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What is MALS?

  • MALS is interdisciplinary

Courses are taught by faculty from across the College of Arts and Sciences and each one has an interdisciplinary aspect.  We break down departmental barriers to explore important questions through a variety of perspectives.

  • MALS tackles the big questions

What does it mean to be human? How do we understand the world we live in? Where did we come from and where are we going? Each MALS course invites broad thinking on issues of importance.

  • In MALS, you follow your passion

Within the broad parameters of the program, you are free to shape your course of study to suit your intellectual interests, to follow your passion.

  • MALS is stimulating and dynamic

Small seminar classes mean that you learn from your classmates as well as your professors.  The diversity of the student body, the richness of their life experiences and the variety of their interests creates a stimulating and dynamic learning environment.

  • MALS can boost your career

While many MALS students are in the program for the pure joy of learning, the program cultivates important skills sought by employers: critical thinking, problem solving, research methods, writing, presentation skills.

  • MALS understands adult students

You can complete the degree on a part-time basis and classes are held in the evening for the convenience of those who are working.  No GRE scores are required for admission.

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  • Patti Cleary
    Retired, Higher Education Publishing

    Courtesy of Google and a feature article in the News Journal, I first learned of the MALS program a few years before I expected to retire from a career in higher educational publishing. My retirement plan was thus decided. As one who has always embraced rather than resisted change, I envisioned MALS as a stellar opportunity to transition from a protracted, all-consuming work-work-work existence to a new, stimulating life phase. MALS did not disappoint.

    I've always been devoted to learning. On my first ever day of formal schooling, I arose much earlier than required and danced about the still dark house in excited anticipation. Unlike many of my peers, in the years that followed, I was never overjoyed as the school year ended. MALS eliminated some of the less savory aspects of my undergrad experience – cramming for exams, peer competitiveness, pressure to excel, requirements that held little interest, and those easy-to-get-lost-in oversized classrooms. Instead I found that MALS offered appealing topics, committed and learned faculty with superb teaching expertise, and fellow students who celebrated the different paths that brought us together to share with good fellowship an environment of cooperative learning and yes, inspiration.

    Because I had not been a student for many decades, I approached the initial courses with some trepidation. Would I be able to hold my own? I would ultimately discover that an abundance of life experience afforded me a broader context within which to incorporate new learning. In those first courses, however, I realized that my recall abilities had altered. Eager to dive in, I would read assignments the day after class and take copious notes, too. Six days later, when the professor would open class with a straightforward question about the assigned reading, I would draw a complete blank, flip frantically through my notes, and panic. My ability to retain information apparently was not what it once had been. So I adapted, finding that reading closer to the next session made a big difference. Though I wasn't daunted by having to write papers, I spent the preparation time in a state of minor anxiety until I could do enough research (a process I cherished) to develop a "hook," a way into the paper that worked for me. Thus, I came to accept that I do not learn in the same way or at the same rate as I did as a younger student. Nevertheless, learn I did, with delight!

    I was often asked why I was, at this life stage, pursuing an advanced degree. I was puzzled when my "because I love to learn" response did not seem to satisfy. The flexibility of the MALS program allowed me a delicious deep dive into topics (film, history, aging, cancer, memoir, death/dying, philosophy) that had always drawn me but for which I'd had too little time to explore fully. As my chosen transition into retirement, MALS has bestowed a most enriching intellectual and personal experience.

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  • Charles Conway
    Director of Education & Community Engagement, Delaware Theatre Company

    "On its webpage, the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) promises that the program 'develops the timeless qualities of liberal education at the graduate level: to think freely, to imagine adventurously, to choose discriminately, and to understand deeply.' This is what drew me to the program and I have not been disappointed.

    "The MALS program has provided me the opportunity to rediscover the sheer joy of thinking and learning. My objective is to use the MALS experience to guide me as I consider the next stages of my development and the successes I have had has made me realize that old rocking chair is not getting me."

    Charles Conway is a current student in the MALS program. He is Director of Education and Community Engagement for the Delaware Theatre Company.

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  • Jim Culley
    Retired, Senior Director, Corporate Communications, Hologic

    ​Jim enrolled in the MALS program in 2017 when he “retired” from his job as Senior Director, Corporate Communications, for Hologic, a global healthcare company. The University is not new to Jim. He was an Associate Professor and Associate Dean of the College of Business and Economics from 1973 to 1986.   

    For 19 years Jim commuted to Boston where he was a key member of the Hologic communications and marketing team. With an unwavering belief that customers tell a company’s story best, Jim led the group that produced hundreds of e-broadcasts, stories and award-winning videos on how customers use their products. Other memorable years at Hologic included leading the communication strategy to launch direct radiography, digital mammography and breast tomosynthesis (3D mammography). His work there has affected millions of women worldwide.

