UNC Asheville's MLA Program offers small,
UNC Asheville's Master of Liberal Arts Program
is not your typical graduate degree course of study, but it is a
unique fit for the intelligent and eclectic residents of the region.
The program is an interdisciplinary, part-time course of study for
college graduates who are interested in a broad-based learning at
the master's degree level.
"All our classes are offered in the evenings, allowing working
professionals the opportunity to grow intellectually," said Program
Director Bill Spellman. "The MLA may be useful in advancing a career
or it may simply allow students to enjoying learning for the sake of
Courses and topics are tailored to current issues, including
examinations of the nuclear dilemma, climate and culture, human
rights and international politics, feminist theory, southern writers
Graduates say they appreciate the comprehensive approach the program
Kate Gunthorpe completed her undergraduate studies in mass
communication at UNC Asheville and went immediately into the MLA
Program. "The MLA Program was the best choice for me. I had a great
undergraduate degree and felt qualified to join the workforce, but I
wanted to learn more," Gunthorpe said. "The program let me broaden
my horizons. I took a broad range of classes, from philosophy to
contemporary social issues, which have helped me be better able to
relate to a wide range of people on a wide range of topics."
She says that skill has helped her land a job working on a local
Those skills and the desire to move out of one's intellectual
comfort zone is a primary goal of the program, said Spellman.
"Students in the MLA Program, whatever their occupation, share an
intense love of learning, an active curiosity, and a desire for
continued intellectual growth and challenge."
Students in the program can structure their course work around three
primary areas: humanities and creative writing, globalization past
and present, and science and human values. Courses are led by a
number of highly qualified faculty. Several of the writing courses
are taught noted writer Tommy Hays, who is the author of three
acclaimed novels and the winner of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial
"As a creative writing teacher, I find that MLA students bring
wonderfully varied life experiences to the classroom and to their
writing. Many have been out in the world raising families, making a
living, pursuing careers," said Hays. "Now they return to the
classroom with a much deeper appreciation for academic and creative
engagement. Not only do they see the connection between life and
learning, but even more important, they feel it."
The outstanding faculty was one of the things that drew MLA graduate
Sharon Jewell to the program.
"I found that the instructors were extremely knowledgeable and open
to discussion. In fact, I made friendships with some of the
professors that have continued to this day," she said.
Jewell joined the program as an older student who wanted to pursue
research in religious practice in America. "I was caught between
elder care of my parents and raising my teenage children, so the
program was an intellectual outlet for me and something to keep me
involved in learning. It was marvelous."
The program, now celebrating its 20th year, has graduated some 100
students. Currently 38 students are enrolled, keeping classes each
semester intentionally small. New students are being accepted for
the spring semester and informational open houses are planned for
those who are interested.
The MLA Program will hold two open house sessions on Saturday, Oct.
25. The first will be held at 10 a.m. in UNC Asheville's Karpen
Hall, located on the University's main Quad. The second will be held
at 2 p.m. at the Kellogg Center, 11 Broyles Rd., Hendersonville.
Both are free and open to the public.
For more information or driving directions, call 828/350-4590 or
click on www.unca.edu/mla.