University of Delaware
Office of Public Relations
The Messenger
Vol. 5, No. 1/1995
MALS Program attracts intellectual adventurers in midlife

     We're about recharging the intellectual battery," Raymond
Callahan, professor of history, says when asked why students
enroll in the UD's interdisciplinary Master of Arts in Liberal
Studies (MALS) Program.
     Callahan, who has taught at the University since 1967 and
received the Excellence-in-Teaching Award in 1990, helps to
handpick students in the program he has directed since its
inception in 1988.
     The MALS Program has 50 graduates and 120 currently enrolled
students. They hail from a number of backgrounds, including well-
established careers in journalism, law, medicine, research,
marketing and technology. Their median age is 47.
     What unites them, Callahan says, is intellectual
adventurousness and competitiveness. Many already hold advanced
degrees or have pursued studies at UD's Academy of Lifelong
Learning, an intellectual cooperative for persons of retirement
age. In addition, most are at a point in their lives when they
have the time and the money to do something just for themselves,
something that "isn't necessarily directly career-related," says
Callahan, "but might have useful career spinoffs."
     Some of the students say they feel they are making up for
lost time. They may have bypassed liberal studies courses as
undergraduates, focused their attention on tightly structured
majors or had no interest in the arts, philosophy or ethics when
they were 18.
     The MALS Program is offered statewide, and a third of its
students are in southern Delaware. According to William H.
Williams, program coordinator for MALS in Georgetown since 1989,
the students he sees "are attracted to the larger questions of
what it means to be human."
     MALS students are asked to complete two of five core
courses, including "Nature and Human Nature," "The American
Frontier in Fact and Fiction" and "Force, Conflict and Change."
     The six required electives can be drawn from the MALS
catalog or from other departments' graduate-level offerings.
There is an arrangement with the UD Museum Studies Program that
allows MALS students to work simultaneously toward a museum
studies certificate. Electives also can be Special Problems
courses that are individually directed study courses, tailored to
the student's specific interests.
     Spring 1996 MALS electives include "Interpreting the Past,"
"Ethics and International Relations," "Modernism in America" and
"The Scientist in Society."
     Students in the program also are expected to write a
traditional, six-credit master's thesis or to design a 50- to 80-
page "synthesis" project that, like the program, crosses
disciplinary boundaries. For instance, to gain his MALS degree in
1994, John Taylor Jr., editor of the editorial page of The News
Journal in Wilmington, Del., submitted Tilbury Tales, a
collection of stories about teaching in a working-class
neighborhood 30 years ago.
     In the admission process, Callahan and members of the
program's advisory committee are most interested in an
applicant's commitment to continual intellectual growth. They put
a great deal of emphasis on a prospective students' application
essay, which is a brief intellectual autobiography. Those who
seem good program prospects are then invited for an interview
with the committee, after which an admission decision is made.
     To receive more information, sample a seminar or discuss the
program, contact Callahan at (302) 831-6075 or write him at 207
McDowell Hall, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716. He also
can be reached by fax at (302) 831-4461 or via e-mail to
If you live in Sussex County, Del., contact Bill Williams at
(302) 855-1623 or write to him at the Higher Education Building,
Delaware Technical and Community College, Georgetown, DE 19947.
His e-mail address is
                      -Priscilla Goldsmith, Delaware '78, '85M