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The Master
                          of Arts in Liberal Arts and Sciences (MALAS!)
                          at San Diego State University

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MALAS is the Master of Arts in Liberal Arts & Sciences, an interdisciplinary / cultural studies graduate program in the  College of Arts and Letters @ San Diego State University • office mothership: Arts and Letters, 226B • phone: (619) 594.1516 • fax: (619) 594.4998 • mail: 5500 Campanile Drive, mailcode: 6020, San Diego, CA 92182-6020 • Director and Graduate Advisor: Dr. William A. Nericcio  • Administrative Coordinator/Guru: Katie Waltman

Spring 2022 List of MALAS Graduate Classes!

People stop us all the time and ask us,
"What is MALAS?"...

Here's the scoop! The Master of Arts in Liberal Arts and Sciences (MALAS) is an always-evolving, interdisciplinary cultural studies graduate MA program based in the College of Arts and Letters at San Diego State University. Interdisciplinary Studies and Cultural Studies mean different things to different people. Like most Interdisciplinary Studies academic programs, MALAS graduate students pursue coursework that combines two or more traditional fields from the university; for example, consider the case of a recent MALAS graduate who devised a program of study focused on biology, but with parallel coursework in 20th century history. Or, take another case: a graduate student whose work studied contemporary social rebellions (the Occupy movement; Burning Man), but who was also keen to study, simultaneously, recent trends in visual culture (both film and streaming media). In both cases, the students wanted to study cultural phenomena comparatively, but they also wanted to change the world, to leave it a better place than the way they found it.
malas and
                            the sciencesThis epitomizes the MALAS ideal--inventing programs of study that are also blueprints for action: a determination to study and be an activist / engine / enzyme for change here in San Diego and beyond. With MALAS, you are not trapped within the legendary ivory tower--far from that, you learn how to translate your research into public engagement with the surrounding community in California and the rest of our planet.

Our dynamic MA degree provides graduate students with an extraordinary intellectual agenda coupled with the experience of living in San Diego, California--a bustling international border community known for its bio-medical enclaves (the Salk Institute, Scripps Research Institute, Pfizer etc.), for high tech innovation (Qualcomm, Nokia), and for its burgeoning, cutting-edge transborder experimental arts, next-generation sustainability research, and Pacific Rim-focused institutions of higher education. (And yes, it is also known and loved for its amazing climate, tourism, and robust surf communities).

college of
                                  arts andMALAS graduate students work with the best faculty from across the College of Arts and Letters at SDSU and beyond--first-class, high quality researchers from the humanities, social sciences, business, communications, and the sciences, whose teaching and scholarship are changing the face of disciplines across the university.
MALAS offers what we like to call "an M.A. in Curiosity." Our graduate students master diverse and innovative intellectual, artistic, and/or scientific research goals through individually-tailored curricula in the most flexible graduate Liberal Arts programs on the planet (compare us to our talented peer institutions here).

mytholologiesMALAS is the MA program for all kinds of thinkers--while it caters to the intellectual desires and research interests of ambitious, new BA and BS recipients seeking full-time graduate study, it also serves the needs of national and international professionals and adult-learners who seek to do graduate school on a part-time basis. Whether you are an ambitious teacher looking to achieve a degree that will allow you to teach in community colleges (and get you a nice raise), a motivated, creative future professor looking for a stepping-stone MA to a top-shelf Ph.D. program, or just a wise, sojourning soul or budding entrepreneur who misses being at university, MALAS is the program for you.

We are often asked here at MALAS mission control, "what does a prospective MALAS student look like?" or "where do they come from?" Our response: what don't they look like and where don't they come from? MALAS graduate students come from all kinds of academic backgrounds, all kinds of unique research interests. Unlike other MA/ PhD programs that expect a specific undergraduate emphasis (some even make you do additional undergraduate coursework before starting your graduate curriculum), MALAS values your previous undergraduate and/or graduate degree and expects you to use our program to explore brave new worlds, to investigate diverse uncharted intellectual waters.

