Completing the Degree

Students have six years from the start of the program to complete the degree. For example, the 2009 cohort group has until summer of 2015 to finish. For the degree, each student is required to complete the six seminar courses plus one of the following:

  • write and successfully defend two extended essays developed from seminar papers
  • produce and successfully defend one project developed from work done in seminars (the project may make significant use of non-written media)
  • complete two additional seminars, the first chosen from among the Liberal Studies seminars regularly offered, and the second being the Graduating Seminar (LS 898)

All three options result in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) degree. The total tuition cost is the same because the MA Project and Extended Essays are considered full-time courses and fees are levied accordingly.


After completing the two core courses, students have the option each semester to take elective courses toward the degree requirements. The GLS elective courses are offered under thematic rubrics, such as LS 812: Science and Human Values. However, the specific course content will vary significantly in accordance with the interest and expertise of the faculty teaching them. We encourage students to take courses from several different thematic areas in order to benefit from the interdisciplinary curriculum. Normally, a student will complete six seminars (including the two core courses) at the rate of two per year.

By permission a student may take up to two seminars or graduate courses in another department, or may do an individual study course (LS 829, Directed Study) on a topic of special interest.

Additionally, students may take courses at another university with permission from the department. An application form requesting permission to take courses must be filled out. Students then apply to the other institution as a visiting student and request that the course credits be transferred to SFU. Those students wishing to take courses in Western Canada may apply to take a course under the Western Dean’s Agreement. Tuition is paid to the home institution. In any case, students interested in setting up one of these arrangements should contact GLS staff.

GLS is fortunate to have faculty members offering Travel Study courses to countries such as Scotland, Italy and France. These courses take place in the summer and are organized one semester in advance. Information about these courses is emailed to all current students when the plans are being set up. We also have partnerships with Duke University, Maastricht University, and the University of San Diego who occasionally offer courses to our students.