Liberal Studies

Admissions to the MLS are suspended during the redesign of the program.

Application Deadlines

Deadlines are displayed in the format mm/dd.

Liberal Studies, M.L.S.

Rolling Admissions
Liberal Studies, M.L.S.
School/College: College of Letters and Science

Department Links: Degrees Conferred:
  • Master of Liberal Studies
The College of Letters and Science offers an interdisciplinary graduate program leading to a Master of Liberal Studies. The MLS curriculum consists of small introductory seminars, special topics courses conceived exclusively for the program, electives taken in specific departments, and a final thesis or independent project. All courses are taught by graduate faculty drawn primarily from the College of Letters and Science and augmented by other interested instructors from across the University. Such faculty diversity allows students to expand their cultural and intellectual horizons through a carefully structured course of study that encourages multiple perspectives on important issues and integration of knowledge across disciplines.

The MLS program is housed in the internationally respected Center for Twenty-first Century Studies, which ensures access to leading scholars, outstanding facilities, special lectures and other events. Each fall a limited class of new students is admitted in order to maintain an intimate learning environment, and all courses are offered during evenings. Although the MLS is not a traditional graduate degree that focuses on a single academic field or set of professional skills, its emphasis on critical thinking, imaginative reflection, ethical consideration, and effective communication carries substantial value in both private and public life.

Graduate Faculty

(Professors’ home departments appear in parenthesis)

Distinguished Professors
Schwartz, Robert, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania (Philosophy)
Weisner-Hanks, Merry E., Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison (History)

Clark, George, Ph.D., Florida State University (English)
Eells, Janis T., Ph.D., University of Iowa (Health Sciences)

Associate Professors
Greene, Shelleen, Ph.D. University of California, Irvine (Art and Design)
Hamilton, Kristie, Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin (English)
Mello, Robin, Ph.D. Leslie University (Theatre)
Perley, Bernard, Ph.D Harvard University (Anthropology)

Master of Liberal Studies

To be considered for admission to the Master of Liberal Studies, an applicant must meet the requirements for admission to the Graduate School. For international students, demonstration of English proficiency for MLS requires a minimum internet-based TOEFL score of 79 for regular graduate admission, 68-78 for dual admission, or a minimum IELTS score of 6.5. In addition, the applicant must submit an essay (two pages) describing why s/he is interested in pursuing graduate study in an interdisciplinary program and describing the educational background and life experiences that s/he brings to the program. An interview with the director of the program also is required.

Major Professor as Advisor
As specified in the regulations of the Graduate School, a major professor will be assigned to every person enrolled in the program to advise and supervise his or her work. Those admitted to the program will consult with the Director of the Master of Liberal Studies program for assistance in identifying an appropriate advisor. The responsibility of the advisor will be to assist in selecting a cohesive sequence of courses and developing a rationale for that sequence. The major advisor must approve the program of study.

Credits and Courses
Thirty credits are required for the MLS degree, distributed as follows:

Core courses (8 cr)
All students must take a required introductory two-course sequence (4 credits for each course) designed to orient the individuals to the program, to establish a common base of knowledge in an interdisciplinary context, and to create a sense of intellectual community among the participants, many of whom may be re-entering the world of formal education.

Special topics courses (6 cr)
Participants must complete at least two courses from an array of special topics courses in a seminar format (3 credits each) offered under the LibrlSt curricular area number.

Elective courses (12 cr)
Participants select elective courses to total 9 12 credits from special topics courses offered under the MLS curricular area code, graduate courses offered within departments, and independent study (LibrlSt 799). Although the core and special topics courses that are designed specifically for the Master of Liberal Studies will be emphasized in all programs of study, participants may wish to take graduate courses offered by departments or to undertake independent study in order to pursue specific interests.

Culminating project (4 cr)
Participants must complete a culminating project, undertaken in a 4 credit independent study course (LibrlSt 798). This project, which must be interdisciplinary in nature, can take the form of a traditional research paper or thesis, but it also may adopt an alternative creative, performative, or occupationally related practical model. The project must be approved by the student’s advisor and the program director.

Transfer credits
Individuals with prior graduate coursework may receive permission to count up to 9 credits of that work toward the Master of Liberal Studies if the Advisory Committee accepts the courses as relevant to the program of study and if the courses meet Graduate School requirements for transfer. Liberal Studies core courses and the culminating project course must be taken at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Time Limit
All degree requirements must be completed within five years of initial enrollment.

Schedule of Classes

The Schedule of Classes is a list of classes offered by term.


Courses numbered 300-699 are Undergraduate/Graduate. Courses numbered 700 and above are Graduate only.

701 Traditions and Transformations I: (Subtitled). 3 cr. G.
A fundamental contemporary issue explored through a historical perspective; emphasis on the humanities. Interdisciplinary resources, methods, theories. Required special programs outside regular class hours. Not retakable. Prereq: grad st; admis to MLS Prog.

702 Traditions And Transformations II: (Subtitled). 3 cr. G.
Continuation of LibrlSt 701, exploring a contemporary issue within a more recent modern/postmodern context. Required special programs outside regular class hours emphasize course topics. Retakable w/chg in topic to 12 cr max. Prereq: grad st; LibrlSt 701(P)

721 Special Topics in Liberal Studies: (Subtitled). 3 cr. G.
Topics in human culture emphasizing the pervasiveness of a particular idea, belief, process, or other cultural construct in many facets of human society. Retakable w/chg in topic to 9 cr max. Prereq: grad st; admis to MLS Prog

722 Special Topics in Contemporary Cultural Studies: (Subtitled). 3 cr. G.
Topics in contemporary culture; emphasis on literature, experimental arts/film, mass culture, performance; new approaches to study of culture, including media theory, multi-culturalism, feminism, post-colonialism. Retakable w/chg in topic to 9 cr max. Prereq: grad st; admis to MLS Prog

797 Special Topics In International Liberal Studies: 3 cr. G.
Examination of a belief, idea, process, or other cultural construct in an international setting. Retakable w/chg in topic to 9 cr max. Prereq: grad st; admis to mls prog

798 Liberal Studies Master's Project. 4 cr. G.
Culmination of student's studies in MLS Program; may take any form appropriate to interdisciplinary focus of student's study prog, e.g. research paper, performance, literary/exhibition project. Prereq: grad st; 20 cr in the MLS Prog.

799 Independent Work in Liberal Studies. 1-3 cr. G.
Independent reading or project; topic selected in consultation with supervising professor. Prereq: grad st; admis to MLS Prog.

888 Candidate for Degree. 0 cr. G.
Available for graduate students who must meet minimum credit load requirement. Fee for 1 cr will be assessed. Prereq: grad st.

901 Seminar on Philosophical Approaches to Science. 3 cr. G.
The nature and function of sciences, the logic of the scientific method as it relates to health, and implications of research and practices in health care. C L Sci 901 & LibrlSt 901 are jointly offered; they count as repeats of one another. Prereq: grad st.