Whether you are a recent social science degree graduate with an itch to know more about the arts, a cardiologist who wishes to ponder Latin American novels, a documentary filmmaker obsessed with the environment, or a frustrated literature major wishing to explore the connections between books and  music, cinema, photography, or painting, MALAS will be a great home for your intellectual adventures. Or maybe you are a brilliant, curious, corporate Stepford wife (or husband) who finds themselves trapped in an 8am to 5pm cubicle--your matchless, agile imagination paralyzed by the styrofoam-laced banality, the flourescent-light-lit mendacity of the Dilbert-esque world around you--well, with MALAS, deliverance is at hand.

At SDSU, MALAS is associated with innovation and entrepreneurship--MALAS hosted the first graduate seminar in the Digital Humanities; the first bridge-class between the humanities and the cognitive sciences: Neurotexts; the first graduate seminar on Hip hop Culture(s). So, join us and get ready to leap and join a groovy collaborative team inspired by interdisciplinary thinkers like Cornel West, Noam Chomsky, Slavoj Žižek, Judith Halberstam, Gayatri Spivak, Stuart Hall, Donna Harraway, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Marshall McLuhan, Sigmund Freud, Lydia Liu, Michel Foucault (left), Susan Sontag, Edward Said, Carlos Fuentes, Jacques Derrida, Renato Rosaldo, Luce Irigaray, Federico Fellini, Frida Kahlo, Glenn Gould, Stephen Greenblatt, Elena Poniatowska, Stephen Colbert, Mark Twain, John Berger (below, right) and others.

                                Benjamin Our M.A. (Magister Artium) features a series of next-wave, cutting-edge seminars. These classes (always already in metamorphosis) compose a core interdisciplinary curriculum with these areas of concentration: 
  • MALAS 600A. Cultural Studies
  • MALAS 600B. Science and Society/Environmental Studies
  • MALAS 600C. Globalization, Technology, & Future Studies
  • MALAS 600D. Media Studies, Fine Arts, & the Transformative Arts
Our students select the rest of their courses from across the curriculum at SDSU--present students take courses from the excellent graduate programs in the College of Arts & Letters as well as from the other seven colleges on the SDSU campus. John BergerThis Spring, our MALAS graduate students are pursuing coursework in Women's Studies, Anthropology, Geography, Educational Technology, Art, Religious Studies, Philosophy, and many other fields/disciplines/departments. For Fall 2013 and onwards we have now established graduate emphases within the MALAS curriculum--present and future  graduate students can now pursue MALAS Graduate Emphases in Social Justice, Ethnic Studies, Sustainability Studies, the Digital Humanities, American Studies, Intellectual History, Technology and Education, Media Studies, and a host of other categories. The MALAS program at SDSU is a member of the Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs. To learn more about university requirements, consult the Graduate Bulletin; and to learn about applying to the program, consult the SDSU Graduate Admissions page. NOTE: officially, MALAS is known as the M.A. in Liberal Arts and Sciences in the SDSU Graduate Catalogue or Bulletin. You can download a handy pdf of the most recent MALAS specifications from the official SDSU Graduate Division Bulletin here or click these two images here:

cat 1 malas
                              catalogue page 2

So if you are a talented undergraduate or graduate student with an interest in public policy, arts and sciences, humanities, social justice, cultural studies, ethnic studies, social sciences, biology, music, film, world politics and policies, world trade, the environment, global warming, progressive economics, comparative literature, semiotics, the cognitive sciences, marketing, educational leadership, and/or sustainability studies, you will find a dynamic, challenging home away home from with the Master of Arts in Liberal Arts and Sciences at San Diego State University (and that is just a partial listing!).

MALAS students come from all walks of life--documentary filmmakers, veteran Navy musicians, cloning researchers, administrative coordinators, surgeons, teachers, arts professionals, business majors, philosophers, civil engineers, dancers, rain-forest researchers, and retired intelligence community agents alike have all joined MALAS in recent years. Whether you are looking to spend a couple of years on the West Coast in preparation for a doctoral degree program or if you are a retired or working professional living in San Diego but yearning for the classic, unique challenges of a university seminar room, MALAS is there for you. Combine the highest quality professors from SDSU with the most eclectic, curious graduate students on the planet, and what you get is a dynamic, welcoming environment for learning.

