Skip to main content
SPS Logo


Liberal Studies


Below is a list of requirements for admission into the Master's in Liberal Studies program. Download and review our MALS program brochure while you consider applying to this program.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution or its foreign equivalent. A competitive undergraduate record that indicates strong academic ability is required. Work, internship, or research experience is highly desirable but not a requirement. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is not required, but strong scores bolster chances for admission.




The MALS program is designed to be completed in two to three years of uninterrupted part-time study (one to two classes per quarter), although students are allowed five years to finish the program.

Please note that courses completed in the certificate program cannot be transferred to the corresponding graduate degree.

Application Checklist

Supplemental Materials

Supplemental materials, with the exception of transcripts, must be uploaded to the online application. Official transcripts may be sent to our Admissions office at or mailed to our Chicago office. Please be sure to include the name of your intended program when addressing transcripts. Applicants will be notified once all materials have been received and the application is complete.

  • One sealed copy of official transcripts from ALL previously attended colleges and universities. Official transcripts must arrive in our office in the original sealed envelope issued by the institution. Northwestern University School of Professional Studies accepts electronic transcripts from U.S. institutions via secure electronic transcript providers. Consult with your institution to see if they are part of a secure e-delivery network. All electronic transcripts should be sent to Please note transcripts are not accepted by fax or email. If you are currently enrolled, please submit an official transcript showing courses in-progress. Applicants with international transcripts must request an official course-by-course evaluation of transcripts from a NACES member such as WES or ECE. A course-by-course evaluation will translate courses, degrees and grades to U.S. equivalency.
  • Two letters of recommendation focusing on academic achievement and ability
  • Statement of purpose
  • A writing sample
  • Current résumé or curriculum vitae

Transcript mailing address:
MALS Graduate Admissions
Northwestern University School of Professional Studies
Wieboldt Hall, Sixth floor
339 E. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, Illinois 60611-3008

Statement of Purpose and Writing Sample

Applicants must submit a 300-word statement of purpose explaining how the degree program will help them meet their academic and professional goals. Applicants who did not major in liberal arts or a related field should explain how other academic and nonacademic experiences have prepared them to undertake graduate study in this program.

The writing sample allows the applicant to demonstrate the ability to present ideas and arguments in a manner appropriate to a graduate-level program. The sample should be a critical analysis paper or essay not exceeding 10 pages, and should consist of the following:

  • A clearly articulated thesis.
  • An argument that persuasively supports the thesis and demonstrates an awareness of contrary arguments.
  • Documentation of quoted material and acknowledgement of ideas taken from the works of others using an accepted academic style guide.

Application Tips

  • Letters of recommendation help build a case for your academic qualifications. A strong letter that provides detailed information about your academic ability will have a positive effect on your candidacy. The more specific the letter, the better. You should brief recommenders about the program and your objectives before requesting a letter.
  • The statement of purpose demonstrates whether or not your academic goals are appropriate to the MALS program. This statement also helps the committee determine whether you possess the necessary writing skills and intellectual maturity to succeed in the program.
  • The writing sample is used to evaluate your ability to engage in the academic study of the humanities. We recommend that the sample be a paper written for a previously completed course that focuses on a critical discussion of a topic within the humanities. The paper should have a strong thesis and make use of close textual study to advance that thesis. The paper should follow academic conventions when citing sources and should be clearly organized and written. If you do not have such a paper to submit, you may consider taking an advanced-level undergraduate humanities course that will require such a paper.

System Requirements

To ensure proper access to all online course materials, students in SPS online master's degree courses should verify that their computer meets the recommended system requirements.

Back to top