS Program Director will not review proposals that are missing committee signatures. If distance or other problems make obtaining signatures on the form difficult, the Director will accept an email from the committee member in place of a signature.
If the subject of a final project is changed, a new project proposal, appropriately signed by your committee and reflecting the new subject, must be submitted to the GLS Program Director. If the makeup of the final project committee is changed, the original project proposal must be submitted with a new proposal form reflecting the signatures of the new committee member(s). As mentioned above, changes in committee members must be formally approved by the GLS Program Director using the specified form.
Final project proposals are usually submitted to the project director (and the GLS program director) in the first month of the semester in which you intend to graduate. Check the schedule at the bottom of this page for exact delivery dates. MALS final projects are bound to these dates and not to those established by the UNCW Graduate School for theses. Failure to meet these GLS deadlines may preclude graduation in the semester in which you intend to graduate.
You will, of course, be working most directly and frequently with your final project director whose primary role is to serve as an advisory consultant, to ensure the fluency and quality of your final project, and to expedite the timely completion of the project. Particularly crucial is the project director's role in establishing a timetable for the completion of your final project, especially since you need to allow for the possibility of a series of revisions and, likewise, need to allow your committee members sufficient time to read and comment on your final project. Should you fall considerably short of meeting a particular deadline-for example, the designated due date for the submission of the first draft-it may be advisable to to defer graduation until the following semester. Postponing completion of the final project to the next semester is easily done and not unusual. Relevant program policies in this regard are explained elsewhere. The nature of your working arrangement with your committee should be determined by you and your project director. While you should feel free to consult with either of your committee members during the final project process, most often a project director will wait until you have written an acceptable draft of your project before forwarding a copy of your draft to your second reader for his or her feedback and approval. On the other hand, you and your project director may choose to involve your second reader from the very outset of the planning and drafting process.
Once your final project committee members (i.e., the project director and reader[s]) agree that you are ready to defend your final project, you must submit a review copy, complete with a signed title page, of your final project to the director of the GLS Program. This review copy must be submitted no later than three weeks before close-of-business (COB) on the last day of classes in the semester in which you plan to graduate.
- This copy will be checked to ensure that you have followed the guidelines of the MALS Final Project Formatting Requirements Manual. For those working on a creative project, there is a link to a sample of an excellent artist's statement in the manual. If you have difficulty opening that link, try clicking here.
- If you have followed the guidelines promulgated in the manual and the GLS Program Director signs off on the review copy, you will be allowed to defend your final project.
- If you have not, you will not be allowed to defend, and so will not graduate until the formatting of the final project conforms to these guidelines.
In essence, there are two requirements for completion of your final project, a written document and an oral defense. The written document must be completed, reviewed, and approved before you can move on to the oral defense.
Once the written portion (review copy) of your final project has been reviewed and approved, you or your project director, depending on the location of the final defense, contacts either the GLS Program Assistant or the Director of the Onslow County Extension Program to arrange for a room. See below for specific instructions by desired defense location:
- Defenses held on the main campus: Contact the GLS Program Assistant (910.962.3590 MWF - campbellp AT uncw DOT edu ) with the desired date and time.
- Unless otherwise requested, all MALS final project defenses will be held in Bear Hall, Room 110 (the GLS Conference Room-"smart room"-seats 14). If the room is available, the GLS Program Assistant will schedule the room at the requested date and time. If not available, the requesting student/project director will be asked to either reschedule or consider using a room elsewhere on campus.
- If seating for the final project defense is inadequate in Bear Hall, Room 110, there is a schedule conflict, or the project presentation requires special media, the student or project director can request a different room elsewhere on campus. In this case, the Program Assistant will arrange a room reservation through the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences' office. The Dean's office requests at least a 48 hour notice.
- From time to time, UNCW faculty serving as project directors are able to arrange rooms through their departments. If this is the case, the GLS Program Assistant should be notified of the room assignment.
- The GLS Program Assistant will accept tentative reservations pending the approval of the final project review copy.
- Defenses held in Jacksonville (normally Onslow County Extension MALS students): Ashley Adamovage at the UNCW Extension Program Office (910.455.2310 - adamovagea AT uncw DOT edu ) is the appropriate point-of-contact. Room requests must identify any equipment needs.