And if you are on the fence about applying to our unique graduate program, don't hesistate to call the MALAS director and graduate advisor, Professor William A. Nericcio, at 619.594.1524 or email him at You can also contact our ace program coordinator, Katie Waltman, at 619.594.1516, from 8:30am to 4pm, daily, or email her at

One last thing--we get calls all the time from graduate students worried that the GRE requirement imposed by the CSU and the SDSU graduate division or a somewhat spotty undergraduate GPA might prove an obstacle to admission to MALAS. Don't let that stop you from applying to our cool intellectual mothership. MALAS looks at the entire portfolio of each individual during the admissions process. Check out the happy crew of singularly talented graduate students currently thriving in our program and then apply to MALAS now and let us worry about the rest!

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How to Finish your MALAS MA Degree!
You have three options as a Master of Arts in Liberal Arts graduate student when it comes to graduation--aka, your culminating work!
1. A MALAS MA Thesis--this is a 45-75 page essay, (what used to be called a "monograph" in the olden days), an original piece of scholarship/writing or creative writing*, authored in collaboration with three professors. (link to Montezuma Publishing guidelines)
*Note that creative writing, creative arts, film/television/theatre production coursework must have been part of your coursework while in the program to pursue a creative writing option.
2. A MALAS Project (Art Exhibit, School Curriculum Innovation, Performance, Documentary Film, etc... the sky is the limit). Link coming! The paperwork for the MALAS Project is the same as the MALAS MA Thesis.

3.  The MALAS Comprehensive Exam

Give Now If You C

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Curious about MALAS? Stay in touch by signing up for our periodic newsletters--see an archive of past communications here.

March 1, 2021 is the priority deadline for applying to MALAS--start NOW!

MALAS is a proud institutional member of the AGLSP, the Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs

Archive of Past Telegram/Dispatches etc here!
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                          link to the MALAS blogCheck out our new and improved MALAS digital vortex (aka, the MALAS blog!)
link to a pdf of the SDSU
                        Thesis Manual
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Old, perhaps outdated,
but still useful guide
to writing Theses
and Projects!

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Theses Links
Past Semesters MALAS Offerings!

Spring 2021 MALAS Class Menu! Click here now!

Fall 2021 Schedule of MALAS pre-approved seminars & Course Descriptions Here!

MALAS Fall '19 Seminars & Suggested Classes and Course Descriptions

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Looking for something that used to appear at the bottom of this never-ending scrolling page? Click the image above to find all your archived favorites!

Check out our list of Fall 2020 MALAS seminars!
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Stuart HallUPDATED

Stuart Hall MALAS Graduate
Research Travel Stipends

MALAS is proud to announce that the SDSU Foundation, working in collaboration with the Dean's office in the College of Arts and Letters, has partially restored the John and Jane Adams Endowment for the Humanities funding which allowed MALAS to originate over 30 years ago. What this means in the short term is higher visibility for our unique Cultural/Interdisciplinary Studies Master's degree program and more resources for graduate students.  To that end, we are restoring the Stuart Hall Graduate Student Research Travel stipend. All MALAS graduate students (and a select, limited number of graduate students doing cultural studies/interdisciplinary studies research in other CAL graduate programs) have the right to apply for upwards of $600 to help defray travel to conferences where research is shared.  Check with Bill Nericcio, Director, or Katie Waltman, MALAS administrative coordinator, for more details

Named for Stuart Hall, the godfather of international cultural studies, MALAS Graduate Research Travel Stipends consist of travel grants up to $500.00 to be awarded to at least 10 graduate students who deliver research initiated/ developed in any MALAS seminar at a domestic or international conference. The best clearing house for CFPs (Call for Papers) in the humanities is at Penn:  A useful index for CFPs in the Social Sciences is here. Another index appears here.

Awards will be determined on a first come, first served basis. Applicants should submit the following to by April 1, 2022:

1. The flyer or website for the conference you are attending.
2. Your proposal to that conference (emails are fine)
3. Your acceptance letter from the conference organizers/hosts

Should you be selected, you will have to provide us with your travel receipts and a facsimile of the conference program showing your participation. While $500 is not a ton of money, our hope is that it will encourage you to begin to share your research work with your peers and scholars in your field of emphasis.

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hollywoodJoe GillisApply for the MALAS Joe Gillis Hollywood Internship!

Comprehensive Exam Option
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MALAS Exam Option

How to Become a Member of the MALAS team of Extraordinary Graduate Students!

Fall 2022 MALAS Admissions Checklist


  • Satisfy the basic requirements for the Master's Degree described in the SDSU Graduate Bulletin
  • Possess an acceptable baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution;
  • Have earned a minimum grade point average of 3.0 in the last 60 units of study (Don't lose sleep over this one, we make exceptions all the time especially for first-generation college students considering graduate school for the first time!);
  • Have an acceptable Graduate Record Examination (GRE) combined general test score (quantitative and verbal sections). (Here again, no worries, we peek at the GRE, but it DOES NOT DETERMINE OUR FINAL ADMISSIONS DECISIONS! We look at the entire application carefully!)

    GRE/GMAT Policy adopted by the SDSU Senate for Spring 2022 and Fall 2022 start: 

    In light of the increase in barriers facing applicants due to the current pandemic, SDSU suspends the use of the GRE and GMAT in admissions decisions made for programs with a Spring 2022 and Fall 2022 start, except in the case of 1) Ph.D. Programs that are offered jointly with universities that require the exam as part of its admissions process, or 2) Programs that require the GRE/GMAT for purposes of accreditation, or 3) Programs that choose to require the exams as part of the admissions process--MALAS does not choose to use the GRE!!!

First things first! Go to CSU Apply and begin your application process (note while on the CSU Apply site that MALAS, the Master of Arts in Liberal Arts and Sciences, shows up in the CSU Apply menu of graduate programs as merely Liberal Arts and Sciences):

Our SDSU MALAS Program Admissions team will not see any of your materials unless you follow
 these directions to the letter--we emphasize this here as many cool students have run aground in the past by not following SDSU Graduate Division's rather clear, utterly strict protocols. This part of the application process must be completed by March 1, 2022--the EARLIER you apply, the EARLIER we will let you know your application status! Note that official test scores and transcripts must be sent to SDSU Graduate Admissions – All materials must be received by April 1, 2022 but we kind of BEG you to get all materials in by March 1, 2022 to avoid any headaches or complications!!!!

For the 2nd part of this gnarly application process Graduate Division @ SDSU has asked that you use this Interfolio portal to get MALAS your supplementary application materials
UPDATED 11, January 2022!

, if you have trouble with Interfolio (as some applicants have!), all the supplementary materials, A, B, & C, that we ask for below, may be sent DIRECTLY to MALAS world headquarters, bypassing the Interfolio system--send to Dr. Bill Nericcio, and Katie Waltman,

Two letters of recommendation (one, at least, should be from a university professor familiar with your research, writing, or creative work). As with all applications to research university graduate programs, it is best that the letters of recommendation come directly to MALAS from the individuals writing the letter.  Please ask the individuals writing your letters of recommendation to use their official institutional letterhead when possible and to mail their correspondence to:

Dr. William Nericcio
Director, MALAS
c/o Katie Waltman
SDSU English and CompLit, MC 6020
5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego, CA 92182-6020

Last minute applicants can have their reference-letter writer email their correspondence directly to Dr. William A. Nericcio, the program director at and the MALAS Administrative Coordinator, Katie Waltman, at

Note: Many applicants to MALAS are far removed from their undergraduate work and are not in contact with their former professors--don't let that be a deterent to applying; we will accept and read any letter of recommendation from professionals / artists / mentors / colleagues familiar with your skills.

A "Statement of Purpose" essay (400-500 words or so) that gives a sense of both your past and future research interests and your strongest talents--highly ranked statements usually include references to how the MALAS program fits into your future.

A two-page essay describing the best class/professor you had as an undergraduate or graduate student.

The hard deadline for official test scores to be sent to Graduate Admissions and the MALAS Program Application to be completed is April 1, 2022--but please please please don't wait to the last minute and get your goods to us by March 1, 2022.

Other Information for Folks Who Want to Take Our MALAS Seminars but are not in Our Program...

Open University

Persons who are not matriculated as students at SDSU may enroll for MALAS courses on a space-available basis with approval of the instructor. Please consult Open University at the SDSU Global Campus site.

Taking a MALAS seminar is a great way to TEST DRIVE MALAS! Students can take up to three classes or 9 units of MALAS seminar work and have them roll into your program of study when you officially admitted into the program.

Faculty & Staff

MALAS Faculty Advisory Cohort {MFAC}
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The MALAS Faculty Advisory Cohort is a group of scholars from across San Diego State University (mainly from the College of Arts and Letters) committed to interdisciplinary and cultural studies.  Feel free to visit them and take their classes each semester; additionally, do also feel free to reach out to them for input regarding the evolution of your own Cultural Studies / Interdisciplinary Studies pathway!
All biolinks fixed 10 July 2021
Dr. William A. Nericcio
MALAS Director

Professor, English & Comparative Literature,
Chicana/o Studies and Latin American Studies

Dr. Stuart C. Aitken
Professor, Geography

Dr. Monica J. Casper

Professor, Sociology
Dean, College of Arts and Letters

Dr. Clarissa Cl๒
Professor, Italian and European Studies
Chair, European Studies

Dr. D. J. Hopkins
Professor, Director of the School of Theatre,
Television, and Film

Dr. Risa Levitt
Professor and Chair, Classics & Hum. /
Department for the Study of Religion; Director,
SDSU Center for Jewish Studies

Dr. Ramona Perez

Professor of Anthropology and Director,
Center for Latin American Studies

Dr. John Putman
Professor, History and Director, International
Studies Program, and Associate Dean, CAL

Dr. David Cline
Professor of History and Lead Faculty
The Digital Humanities Initiative, SDSU

Dr. Raechel Dumas
Associate Professor, History

Dr. Roberto D. Hernแndez
Associate Professor, Chicana/o Studies

Dr. Yetta Howard

Associate Professor, English & Comparative Literature

Dr. David Kamper
Associate Professor,
Chair, American Indian Studies

Dr. Walter D. Penrose, Jr.
Associate Professor, Department of History

Dr. Michael J. Roberts
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology

Dr. Amy Schmitz Weiss
Professor, School of Journalism
and Media Studies

Dr. Ricardo Vasconcelos
Professor, Spanish & Portuguese

Dr. Roy Whitaker
Associate Professor, Department for
the Study of Religion

Dr. Michael Caldwell
Lecturer, Classics & Humanities

Dr. Edith Frampton
Lecturer, English and Comparative Literature

Former MALAS Faculty Advisory Committee Members
Dr. Seth Mallios
Professor, Anthropology and SDSU University Historian

Dr. Michael Borgstrom
Professor and Chair, English and Comparative
Literature; Affiliated Faculty, Women's Studies and LGBT Studies

Dr. Jessica Pressman
Professor, English & Comparative Literature
Director, Arts and Letters Digital Humanities Initiative

Dr. Joseph Andrew Smith
Associate Professor, Classics and Humanities

Emeritus MALAS Faculty Advisory Committee Members

Dr. Howard Kushner
Professor Emeritus, History, and
Director Emeritus, MALAS

Administrative Faculty & Staff

William A. Nericcio
MALAS Director/Graduate Advisor
Professor,  Department of English and Comparative Literature, SDSU
Editor, San Diego State University Press
Office Location: Arts and Letters 273
Office hours, by appointment:
Phone: 619-594-1524 | Fax: 619-594-4998

  Katie Waltman
MALAS Program Administrative Coordinator
Office Location: Arts & Letters 226B
Office Hours: 8am to 4:30pm, M-F
Phone: 619-594-1516

Mailing Address:

MALAS: Master of Arts in Liberal Arts & Sciences

c/o Professor William Nericcio

Department of English & Comparative Literature

San Diego State University | MC 6020

5500 Campanile Drive San Diego, CA 92182-6020


MALAS Home Page

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Information for Students

Graduate Student Bios

{click this image for instant transport to our groovy grad student bio page}
 graduate student

We are always in the process of updating our current graduate student bio page and soon we will add both a faculty and alumni biography page.

Courses & Curriculum

{NOTE: these specifications are adapted from the official SDSU GRADUATE BULLETIN}

Specific Requirements for the Master of Arts Degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences
(Major Code: 49017) (SIMS Code: 114501)

During the course of your time doing cultural studies/interdisciplinary work in the M.A.L.A.S. program, graduate students will complete a graduate program of 30 units, basically 9 classes {27 units} + the MA Thesis/Project {3 units}.

Of these 9 classes or 27 units of coursework, 5 courses or 15 units must be  600- and 700-level courses. Note also that up to 15 units of coursework can be taken at the 500-level, though it is best to pick from the best of the 600-level graduate courses and 700-level graduate seminars, before filling out the balance of your work with 500-level classes. Do please note that 500-level classes are open to undergraduates at SDSU {nota bene: this is NOT a dig at SDSU undergraduates!} .

A typical MALAS POS (program of study)  includes:


1. MALAS 600A, 600B, 600C, or 600D in any combination (9 units). Each course may be repeated once with new content and, in excess of nine units, can be used for elective credit.

2. 1. MALAS601(3) {When offered; it is a straightforward process to petition to have another MALAS seminar (MALAS 600 A, B, C, or D) cover for MALAS 601

3. MALAS 799A (3): Thesis or Project.

4. 15 units of electives selected with approval of the MALAS director.

All programs of study must be approved by the MALAS director in consultation with the Graduate Liberal Arts and Sciences Committee.



1. MALAS 600A, 600B, 600C, or 600D in any combination (9 units). Each course may be repeated once with new content and, in excess of nine units, can be used for elective credit.

2. 1. MALAS601(3) {When offered; it is a straightforward process to petition to have another MALAS seminar (MALAS 600 A, B, C, or D) cover for MALAS 601

3. MALAS 795 (3): Studies in Liberal Arts and Sciences

4. 15 units of electives selected with approval of the MALAS director.

All programs of study must be approved by the MALAS director in consultation with the Graduate Liberal Arts and Sciences Committee.


MALAS 600. Interdisciplinary Study in Liberal Arts and Sciences
Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

MALAS seminars are divided into four general areas with content that varies semester to semester. Each course may be repeated once with new content. See Class Schedule for specific content. Maximum credit six units for each of the following courses:

MALAS 600A, 600B, 600C, 600D
A. Cultural Studies
B. Science and Society, Environmental Studies
C. Globalization, Technology, Future Studies
D. Media Studies, Fine Arts, Transformative Arts

MALAS 601. Seminar in Interdisciplinary Thinking (3)
Prerequisite: Graduate standing.
Nature of interdisciplinary thinking. Ways of knowing and schools of thought in multiple disciplines. Interdisciplinary methods to analyze social issues. See Class Schedule for specific content.

MALAS 795: Studies in Liberal Arts and Sciences
Sign up for this class if you are taking the MALAS MA Comprehensive Exam in lieu of an MA Thesis or Project.

MALAS 798. Special Study (3) Cr/NC/RP
Prerequisite: Graduate standing.
Individual study on a given topic through interdisciplinary perspectives.

MALAS 799A. Thesis or Project (3) Cr/NC/RP
Prerequisites: An officially appointed thesis committee and advancement to candidacy.
Preparation of a project or thesis for Master of Arts degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences.

MALAS 799B. Thesis or Project Extension (0) Cr/NC
Prerequisite: Prior registration in Thesis or Project 799A with an assigned grade symbol of RP.
Registration required in any semester or term following assignment of RP in MALAS 799A in which the student expects to use the facilities and resources of the university; also student must be registered in the course when the completed thesis or project is granted final approval.

link to past malas events and doings

MALAS is the Master of Arts in Liberal Arts & Sciences, an interdisciplinary/cultural studies graduate program in the College of Arts and Letters @ San Diego State University • office mothership: Arts and Letters, 226B • phone: (619) 594.1516 • fax: (619) 594.4998 • mail: 5500 Campanile Drive, mailcode: 6020, San Diego, CA 92182-6020 • Director and Graduate Advisor: Dr. William A. Nericcio • Administrative Coordinator/Guru: Katie Waltman

The statements found on this page/site are for informational purposes only. While every effort is made to ensure that this information is up-to-date and accurate, official information can be found in the university publications. That said, most of the info here is pretty reliable; however, we do sometimes make mistakes as we are all too human. Find a problem? Drop us a line and we will fix it right away.  Stop reading this boilerplate legal disclaimer already and take one of our classes.

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