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Master of Liberal Studies

A Master of Liberal Studies offers you the opportunity to delve into a diverse array of disciplines, from literature, social history, and philosophy to the sciences and the arts.

cynthia in class

Embrace a community of lifelong learners and hone critical skills that will propel your career forward and enrich your intellectual life. The Master of Liberal Studies (MLS) program at 91社区 offers students of all ages and backgrounds access to an intimate cohort of learners. In addition to MLS seminars offered in the evening, students may take several advanced undergraduate courses or complete independent research with a professor for graduate credit

Why pursue a Master of Liberal Studies degree?

In today's ever-changing world, adaptability and critical thinking are paramount. Our MLS program equips students with a broad understanding of interdisciplinary subjects, fostering the flexibility and analytical skills necessary to thrive in any field and make connections across vast networks. Our program fosters critical thinking by exposing students to a variety of ideas, perspectives, and disciplines.

Our MLS program encourages students to:

  • Challenge assumptions
  • Ask probing questions
  • Think critically about the world
  • Understand complex issues from all sides
  • Engage with diverse perspectives
  • Nurture intellectual curiosity
  • Expand professional networks

Our master's degree program is near Chicago, but not in it, so students gain access to a vast network of professionals across Chicagoland while pursuing their education on a quiet north-suburban campus that is easy to get to by train or car. 

students on campus

Tight-knit learning community

Benefit from a vibrant community of enthusiastic learners. Through engaging discussions, collaborative projects, and shared experiences, you'll forge meaningful connections with fellow students and faculty members.


Interdisciplinary learning

Break down the barriers between disciplines. By studying across multiple fields, you'll gain a holistic perspective that enriches your understanding of complex issues and fosters innovative thinking.

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Customizable approach

One of the most exciting aspects of pursuing a Master of Liberal Studies is the ability to customize your academic path according to your interests and career objectives. You can learn from all areas of campus. 

Are you ready to explore the endless possibilities of a Master of Liberal Studies?

The MLS program is designed for those who have completed a bachelor’s degree and who want to enhance their knowledge and analytical skills to prepare themselves for the challenges of the twenty-first century.

Join us and become part of a dynamic community of passionate learners who are dedicated to intellectual curiosity, interdisciplinary exploration, and lifelong growth. Unlock your potential and discover the power of a Master of Liberal Studies degree today.

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The MLS program has been instrumental in my academic and professional growth. The depth and wealth of knowledge I gained from my professors and advisors gave me the tools to pursue a doctoral degree in Leadership and Innovation at Purdue University and make a difference in my community as Director of Development - Corporate Relations at the Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund. I am forever grateful for the doors that 91社区's MLS program has opened for me.
Mallory Kolodziej, MLS Class of 2023, PhD candidate at Purdue University

Get the best of the liberal arts through our interdisciplinary approach

91社区's MLS program unites diverse perspectives in order to promote critical thinking. 

Break down the barriers between disciplines and explore the interconnectedness of knowledge. By studying across multiple fields, you'll gain a holistic perspective that enriches your understanding of complex issues and fosters innovative thinking.

students presenting research

Our highly customizable program allows you to tailor your academic journey to suit your interests and career goals. Whether you're passionate about literature, history, politics, or the sciences, a Master of Liberal Studies allows you to design a curriculum that reflects your unique passions and aspirations.

Meet the world with confidence

Whether you aspire to advance in your current career or embark on a new professional path, a Master of Liberal Studies provides you with the skills and knowledge to excel as a leader in any field. By honing your communication, problem-solving, and analytical abilities, you'll be prepared to tackle the challenges of the twenty-first century with confidence and clarity.

Our MLS graduates have gone on to pursue:

  • Non-profit work
  • Teaching careers
  • PhDs 
  • Promotions in their existing careers
  • and more

mls graduates of 2024

Your path, your way

Unlike traditional graduate programs with a fixed course structure, our Master of Liberal Studies program empowers you to design a curriculum that aligns with your passions and goals. Whether you're drawn to literature, history, philosophy, or the social sciences, you have the flexibility to select courses that resonate with your intellectual curiosity and professional aspirations.

Combine seminars with independent study opportunities and high-level undergraduate course opportunities alongside your MLS class each semester.

The MLS program is flexible, designed to be responsive to the needs of individual students. Students can enter in either fall or spring and pursue the program at their own pace. Students working with an advisor design their own curricular programs. We will collaborate with you to develop a plan that fits your schedule and your life. 

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How one MLS grad is making it

91社区’s Master of Liberal Studies program accommodates students’ interests and prepares them for a broad range of successes. For Mallory Kolodziej MLS ’23, the highly customizable program impacted all areas of life.

An accomplished musician who fronts the band wht.rrbt.obj and New York Times best-selling co-author alongside Lady Gaga, Kolodziej was working as the Director of Events, Communication, and Video Production at a nonprofit called A Safe Place when she chose to embark on her MLS journey at 91社区.

Learn more

Teacher Grant

The MLS program welcomes educators and has a program of grants to help pay tuition. Teachers are eligible for grants that can reduce their tuition per course by as much as half. Applying for a grant is simple. Email MLS Director Cynthia Hahn at hahn@lakeforest.edu to learn more.

Auditing MLS Seminars

Auditing MLS Seminars

Adults may register to audit an MLS seminar, assuming there is space in the class.  Students who audit an MLS seminar attend classes and may participate in discussion, but they do not write the papers. Auditors do not earn academic credit but the course they audit will be listed on their official transcripts with the designation of AU.  Tuition for auditing is $600 per course for the 2024-25 academic year. 

Option for MLS Auditors to Transition into the MLS Program

Students who successfully audit four MLS seminars will be granted one graduate credit, which may be counted toward the eight credits needed for the Master of Liberal Studies degree. 

What Our Students Have to Say
  • Robert Bullard: "I undertook the MLS program to advance my professional career. I was looking for an opportunity for real intellectual stimulation and I was absolutely energized by the idea of sitting around a table with professionals from other careers and sharing thoughts and ideasand debating those ideas. It was a great opportunity to be in class with the best of the best in teaching faculty."
  • Anita Cukier: “Challenging, yet non-competitive, the MLS program encourages independent thinking, fosters interests, and opens up new horizons. It is a nurturing program led by professors whose constant encouragement instills confidence and resolve and inspires further academic endeavors.”
  • Thomas Skelly: “The quality of the discussion around very interesting topics I found to be excellent. You get a clear diversity of opinion among professors and students with different life experiences.”
  • Jane Steen: “I developed more confidence in writing and speaking about a variety of subjects.
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Reflecting on my time at 91社区, I am particularly grateful that the MLS program honed my critical thinking skills and enhanced my ability to articulate well-structured arguments. These skills have been invaluable to me in my professional journey.
Scott Walldren, MLS Class of 2004, Owner of Minno Marketing Innovation LLC


Cynthia Hahn
Director, Graduate Program of Liberal Studies
Professor of French

Joy Markee
Department Associate
110 Buchanan Hall