Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Concentration in Gerontology
Class Program Description
The Liberal Studies degree was first offered in the United States in the 1950's to meet a variety of educational needs. The Master of Arts in Liberal Studies was established in 1963 at VU, making it one of the oldest such program in the US and marking the beginning of a commitment to graduate education at the University.

MALS degrees appeal to people with broad interests in the humanities and social sciences. These programs provide an opportunity for advanced study tailored to meet individual interests and needs. They are ideal for those:
  • wanting evidence of advanced study for career preparation but who do not need a specific professional degree.
  • wanting to enhance their professional background with formal study in a cognate or related area.
  • with technical degrees wishing to expand their knowledge of the liberal arts.
  • educators desiring to strengthen their knowledge of a subject area.
  • who enjoy the excitement of learning with other scholars.

The 36-credit MALS programs—which can typically be completed through a combination of evening and day study—are made up of core requirements, an area of concentration, and electives.

The Core Curriculum
Core requirements consist of four interdisciplinary seminars drawn from five areas. The specific topics change regularly, but all share the common thread of viewing the human experience through both classical and contemporary perspectives. Each seminar involves significant reading, writing, and reflection.

Gerontology Concentration
While the core seminars challenge students to think beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries, the concentration encourages them to apply this conceptual and methodological breadth to the specific field of Gerontology. Courses within this concentration spans several disciplines, and students have some flexibility in constructing their studies. For example, students in Gerontology will choose from traditional courses in counseling, sociology, liberal studies, and theology.

A Capstone Experience
Many MALS students culminate their studies with a capstone experience—a research project, a creative or artistic work, a service-learning endeavor, or even a travel/study experience. MALS students may earn credit for travel/study by taking advantage of 4-6 week stints of study, on a space-available basis, at one of VU’s overseas centers in Cambridge, England; Reutlingen, Germany; Puebla, Mexico; or Hangzhou, China.


Core Course Requirements
12 credits
LS 620 Organizational Leadership & Team Development
3 cr
LS 650 LS 650 Issues at the End of Life
3 cr
Select two from the following:
LS 610 Seminar in Humanities
3 cr
LS 630 Seminar in Science
3 cr
LS 640 Seminar in Fine Arts
3 cr
Concentration Requirements
18 credits
NUR 551 The Aging Process
3 cr
LS 690 Elder Law and Policy
3 cr
Graduate Research Methods course from Psychology, Nursing, or Education
3 cr
LS 685 or LS 692 Practicum or Research
3 cr
Select two from the following:
COUN 532 Adulthood and Aging
3 cr
COUN 691 Topics: Psychosocial Interventions for the Aging
3 cr
LS 690 Approved Topics in Aging
3 cr
SOC 527 Aging in American Society
3 cr
THEO 559
Theology of Aging
3 cr
6 credits
Any approved course from the Business, Counseling, MALS, Nursing, or Law programs.

What Can You Expect?
Graduate study at VU requires motivation, dedication, and reflection. Master teachers ensure that courses are challenging yet rewarding. Class sizes are small, and both peer and faculty interactions contribute a critical component to the learning experience. MALS students become acquainted through the core seminars and they become acquainted with faculty in their discipline through coursework in their concentration. Periodically, the Graduate School assembles MALS students for informal events.

Criteria for Admission
Applicants must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate School, which include:

  • Undergraduate degree from an accredited University;
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score of at least 550 (paper version), 230 (computer-based), or Internet Based Test (TOEFL iBT) score of at least 80; minimum IELTS (International English Language Testing System) score of 6; CET score of 6, or an INTERLINK Language Center Level 5, or the equivalent for non-native English speakers;
  • An overall grade point average of at least a 3.00.

As part of the application process, students must provide:

  • Valparaiso University Graduate Application;
  • Official transcripts of all prior undergraduate and graduate coursework.  If you have received an undergraduate or graduate degree from Valparaiso University, you are not required to submit an official transcript from Valparaiso University;
  • Two letters of reference;
  • A reflective essay detailing your reasons for pursuing graduate study;
  • Application Fee: $30 for U.S. citizens, $50 for International Students.

The MALS program features a continuous admission process, so application materials may be submitted at any time. Once received, the admission decision normally takes 2-3 weeks.

Financial Considerations
Students may be surprised to discover the affordable tuition rate at Valparaiso University. Tuition for the 2011-2012 academic year is $560 per credit hour, highly competitive for a private institution of recognized national quality. Full-time graduate students pay a $183 general fee each fall and spring semester. Part-time graduate students pay a $100 general fee each fall and spring semester. Financial aid is available through direct and indirect student loans for students taking 6 credits or more during fall and spring semesters. Because most course offerings are scheduled for the evening, many students hold part- or full-time employment during their study.

For more information about the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Gerontology program
Interested students should request an information packet from the Office of the Graduate School through our website or by e-mailing

Click here to apply online!