Graduate Liberal Studies Program

Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS)

Admissions and Degree Requirements

Note: See the "Post-Master's Certificate" page for that program's admission requirements.

Admission Requirements

  • An application for graduate admission

  • MALS applicants must use the UNCW Graduate Online Application to apply. Read and carefully follow the directions therein and where required, submit or have the appropriate entity submit the required documents to the UNCW Graduate School. Ensure that the application is for the semester/summer session in which attendance is planned. On the application, applicants will be asked to specify whether they wish to be a main campus student, an extension student, or a non-degree student at either location. Guidance regarding this choice is offered below:

    • Main Campus -
      • Students who find that the College Road campus in Wilmington is the optimum choice for travel from their home location and whose degree plan includes both classroom and online courses should choose this campus location. See "Onslow Extension Campus" for degree plans with only online courses.
    • Onslow Extension Campus -
      • Students who find that either Camp Lejeune, NC, or Coastal Carolina Community College in Jacksonville, NC are the optimum choices for travel from their home location and whose degree plan includes both classroom and online courses should choose this campus location. Students, whatever their geographic location, whose degree plan uses ONLY online courses, should also choose this campus location.
    • Non-Degree -
      • The following is excerpted from the UNCW graduate catalogue.

      Graduate courses taken at UNCW as a non-degree student, before formal admission to Graduate School, will meet course requirements for a graduate degree only if approved by the departmental coordinator and the dean of the Graduate School. A maximum of 10 hours of work as a non-degree student may be applied toward the desired degree.

      • Please note: All applications, whatever their reason, e.g., the original application, changing to another degree program, reenrolling, a second application after a denial, or changing the semester of intended attendance, etc., will require the student to pay an application fee for each application. Failure to pay will hold up the processing of the application until the fee is paid.
    • Application deadlines -

      In order to attend classes in the indicated semester, students must apply to the UNCW Graduate School by the dates indicated.

      • Spring 2020 - October 15, 2019
      • Summer I 2020 - April 15, 2020
      • Summer II 2020 - May 15, 2020
      • Fall 2020 - July 1, 2020

      Note: Applications are done online--you must apply on or before the dates above. The system will not allow you to apply after the date shown. An example: The Spring 2020 application deadline is on October 15, 2019. The system will not allow you to apply for Spring 2020 on October 16. Please get your applications in on time.

    • Required Documents -
      • Official transcripts of all college work (undergraduate and graduate) -
        • These transcripts must be forwarded to the UNCW Graduate School by the institution. Electronic transcripts (password protected) can be emailed directly by the institution to Gradtranscripts AT uncw DOT edu.
      • Three recommendations that address the student's chance of success in a graduate liberal studies program -
        • Requests for these recommendations are sent by the Graduate School based on the information provided by the student in the online application.
      • A writing sample in the form of an essay -
        • The subject of this essay will be an explanation of how the MALS degree can assist the candidate in meeting her or his personal goals. Essays shall be from one to five pages (single-spaced). The essay is submitted as part of the online application.
      • A bachelor's degree, from an accredited college or university, with a minimum of a "B" average (GPA = or > 3.00) in undergraduate work -
        • Students seeking admission to the GLS Program in order to complete the MALS degree must hold a bachelor's degree with an academic record of a "B" average or better from an accredited university or college in this country or its equivalent in a foreign institution based on a four-year program. Applicants that do not meet this criterion should still apply as candidates can be accepted on a provisional basis.
      • At the discretion of the GLS Program Director, an interview with the director of the program and/or representative(s) from the advisory committee may be required.
        • Applicants will be contacted by the GLS Program to arrange interview details. When appropriate and requested, interview by telephone or other electronic means may be permitted.
      • GRE/MAT -
        • No tests such as the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) or the MAT (Miller Analogy Test) are required. If these test have been taken and the student wishes them to be considered as part of the application, they can be submitted. However, they are not required.
      • Degree Requirements

      • Minimum hours of study: The program requires a minimum of 30 semester hours of graduate study.
      • Grade average: Students must maintain a "B" average in all graduate courses taken.
      • Crosslisted courses for credit: No more than six hours may be taken from cross-listed 400/500 courses.
      • Non-GLS courses for credit: With the exception of the Conflict Management and Resolution (CMR) and Women's and Gender Studies (WGS) combined certificate/MALS programs, no more than nine hours may be taken outside the MALS degree (GLS 5xx) curriculum.
      • DIS courses for credit: Only one GLS 591 Directed Independent Study course may be taken.+Note: Forms requesting this course must be submitted to the GLS office at least two working days prior to the relevant semester/session drop/add deadline.
      • Internship courses for credit: Only one GLS 597, Internship in Applied Liberal Studies, for three credits maximum. Prerequisite: Nine hours of graduate course credit for the MALS degree and permission of GLS Program director. Note: Forms requesting this course must be submitted to the GLS office at least two working days prior to the relevant semester/session drop/add deadline.
      • Transfer hours for credit: No more than six semester hours of credit may be transferred from another accredited institution. Grades earned on that transfer work must be equivalent to "B" or better. To receive the MALS degree, a minimum of 24 hours of graduate study credited to that degree must be completed in residence at UNCW. An online UNCW course is considered "in residence." Note: These six transfer hours will count against the nine allowed hours of non-GLS courses.
      • Capstone experience: A final project (GLS 598-Final Project Liberal Studies) of three credit hours is required of all students who have successfully completed 27 hours of course work. (For details about the final project, see the GLS 598 description below.)
      • Time limit: Students are expected to complete all course work within five years after their initial matriculation in the MALS degree.

