General Info

  • Faculty working with students: Faculty from throughout the University teach and supervise student work.
  • Students: 84
  • Students receiving Financial Aid: 60% from GLS merit awards, outside scholarships and grants, or employee tuition assistance.
  • Part time study available: Yes
  • Application terms: Spring, Fall
  • Application deadlines: Spring: November 1; Fall: February 15 priority deadline; June 3 final deadline
Application Info


Anne Whisnant
Director, Graduate Liberal Studies Program
Duke University
Box 90095
Durham, NC 27708-0095
Phone: 919) 684-3222



Program Description

The Graduate Liberal Studies (GLS) program is a flexible, self-designed master’s program grounded in the interdisciplinary liberal arts. With part- and full-time study available and courses offered fall, spring and summer, the program offers learners of all ages and backgrounds strong academic and professional development support and access to scholars and resources from across the university. The 30-unit program (9 courses and a master’s project) consists of interdisciplinary seminars developed specifically for this program, courses from other Graduate School departments, occasional study-abroad or study-away courses, and a final project that may take the form of academic research, applied research, or creative work. Students may also pursue graduate certificates in areas such as African and African-American Studies, International Development Policy, and Latin American Studies. The broad scope of the degree allows students to choose from a wide range of courses, creating a multidisciplinary experience that promotes intellectual development and is flexible enough to meet a variety of personal and professional educational goals. 


Application Information

Application Terms Available: Spring, Fall

Application Deadlines:
Spring: November 1

Fall: Priority deadline is February 15; final deadline is June 3. Applications received between February 16 and June 3 will be reviewed on a rolling basis. 

Graduate School Application Requirements
See the Application Instructions page for important details about each Graduate School requirement.

  • Transcripts: Unofficial transcripts required with application submission; official transcripts required upon admission
  • Letters of Recommendation: 2 Required (Academic references preferred and required for all applicants whose undergraduate work was completed within the last five years)
  • Statement of Purpose: Required (See department guidance below)
  • Résumé: Required
  • GRE Scores: Not required
  • English Language Exam: TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English Test required* for applicants whose first language is not English
    *test waiver may apply for some applicants
  • GPA: Minimum 3.2. Undergraduate GPA calculated on 4.0 scale required
  • Writing Sample (see department guidance below)

Statement of Purpose Guidelines
In a personal essay of approximately 750-1000 words, address the following:

  • The path that has brought you to apply to Graduate Liberal Studies
  • Special interests and plans
  • How Duke's Graduate Liberal Studies program, in particular, would be a good fit to help you meet your intellectual, educational and/or professional goals

This essay offers an opportunity to reflect on your personal intellectual history in such a way as to demonstrate your seriousness of purpose and commitment to the goals of this particular program.  We use the statement of purpose to assess your writing ability and educational objectives, and to determine whether your objectives can be achieved within Duke Graduate Liberal Studies.

Writing Sample
For this component of the application, please submit ONE of the following:

  1. A newly-written short essay (at least 750 but not more than 2500 words) describing a time when you were excited about something you learned. The essay could focus on something you read, a film you watched, a presentation you heard, a historic site or museum you visited, a manual skill you learned, a class or travel experience you had, or some other learning experience. Please describe the experience, discuss what you learned, and explain why this learning excited you or how it helped you either personally or professionally.  
  2. A RECENT (last 5 years) writing sample of your own of which you are proud. The submitted sample should be at least 750 words, but not more than 2500 words. It could be a short academic essay or something written for a professional or popular audience. For example, you might send a blog post, artist’s statement, lesson plan, exhibition script, brochure, strategic plan, or grant proposal. Please include a cover page that explains briefly the context for the writing sample (that is, its date and the original purpose for which it was produced). The sample should stand well on its own.

We strongly encourage you to review additional department-specific application guidance from the program to which you are applying: Departmental Application Guidance