Liberal Studies (MA)


Program Description

The New School is a progressive university in New York City where scholars, artists, and designers come together to challenge convention and create positive change. Founded in 1919, the university consists of Parsons School of Design, Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, the College of Performing Arts, The New School for Social Research, and numerous renowned graduate programs. The New School’s rigorous, multidimensional approach to education gives students the academic freedom to shape their unique, individual paths of study for a complex and rapidly changing world.


The program's core courses will ground you in the history of ideas and in the practice of sustained writing, while you develop an intellectual peer community. From there, you can branch out, taking advantage of the rich offerings and distinguished faculty of The New School. Work with both a faculty advisor and a student advisor to create a robust pathway tailored to your individual needs and academic ambitions. We offer a rich selection of courses with world-class professors who can extend your command of critical theory, the history of ideas, aesthetics, philosophy, politics, anthropology, media theory - wherever your curiosity takes you. Courses are available in both the daytime and the evening to fit into even the busiest schedule.

At the heart of the program are two core courses. The first - The Making of the Modern World - considers the origins and fate of modern societies as understood by key thinkers who have explained and championed modern social developments, as well as those who have harbored grave anxieties about the shape of modern life. We cover significant currents in the arts, social history, cultural theory, literature, politics, and philosophy. Our second core course - the Master's Critical Writing Seminar - helps students work on nonfiction writing and criticism so that they can better express their own views with clarity and force. Students often use this course to write the required MA thesis, exploring a topic of their choice in-depth and producing a substantive and polished work of prose.


To earn the MA in Liberal Studies, a student must complete a total of 30 credits with a minimum grade point average of 3.0.

A maximum of three credits taken at another university may be granted toward the credit requirement for the master's degree. Twenty-seven credits must be completed at The New School for Social Research.

Elective Courses
Apart from the required courses, students can choose from a wide range of course offerings approved by the Committee on Liberal Studies to promote interdisciplinary expertise and an independent approach to learning. The faculty is particularly strong in the four areas of study described below, but students are free to take any combination of approved courses they desire.

  • Literature, the Arts, and Aesthetics
    Students with an interest in word, image, and culture will find a broad array of courses in literature, cinema, visual art, gender and sexuality studies, and aesthetic theory. Some courses focus on a particular writer, artist, or time period; others take an integrated approach to aesthetic movements or topics.
  • Intellectual History and Modern Thought
    Courses in this group enable students to develop competence and facility with the ideas that shape our history and our times. Some courses examine historical perspectives; others look closely at the intellectual life of the modern period.
  • Criticism and Publishing
    The means by which thought and art are communicated to the public is constantly changing. Courses in this area address the history of means of communication and their current and emerging forms. These courses offer not only practical instruction in current cultural media but a context within which to understand the shifting terrain of media forms.
  • Media and Culture
    The slow eclipse of traditional print and broadcast media raises questions about the nature of media in general and its influence on culture, politics, and daily life. Courses in this area cover both the classics of media theory and pressing questions in contemporary media and culture.

Program highlights

  • 30-credit interdisciplinary program.
  • Develop contextual thinking and writing skills across multiple humanities disciplines in a positive, judgment-free environment.
  • Design your own curriculum and engage with leading scholars, journalists, and intellectual writers.

Last updated October 2019

About the School

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