Frequently Asked Questions

For what sort of student is this program designed?

This program is designed for students who have a clear idea of what they want to study, but find that that involves taking courses from different disciplines, such that a traditional Masters in one department will not allow them to reach their goals. 

For what sort of student is this program NOT designed?

Every year I get applications from students who need a Masters degree for career advancement but have no particular program of study in mind. I understand that need. I live in the real world as well. Still, the Master of Liberal Studies is not for students who do not have a clearly defined program of study in mind.

In the same sense, the Master of Liberal Studies program is designed for students who feel a need to take courses from several different fields in order to pursue a particular coherent interest or project. It is not for students who would like to take a little of this and a little of that across a wide spectrum of unrated fields.

How much does it cost to attend Kent State as a graduate student?

This will open the bursar's page regarding tuition and fees for graduate students.

Are there any scholarships available from the MLS program?

No, there are no scholarships or other financial aid available from this program. The University does offer a variety of scholarships.  These are listed on the KSU homepage.

I want to combine courses from different Colleges of the University.  Can I do this?

Yes. Students have combined coursework from the College of Education, the College of Fine and Professional Arts, the Business College, and the College of Arts and Sciences.

Your program must be integrated,however. You need to explain why the courses you choose hang together as an interconnected program.

How long does it take to complete the program?

Students pursuing the degree full time can do it in 1-2 years.  Students pursuing the degree part-time have a time-to-completion average of 3 years. You have 6 years to complete a masters degree at Kent State.

Can I do this program entirely online?

It is possible to take all your courses online, yes, if all the courses you need to complete your program are offered online. (See the Finding Courses page to find out which graduate courses are offered online.) As they near the end of their program, however, students will need to defend their Liberal Studies Essay in person, in Kent. Students who plan to live outside Ohio while pursuing the degree should keep that in mind when deciding if this program is right for them.

What are the entry requirements for students wishing to be admitted to the MLS degree program?

For standard admission to a KSU graduate program, the university requires a GPA of 3.0. Conditional admission is occasionally granted based on the student's application file and a GPA that falls between 3.0 and 2.75, but that is determined on a case-by-case basis. There is no GRE requirement.

Can I enroll in this program part-time?

Yes, most of our students are pursuing the MLS degree on a part-time basis.

What are the application deadlines for each semester?

Your application file must reach completion six weeks before the start of the semester in which you wish to begin the program in order to receive adequate consideration. That means all required documents - letters of recommendation, transcripts, etc. - must be received by Graduate Studies six weeks before the start of the semester in which you wish you enroll. The program can be started in Fall, Spring, or Summer I semesters. However, because of budget cuts occasioned by the current Recession, applications can no longer be considered over the summer. Students interested in starting in the fall therefore need to make sure all their application materials have reached Graduate Studies before the end of the previous spring semester.

If I have already taken graduate courses elsewhere, how many hours can I transfer into the Kent State Master of Liberal Studies program?

You can transfer up to 6 graduate hours, with certain stipulations, which you will find here. (The university allows up to 12 hours of transfer credit for some Masters problems, but for Liberal Studies as of Fall 2014, you can only transfer in 6 credits from another accredited institution.) The courses you transfer in must relate to the program you develop with the Program Director. Note, however, that the Graduate School allows a total of 6 years for the completion of a Masters degree. This means that all courses, both those transferred in from elsewhere and those completed at Kent, must be completed within a 6-year period. If you completed a graduate course at another institution in, say, Fall 2010, and then entered the KSU Master of Liberal Studies program in Fall 2012, you would only have until Summer 2016 to complete your program, not Summer 2018, if you want that Fall 2010 course to be transferred into your program. Of course, you do not have to transfer graduate credits taken elsewhere into your program.

How many workshop hours can I apply toward the Master of Liberal Studies?

According to University policy, "a maximum of 4 semester credit hours earned in graduate workshops may be applied to a graduate degree program."

Read the University Policy

Hours other than regular coursework

In addition to standard classroom-style courses, you may select up to 6 hours of internship or practicum and up to 6 hours of research.


Is this a new program?

No, the MLS at Kent was initiated in 1985. It is one of 6 MLS Programs in Ohio, but it is unique in that students can combine coursework from different departments and different colleges within the university, not just within the College of Arts & Sciences. There are over 100 alumni.  Other MLS programs in Ohio exist at Wright State, Ursuline College, University of Findlay, Hiram College, and the University of Toledo.  There are 120 Liberal Studies Programs in the United States and Canada.  Information about the concept of Liberal Studies graduate programs and links to each of the programs in the U.S.A. and Canada can be found at the Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs (AGLSP).

Do I have to write a thesis?

No, this is a non-thesis Master's program.  You do have to write a Liberal Studies Essay, approximately 50 pages long, as the capstone course to your program.  The essay will be written in consultation with your adviser and a reader and should draw on a theme you have chosen from your interdisciplinary coursework and your own special interests. For examples, see the Examples of MLS Programs and Capstone Essays.

What is the difference between a Master's Thesis and a Master's Essay?

A Thesis is a written document of original research that follows a particular university-defined format, is graded for six credit hours,  defended, placed in the library, and available on microfiche or electronically.  An Essay is a written document that may be original research but alternatively may take another form, follows a particular university-defined format, receives 3 credit hours, is defended, and is archived online on the program's website, as well as on the University library's website.  The Essay may be in the form of a standard thesis, or in the form of a handbook, a play, or a novella, depending on your program of study. For the most recent Liberal Studies Essays, see the Examples of MLS Programs and Capstone Essays.

How will I find an Adviser?

You will find an Adviser as you take your classes, a graduate faculty member with a specialty in the field you decide to write on.   Additionally, the Director can help you link to an Adviser.

What grades do not count in graduate school at Kent State?

The university's policy is as follows:

Graduate students are expected to maintain a minimum 3.000 grade point average.

A graduate student who receives more than 8 credit hours of grades lower than B (3.000) is subject to dismissal. A graduate student who receives more than 4 credit hours of grades lower than C (2.000) is also subject to dismissal.

Courses taken for satisfactory/unsatisfactory (S/U) grades are counted toward completion of degree requirements. Grades of S (satisfactory) are awarded credit hours, but do not affect the grade point average. Grades of U (unsatisfactory) are recorded as attempted hours, and are counted as F grades in computing grade point averages.

Grades below C (2.000) are not counted toward completion of requirements for any advanced degree, but are counted in computing grade point averages.

Courses taken for audit (AU) are not counted toward fulfilling minimum degree requirements, and do not affect grade point average.

Grades of IN (incomplete), IP (in progress) and W (withdrawal) are not used in computing grade point averages.

Undergraduate course credits are not counted toward completion of any advanced degree.

A change by a graduate student from one department or program to another does not eliminate the grades received under the first enrollment from the student’s grade point average.

What do people do with this degree?

The MLS is a tailor-made degree, so each person has a different goal in mind for using it.  Some continue on to law school or doctoral programs, some are in mid-career and use the degree to facilitate a shift in their career focus, some are high school teachers and take this interdisciplinary training back to the classroom, and some are newly retired and are at last pursuing long-held interests.  What will you do with this degree?

If you have further questions, e-mail the Program Director at