Liberal Studies

Academic Year: 2009 – 2010


The structure of the B.A. in Liberal Studies emphasizes the integration of key learning categories with a variety of instructional methods to form a well-rounded and individualized academic experience. Through customized learning activities, the degree assists students in enhancing critical thinking and problem-solving skills, living as engaged and responsible citizens, considering ethics and consequences of actions, and being familiar with a broad and integrated core of knowledge.

Through careful self-assessment and goal-setting, Liberal Studies students design individual degree plans in consultation with their advisor/instructor in LIS 301 Self-Directed Learning. Students identify learning needs and strategies for meeting those needs through independent study, service learning, and credit for prior learning assessment, and non-credit activities as well as coursework selected from throughout the university. In order to plan a balanced degree, students choose electives that address the following eight broad subject categories: identity, work, nature, institutions, language, heritage, art, and tools.

On completion of LIS 301, degree plans are approved by the department, although it is expected that the degree plan will change as new courses or ideas emerge for the student. Revisions are approved by the advisor.

Although degree plans must be broad enough to meet the interdisciplinary goals of the degree, students may choose a thematic focus for their degrees, such as international studies or human resource development. In addition, students may have a minor such as Philosophy, Women and Gender Studies, or African-American Studies. Online students should be aware that not all of the areas available to students taking classes on campus are available online.

Students can complete the curriculum in the classroom, entirely online via the Internet, or in combination. Learners have a good chance for success in the Liberal Studies degree if they are self-directed, able to plan ahead and meet deadlines, disciplined enough to organize individualized programs of study, and able to work independently to set and meet goals. In addition, students who choose to participate in Liberal Studies Online should be comfortable using networked information technologies, navigating the Internet, using e-mail, and learning from a distance.

Admission Requirements

On-Campus Students
The Liberal Studies degree formally begins with LIS 301 Self-directed Learning, which should be taken during the first semester of a student’s junior year. Prior to this, students should work with their advisors to ensure that they have completed the required general education curriculum and the prerequisites necessary to enter their junior year. Campus-based students who begin their degrees at UIS must complete the general education curriculum before receiving permission to enter LIS 301. To receive this permission, campus-based students must submit a written request to the department office. Contact the program office or visit the LIS website for details.

Online Students
Entrance to the online program is selective and the number of students admitted each semester is limited. Applicants must have completed two semesters of college-level composition courses to be considered for admission. Questions about availability should be directed to the program coordinator.

Before an admission decision can be made, a prospective student must complete the application process:

* Submit the UIS admissions application, including signature sheet and application fee;
* Send transcripts from all past colleges or universities;
* Submit a written statement (described below).

The statement plays a major role in admission to the online degree. It should be approximately two pages and should reflect junior-level college writing skills.

The statement should include:

* A clear, concise statement of academic and/or professional goals;
* Why a non-traditional, interdisciplinary program is the pathway to these goals;
* A discussion of things that the applicant has been taught outside of an academic environment;
* A discussion of online and/or technical skills;
* A discussion of the skills and/or resources that the applicant possesses that will help them to succeed as an online student, as well as the challenges that may interfere with their success: time management, access to a computer and the Internet, or other factors.

Major Requirements

Required (6 Hrs.)
LIS 301 Self-Directed Learning 4 Hrs.
LIS 451 Senior Seminar 2 Hrs.

LIS electives (4 Hrs.)
*LIS 380 Exploration of Learning Resources 1-8 Hrs.
LIS 342 Conducting Liberal Studies Research 2 Hrs.
*LIS 499 Independent Study: Tutorial 1-8 Hrs.
*LIS 471 Honors Thesis 2 Hrs.
LIS 360/460 Special Topics in Liberal Studies 4 Hrs.
BUS 303 Current Issues in Business: A Liberal Studies Perspective 3 Hrs.
COM 458 Media from a Liberal Arts Perspective 4 Hrs.
COM 480 Advanced Topics in Communication 1-4 Hrs.
ENG 379 Writing in the Social and Behavioral Sciences 4 Hrs.
ENG 474 Professional and Technical Writing 4 Hrs.
PHI 301 Critical Thinking 4 Hrs.
PHI 452 Perspectives on Human Nature 4 Hrs.
PSY 302 Research Methods in Psychology 4 Hrs.
SOA 302 Understanding Other Cultures 4 Hrs.
UNI 460 ECCE: Global Experience Seminar 4-12 Hrs.
UNI 470 Global Experience Exchange 4-18 Hrs.
UNI 480 Global Experience Program 4-18 Hrs.
UNI 401 Library Research Methods 3 Hrs.

* There are no classroom meetings for these courses. Students sign independent study contracts with faculty sponsors.

In order to plan a balanced degree program (at least two courses in each area are recommended), students choose electives that address the following eight broad subject categories, also referred to as subject area courses:

* Identity, the search for meaning
* Work, the value of vocation
* Nature, ecology of the planet
* Institutions, the social web
* Language, the crucial connection
* Heritage, the living past
* Art, the esthetic dimension
* Tools, those skills and abilities critical to completing a customized learning program, as well as navigating life, career, etc.

Students should consult with advisors in the major for specific guidance regarding completion of general education requirements.

Communication Skills
All competencies necessary to attain the student’s goals, including communication skills, are addressed in the degree plan. Assessment of written communication skills occurs when the student conducts a self-assessment in preparing the plan and the LIS 301 instructor assesses his/her written communication skills as documented by the plan. The student plans appropriate learning experiences to acquire any needed skills in consultation with the LIS 301 instructor. These learning experiences are included as part of the degree plan. Completion of the degree plan constitutes certification of communication skills as required by UIS.

Grading Policy
The following courses are offered only on a CR/NC basis: LIS 301, LIS 380, LIS 451, and LIS 499.


Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies


Mary Addison-Lamb, Eric Hadley-Ives, Karen Kirkendall, William Kline, Rosina Neginsky, Annette Van Dyke
Associated Faculty: Peter Boltuc
Emerita Faculty: Jan Droegkamp


Phone: 217/206-6962