Turning the Joy of Writing into a College Degree

Do you have a passion for telling a story? Have you ever thought, “I should just write a book”? Now you can earn a master’s degree and write a book at the same time!

Excelsior College’s offers a fully online Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) with a Creative Thesis option. Students in this program, create a fictional work accompanied by a research component, complete with an experienced writer as a mentor. Dr. Tracy M. Caldwell, interim associate dean, School of Liberal Arts and Program Director Master of Arts in Liberal Studies at Excelsior College explains.

Excelsior Life: So how does the MALS degree with Creative Thesis option work? Caldwell: Students can meet creative writing goals such as writing a novella, collection of short stories, screenplay or young adult book while earning a master’s degree with a personally meaningful topic.

Students work with distinguished faculty readers throughout the program.

Excelsior Life: Why would someone choose this degree instead of a Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)?

Dr. Tracy CaldwellCaldwell: An M.F.A. in writing is a degree with classes focused on writing style, genre, history, technique and publishing. It’s often designed for those hoping to be professional writers or professors. It’s a perfectly valid degree… but it’s not for everyone.

The MALS degree allows you to pursue a love of writing, and provides grounding in many of the classic works of history, literature, and cultural studies while pursuing your passion.

Excelsior Life: For someone considering MALS are there other benefits to consider?

Caldwell: You learn how research can help to create a strong, robust narrative by writing a reflective research component to your creative project. In the research portion you explore your topic from an academic perspective. Combining research throughout your classes and with a creative piece helps prepare you for a future of writing, whether it be letters, articles or other projects. Your research into social, cultural, historical aspects of your topic will lead to a richer and deeper exploration of your subject matter. Careers in today’s information age require strong research and writing skills– skills you will acquire as you pursue your MALS degree.

Excelsior Life: How does The MALS program work?

Caldwell: As a fully online graduate degree program, MALS classes are offered in six 8-week terms per year. You can take as many as two classes per term; you can also take breaks. Excelsior’s MALS program also has a generous transfer credit policy. You can transfer in up to 15 of the total 33 credits of the program.

Additional information:

Join the Live Chat with Dr. Tracy Caldwell as she fields questions on the creative process, integrating research, and earning a master’s degree at 7 p.m. on Thursday, August 21.

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