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Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies

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An interdisciplinary degree program


The Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies (BALS)  is, as the name suggests, a degree for broad, but in-depth, studies of some combination of academic subjects. It provides the opportunity for students to plan and pursue broader interdisciplinary programs than the normal major and minor, double major or interdisciplinary major allows. The program is designed for students who have need and justification for developing their own undergraduate program within their 124-credit minimum. Instead of pursuing a major in one of the existing degree options of the College, a student in the BALS program will take a sequence of courses which are consistent with a stated educational goal and will afford the student knowledge in some broad, interdisciplinary field.

The BALS program may be used to increase the breadth of study in the arts, humanities, social sciences and sciences over what would be possible with a traditional major and electives. Emphasis should be placed on a general, well-rounded program of creative exploration even if the principal objective is to structure one's curriculum in terms of a particular career.

It is the intention of the University that a student graduating with a BALS degree should be well educated, capable of pursuing advanced studies in a graduate school of his or her choice or capable of satisfactorily pursuing a career.​​

Submitting a program proposal

Since the degree is available only to students in the College of Arts and Sciences, the proposed program must focus on a subject or subjects central to the liberal arts, for example language, science, philosophy or history as distinguished from a technical or purely professional education. Normally, no more than 15 credit hours may be taken in any one college other than Arts and Sciences, and at least one half the total 124 credits for graduation should be taken in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Admission into the Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies program is determined by an ad hoc committee appointed by the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. The committee reviews student proposals, approving those that are cohesive and realistic, with the educational goal of the program clearly defined and carefully explained. The proposals must be two to four typed pages.

Advisement and planning are very important in formulating such a proposal. Students are urged to seek advice from faculty members and the BALS program administrator as they work on their programs. The successful student proposal must be accompanied by a letter of recommendation from the primary advisor, addressing the significance and necessity of the program and the student's ability to carry it out.

While it is impossible to enumerate the variety of programs which will be acceptable, proposals will be judged on whether they are:

  • Coherent - the proposed courses and academic activities must be logically related.
  • Focused - the proposal and its purpose should be clearly articulated. The central subject or area of study should be discussed and related to the various supporting academic fields.
  • Necessary - the proposal should indicate why the flexibility of the BALS program is necessary and why the proposed program could not be accomplished with existing major, interdepartmental or double major options.
  • Consistent - the proposal should conform to the BALS degree requirements​​.​

A student must apply for the BALS degree by the end of the first semester of the junior year or before the completion of 75 credits.

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Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies