Explore your passions through a variety of disciplines

The Master of Liberal Arts at St. Edward’s allows you to design a program that serves to foster your passions and further your intellectual pursuits. Students in this program engage in a process of self-discovery that leads to a further refinement of skills, knowledge, and ability, leading toward a successful career path.

You will have the opportunity to take classes that align with your goals. Regardless of which courses you choose, students in this program develop the critical thinking skills and knowledge needed to approach situations from varying perspectives.

Liberal Arts majors benefit from the opportunities to deepen their understanding of the human experience. This happens through examination of topics in a multitude of subjects, including English, anthropology, psychology, history, criminal justice, global processes, and communications. Professors actively challenge students to think both creatively and analytically. Throughout your coursework, your professors will help you develop strong persuasive writing and oral communication skills.

Toward the end of the program, you will engage in a special project of practical application. During this project, you will draw from the collective body of knowledge you have acquired throughout the program, and leverage the skills and tools you have acquired. This will result in an original body of work. You will present your commentary on a particular subject in the form of your choosing, whether it is art, multimedia, writing, or dialogue. 

Degree Plan

For detailed descriptions and timing of courses, please see the Graduate Bulletin (course catalog).


This course critically explores the ways that the liberal arts have been conceived and perceived, using a thematic approach to explore different disciplinary ways of learning and knowing. You’ll develop your ability to articulate a vision of liberal arts education: what it consists of, why it exists and how it relates to other modes of intellectual inquiry. This course prepares you to offer informed leadership on the role of the liberal arts in education and society.


You’ll complete at least one course in each of the following categories.

  • Interpreting the World: Explore the ways in which cultural groups, academic disciplines, organizations and traditions explain the world and what effects these explanations have on human perception, experience and understanding.
  • Community and Identity: Investigate areas such as the effects of globalization on identity, the ways in which art emerges from a culture, and the impact of work, race, gender and class on conceptions of community, as viewed from various interdisciplinary perspectives, including anthropological, historical, literary, psychological, sociological and political.
  • Spirituality and Self: Examine topics such as spiritual pilgrimage and quest, peace with justice issues, religious diversity, spirituality in the arts, the integration of spiritual values into professional lives, and the Catholic intellectual and spiritual tradition.


You’ll complete 15 semester hours in courses of your choice. Since the MLA is an interdisciplinary degree program intended to educate you in content and methodologies of various disciplines within the liberal arts, no more than three elective courses can come from one disciplinary area. Elective hours come from courses in the following categories:

  • Dual-level courses: These graduate-level courses, adapted from undergraduate courses offered at St. Edward’s, have a separate graduate-level syllabus component that requires additional coursework and readings. Up to five seats in select undergraduate, New College or Honors Program courses will be reserved for MLA students.
  • Directed Studies courses: You and a faculty member meet to work out a research plan; the faculty member directs you in your exploration of
  • the topic, leading to a significant paper or other research product.
  • Thematic Studies courses: You may take extra Thematic Studies courses for credit after completing the Thematic Studies requirement.
  • Courses transferred from another institution: Upon approval of the program director, you may transfer up to nine hours of graduate courses into the MLA program.


Project Planning Seminar

In your next-to-last semester, you’ll take a Project Planning Seminar, a course designed to teach you how to research and develop a project and its proposal. Since seminar students work on proposals in various areas, you’ll also coordinate with your mentoring professor. The program director serves as the second committee member on every Special Project developed out of the planning course.

Special Project

In your last semester, you’ll produce a Special Project, a public contribution that grows out of the MLA experience. Your mentoring professor is the instructor of record for the Special Project. You must develop a successful proposal with the full participation of this professor, who assumes principal responsibility for direction of the Special Project. Your mentoring professor and the program director make up your committee for the Special Project.

The Special Project must give clear graduate-level evidence of insight and perspective on an issue, theme or concept of significance. It may take the form of a formal thesis, a full-length article for publication, a proposal for implementation in a specific setting, artwork for public display, a community service research project, a website or some other format — and we encourage a design that enhances public understanding and dialogue on a significant issue.

See an example of one student's special project that focuses on politics in the Middle East.


The MLA certificate program gives you two ways to earn graduate credit:

I. MLA certificate:

Complete four courses (12 credit hours):

  • Liberal Arts Perspectives
  • Two Thematic Studies seminars
  • One elective

II. Executive MLA certificate:

Complete four courses (12 credit hours):

  • Liberal Arts Perspectives
  • Two Thematic Studies seminars
  • One Directed Studies course culminating in an essay or project


Liberal Studies graduates acquire knowledge across many topics, providing a multitude of career options.

Examples of career paths graduates pursue:
  • Journalism
  • Marketing
  • Museums
  • Counseling
  • Law
  • Social Services
  • Teaching
  • Curriculum development

Graduates interested in furthering their education may continue in a PhD or a MFA program.

Outside the Classroom

At St. Edward’s University, we understand the importance of having the opportunity to apply skills and knowledge in a real world setting. In order to encourage this hands-on learning, we offer credit for students who choose to take on an optional internship. This is a fantastic chance for students pursue a career or professional interest, or to supplement their academic program.

Examples of past experiences our students have enjoyed include work at the:
  • Mexi-Arte Museum
  • Austin Area interreligious ministries
  • New Literati, the New College literary magazine