Master of Liberal Arts

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Master of Liberal Arts

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1tracibeth
Nov 1, 2009, 8:45pm

Hey everyone,

I've just received my BA in English Lit and I've been doing a lot of research into graduate schools. Right now I'm really interested in the Master of Liberal Arts degree -- specifically the programs offered at University of Penn (http://www.sas.upenn.edu/lps/graduate/mla/), John Hopkins (http://mla.jhu.edu/index.html) and University of Chicago (https://grahamschool.uchicago.edu/php/mla/open-houses.php). The programs seem ideal for me as far as my academic interests go, plus I'd like to use it as a possible transition into Ph. D work. However I get a sense that the degree doesn't have a very strong reputation in academia.

Does anyone have any experience with or know anything about this degree? Any info or opinions would be greatly appreciated.

2VivalaErin
Nov 2, 2009, 11:00am

I don't know too much about this degree, but it seems like it is an incredibly broad area of study. Interdisciplinary studies are a great plus - especially in the world of academia - but PhD programs really look for a more defined area of expertise. The Master's program you choose should put you right on track for a higher degree, and it is always a good idea to pick a degree which can help you move up.

Just looking at the links you put up, it seems like these degrees are geared toward the introductory level. I love my Master's in English because I can focus on the areas I enjoy, and I don't have to take classes in other disciplines unless it follows my interest. (And my PhD in English will allow me to do almost anything - but I won't be stuck teaching composition classes forever.)

Maybe you should think about where to want to end up in academia, then focus your degree around that - I think you'll be happier with a more specific plan.

3tracibeth
Nov 9, 2009, 10:49pm

Thanks for your response. You're definitely right about needing to develop a more specific plan. I guess I was concerned with finding a program that allowed for a lot of flexibility in developing a course of study. But you find that with the Masters in English you have a lot of flexibility in the courses you can take, including taking courses in other departments if you need to? Or do you know others who have done a Masters in English while taking many classes outside the department? (As I'd likely end up wanting to do.) I'm sure these questions would be better posed to specific schools but I'm just interested in getting a general idea of people's experience with graduate English work.

4VivalaErin
Nov 10, 2009, 12:21am

Most graduate programs will allow flexibility. There are multiple people in my English program who have also taken courses in other departments, especially History. Most Grad schools are more than willing to work with you when it comes to the classes you want to take and where you want to focus. And interdisciplinary experience is something that will pop out on your CV, which is also something potential employers will appreciate.

5CurrerBell
Nov 10, 2009, 1:46am

My concern about any kind of Master's program is the extent to which course credit will be transferable to a doctoral program (at least in English Lit), if that's what you're ultimately looking at. Where there's transferability, it may be limited to something like twelve credits. That's something you might want to check out.

6HistoricalLibrarian
Nov 10, 2009, 2:08am

Traci,
I finished my MLIS this May from the University of South Florida. There are a lot of online classes available. The main campus is in Tampa, and there are classes on the east coast. These rotate between Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties. I strongly suggest that you consider this school. It is highly recommended and has national recognition as one of the best library schools.

7Sniv
Nov 10, 2009, 10:24am

In addition to liberal arts, you might consider programs in cultural studies, rhetoric, or possibly some communications programs. George Mason, Wayne State, Iowa and Indiana University all have great departments that encourage interdisciplinarity.

It depends on what your ultimate goals are, though. If you want to teach in an English department, you probably shouldn't stray far from English programs.

8tracibeth
Editado: Nov 10, 2009, 4:16pm

That's a good point, CurrerBell. I did not even consider that.

9smartblonde
Editado: Mar 5, 2010, 6:01pm

I am ready to start a MA in Humanities from AMU/APUS; that degree can be applied to many careers in addition to great benefits on a personal level. I have no plans to teach or of acquiring a PhD. I have not registered for my first class yet because I'm still wondering how I'll find the time. I have one child who doesn't start school till this fall and my husband just left for Afghanistan.

10pokarekareana
Mar 6, 2010, 1:52pm

smartblonde, do they have any opportunities to study part-time at the school at which you plan to study?

I'm doing a Masters programme at the moment and some of my classmates are doing this in order to fit in full-time work or childcare duties. It's quite common for programmes here in the UK to be run on a part-time basis, but not sure if this is the case overseas.

11smartblonde
Mar 12, 2010, 1:10pm

pokarekareana,

It's all on your time, whatever speed you want. The only limit is that graduate students have 7 years to complete their program. Nice isn't it. Oh yes, many universities in the U.S. allow for part-time attendance.

12Naren559
Editado: Ago 5, 2010, 1:48pm

For what it's worth, after my discharge from the navy (1956), I was able to do a bachelor's degree via the GI Bill educational money, by 1957, found that there was still more money available (I had not used up all) and decided that I would continue graduate school until I "got it all"; this I did part-time while employed. Eventually, I did get a Master's degree, in 1967 and found that my "job-motivation" was no longer fun. So I decided that I had been "working my way through school" and that to continue being motivated to "work", I must continue going part-time to school. When, as a consequence of work transfers, I ended up with an employer, in Dallas, Texas, we opted to live in Arlington (15 miles from Dallas) as the university of Texas @ Arlington (UTA) was here and I could continue going to school part-time and I enrolled. I had no intention to ever teach in academia, just to continue "working my way through school". So, I began a PhD program, in Urban Affairs, taking one seminar a semester. After finishing all the required courses and passing the comprehensive examinations, I retired from my "career" with the Federal Government and still had to maintain enrollment, in "dissertation" (and pay that tuition), so, while I was working as an assistant to my dissertation committee chairman, and exploring possible subjects for the dissertation, and still paying tuition, I started taking seminars in the humanities, a much more interesting field than Urban Affairs, particularly English criticism, using Heidegger, Freud, and Shakespeare as tools for criticism. I did finally get the PhD, in Urban affairs via a dissertation, with hermeneutics as a tool. I bring all of this up in order to point out that eduction is fun in itself. Now that both my wife and I are retired, living on pensions, the only "education" available to us comes from Teaching Company lecture series, which, in themselves provide a great deal of satisfaction. The PhD only gets my telephone calls returned, otherwise, it's just three letters to indicate some sort of status. whatever that is

13smartblonde
Editado: Jul 27, 2010, 1:01pm

I just wanted to come back here and post that I am no longer currently planning a Masters degree. While waiting to find the time, the program (MyCAA) that was to pay for half my degree has re-written all of their guidelines and are no longer offering money to anyone working above an Associates (also now only the lowest ranks are eligible so I get caught there too); they ended up with way more applicants than they ever expected and realized they didn't have the money for everyone. Although I was already approved I am now eliminated from the program. Thus we'd be paying all of the degree out of pocket, and I don't "need" a Masters to want to do that or go searching for grants and all that mess. So for me, until something else comes up or I change my mind, I am perfectly happy with my books and other modes of enlightenment as my higher education. I just purchased a Nook and am thrilled to be in free Humanities heaven.

On another quick note, 5 months down and 10 weeks to go till my husband returns from Afghanistan. :)

14Naren559
Out 26, 2010, 10:59am

Definite "Other modes of enlightment (for higher education)", are undoubtedly found in the Teaching Company (www.teach12.com) lecture series. We are now (at breakfast) watching Seth Lerer's History of the English Language for maybe the fifth or sixth time and, each time is a course in linguistics, English history, anthropology and existential philosophy. And, there are many more such lecture courses available. (Check out the LT discussion group "Teaching Company") Don't let "sticker shock" take over when seeing the price; at least, once or twice a year all of there courses are put on sale; it's just a matter of waiting for the courses you find the more interesting.