General Questions About the Program
- Could you tell me about the degree program? Whom is it for?
- What about financial aid, fellowships, teaching assistantships, grants?
- What Ph.D. programs will the MALS program prepare me for?
- Will the MALS program help me in my present career?
- What scores are you looking for on the MAT/GRE? Which one should I take?
- Will the degree qualify me to teach at a community college?
- How many courses can I take in religious studies (philosophy, psychology, anthropology) ?
- I see many undergraduate courses (4000 level and below) in the university catalog that interest me. Can I take some and apply them to the degree?
- What is the cost of a course at UNC Charlotte ?
Questions About Applying
- Are the application forms online?
- I did take a GRE/MAT, but it was many years ago. Do I have to take it again to apply ?
- How do I apply and what are the deadlines ?
- I'm afraid my undergraduate GPA or standardized exam score may not be strong enough for me to be admitted. What should I do ?
- The program looks interesting, but could I try a course or two before I fill out a complete application ?
- What scores are you looking for on the MAT/GRE? Which should I take, the GRE or the MAT?
- I've taken courses in another Liberal Studies program. Will they transfer ?
The M.A. in Liberal Studies is a program that focuses on intellectual inquiry and as such, many will find it a practical degree, while others will simply enjoy the experience of exploring new and exciting ideas.
Research or administrative assistantships may be available through the Graduate School.
Students considering doctoral programs should discuss their plans with the MALS Director, as well as with members of the graduate faculty in programs where they will ultimately want to pursue a Ph.D. It is important to ensure that you create a strong profile that will help make your candidacy for a doctoral program attractive. Students thinking about Ph.D. programs are encouraged to give papers at conferences and to submit their essays for publication.
While the program is certainly not a "vocational" degree, any level of advanced intellectual inquiry will sharpen the kind of analytical skills that employers find desirable.
The standardized exams constitute only one part of the application, yet they seem to cause the greatest amount of anxiety. The main purpose of the application as a whole is to allow us to predict the likelihood that you will complete the degree. No single element in the application by itself can do that. This is why there are many parts: undergraduate transcripts, narrative statement, work experience, and the standardized exams.
That said, there do exist certain scores below which the Graduate School and the MALS program begin to be concerned. For the MAT, it's at about the 45 percentile. For the GRE, it's about 1000 for the math and verbal combined. If you're under these scores, it doesn't mean you won't be admitted. It means that other areas of your application -- work experience, undergraduate GPA, coherence of the statement of purpose, etc. -- will have to be a little stronger to offset them. On the other side of the coin, higher scores do not guarantee admission if the rest of the application is weak.
Students typically prefer the MAT as it is less expensive, offered on UNC Charlotte’s campus, and more fun. In our experience, the GRE is slightly more widely accepted by graduate colleges and programs. If you're thinking of going on for more graduate work after the MALS Program, you should probably take the GRE.
Certification for teaching is complicated. In our area, these rules are the domain of SACS, an accrediting agency, to which most of the colleges and universities belong. To teach in a community college, you must have an MA in the area in which you want to teach, or any MA with at least eighteen hours in the field in which you plan to teach.
Since an MA in Liberal Studies isn't a traditional MA -- say in Political Science, English, History, etc. - - the key for a MALS student is to know what courses are in the field and will hence be recognized by SACS as qualification to teach. SACS determines this entirely by the rubric (the name) of the course. For example, if you wish to teach English at a community college, then these eighteen hours must be in courses with the ENGL or equivalent prefix. Sometimes these rules are very strict. For example, you cannot teach ENGL courses if you have eighteen hours in Communication Studies (COMM), which is clearly a related field. The reverse holds for students with eighteen hours in ENGL; they can't teach COMM courses. But if your eighteen hours are in Philosophy (PHIL), you can teach both philosophy and religion.
We offer an online application process through the Graduate School.
The statute of limitations runs out on standardized tests after five years. But these tests are used as a predictor of the ability to do graduate work, and if you already have an MA, or significant graduate hours, for example, the Graduate College may be willing to accept that as evidence of your ability and not require a standardized test. But this is done on a case-by-case basis. General instructions on applying are available from the Graduate College as a downloadable pdf file: click here.
Generally, to ensure the interdisciplinary nature of this degree suggests that you should not take more than 4 courses in any given discipline. However, you will work with the Director and faculty to design the appropriate program for you.
If your undergraduate GPA is below the 3.0 Graduate School cut-off for admissions, or if your score on the GRE/GMAT is weak, there are still a couple of considerations that may work in your favor.
For example, if you showed marked improvement toward the end of your undergraduate career, it reflects greater engagement in your studies as you became more involved in subject matter that motivated you.
Next, has it been a very long time since your undergraduate degree? If so, then more weight can be placed on your subsequent work experience than on your college grades.
Finally, another way to shore up a marginal application is to prove you can do the work by doing it. You can sign up for one or two graduate courses as a post-baccalaureate student -- that is, as a non-degree student. (See the FAQ item about this option.) If you can do well in the courses, your work will be taken as evidence that you can complete the degree. Several of our current students have done just that to be admitted.
The answer is "yes" and "no." Only courses at the 5000 level and above can be applied to a graduate degree. So an undergraduate course at the 4000 level or below does not "count." In addition, you can only count 6 credits to the degree that were taken before admittance.
If you've missed a deadline for the term in which you'd like to enroll, or if you're still not sure whether you want to commit to the program as a degree student, there is a mechanism that allows you to take a class or two to try it out. You can register as a post-baccalaureate student (that is, a non-degree student).The application process for post-bac status is very simple, taking no more than a hour to complete and three days to process. The form for this kind of application is available in pdf format at the Graduate School forms page.
If you do well in the courses, decide you'd like to continue, and are eventually admitted to the program as a degree student, up to six hours (two courses) can be applied to your degree. Many of our current students began just this way.
The first steps of the application process are handled by the Graduate School. You must observe their requirements and deadlines. After your application materials are complete, they will send it all to our program. It is examined by our admissions committee, and we then report our recommendation whether to admit or not back to the Graduate School.
The complete list of procedures and deadlines are available online: Application Process.
You can transfer in only a total of six credit hours taken at another institution. All transferable courses must have an A or a B as the grade.
Click here for up-to-date information about tuition and other fees.