When the location, date, and time of a MALS final project defense has been set, the GLS Program Assistant will notify you and your committee and then post the time, place, location, and title of your final project defense on the GLS program website and notify the GLS community, via email, of the date/time/location of the project defense. If you do not wish the final project defense information to be sent to the GLS community, so advise the GLS Program Assistant..
The formal academic defense is a tradition dating back to the medieval European university when doctoral candidates were required "to defend" their dissertation and/or their knowledge in a chosen area of specialization before an assembled review board. The MALS final project defense, while still very much a ceremonial vestige of the medieval tradition, is far more relaxed and informal. The typical final project defense models the following format:
- the project director's introduction of the MALS degree candidate
- the candidate's presentation of his or her final project (generally, no longer than twenty minutes in length), during which the candidate should provide an overview of the project (background information, the nature and significance of the topic, methodology, general line of development, important discoveries/conclusions) and may choose to read directly from various sections of the final project
- the candidate's responses to questions raised by the final project committee
- the candidate's responses to questions raised by members of the audience
- adjournment of the committee to determine whether the defense is "satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory"
- notification of the candidate of the committee's decision
- the committee signs the three "binding" copies.
As the defending student, you must:
- Bring to the defense three copies of your properly formatted final project on cotton paper suitable for binding. See Section VII "Binding Copies" below for details concerning the paper.
- Have your title pages signed by your committee members (i.e., director and reader(s)) at the defense, but after being notified of the committee's decision.
- Submit these three signed copies to the director of the GLS Program no later than the close of business on the last day of classes in the semester in which you plan to graduate.
- Submission of the three copies for binding and archival in Randall Library is mandatory. If you do not submit these copies, you will not graduate until you have submitted them.
On average, final project defenses "run" between 45 to 60 minutes. Since a student shall not be allowed to defend a final project without the committee's approval, the committee's decision, as a matter of course, should be a unanimous "pass" (thereby mitigating a good deal of stress that might otherwise attach to the defense process). Following your defense, your project director shall notify the GLS Program Director of the committee's decision within two business days.
The project director and reader(s) are also required to complete the MALS assessment form. The form shall be completed and submitted to the GLS Program Director as soon as practicable after the defense but no later than close-of-business on Friday of the week before graduation.
For fall and spring semesters, the last day in which a final project defense can be offered will be the "Reading Day" for that semester. Check the Final Project Calendar at the bottom of this page for the specific fall/spring and summer dates.
Final project defenses are usually open to family, friends, GLS students and alumni, and the campus community.
Although your final project defense is an important milestone in the completion of the the MALS capstone experience, you should keep the final project itself in the forefront of your priorities. The final project defense should be well-organized, articulate, and appropriate, but do not overly concentrate your time and efforts on it.
There are four "official" final copies. They are the:
Review Copy (1):
- The review copy need not meet the more stringent paper requirements of the copies that will be submitted for binding, but must include a signed (by the committee) title page. Emails from committee members approving the review copy are acceptable in place of signatures on the title page. Such emails are not acceptable for the binding copies mentioned below.
- In its content and format, the review copy must be very close to the smooth and final version (only very minor grammatical or structural changes pending) of your final project.
- When submitted to the GLS Program Director for review, it must meet the formatting requirements set forth in the MALS Final Project Formatting Requirements Manual.
- Note: If you are a MALS student in the Geronotology concentration, you should use this title page instead of the one in the manual. Also, Dr. Covan, the project director for most gerontology-related final projects, indicates that "when a MALS student completes a final project with a gerontology concentration, he or she still follows the basic MALS program guidelines. Additional requirements are that gerontology projects must include a theoretical and substantive gerontological literature review that can be woven into the body of the project. Some students include a separate chapter of the project with a heading literature review. Others review the literature in a discussion of how their project adds to the existing body of gerontological literature."
- Once approved by the GLS Program Director with all required corrections and revisions made, the corrected review copy will be the "master" copy for the binding copies.
- The review copy must be signed and approved by the GLS Program Director in order for you to move to your final project defense and graduation.
Binding Copies (3):
- Once the review copy has been approved by the GLS Program Director and all corrections have been made, arrange for the printing of three copies of the "master" copy of your final project on white, 8.5 x 11", 20 or 24 lb., 100% cotton bond paper, which can be purchased at the Campus Bookstore or Dittos. Printing and paper costs will be borne by the student. While you may prefer to engage the services of a commercial printing agency, many students have found Dittos a convenient and economical option.