    Jim takes one or two courses every semester. And if asked, he’ll rave about each of them. His favorite experiences are interacting with the students who have significant life experiences as well as the faculty who are world class. He feels fortunate to have the opportunity to study subjects in new fields and to have ample time to explore them.    

    Jim has successfully taken knowledge and writings from the MALS classes and applied them to his personal writing and consulting business. A course with Ray Callahan inspired him to publish a story for the Lewes Historical Society. It detailed the history of the mysterious disappearance of the SS Poet, a ship last seen when it cleared Cape Henlopen in October 1980. This US flag vessel disappeared with a crew of 34. 

    He wrote a memoir for David Teague’s class that led to a paper about his mother titled “Betty Buehner: A Life Fulfilled.” This memoir was published this Fall in the online issue of Confluence, the Journal of Graduate Liberal Studies. Meg Maguire’s social media course helped him start a Go-Fund-Me effort for Water is Life Kenya, a Delaware-based not-for-profit.   In his spare time Jim is working with Hagley Museum and Library to preserve the industrial films and TV ads made by Cinecraft Productions. Cinecraft rightfully claims itself the “country's longest standing corporate film and video production house.” 

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  • Jeanille Gatta
    Leader, Market Access Enterprise Solutions

    “I knew I would be investing a lot of time earning a degree in addition to working fulltime, so it was vitally important to me to have class time that ensured passion and a quest for learning among a diverse group of people with vibrant interests. In an MBA class, there would be mostly business professionals discussing industry skills, and we likely wouldn’t be discussing Galileo or Hitler or oral history as I did in several courses in the MALS program.   I have never really been interested in a degree that was essentially ‘job training,’ and I was continually in awe of my MALS classmates’ life accomplishments.

    “All of the leaders I work for now are enticed by critical thinking from diversely educated individual contributors.  As I evolve in my career, I am impressed by leaders or fellow team members who have a diverse education and a variety of interests.  Experience or education like that can only deepen an individual in business, or in any career.”  

    “As a classical ballet student growing up, I was always close to the arts and wanted a curriculum that would allow me to continue that exposure. I was able to pursue an independent study on the history and role of typography with a great professor in Visual Communications, Ray Nichols, as I was about to make a career change into advertising and marketing.  And my synthesis project consisted of an oral history of a former ballet teacher, John White, who was an American ballet dancer with the Ballet Nacional de Cuba when Fidel Castro began the company in the late 1950s.  I even coordinated a viewing of a related documentary, Mirror Dance, on campus, converging my oral history coursework, my synthesis project, and my love of ballet.

    “The Oral History class I took with Dr. Roger Horowitz was life-changing. It not only sparked the idea for my final project, but it brought to life the meaningful difference an oral history can make in the world, whether you’re talking about its place in history or our own family lives.”

    Jeanille has a BA in International Relations (and Psychology minor) from Saint Joseph’s University and earned her Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from the University of Delaware in 2005.  She started off her career in nonprofit fundraising and marketing at The Rock School for the Pennsylvania Ballet before working in Admissions and Development for the University of Delaware. Jeanille transitioned her career into health advertising and marketing and after working for two leading health advertising agencies, she has been working at AstraZeneca in marketing for the past nine years.  “At this point in my life,” she says, “I hope to rejuvenate that quest for the interdisciplinary that the MALS program fulfilled and the arts by volunteering for local arts organizations.”

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  • Dr. Guilermina Gonzalez
    Executive Director, Delaware Arts Council

    "My current connection to the arts in the state is closely related to the University of Delaware.  UD was the first intellectual home I had when I moved to Delaware.  One of my first classes at the MALS program was "Art in the Twentieth Century"... where we explored the renewed impact of the Mexican Muralism Movement.  By opening this world to me the MALS program nurtured my ongoing involvement with the arts and culture in the state."

    Guillermina Gonzalez is a multicultural professional with experience in the United States, Mexico, and Europe in her successful career as an executive in both the corporate and nonprofit sectors.  She began her career working for multinational organizations in marketing and sales and has since brought her corporate expertise to the nonprofit sector.  Currently, she is the Executive Director of the Delaware Arts Alliance, the highly active arts advocacy group in the state.  Previously, she served as the Executive Director of the advocacy organization Voices Without Borders.  

    Dr. Gonzalez is actively involved in the community and serves as the Chair of the Americans for the Arts' State Arts Action Network and Delaware's NPR radio WDDE Community Advisory Board.  She has served on the Delaware State Arts Council, as well as on boards of Delaware College of Art and Design, Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League, Latin American Community Center, and the AARP Executive Council.  The University of Delaware's College of Arts and Sciences distinguished Dr. Gonzalez with the Alumni Achievement Award in May 2014.

