Designing Your Degree Program | Kent State University

Designing Your Degree Program

To design a degree program, follow steps 1-5 below. It may help to view Examples of past MLS Programs and Capstone Essays.

Goal Statement Format

Remember that the Goal Statement is both a description and justification of your intended program for the MLS and a writing sample, so make sure you write it in your best English. This goes for all applicants, no matter which fields they propose to pursue. This program operates out of the College of Arts and Sciences. It therefore requires that its graduate students be able to write a fluent and correct English such as one would expect from individuals pursuing a graduate degree. This is a skill that can be learned. If your written English needs work, the Director may have you take an undergraduate composition course - not College Writing - to remedy the situation. If your written English is bad, you may be denied admission to the program.

Be sure to start with the following header and your name, so that your Goal Statement goes to the right place.

Kent State University
College of Arts & Sciences
Liberal Studies Master’s Degree Program

(Your Name)

1- Title and Areas of Study

Start by proposing a title for your program of study. It should indicate what is it that you want to learn about, to be able to do. Then, in a paragraph or two, explain why you want to learn this, be able to do this, etc. Indicate in what fields you would need to take courses to accomplish this. You should have one major area of study and two or three minor ones.

2- List of Courses

Then make a list of courses in your chosen areas of study that would help you learn what you feel you need to know to complete the program you explained in step 1. Remember that the courses you choose must constitute an integrated whole.

You can see what the university offers in you areas of interest by accessing the online version of the university's course descriptions. Here is how to use it to look for courses in your areas.

a. Clicking on the online version of the university's course descriptions will take you to a window entitled Catalog Term. Pick the current term in the drop-down box under Search by Term and then click on the gray Submit button under that.

b. On the Search for Courses window that appears next,

i. pick one of the Subjects that interests you in the top Subject box,

ii. skip down to Level and pick Graduate,

iii. skip down to the gray Get Courses button at the bottom on the left and click on that.

That will take you to a window entitled Catalog Entries that will give you a listing of all the potential graduate courses in that field. I stress the word potential here for reasons I explain below.

c. Pick the graduate courses at the masters level - 50000- and 60000-level - that interest you in that field.

d. Do this for each of the fields that interest you.

When you have complied a list of courses that would help you learn what it is that you propose to study, group them by department, making sure that you

  1. precede each course title with its field abbreviation and five-digit course number, such as BAD 65184 International Business.  

  2. include after it the number of credit hours that course entails. Most courses will be three-credit-hour courses, but not all.

This is only a tentative list; what you end up taking will be a function of which courses are available in which semesters and how your interests develop as you pursue your degree. You may list as many courses as you like, but you must list at least 28 credit hours of electives in addition to the required courses, or 27 hours if you elect to take AS 61001 while you take AS 61000. You would be best to list more than 28 credit hours of electives, however, for reasons I explain below. Remember, again, that your list of courses must constitute a unified whole.

A Note on the University Catalog. Why the list of courses you develop from it can be no more than potential

Student experience has convinced me that I need to add an explanatory note here for those of you who are not accustomed to working with a university catalog and so may not understand what the list of courses in it actually is. A university catalog contains a list of courses that have, at some time in the past, been approved to be offered. Some of those courses are offered regularly, though few of them are offered every semester, especially at the graduate level. Some of them have not been offered in years, because the faculty who used to teach them have left. Some many never be offered during your six years in the program, or may be offered once but at a time that conflicts with your work or something else. Other courses not listed in the catalog, especially Special Topics courses, may be offered. For this reason, it is a good idea to list more than the minimum number of courses required, as I wrote above.

To get an idea of the graduate courses that are offered regularly in the departments that interest you, go to the online KSU Schedule of Classes, and look to see what those departments offered in the preceding and current semesters. (I explain how to do this on the Finding Courses page of this website.) This will not show you all the courses that will be available while you are working toward your Liberal Studies degree: many graduate courses are offered on a three- or four-semester rotation. It will, however, give you some idea of which graduate courses are offered on a regular basis. You can also contact the individual departments via e-mail to ask about the frequency of certain courses. We usually do not know which courses will be offered more than a year in advance, but most departments keep track of what they offer regularly.

3- Review the Program Requirements

Review the Program Requirements, listed on the Program Requirements page on this site. You may need to adjust or augment your list of courses as a function of these requirements.

4- Download the Tentative Course List form

Download the form I have prepared for organizing your Tentative List of Courses by clicking here. Use this form and not a spreadsheet. After you have filled it out, simply copy/paste this form into your Goal Statement.

5- Justify Your Selections

Finally, in your Goal Statement, explain, one by one, how each of the nine or more courses you have listed under Electives fits into the unified, cohesive program you have proposed. This is very important. Your program has to make sense as a unified whole, and may not be just a list of courses that interest you. For a model of how to do this, click here.


Send me your Goal Statement to review before you upload it to your online application.

I look forward to reading your Goal Statement!