- If not signed at the time of your final project defense, arrange for your committee members to sign off on your title pages (black ink required).
- Submit the three binding copies of your final project to the GLS Program Director, who will then make the necessary binding arrangements. Once your three copies are returned from the bindery, two copies will be archived in Randall Library and one copy will be maintained in the GLS office. The GLS Program will cover any binding expenses.
- Binding copies are to be delivered to GLS Program Director shortly after the successful completion of the final project defense. If requested, a extension of this deadline to by the close of business on the last day of classes in the semester/summer session in which you plan to graduate is available.
In the event you would like to order personal bound copies of your final project, the following bindery is available:
- Personal bound copies of your final project may be ordered using "The HF Group's" website at http://www.thesisondemand.com/. Several binding options are offered including the format used for all "official" UNCW binding. This website assumes that you will be able to forward an Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) file to the company. If this is not the case, you should contact the company using the below provided contact information and obtain instructions as to how to proceed. If you are providing a printed copy, you need not use 20 or 24 lb.,
100% cotton bond paper as is required for official copies, nor would you need
to secure your committee members' signatures on your title pages, the
official format for which could be modified accordingly.
The HF Group
PO Box 640
Browns Summit, NC 27214
NOTE: This will be a personal binding request paid for by the requesting student. Do not have the bound copy forwarded to Randall Library. The bound copy should be sent to your personal address or, if so desired, to the Graduate Liberal Studies program for later delivery.
In the event that you are unable to complete your final project on your initial attempt (the initial registration in GLS 598), you or your final project director must so advise the GLS program director, who will report an "S" (satisfactory progress) grade to the Registrar's Office for the GLS 598 course. By using the GRC 600 continuation, you may continue to work on your project in the following (or later) semesters.
As the Graduate School requires that students must be enrolled in at least one graduate credit hour in the semester of graduation, should you decide to complete your final project in the following (or later) semesters, you will need to contact the Graduate School and enroll either in a valid graduate-level course or for one hour of continuous enrollment (GRC 600). Most students choose to use GRC 600 as it is much cheaper.
Use the GRC 600 form on this page to enroll (be sure to use the appropriate form); if you have trouble with the forms, contact the Graduate School Office (910.962.7303) to enroll; GRC 600 will not be available on SeaNet. Note: If the form is not available through the link on the above page, registration is not open for that semester/session.
Essentially, in the event you receive an "S" (satisfactory progress) for GLS 598, the "S" does not constitute "continuous enrollment." Enrollment in GRC 600, which involves no classroom work and carries no credit, does consititute "continuous enrollment" and will enable you to continue to use university resources in completing your project. Further, you cannot graduate in a semester unless you are an enrolled student in that semester. GRC 600 also meets that requirement. The course will be charged at the rate consistent with one credit hour of extension in-state or out-of-state tuition and fees. Continuous Registration hours do not count towards MALS degree requirements but are considered as enrolled hours (full time) for federal financial aid purposes. Students may routinely use the GRC 600 course three times. For the fourth time (and beyond), students must complete and submit the appropriate form found on the Graduate School's "Registration Forms" page. Summer, like the fall and spring semesters, counts as a regular term.
Note: GRC 600 enrollment is restricted to students who have completed all their course work for the MALS degree including all of the required final project hours (GLS 598). At no time can a regular graduate class, e.g., GLS 502, GLS 592, etc., be taken concurrently with the GRC 600 course continuation class.
If you receive an "S" (satisfactory progress) for GLS 598 and forsee or encounter complications in the following semester that would prevent any enrollment in classes, you should contact your academic advisor and arrange a leave of absence (a link to the relevant form can be accessed on the Graduate School's "Current Students" web page. Click on "Leave of Absence. Should you take a leave of absence, the relevant form stipulates that you identify the semester you plan to return, upon which return you would need to sign up for GRC 600 in that semester to reinstate your active enrollment status.
A final reminder that starting with your original semester of matriculation, you have five years, including any accrued leave of absence, to complete degree requirements, including the successful completion and defense of your final project. When extenuating circumstances warrant and extension is requested, the degree time limit may be extended to six years.
Official graduate school policy related to continuing enrollment, leave of absence, and degree time limits is covered in the Graduate Catalogue.