        The MALS Advising Sheet

        GLS Withdrawals and Incompletes:

        • Withdrawals: Should a student withdraw from more than three courses, whether graduate liberal studies courses or graduate courses in other graduate departments/programs, he or she will be dropped from either the MALS program or the post-Masters certificate program as is relevant. In the event that a student withdraws from a course, he or she will be responsible for notifying both the GLS program director and his or her graduate advisor. At the discretion of the GLS program director, exceptions may be made in the event of extenuating circumstances.
        • "Incomplete" Grades:
          • In accordance with university policy, a graduate student has at most 12 months from the end of the course to resolve an Incomplete. However, the instructor of the course (in consultation with the student) can set an earlier deadline for work to be completed. If the student fails to complete the work by the assigned deadline or within 12 months (whichever comes first), the Incomplete grade will automatically be converted to an F. If a student has two or more concurrent "Incomplete" grades in graduate courses, whether in graduate liberal studies courses or graduate courses in another program/department, he or she will need to remove the Incompletes before being permitted to register for courses in the following or any future semester. Each student will be responsible for both making her or his program director and advisor aware of the grade and then notifying these same individuals once the Incomplete is removed. At the discretion of the graduate liberal studies program director, exceptions may be made in the event of extenuating circumstances.
          • All students are again reminded that "Incomplete" grades are valid for a maximum of one year. Upon expiry, an "Incomplete" grade is converted to an F and the student will be dismissed from the Graduate School. Students with a grade of F or U in any graduate course are no longer eligible to continue as graduate students at UNCW.
          • Two core courses: GLS 502 - Contemporary Issues in Liberal Studies and GLS 598 - Final Project in Liberal Studies are required.
            • GLS 502: Contemporary Issues in Liberal Studies.
              Beyond familiarizing students with cross-disciplinary reseach methods and standard conventions of academic discourse, GLS 502 explores major agendas that inform the MALS degree, most notably, interdisciplinarity, cultural diversity, and globalism.
            • GLS 598: Final Project in Liberal Studies
              • The final project is the culminating experience in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) degree program. The Final Project in Liberal Studies course guides the student through weekly objectives to build a uniformly formatted final portfolio of major works completed in the GLS program, along with an accompanying Author’s Statement, all of which will be submitted for approval by the instructor and the GLS Program Director.

              • GLS 598 is graded with either an "S" (satisfactory progress) or a "U" (unsatisfactory). An "S" grade indicates "satisfactory progress" and is required for the course but is not sufficient in and of itself for graduation. The Program Director must review the student's final project and "qualify" the student for graduation by notifying the Graduate School thereof. Any student assigned a "U" grade for GLS 598 will be dismissed from the GLS Program and from the UNCW Graduate School.
                • It is expected, but not required, that the work on the MALS final project represented by GLS 598 will be completed in the semester in which the student enrolls in this course. However, it is not unusual for students, especially those who have medical, financial, or other life problems, to take an additional semester to complete work on the final project. If it becomes necessary for a student to extend work beyond the original enrollment, she or he will be assigned a grade of "S" (satisfactory progress) for GLS 598 and be permitted to continue work on the final project until the Program Director assigns a grade of "U" (unsatisfactory), the project is finished, or time/course limits (5 year degree limit, GLS 596 usage limits, etc.) apply. Continuing said work requires enrollment in either the GLS 596 Continuation course or a valid graduate level class in the semester(s) in which university resources will be used and/or graduation will occur. Submission of additional forms may be necessary. It is strongly recommended that students who plan to work on the final project beyond the original enrollment semester promptly contact the 596 instructor, their academic advisor, and the GLS Assistant Director for guidance.


        Aside from GLS 502 and GLS 598, GLS MALS courses fall into five broad thematic areas: l) social concerns and cultural systems; 2) environment, science, and society; 3) arts, literature, and society; 4) Conflict Management and Resolution (CMR); and 5) Women's and Gender Studies (WGS). Two of these areas, CMR and WGS are set up in cooperation with those departments, and work on the MALS degree, with the knowledge and cooperation of graduate coordinators in those departments, can result in students receiving both the MALS degree and the appropriate post-baccalaureate certificate. The two resulting "combinations" are described below.


        In addition to GLS 502 and GLS 598, students pursuing a general option in graduate liberal studies must complete 24 elective hours of their choice. Up to 9 of these 24 elective hours may be taken outside the GLS curriculum (non-GLS 5xx courses) on condition that the desired courses are graduate-level courses; that they are consistent with the general philosophy of graduate liberal studies; that the student receives the permission of the instructor(s) in question in regard to possible background and methodological expectations; and that the student receives permission from his or her academic advisor.

      • See below for requirements of Post-Baccalaureate Certificate Programs.

        MALS Degree + Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Conflict Management and Resolution (CMR)
        MALS Degree + Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Women's and Gender Studies (WGS)