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  1. #1
    Robbie is offline Registered User
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    What the heck is a degree in liberal studies?

    I have seen this degree pop up a few times. Even Duke U is now offering a MS in Liberal Studies. I always thought graduate degrees where in a specific discipline. Is a Liberal Studies degree comparable to a degree in recreation (not therapeutic recreation) to be an easy degree for those who don't want to or can't make it in a specific discipline. I just don't get it.

    I have a friend who has a recreation degree from a regionally accredited college (Mt Olive), he said he went into that program because it was an easy degree to get. This is true of another guy I worked with at a state hospital a few years back, said he did it because it was easy. BTW, neither are the brightest bulbs in a dark room. I am under the impression a degree in Liberal Studies equates to the same thing.

  2. #2
    -kevin- is offline Resident Redneck
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    I like this definition:

    Liberal Studies

    "Liberal Arts and Sciences (“Liberal Studies”)
    Studies that enhance the abilities of individuals to understand, to judge, to communicate and take action with each other about the nature, quality and conditions of their lives. This learning generally has a strong theoretical and conceptual content...."


    A Liberal Studies education can be very rigorous if designed correctly.

    Liberal Arts Education
    Last edited by -kevin-; 01-21-2010 at 05:38 PM.

  3. #3
    emmzee is offline Registered User
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    Another question re a Liberal Studies degree (that I'd inquired about before here but never really heard an answer) is whether it leads anywhere? Ie, can taking a liberal studies degree lead to acceptance into a doctoral program? I mean I know it *can* anything is possible, some people get accepted with only a BA or BSc sometimes, etc ;) But is it at all likely to get into a PhD program (in arts/humanities) with a MLS or MA in Liberal Studies?

    Such a degree is interesting to me because ideally I'd like to integrate the two fields that I'm most interested in (IT and religion) and create a degree which combines them both ... so a "make your own degree" program sounds good, but ... if my goal is eventually to get into a decent doctoral program, I don't think a MLS degree would get me there?
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  4. #4
    -kevin- is offline Resident Redneck
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    Since your interests may be varied use the following search term:

    doctor of liberal studies site:.edu

    you might also want to search on doctor of arts, interdisciplinary studies, or other field of interest

    lots of good programs will be available (but not necessarily DL in nature)

    To directly answer your question, yes a Masters in Liberal Studies can prepare one for further study, but degree content may limit availablity of doctoral study.

  5. #5
    Malajac is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by -kevin- View Post
    I like this definition:

    Liberal Studies

    "Liberal Arts and Sciences (“Liberal Studies”)
    Studies that enhance the abilities of individuals to understand, to judge, to communicate and take action with each other about the nature, quality and conditions of their lives. This learning generally has a strong theoretical and conceptual content...."


    A Liberal Studies education can be very rigorous if designed correctly.

    Liberal Arts Education


    So, potential careers: journalist, publicist, philosopher :D, writing, public relations , media, religious office, human rights and other activism, interdisciplinary studies...

    Sounds reasonable to me. I don't see the Master's as exclusively providing a specific focus and specialization but more generally advanced research skills and methodology, a deeper analysis of topics etc etc.

    Why not?

    Something I've read recently, perhaps relevant here:


    The education of historians for the twenty-first century
    By Thomas Bender, American Historical Association

    A concern for intellectual cosmopolitanism lies at the heart of this discussion of field size and distribution. Over the past quarter-century, the number and scope of required fields for doctoral students has declined, and for good reason. The explosion of monographic literature makes the idea of a "comprehensive" examination in one field, let alone several, utterly implausible. But there is a second reason for the contraction that seems less sound. Many changes in requirements or structure (modest as they have been) point in a particular direction. They put more emphasis on the student's research field and enable the student to move more quickly to dissertation research. While the Committee has no wish to further lengthen doctoral training, it is concerned that the balance has tilted too far in the direction of research interests and the dissertation field at the expense of intellectual breadth and a wider sense of the discipline.

    We have no formula to propose, but we strongly believe that an ideal program should have at least one field distinct in time and place from the major field.10 Such an arrangement would work against parochialism and open the possibility of significant comparisons and larger than national contexts as well as the transfer of methodologies. Again, our aim is not to prescribe a specific formula but only to encourage departments to reconsider the balance between depth and breadth in their graduate programs, recognizing the value of a genuine outside field in that equation.

    The disproportionate increase in doctorates in American history during the 1990s again raises the unavoidable question of parochialism. American history accounts for 54 percent of all Ph.D.'s in history, and 60 percent of the dissertations in American history focus on the twentieth century. Such numbers seem to cut against a definition of history as the study of places distant in time, space, and culture. Is the discipline becoming more presentist and parochial at the same time it is becoming (or trying to become) more cosmopolitan?
    Last edited by Malajac; 01-21-2010 at 06:37 PM.

  6. #6
    BillDayson is offline Registered User
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    'Liberal studies' isn't synonymous with 'liberal arts'.

    The term 'liberal arts' derives from the medieval university curriculum and refers to skills appropriate to an aristocrat rather than to a servant. Literature, philosophy and astronomy are liberal arts subjects, business administration , animal husbandry and nursing are not. Liberal arts students typically pursue a major in a traditional academic subject, something high-toned from the arts and sciences.

    'Liberal studies' is something different. It is a general education degree program without a specialized major. It may have a specialization area, but typically devotes fewer units to it than a major, and more units to general education .

    Is a liberal studies degree valuable? Sure.

    Any education is valuable. While one's preparation in this kind of program is not deep, it is broad. Ideally that kind of interdisciplinary focus might allow a student to make connections that would be impossible for a specialist. And a broad education arguably produces people better able to deal with the diverse challenges of citizenship.