    Dr. Gonzalez has an MBA from Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, where she taught marketing and business administration.  She holds a Certificate in Leadership and Public Management and a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from the University of Delaware.  She obtained her doctorate in Business Administration at Wilmington University in January 2014. 

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  • Marianne Green
    Retired Career Counselor

    "My bachelor's degree was in English, though my career had moved in another direction. I really wanted the chance to go back to my humanities "roots" and continue the learning process. The MALS program seemed like the right choice.

    "The MALS program was an enriching and eye-opening experience that has piqued my interest in a variety of subjects. There were a number of 'wow' and 'aha' moments in just about every course I took...moments when I saw things in a new way or learned something that really made me think. With so much information overload today,  I found that the MALS classes helped me better understand the context of the facts and data in order to see the big picture more clearly.

    "I feel so fortunate that the MALS program was available to me. Each course was both provocative and interesting. One of the lasting benefits has been the number of friends whom I met that continue to enhance my life." 

    Marianne Green is a 2002 graduate of the MALS Program. She pursued her master's degree while serving as a Career Counselor at UD. She has a commitment to lifelong learning, especially in the humanities.

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  • Roger Morris
    Wine, Food and Culture Journalist

    "I wasn’t ready to retire when DuPont in 1999 gave me an offer that I didn’t want to refuse. So I consulted (doesn’t everyone?) for a couple of years while I was building up credentials as a freelance writer – something I had dabbled in since my teens.  My specialty became wine and food, as well as travel and popular culture, which gave me reason to take at least a half-dozen overseas reporting trips every year. At 78, it’s still what I do. At any one time, I write for 15-20 different publications in the U.S., England and Germany. 

    "When I passed age 50 – the Prime Meridian for aging – I found what I missed most from my youth was the small-group seminars I attended in the ‘60s at a small liberal arts college in West Virginia and in grad school at the University of Illinois. I missed being dazzled by the intellect and experience of my professors, but mostly by how they served as debate masters as we students batted ideas back and forth around a seminar table, then went away to write about it.

    "Finally in late 2018, I interviewed with Tara Kee and a couple of her colleagues and was admitted into the MALS program. In the classes since, I have delved into the histories and philosophies of imperialism, modern technology, sex and gender, the East/West cultural divide, U.S. diplomacy (or lack thereof) and the anthropology of tourism. My graduate project – a book, actually – is finished and approved, and, at the time of this writing, I have two classes left. I am due to finish at year’s end.

    "At their best, MALS faculty are like experienced tour guides, the ones who give a morning circuit of a new city and say, “Okay, now that you have an overview, take the next few days exploring whatever interests you.  Here’s my cell number if you want to discuss.”  Except they are giving us intros to thoughts and ideas in their given fields – not just dry facts – and it has been up to us to react, internalize, research, discuss, write. They have treated us respectfully as colleagues, albeit junior colleagues.

    "What will I take away from MALS? One of the great things about growing older is that, rather than collecting credentials, we search for experiences – in my case revisiting graduate school in full. I suspect we value these experiences even more than folks in their 20s, who get all the credit for doing it. I have always been fascinated my new ideas, new theories, MALS having hit my mental reset button. I am now even more fascinated by the myriad things I read in newspapers, magazines and online. And take time to think, explore and perhaps even write about them."

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  • Michael Pifer

    "I wanted to get a graduate degree at UD, and was considering art or art history, which I studied as an undergraduate. During campus meetings with administrators I was introduced to Liberal Studies and decided to apply. As a journalist, I consider academic research and writing at the graduate level applicable to my discipline.

     "The MALS program has given me added incentive to research and think through issues that are stimulating and important to me. It’s enlightening to see the preparation and attention MALS professors, who are drawn from various disciplines, put into their classes. I’m also impressed by the tenacity with which MALS students tackle their papers.   I appreciate the option to take classes in graduate programs other than Liberal Studies. As an older student it's been challenging, humbling and rewarding to be able to engage in discourse with academically talented and accomplished twenty-something Ph.D. candidates.

    "Also I’ve been fortunate to make many new friends here in the Newark area, both within and outside the academic community."

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  • Cheryl Rice-Moore
    Accounts Payable Coordinator, Delaware Community Foundation

    ​"Participating in the MALS program has certainly opened up my whole being. I’m experiencing new information and some old information in new ways. There's a lot that I thought I knew. I find that either I didn’t know it at all, or I know it differently. It has introduced me to a whole exploration in learning, and given me new possibilities. It also allows me to see that I haven’t lost it yet.

