Ashoka University’s MA programme in Liberal Studies is a 32-credit, one-year programme offered to students who have graduated with a diploma in Liberal Studies from the Young India Fellowship, and have been accepted by an Ashoka University faculty mentor to work on a specific research project as a graduate assistant. This programme’s interdisciplinary module contains coursework from a variety of disciplines, including Humanities, Social Sciences, Behavioural Sciences, and Natural Sciences. The University aims to train students to think critically about their disciplines of interest while deriving insights from other disciplines. The MA programme in Liberal Studies also helps students to prepare for their graduate applications.
Prospective students have the unique opportunity of designing their own curriculum, in consultation with their supervisor, and often choose to work on projects across two or more disciplines. The programme’s sole focus is on nurturing curiosity for intellectual challenges and building skills for research. Additionally, students are required to work on a research-intensive capstone project, which is expected to culminate in a traditional Master’s’ thesis or a creative project like a novel or a film.
Admissions for the Master’s in Liberal Arts programme is currently restricted to graduates of the Young India Fellowship. This is a degree programme taken by students who have graduated with a diploma in Liberal Studies from the Young India Fellowship, and have been accepted by an Ashoka University faculty to work on a specific research project as a graduate assistant.
Since 2015, MLS students have worked on a vast array of disciplines, covering human-computer interaction, cognitive Psychology, Literary Theory, Macroeconomics, Anthropology, Gender Studies, Politics and Sociology and Philosophy.
Their research topics have included: The politics of Zilla Parishads in Western Uttar Pradesh, Understanding Human Memory and Aging using Email Archives, The Amplification of Group Emotions, The psychological impact of communal violence, Religious Conversions and Law in India, The development of female wrestling in Haryana, A History of the 1946 Bombay Navy mutiny, The foreign policy thoughts of prominent Hindu nationalists, an Ethnography of a Kashmiri political party, an Ethnography of the student movement in Ramjas College, a Content analysis of Parliamentary questions, among others.
Five former MLS students are currently pursuing their PhD in Psychology (University of Austin, Washington University, Saint-Louis and University of Maryland), in Political Science (UC Santa Barbara), in Social anthropology (University of Edinburgh).
Other graduates of the MLS have gone to the Netherlands for further Studies, are teaching law in India, or work as teaching fellows and research assistants at Ashoka University and IIIT-Delhi. Others have started their own ventures or have joined the private sector.
Why Liberal Studies?
The courses that I studied with the English Department at Ashoka University contributed immensely to my understanding of the various debates in English Literature and Criticism. The lectures were exciting and the professors were compassionate. My experience with Prof. Kothari’s course, Translation Theories and Multilingual Contexts, was one of the most memorable learning experiences of my life! Not only were there great courses on offer at the department, there was also an exceptional support system for students writing their dissertations.
The English Department at Ashoka approaches the study of literature as a collaborative activity. This spirit of collaboration carries forward into the professional lives of every student who has spent time at the department. All in all, the English Department at Ashoka catered to every need that a budding scholar of literature might have.
Why Liberal Studies?
I’ve had the good fortune of being associated with the Philosophy Department at Ashoka University as a student as well as a teacher and my experience on both sides has been only exceptional. As a student I had the opportunity to study under what is undoubtedly the best faculty in Philosophy in the country and their consistent, unfailing support at each step. As a TA (for Metaphysics) and aTeaching Fellow (for Environmental Ethics, Indian Civilisations, Mind and Behaviour, Existentialism, Philosophy of Love, also for Morality and the Good Life (YIF) and Love and Friendship (YIF)), I had the complete guidance of all my professors, and a wonderfully curious and excited bunch of students. The department is extremely active—there are always events to attend or classes to sit in on.
In September 2021, I will be heading to Simon Fraser University to pursue a fully funded two-year Masters in Philosophy, especially designed for those wanting to move into doctoral studies in philosophy. The MLS and the teaching opportunities thereafter have been monumental in allowing me to make this shift from my undergraduate discipline – i.e., History – to Philosophy at the graduate level, and have helped me secure admission into a fantastic programme such as the one at SFU. I could not possibly have asked for a more stimulating and supportive environment to nurture my academic interests.