Master of
Liberal Studies
Practical knowledge. Critical insights.

Accelerate your professional and personal growth with the most customizable degree plan from Rice University.


Expand your knowledge base, pursue a new path or gain a deeper understanding of the world. The Master of Liberal Studies program combines a world-class Rice education with a flexible degree plan tailored to meet your needs. 




34 Graduate Credits



2-7 years for completion



12 : 1 student to faculty ratio



1-2 evening class/week



On campus & Virtual





The Master of Liberal Studies is founded on the principle that, in an increasingly complex and siloed world, a liberal arts education provides the interdisciplinary skills needed to thrive in our 21st century knowledge economy. By completing the program, you are gaining more than a graduate degree. You will:

  • Sharpen your critical thinking and analytical skills
  • Learn from world-class Rice University faculty
  • Enhance your understanding of interdisciplinary analysis and communication skills
  • Develop the research methods needed to foster analytical and strategic mindsets
  • Gain the opportunity to attain career advancement or prepare for further graduate study
  • Engage with peers who are equally committed and energetic about exploring and learning
  • Build your professional and personal network by joining our dedicated Alumni Community
  • Add Rice to your resume

Part-time or full-time study for increased flexibility. Whether you are pursuing a degree to enrich your life or adding skills to your resume, Master of Liberal Studies courses meet once per week and allows up to seven years for completion, letting you take one or two classes per semester.

New in 2020 - Full-time study option is now available. Complete your graduate degree in as little as 4 semesters.

A program tailored to fit your personal and professional goals. After completing three core courses in humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, students can customize the remainder of their degree plan to pursue their areas of interest. Each degree plan culminates in a capstone course that helps students integrate their custom path through research or creative work.

Rice’s world-class faculty aren’t just the best in their field, they define the field. 97 percent hold a doctorate or terminal degree in their field and each has access to approximately $125 million in externally funded research expenditures—meaning your Master of Liberal Studies experience will be guided by the best, brightest and most respected experts in your area of study.

Expand your network as you broaden your horizons. From physicians and c-suite professionals to recent college graduates and retirees, the Master of Liberal Studies program brings together a diverse group of students with a wide spectrum of experiences. The community you create here will connect you to new perspectives, bigger ideas and a better understanding of a world that reaches far beyond the hedges of Rice’s beautiful campus.

How do you assess the operational health of an organization? How do you know if you are using resources wisely?

  • Assessing vendors and partners to determine the value of contracts
  • Assessing and refining the role of volunteers within your organization
  • Using Managerial Accounting to determine the Return-on-Investment of programs, special events and initiatives

How do you plan for your organization’s future? What role will your board and your funders have in the planning and implementation process?

  • Creating the conditions for effective strategic planning
  • Incorporating risk analysis and contingencies
  • Preparing for your successor

Each nonprofit organization is different and so are their boards of directors. Throughout the program, you will develop and implement an individualized governance plan for your nonprofit organization. Components of the plan could include elements such as creating or updating board materials, establishing committees or creating a board fundraising strategy.

Throughout the program, you will receive customized coaching and feedback from the Leadership in Action instructors and the staff at the Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership. This includes one hour each of pre- and post-program coaching, which will be scheduled with the principal instructor.

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The Master of Liberal Studies at Rice University is an investment in the complex, interconnected skills needed to thrive in the modern world. More than just a set of credentials or letters behind your name, the program is a way to sharpen your critical thinking skills, develop in-depth research skills, and engage with a community of diverse yet like-minded peers.

You’re a perfect fit for the Master of Liberal Studies program if you are:

  • Wanting to broaden your experience in a new field
  • Preparing for further graduate study
  • Looking to advance in your career
  • Seeking new perspectives
  • On a quest for knowledge
The beautiful, tree-lined campus of Rice University is located in Houston, Texas - the fourth-largest city in the U.S. Rice is consistently ranked as one of America’s best teaching and research universities.