Graduate Liberal Studies Program

Bear Hall


UNCW's Graduate Liberal Studies (GLS) two programs, the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) degree and the post-Master's certificate in liberal studies, provide a highly integrated exploration of the liberal arts, which not only adheres to the traditional values of broad liberal arts education, but is specifically designed for highly motivated learners who wish to deepen their understanding of the social, scientific, and humanistic dimensions of today's world.

A Statement from

College of Arts and Sciences Leadership

The College of Arts and Sciences mourns with the victims of racist violence across the United States. We know the names George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. Yet, our society inflicts countless acts of injustice and brutality on black and brown people continually. We do not know how to name them all.  

We share the anger and the hope of those who are protesting racism across America. It must be confronted within our university as well, and it must be confronted by each member of our community: black, brown, and white. There is no middle ground between racism and anti-racism. We must all commit ourselves to confront racist ideologies, sentiments, and actions, if we wish to see UNCW live true to its values of diversity, integrity, and excellence. 

We as chairpersons and directors will lead, teach, research, and serve in ways that address the challenges and the aspirations articulated in this statement and our Chancellor's

Chancellor Sartarelli Creates Renewal and Change Accountability Committee to Advance Diversity and Inclusion

 Why GLS?

Joining the Graduate Liberal Studies program at UNCW, you will be part of a premier university in the South as frequently acknowledged by annual surveys conducted by U.S. News and World Report.

GLS can accommodate both part-time and full-time students with our fully online courses, allowing you the flexibility to arrange your commitment to your studies alongside your professional and personal life.

You’ll create and pursue an individualized course of study that best meets your interests and needs. Our innovative curriculum provides a highly integrated exploration of the liberal arts that addresses the topics of: social concerns and cultural systems; environment, science, and society; and arts, literature, and society. You also have the option to pursue a post-baccalaureate certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS) or Conflict Management and Resolution (CMR) alongside your Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degree, and you can continue your master’s studies with a Post-Master’s Certificate in Liberal Studies.

Students enjoy stimulating interaction with an enthusiastic community of peers and faculty, honing critical thinking and communication skills while refining engagement with diverse perspectives. GLS provides a personal, truly student-oriented approach, both in terms of academic counseling and a faculty fully committed to teaching excellence.

GLS will help you refine your communication, analytical, and problem-solving skills, all of which are increasingly recognized as highly valuable in today’s job market. You will be able to explore graduate-level academics to build upon what you have already achieved while discovering what’s next for you. You will enjoy access to a first-rate academic library, state-of-the-art computing resources, opportunities for scholarships and travel funds, and much more.

GLS in the News: 

10 Most Affordable Online Master's in General
Studies 2018 Ranks UNCW's MALS Program 7th Among Nation's Top Programs
UNCW Recognized for Excellence by Several Ranking Organizations Three UNCW Academic Programs Earn National Rankings
UNCW Ranked 14th in Nation for Best Online Master's in Liberal Arts Program


GLS alum Chelsea Wetherell named Vice President of Marketing at Lux Botanics Inc.

In Spring of 2020, Chelsea Wetherell completed the final single topic research project to fulfill MALS graduation requirements. Her studies while in the GLS program, as well as her final project, centered on the cultural and entheogenic impact of cannabis and its applications for improving mental, physical, and spiritual health. She has been named the Vice President of Marketing for Lux Botanics Inc., a plant medicines company with focuses on ethical botanics extraction, spiritual alchemy, and mutualism in business. 

Alumnus Chris Riendeau Published!

Spring 2019 GLS graduate Chris Riendeau adapted a portion of his MALS thesis de Beauvoir at the Beach into an essay for the American Philosophical Association’s online publication Blog of the APA. You can read Chris’s essay “The Existential Quandary of the Millennial at Disney World” here.

Joel Finsel Brings Third Person Project to GLS

On November 5, 2019,  the GLS program welcomed back alumnus Joel Finsel to Randall Auditorium to discuss his work on the Third Person Project and how the Liberal Studies program at UNCW prepared him for that task. Finsel, who graduated from the GLS program in 2014, co-founded 3PP with The New York Times writer John Jeremiah Sullivan. He explained that their mission is to find and preserve issues of The Daily Record, an African American newspaper from the 1890s. Most issues were destroyed during Wilmington’s coup d’ etat of 1898, but Finsel and Sullivan found several and have worked with local eighth graders to study them. He also spoke about his recent novel Franz Cline in Coal Country, which was released in February 2019.

Congratulations, Dr. Christopher Laursen!

On November 29, 2018, Dr. Christopher Laursen was presented the "Excellence in e-Learning" Award at the 2018 Annual Faculty Awards.

Faculty Member Johannes Lichtman published by Simon and Schuster

Congratulations to faculty member Johannes Lichtman on the publication of his novel Such Good Work! In Lichtman's debut book, main character Jonas struggles to stay sober as he bounces between teaching jobs eventually landing in Sweden amidst a refuge crisis. Described as "wisely comic," this story emphasizes that you don't have to be perfect to do good. Read The New Yorker's review here.

GLS Alum Sarah Bode named Marketing Manager at NYU Press

As a GLS graduate assistant, Sarah was cofounder of the national journal Palaver, housed in the GLS program. After graduating with her MALS degree, Sarah started her career in publishing with Oxford University Press. She was an acquisitions editor of the Education list at Peter Lang Publishing before accepting the Marketing Manager position at New York University Press. 

AGLSP BannerUNCW’s Graduate Liberal Studies program is a member of the Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs, an international organization of over 60 institutional members that share a common interest in graduate-level liberal education primarily serving adult, part-time students. Information on the association and its affiliated member institutions can be found through its website: