Individualized Master of Arts
Transformative Study for a Changing World
The Individualized Master of Arts is for students interested in pursuing a question, project, or career that is interdisciplinary and personally compelling. The holistic approach of the degree means that professional goals — whether for eventual doctoral study, a particular career path, a tangible product (like a publication or business plan), or particular skills — can be fully integrated into the degree plan.
Students embark upon an individualized learning journey in which they design study plans that analyze, synthesize, and interrogate knowledge and practices related to their specific projects.
Part of the Goddard Graduate Institute, the Individualized Master of Arts is a four-semester (48 credit) interdisciplinary liberal studies degree integrating personal vision and voice with radical thinking and engaged practice.
The mission of the program is to foster the development of knowledge, practices, and modes of inquiry that represent a genuine attempt to offer new perspectives, in a world affected by huge transformative forces.
A Word on Mastery
What is mastery? Students in the Individualized MA Program become living embodiments of this question.
We don’t offer a packaged curriculum where someone else has decided what constitutes knowledge, has organized that knowledge, weeded out what (and who) they deem unimportant, and emphasized what reinforces their worldview. Our students participate in shaping knowledge; they enter the collective conversation and move it in new directions.
Mastery begins with the process of constructing an interdisciplinary body of knowledge. This approach values:
- Self-Awareness and Personal Development
- Open-Mindedness and Critical Thinking
- Awareness of Context
- Rigorous and Imaginative Methodology and Creative Processes
- Participatory, Collaborative, and Experiential Processes
- Ethical, Relevant and Effective Practices
The faculty in the Goddard Graduate Institute have longstanding presence in the college and bring to their work a host of professional skills and disciplinary areas. Fields of expertise include consciousness studies, expressive arts therapy, ecopsychology, cultural studies, gender studies, poetry, literature, psychology, natural history, organizational and community development, neuroscience, medical anthropology, religious studies, theater, and Ayurvedic medicine, among other areas.
Much of the work and interests of the faculty is in keeping with the college’s activist and social justice mission. The faculty also have a range of international experience in terms of work, research, and their own lived experiences.
Accelerated Degree Option
Goddard College offers a 36-credit, accelerated study option to students who are interested in deepening their studies in a current practice and who have already conducted much of the exploratory work of a first semester student. Students should have a clear sense of where they would like to focus their studies and a developed idea of the final product they would like to complete.
We encourage you to review the 36-Credit Accelerated Study Option page as you prepare your application.
Goddard offers students the ability to chart their own paths and develop, or further develop, the habits and skills of life-long learning.
All applicants to graduate degree programs must supply evidence of having earned an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher education.
An application may be questioned or rejected because of:
- Curricular Limits: The proposed study appears to require expertise not available at Goddard.
- Critical Inquiry: The proposed study appears to consist in research or other activities designed to proselytize for a theory or point of view important to the applicant, rather than a scholarly study of that and other theories or points of view.
- Readiness: The student has not earned a baccalaureate degree or its international equivalent or application materials otherwise indicate the student is not ready for a graduate-level, writing-intensive independent program of study.
NEW! Impact Project grants are available to new students of color who are working on social innovation and sustainability projects that will benefit their communities. Learn more here.
Students in the MA in Social Innovation and Sustainability Program attend residencies in Plainfield, Vermont, on Goddard’s historic main campus, located just outside Montpelier, the state capital. It’s a former farm with a manor garden, surrounding forests, and period architecture.
At the start of the semester, students attend an intensive eight-day residency in Vermont, followed by 16 weeks of independent work and self-reflection in close collaboration with a faculty advisor and course mentor. Goddard pioneered this format nearly a half century ago to meet the needs of adult students with professional, family, and other obligations seeking learning experiences grounded in the real-world.
Residencies are a time to explore, network, learn, witness, and share with peers, staff, and faculty. Students work with advisors and peers in close-knit advising groups to forge individualized study plans that describe their learning objectives for the semester.
Working closely with their faculty advisors, and supported by fellow learners, students identify areas of study, personal goals, relevant resources, and avenues to achieve these goals. Students also attend and are invited to help organize workshops, keynote addresses, celebrations and other events intended to stimulate, inspire, and challenge.
This low-residency model combines the breadth of a collaborative community with the focus of personalized learning, enhanced by insightful exchanges with a faculty advisor and course mentors.
All students graduating with an Individualized MA degree, regardless of concentration, will have undertaken an interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary area of study and successfully accomplished the following:
- Identified and mastered the confluence of traditions and disciplines central to their specific study;
- Placed their learning in an appropriate historical, cultural, and personal context;
- Explored and reflected upon their values, biases, and social, cultural, spiritual, and ideological roots as they pertain to the area of study;
- Engaged with the world in a way that deepens their understanding of their area of study, through a personal, social, spiritual, or other practice appropriate to the individual;
- Completed a final product that demonstrates their mastery of the traditions and disciplines pertinent to their study, and creatively integrates and demonstrates their learning, personal growth, and engaged practice.