Graduate Liberal Studies Program

Post-Master's Certificate in Liberal Studies (PMCLS)


The PMCLS requires the completion of 20 hours in graduate liberal studies beyond the Master's level. The certificate is intended to accommodate the needs and interests of those students who wish to extend their exploration of and commitment to graduate liberal studies beyond the Master's level, while seeking formal and official recognition of such an extended pursuit. The orientation of the post-Master's certificate, like that of the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) degree, is geared toward a community of life-long learners who are primarily motivated by a love of learning and who wish to further expand their interests and deepen their understanding of themselves, the environment, and social and cultural concerns related to the local, regional, national, and global communities. The educational objectives of the post-Master's certificate in graduate liberal studies mirror those of the MALS degree:

  1. to provide a structured opportunity for students from various professional and educational backgrounds to continue learning;
  2. to encourage working professionals and other adults to make connections between important ideas and the world in which they live and work; and
  3. to train active, engaged citizens to think creatively about the problems that face their communities and the world around them.

Admission Requirements

UNCW MALS Graduates

Applicants who have received the MALS degree from UNCW need only complete an application for graduate admission. Resubmission of transcripts, recommendations, etc., is usually not required. This application includes a fee as part of the process.

Master's Graduates from other Universities

Applicants who have received a MALS degree (or equivalent) from other institutions must complete the application (see link above) and submit all documents required, including transcripts and recommendations, to the Graduate School. This application also includes a fee as part of the process.


Certificate Requirements

  • The certificate requires 20 semester hours in graduate liberal studies beyond the Master's level, which will include 18 elective hours of GLS courses and the successful completion of a qualifying exit exam, GLS 599, which carries two hours credit. Courses used to obtain the UNCW MALS degree cannot be used for the post-master's certificate.
  • GLS 591 (Directed Individual Study in Graduate Liberal Studies) courses may not be applied toward satisfaction of certificate requirements.
  • Cross-listed 400/500 courses may not be applied toward satisfaction of certificate requirements.
  • Non-GLS courses cannot be used for the Post-Master's in Liberal Studies certificate program.
  • Three hours of graduate liberal studies credit may be transferred from another accredited graduate liberal studies/liberal arts program.
  • Students must maintain an overall 3.5 grade point average in all graduate courses applied toward satisfaction of certificate requirements.

Required Exit Exam

GLS 599: Qualifying Exit Exam

This exam is intended to provide certificate candidates with the opportunity:

  • to present a retrospective assessment of the meaning and significance of their experience as graduate liberal studies students on both the Master's and post-Master's levels, and
  • to examine the value and relevance of graduate liberal studies in the contemporary world, particularly in regard to those agendas of interdisciplinarity, cultural diversity, internationalism, and active citizenship that inform the Graduate Liberal Studies Program at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW).

In planning and composing the qualifying exit exam, certificate candidates should draw, as appropriate, upon their educational history prior to and including their matriculation as Master's and post-Master's students in graduate liberal studies. In order to broaden the forum of discussion and to stimulate comparative analysis, certificate candidates will also be expected to draw, as appropriate, upon a core of common reading selections related to the focus and purpose of the exam as well as relevant selections from graduate liberal studies courses they have taken and their own independent reading.

The exam will be evaluated by a committee consisting of the post-Master's certificate coordinator and two additional faculty selected by the certificate candidate. The two essays comprising the exam will be written over the course of the certificate candidate's final semester and will be submitted to the exam review committee two weeks prior to the final day of classes for the semester. The exam will be evaluated on an S/U basis and the assignment of a "Satisfactory" grade will require a passing grade on each of the two component essays. Students who fail the exam on a first attempt will have the opportunity to take a second exam three months after the first attempt, but will need to enroll in GLS 600: Continuous Graduate Enrollment. Students who fail the exam a second time will not be allowed a third attempt, but will, of course, receive credit for any accrued post-Master's courses.

The exit exam is intended to provide a sense of formal closure and achievement and to distinguish the post-Master's certificate from the MALS degree. To facilitate students' satisfactory performance on the exam, certificate candidates will be expected to attend a series of workshops to familiarize them with the essay components comprising the exam, to discuss relevant source texts, to consider various composing, organizing, and synthesizing strategies, to review relevant research and manuscript conventions, and to review procedures and policies related to the exam. GLS 599 carries two hours of graduate credit.