Fall 2013 Final Project Deadlines
- Fall 2013 MALS Final Project Workshop
Time and Place: 6 - 8 pm Monday, August 19, 2013, Location: Bear Hall, Room 106
- Due date for submission of GLS 598 final project proposals to final project directors for Fall 2013 graduates
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
- Due date for submission of GLS 598 final project proposals to Program Director for Fall 2013 graduates
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
- Due date for submission of first draft of GLS 598 final projects to final project directors for Fall 2013 graduates
Monday, October 7, 2013
- Last day for submission of the Fall 2013 final project review copy of the final project (includes title page signed by committee members) to the GLS Director
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
- Last day to defend GLS 598 final projects for Fall 2013 graduates
Thursday, December 5, 2013 (Reading Day)
- Last day for submission, by the project director and reader, of the Fall 2013 MALS Assessment Form to the GLS Director.
Monday, December 9, 2013
Summer 2013 Final Project Deadlines
GLS 598, Final Project in Liberal Studies, will not be offered in the summer sessions. Past experience has shown that timely completion of a final project is problematic if the process is started in a summer session.
Continuation of past work will, however, be permitted. If your degree audit shows an "S" (satisfactory progress) for GLS 598 and you have completed and submitted a signed and approved project proposal in a past semester, you will be permitted to continue your work in the summer.
To do so, you must seek approval for summer work from both your project committee and the GLS Program Director. Approval from your project committee is especially important as many committee members may not be available (or even in town) during the summer.
Once these approvals have been obtained and registration has opened for Summer II for you, use the appropriate GRC 600 form found on the Graduate School's "Graduate Student Registration Forms" web page. There are two GRC 600 forms, one for 3 and less usages of GRC 600 and one for 4 or more usages. The form for "3 or less" should be automatically submitted to the Graduate School Office when you click on "Done." Note: The "3 or less" form is only available when registration for the semester/session of interest is open. If your system has problems sending the form, contact 910.962.7303 for assistance.
Note: The forms may permit you to register for GRC 600 in the summer I session. Do not register in summer I; all summer work on GLS final projects using GRC 600 should be done with a registration in summer II.
See the below schedule for the upcoming summer II 2013 deadlines:
- Last day for submission of the Summer 2013 final
project review copy of the final project (includes title page signed by
committee members) to the GLS Director
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
- Last day to defend GLS 598 final
projects for Summer 2013 graduates
Tuesday, July 30, 2013 (Final Exam Day)
- Last day for submission, by the project director and
reader, of the Summer 2013 GLS Assessment Forms to the GLS Director
Friday, August 2, 2013
Spring 2013 Final Project Deadlines
- Spring 2013 MALS Final Project Workshop
Time and Place: 6 - 8 pm Monday, January 7, 2013, Location: Bear Hall, Room 106
- Due date for submission of GLS 598 final project proposals to final project directors for Spring 2013 graduates
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
- Due date for submission of GLS 598 final project proposals to Program Director for Spring 2013 graduates
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
- Due date for submission of first draft of GLS 598 final projects to final project directors for Spring 2013 graduates
Monday, March 18, 2013
- Last day for submission of the Spring 2013 final project review copy of the final project (includes title page signed by committee members) to the GLS Director
Friday, April 5, 2013
- Last day to defend GLS 598 final projects for Spring 2013 graduates
Monday, April 29, 2013
- Last day for submission, by the project director and reader, of the Spring 2013 MALS Assessment Form to the GLS Director.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Fall 2012 Final Project Deadlines
- Fall 2012 MALS Final Project Workshop
Time and Place: 6 - 8 pm Monday, August 20, 2012, Location: Bear Hall, Room 106
- Due date for submission of GLS 598 final project proposals to final project directors for Fall 2012 graduates
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
- Due date for submission of GLS 598 final project proposals to Program Director for Fall 2012 graduates
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
- Due date for submission of first draft of GLS 598 final projects to final project directors for Fall 2012 graduates
Monday, October 8, 2012
- Last day for submission of the Fall 2012 final project review copy of the final project (includes title page signed by committee members) to the GLS Director
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
- Last day to defend GLS 598 final projects for Fall 2012 graduates
Thursday, December 6, 2012 (Reading Day)
- Last day for submission, by the project director and reader, of the Fall 2012 MALS Assessment Form to the GLS Director.
Friday, December 7, 2012
Last Update: April 5, 2013