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Design Your Own Master’s Degree

Posted Nov. 7, 2011

Kent State University has a solution for those who have a desire to continue higher education toward a master’s degree, but who are not quite sure what area to pursue.

The Master of Liberal Studies degree gives Kent State employees the opportunity to obtain a master’s in a nontraditional way.

“For someone who thinks outside the box, the liberal studies program is useful in gaining tacit skills that are not directly taught,” says
Josh Dayton, master’s student in the program. “It is genuinely a degree for the 21st century. If you have a goal, and are willing to work hard, the social and professional power you can wield with this program is tremendous.”

The only required course is Introduction to Liberal Studies, a 2-credit course that is now offered online and so cannot interfere with work or other time commitments. Participants choose the rest of their courses from any of the colleges and schools in the university, up to four different departments, and design their own degree.

Richard M. Berrong, the program director, says “The program offers those who have been in the workforce for some time and, therefore, have a good idea of what particular studies they need for their professional and personal advancement, a unique opportunity to bring those different studies together under one advanced degree.”

Benefits-eligible employees have the opportunity to earn this degree completely free of charge. Full-time employees and their dependents are eligible to take up to 18 hours of classes per semester free, while part-time employees can take up to four hours per semester free. Dependents of part-time employees are not eligible for a tuition waver. 

“Because courses can be taken online, as well as in the classroom, the program offers benefits-eligible employees and their dependents a highly flexible way of reaching their goal,” Berrong says.

Applicants work out a list of tentative courses with the director as part of the application process. After being accepted, participants pick one or more courses in consultation with Berrong, to keep them on track for completion.

For more information about the liberal studies program, visit or contact Berrong at