Why liberal studies?

Growth & educational enrichment

Simon Fraser University (SFU)’s Graduate Liberal Studies program develops personal growth, educational enrichment and the acquirement of specific skill sets that can be applied in real world situations.

Pictured: GLS alumnus

There are many reasons for pursuing a degree in liberal studies. For some, it may be to fulfill elements missing from their previous education. Often, this is expressed in terms of not having read certain classic texts or having read them too superficially or instrumentally, or having missed whole areas of knowledge that now seem central to understanding personal, political, cultural or public policy issues.

For others, it may be to satisfy a yearning to be part of a “community of learning,” to read books with others, to debate seriously with others, and to do so within an externally validated structure.

Alternatively, it may be the freedom to pursue a masters of arts in a flexible part-time setting without being constrained to a specialised academic track. Or it may be to hone and sharpen certain skill sets that are needed more than ever in real world application.

Specific skills developed in liberal studies

Critical and creative thinking

Students will add to their critical thinking skills by critically analyzing both primary and secondary source texts, exploring evidence, arguments and opposing interpretations and by challenging assumptions. The interdisciplinary focus of the program encourages creative, non-linear thinking.  

Communication skills

Students will improve communication skills by participating in discussion-focused seminars, preparing and delivering oral presentations and by leading seminar discussions. They will improve their abilities to pose meaningful questions that advance understanding and knowledge, their ability to cooperate with others and work in diverse teams.

Personal development

The respectful, discussion-based format of the GLS seminar-style classes encourage the development of self-confidence and self-understanding in our student body. Our diverse course offerings allow students to pursue an academic path suited to better understanding themselves and their place in their world.

Research and analytical Skills

Students will gain and/or enhance research skills, such as defining a research question, conducting library and web research and sharing research with fellow students.

Project management

Students are challenged to define and meet goals, manage time, and complete their projects successfully.

Advanced writing skills

Students will be given opportunities to express themselves in a variety of forms including written essays, reflective journals, creative writing, visual arts, and a graduating project.

Course outlines

Explore the GLS curriculum by viewing current and past course outlines.

View current & past course outlines


A master of arts degree is sought after by many employers, and an MA in liberal studies can increase these opportunities by demonstrating the applicant's ability to learn and synergise information gleaned in multiple disciplines and sources. 

For students who are looking to gain an edge in their career after the completion of the Graduate Liberal Studies (GLS) master's program, our seminars, dinners and socials, and cohort environment provide ample opportunity to network with fellow GLS students. 

Our students and alumni include those from a diverse range of career backgrounds, including, but not limited to:

  • Executive level leadership
  • Business and finance
  • Law
  • Communications and marketing
  • Fine arts and theatre
  • Teaching and education
  • Art and design
  • Journalism

Academic opportunities

Many of our graduates choose to continue along an academic path in pursuit of a PhD. 

A master of arts in liberal studies positions these students with the intellectual and technical skill sets necessary to engage in further research at a doctoral level, either within the GLS home through the special arrangements department, or elsewhere.  

Travel Study

GLS students have many opportunities to participate in full-credit field school courses organized by Simon Fraser University (SFU) or by other universities with GLS programs.

Learn more about travel study

It's time for a rethink. Learn from the masters.

Are you ready to further your studies at a graduate level? Learn more about the Graduate Liberal Studies (GLS) master's program and curriculum.

GLS Master of Arts program

Got a question?

Contact the GLS office at