    Will a liberal studies degree get you a job? Depends.

    Liberal studies programs were originally created to produce multiple-subjects/elementary-school teachers . They are obviously job-preparatory in that field. Many job openings specify only that the applicant have a bachelor's degree in any subject. The idea is to attract professional-level people: literate applicants who can write and speak well, who can analyze and comprehend complex information and make informed decisions.

    But many job announcements do specify particular majors. Employers want BSEEs or people with degrees in the health professions. This is more common in the more technical fields. A general liberal studies graduate would not be qualified for these kind of positions.

    As far as graduate admissions go, it varies. Most graduate programs require a bachelor's degree in the same (or a related) field. Certainly this is true in the traditional liberal arts subjects and in technical fields. You can't normally get into a mathematics graduate program unless you have the equivalent of a mathematics bachelors degree.

    But there are other fields that don't normally require a bachelors degree in the same subject for graduate admissions. Law and (increasingly) business administration are examples. A liberal studies degree might be fine for admission into these subjects. In fact, a well-designed liberal studies program might be an excellent pre-law degree. Finally, there are a number of liberal studies masters degree programs out there. Many of these appear to be career advancement degrees aimed at K-12 school teachers .

  7. #7
    Y-rag Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Robbie View Post
    I have seen this degree pop up a few times. Even Duke U is now offering a MS in Liberal Studies. I always thought graduate degrees where in a specific discipline. Is a Liberal Studies degree comparable to a degree in recreation (not therapeutic recreation) to be an easy degree for those who don't want to or can't make it in a specific discipline. I just don't get it.

    I have a friend who has a recreation degree from a regionally accredited college (Mt Olive), he said he went into that program because it was an easy degree to get. This is true of another guy I worked with at a state hospital a few years back, said he did it because it was easy. BTW, neither are the brightest bulbs in a dark room. I am under the impression a degree in Liberal Studies equates to the same thing.
    Where you been hiding Robbie? It is the most popular "useless" degree known to man/woman. I know, I have one. There are many sites that tell you what it can be used for. That should tell you a little sumpin, sumpin. What can you do/w/it? Paper airplane........ If you use your concentrations wisely, it can be valuable. It's for those looking for the quick,easy way out of the maze or for those who are sure their unsure of what they want to be when they grow up.
    It allows you to pick and choose classes moreso than having a major. Here's a little bit more info.
    http://www.campusgrotto.com/average-...-for-2009.html
    It's right up (down) there w/psychology , sociology and english degrees. To do it again, I'd do the Bus Admin degree, which I'm actually close to getting. Shoulda done it right the first time but ya live and learn......

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  9. #8
    scaredrain is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robbie View Post
    I have seen this degree pop up a few times. Even Duke U is now offering a MS in Liberal Studies. I always thought graduate degrees where in a specific discipline. Is a Liberal Studies degree comparable to a degree in recreation (not therapeutic recreation) to be an easy degree for those who don't want to or can't make it in a specific discipline. I just don't get it.

    I have a friend who has a recreation degree from a regionally accredited college (Mt Olive), he said he went into that program because it was an easy degree to get. This is true of another guy I worked with at a state hospital a few years back, said he did it because it was easy. BTW, neither are the brightest bulbs in a dark room. I am under the impression a degree in Liberal Studies equates to the same thing.
    No real surprise that Duke University is offering a Masters in Liberal Studies, they have seen the success of UNC Greensboro's online Masters and Bachelor degrees in Liberal Studies. NC State University also has a similar program which is not heavily advertised but is available somewhat at a distance with a few classes taken in person. I would not say that the degrees are easy, it will still take time and a person has to complete the work they are assigned. Normally these degrees also have a major project to complete at the end, whether its a thesis, portfolio, or a combination of the two. So while the course work may be easy the final project may or may not be.
    Ed.D (Capella University)
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  10. #9
    scaredrain is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by emmzee View Post
    Another question re a Liberal Studies degree (that I'd inquired about before here but never really heard an answer) is whether it leads anywhere? Ie, can taking a liberal studies degree lead to acceptance into a doctoral program? I mean I know it *can* anything is possible, some people get accepted with only a BA or BSc sometimes, etc ;) But is it at all likely to get into a PhD program (in arts/humanities) with a MLS or MA in Liberal Studies?

    Such a degree is interesting to me because ideally I'd like to integrate the two fields that I'm most interested in (IT and religion) and create a degree which combines them both ... so a "make your own degree" program sounds good, but ... if my goal is eventually to get into a decent doctoral program, I don't think a MLS degree would get me there?
    It can allow for one to get into a PhD program, a friend of mine has a Masters of Liberal Arts from Rollins College and she was able to get into a PhD program at Florida Atlantic University, she earned a PhD and is now a professor of communication at a university in Florida.
    Ed.D (Capella University)
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  11. #10
    Malajac is offline Registered User
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    Regarding Liberal Studies Bachelor's, we don't have such an animal here (at least not one that I know of). The role of the program that far too many people enroll in and many of them don't end up working in the field is taken by Economics related fields (including Management, Marketing etc), Political Science (including Journalism ) and Law. Statistics also show that unemployed graduates come mostly from these fields.

    On the other hand, I also keep bumping into mechanical engineers doing every possible kind of work, from engineering to military to small business ownership to journalism to education to government officials / politicians.

    However, one of the (many) things we here as a society lack are quality salespeople / customer relations people. Maybe the introduction of a broad based degree program such as Liberal Studies could help there.

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