Frequently Asked Questions
How quickly could I complete the MLS degree?
Most part-time students take one course a semester, but students may take two courses a semester with the approval of the program director. Students may but are not required to take courses in the summer semester. A part-time student studying fall, spring, and summer semesters may complete the MLS degree in two-and-a-half years.
What can I do with an MLS degree?
Whatever you want. Students and alumni find that their professional and personal lives are enriched by the intellectual honing they go through in the program as part of our focus on interdisciplinary studies. Many master of liberal arts graduates report that they are better able to think critically and to articulate their views, creating opportunity for personal and professional advancement.
When are classes held and how often do they meet?
MLS courses are held on the USC campus on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday evenings. They typically start at 6:00 p.m. for three hours. Each course meets once per week, for 15 weeks during the fall and spring semesters. Summer semester term weeks may vary, but can be as long as 12 weeks.
I do not live near USC. Does the MLS Program have an online or distance-learning component?
No. The MLS is intended for students who live or work close enough to commute to the USC campus on a weekly basis.
Is it possible to audit MLS courses?
No, auditing (sitting in a course without registering) is not permitted. Individuals qualified for admissions who have not yet applied for admissions may be approved to register for up to three courses before being formally admitted to the MLS Program. Prospective applicants are welcome to visit a class, subject to professor approval. To register for a course prior to admissions or to visit a class, contact Natalie Inouye, the MLS student services advisor.
Who should write my letters of recommendation?
The admissions committee is looking for information about the depth and quality of your academic background, about your intellectual abilities and your interest in interdisciplinary studies, and about your motivation and capacity to complete rigorous graduate level work. Your letters should come from those who could best address these qualities about you, and may include professional colleagues, business superiors, or past faculty. Letters from past faculty are not required, especially for those applicants who have been out of school for some time and are no longer in contact with their faculty. Letters of recommendation from co-workers, someone you have supervised, or personal and family friends are inappropriate.
How selective is the Master of Liberal Studies Program?
The MLS is a highly selective graduate degree program. The number of applications received and the percentage accepted varies each year. The admissions committee admits every applicant it believes is qualified to embark on graduate-level work commensurate with a master in liberal studies degree.
If I am not accepted, should I re-apply the following year?
The admissions committee admits all applicants it believes are qualified for the program. In most cases, applicants who were not admitted to the program did not demonstrate a strong enough background in the humanities and/or strong enough writing and critical thinking skills to allow the applicant to succeed in a rigorous graduate-level humanities program. Unless the following year’s application shows significant improvement, the result will be the same.
I have taken some classes toward a degree that was never completed, and some classes were at community college. Should I include those transcripts in my application?
Yes. USC admissions requires applicants to submit transcripts from all academic institutions attended.
Does the program require, or grant, interviews?
The program does not require interviews. The program director and staff welcome inquiries and encourage visits to our program office and campus. We hold events throughout the year, at which prospective applicants may meet the faculty, staff, and current students. Please subscribe to the MLS e-mail newsletter to learn of upcoming events.
Are international students eligible for visas to study in the MLS Program?
MLS students usually do not take a sufficient number of units to qualify for F-1 visas. For questions relating to international student or visa issues, please consult the USC International Services Office.
May MLS students take courses in other USC departments?
The electives offered in the MLS Program have been designed to fulfill the program’s objective that students be trained in a multi-disciplinary approach in every course. Therefore, students should anticipate that their coursework will be MLS electives.
I am interested in getting a Ph.D. Will the MLS degree help me toward this goal?
Ph.D. programs typically evaluate applicants for suitability to pursue academic careers in research and teaching at the university level, and look for very specific academic preparation. While the rigor of the MLS Program is very good preparation for further graduate studies, individuals with the ultimate goal of obtaining a Ph.D. should investigate the policies of the institutions with the Ph.D. programs of their interest.
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