Students in this major have the opportunity to experience a broad course of study in the traditional liberal arts and sciences which fosters skills such as conceptual analysis, critical thinking, disciplined writing, creative problem-solving, ethical and moral reasoning, and strong leadership. Liberal Studies is a great major for students who want to be able to take high-level courses across multiple departments, or who have a specific career in mind that’s not exactly addressed by our current offerings.

Many students choose Liberal Studies because of its flexibility, including the opportunity to take up to 11 elective courses within the 32 courses required for all Bachelor’s degrees at FSU. Liberal Studies students set their sights on a wide range of careers, including education, health careers, or specialized professions such as interior design or even zookeeping. Students who have already gained experience in their chosen field may seek Prior Learning Assessment to earn elective academic credit toward their degree by submitting a portfolio.

Our Programs

Our Programs

Program Coordinators

Kelly Matthews

Kelly Matthews, Ph.D.

Liberal Studies Advisor and Coordinator and Associate Professor, English Department

Gregory Halfond

Professor, History Department and Faculty Director of the Commonwealth Honors Program
303 May Hall and Honors Program House 202

Learning Outcomes

The Liberal Studies program allows students to design a unique interdisciplinary program of study in the traditional arts and sciences, not available within the existing curricular structure of FSU. This major links common intellectual ground across academic disciplines and fosters critical thinking, disciplined and ethical research and writing, and communication skills. Although flexible, this program requires students to complete five 300-level courses in which they will identify and apply the approaches, skills, and methodologies of at least two, but no more than three, academic disciplines. Students in the Liberal Studies degree program may choose to apply for Prior Learning Assessment credit, which may be granted for substantive learning that has occurred outside the classroom.


Students will:

  • Write substantive, source-based, thesis-driven papers, using lucid prose, which demonstrate critical and creative thinking based on relevant evidence and analytical reasoning
  • Appropriately and effectively employ the research methods, terminology, and citation style of their field of research
  • Locate bibliographic resources including electronic databases and/or other emerging technologies as appropriate to the respective interdisciplinary program
  • Analyze the significance of the evidence as appropriate to the audience and purpose

Prior Learning Assessment Portfolio

Students considering preparation of a Prior Learning Assessment Portfolio should first consult with their appropriate Liberal Studies advisor to discuss their plans.

Each student will be required to begin his or her Portfolio with an essay of approximately 750-1,000 words giving examples of subjects and skills learned as a result of the experiences documented.

Students should address these two key questions:
• What knowledge did you gain through this experience?
• What skills did you learn that you did not possess prior to this experience? Alternatively, what skills did you develop over the course of this experience?

As much as possible, students should use the current FSU course catalog to link their prior learning experiences to material covered in specific academic courses. For example, a self-taught artist might possess the skills learned in ARTS 200, Drawing Fundamentals. A business owner might well have learned by experience much of the material covered in MGMT 215, Legal Environment of Business.

Full guidelines for the Prior Learning Assessment portfolio are available here.

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