Frequently Asked Questions for Liberal Studies

Q:  How is a Liberal Studies degree different from a more traditional major?

Ans:  The main difference is in the core requirements.  In a traditional degree program, a set of required core courses provide the central knowledge, vocabulary, skills, and research methods of that discipline.  There is often a choice of concentrations or options within the subject, to provide a deeper mastery of that particular area.
In Liberal Studies there are core learning outcomes instead of core courses:  Philosophy, Research Methods, Fine Arts, Diversity, and so on [link to requirements page].  For each outcome, you have a choice of different courses in a variety of disciplines that will meet that outcome.  You will also develop a concentration.   However, instead of one subject area, you will have courses from two or three disciplines within the Social Sciences, or the Humanities, or the Natural and Life Sciences. 

Q:  I like to dabble in a lot of areas.  Is the Liberal Studies degree for me?

Ans:  Maybe.  There IS a lot of choice in the courses you take for each core requirement.  It works best, though, if you know where you want to be at the end of the program. 
This is called the ‘Backward Design Process’.  It helps to focus your studies so that you end up with a clear set of competencies, instead of a collection of interesting, but not necessarily meaningful educational experiences.

What is my goal?  Decide why you want this particular major
How will I know that I am successful? Determine which skills and knowledge will be most necessary for success in this career
What do I do to get there?  Choose courses that teach and develop those skills and knowledge

Q: I have more than 100 hours of credits.  I want to graduate as soon as possible.  Can Liberal Studies help me to graduate sooner? 

Ans.Three things will help.

  • If you have taken a variety of General Education courses that are prerequisites to upper level classes in that subject, you will be ready to take at least some of the Liberal  Studies core courses.
  • If you have tried a couple of majors and progressed into the upper level classes, some of those can be applied to your concentration.
  • Some of the courses you took in your previous major may be applied to a minor in that subject, or will at least contribute to the 33 hours of electives.

Q. I have changed my major twice and attended three different schools.  How quickly will I graduate with my Liberal Studies degree?

Ans. If you are currently investigating a variety of schools and degree programs, but have not yet actually applied to the university, we can estimate what courses and requirements you would have to meet.  Make an appointment to discuss your plans, and bring copies of transcripts with you.
If you are already admitted to CSU, your transfer credits will be entered into your file on the CSU X-Press system.  The first thing we will do in our meeting is a “What If Analysis” degree evaluation.  We will determine which requirements you still have to meet.
You can do this yourself, to get a general view of how your credits are applied.
Log on to CSU X-Press.  From ‘Student Services and Financial Aid’, click on “Degree Evaluation”.  Choose the ‘What-If Analysis’ option at the bottom of the page, and choose Liberal Studies in the drop down menu of programs.  (You could try out other majors as well).  Every requirement, from General Education, to constitution test, to science lab, is included in the analysis.
Remember that the Degree Evaluation program is only a guide.  Your advisor will suggest possible groups of courses that will help form a concentration, and courses which fit best into the core requirements or the General Education section.

Q. I want to get started.  What should I do?

Ans. Great.  Let’s start talking.  You should make an appointment to meet with the academic advisor well in advance of registration period.  Think about why you want this degree, and how your interests and skills can be best applied.  We will work together to choose the program to meet your needs.