    "I’m meeting some fantastic teachers and students too. As a matter of fact, I’m really saddened that some of them are graduating, and they’re leaving me.

    "Classes in fifteenth-century English history, the study of modern museums and how the African-American story is portrayed, the understanding of film philosophically, and the craft of contemporary memoir have increased my growing process exponentially. These classes help us learn nuances that we might otherwise avoid, and also we learn to analyze and understand better what we think we know.  

    "The MALS experience has helped me understand, more intensely, that my time and values are precious. Neither should be compromised or wasted, or spent in an environment that is unhealthy. Upon completion of this journey I plan to do something significant. While I could retire, instead I plan to work until eighty. 

    "As a result of the MALS program, both involvement and engagement in my personal life has been almost a religious experience. I seek those that are deeper thinkers, and want to participate more globally with a wider reach. This approach has reduced my anxiety in decision-making, and I have become more thoughtful in conversations. It’s been wonderful, wonderful."

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  • Jesse E. Johnson
    Department Chairperson, Social Sciences - Delaware Technical Community College

    ​Jesse is a recent graduate of the MALS program. Currently, he is the department chairperson for the social sciences department at Delaware Technical Community College. He also is in enrolled in UD’s Doctorate of Educational Leadership program (EdD).       

    Jesse completed an associate degree at Delaware Tech, and then enlisted (2001) in the Delaware Air National Guard where he received training, useful experience and an educational benefit to further his education. Over the next several years, he cycled through semesters at school and deployments with the military. Although he served in interesting and exciting places like Turkey, Germany, England, and Alaska, he also served in Iraq. As a result of these deployments, his graduation from college was delayed until Spring 2006.       

    During the last semester of his undergraduate studies, he was going through the hiring process to become a social science instructor at Delaware Tech. As a condition of hiring, he was to enroll in a master’s degree program within two years. After he began teaching psychology, sociology and American history, Jesse decided to pursue a degree program that would improve his knowledge and teaching in those subjects. Also, he had a colleague who was enrolled in the MALS program, and raved about instructors and course offerings. Upon hearing these recommendations, Jesse enrolled in two MALS courses as a continuing education student. He was hooked. 

     Jesse loved the opportunity to take classes that were fascinating and diverse. Regardless of the course, he always found a way to incorporate its content into his teaching. He also found fellow MALS classmates a significant benefit of the program. The rewarding and fascinating life experiences of the MALS students stimulated classroom discussions and added to the learning environment.

     He found professors in the MALS program to be some of the most accomplished and prestigious that the university offers. And since professors have the opportunity to develop courses that suit their interests and passions, MALS students become beneficiaries of each professor's enthusiasm about the subject.          And finally, Jesse believes students who are interested in exploring ideas, being exposed to different worldviews, and cultivating their ability to think critically will find the MALS program offers that academic environment and so much more.

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  • Michele Walfred
    Communications Specialist

    The MALS program encouraged 2014 alumna Michele Walfred to combine her interests in journalism and art with her growing fascination for the 19th century American immigration experience.  Originally motivated to explore her own Irish heritage, her last MALS course, Contemporary Culture: Asian Immigration to America, inspired Walfred to look beyond the familiar and probe deeper into the commonalities between the Irish and Chinese immigrant experiences, and the social, cultural and political reasons for their volatile relationship in a youthful yet expanding America.

    Walfred's capstone project, Illustrating Chinese Exclusion ( explores the 46 cartoons drawn by Thomas Nast for New York-based Harper's Weekly, and compares Nast's depictions to that of George F. Keller, who drew for The San Francisco Illustrated Wasp. It is the first thorough examination of Thomas Nast's work featuring Chinese immigrants, Chinese Americans and U.S.-China relations as subjects for editorial cartoons.

    While Illustrating Chinese Exclusion provides a glimpse into the percolating immigrant issues of that era, Walfred's historical spotlight remains relevant today as national conversations about immigration and inclusion/exclusion continue to be passionately discussed.

    Nearly 173,000 have visited the website in its first two years.  Walfred's MALS project is used as a resource for high school students and colleges such as University of Dayton, University of Connecticut, Louisiana State University, Baruch College-CUNY, St. Joseph's College and Brandeis University to name a few. Her work has been cited by NPR, Politico and The Boston Globe, among others.

    "The MALS program changed how I view everything," says Walfred. "I soon found that what you think you know, or what has been handed down to you, is often coming from a limited point of reference.  The MALS program has trained me to look around. Indulge my curiosity. Go find out.  Explore.  Peel back the layers. You will be surprised by what you discover!"

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