Design of the Master of Arts Program at New College
Since needs, interests and educational goals vary, the focus and design
of each student’s program of study are unique. They originate with each
student whose work is carried out under the supervision and guidance of
experts in the pertinent academic fields. There are no specific
programs of study which a student must pursue, nor any list of courses
from which a program of study might be selected. Possible programs of
study are as varied as the goals of the students in the program,
limited only by available instructional resources.
Within this individualized framework, students pursue their studies by
means of learning contracts, not traditional classroom courses.
Learning contracts are entered into by the student with a faculty
Supervisor; the contract defines the educational objectives of the
study, the resources and methods to be employed, the products to be
submitted and the criteria to be used in evaluating the student’s
achievements. The study is conducted by the student under the guidance
of the Supervisor.
Although the individual nature of the program permits a great deal of
flexibility, two requirements must be fulfilled: each program must be
interdisciplinary, and all components must be within the Liberal Arts.
Interdisciplinary Studies Within the Liberal Arts
Prospective graduate students often wish to study interrelated topics
within the context of a single program or focus their studies on a
particular theme of personal or professional interest. Such studies do
not necessarily conform to traditional disciplinary and divisional
Master’s programs. The New College Master’s Program is designed for
such students. Within the Liberal Arts, students may examine a subject
or problem by utilizing the concept, methods or techniques of at least
two of the three broad areas of study: the Humanities, the Social
Sciences and the Natural Sciences. At New College the fields within
these broad areas of study are:
Music History and Literature
Learning Components and Degree Requirements
To earn the Master of Arts Degree through New College, students must complete
five learning components. These are:
MAP 200 - An Initial Study
The Initial Study consists of a series of weekly meetings that all
students are required to attend for one semester. As part of the
Initial Study, students complete reading assignments in
interdisciplinary texts and write several short papers on topics
related to them. In addition, each student writes a library research
paper related to the theme of his or her program and compiles an
annotated bibliography for each component of that program. In
consultationwith faculty, each student also formulates a Master’s
Degree Plan which makes explicit the objectives of the student’s total
program and provides a plan for the remainder of the work to be
completed for the Master of Arts degree. Finally, a proposal is
presented for Contract I, the next stage of the program. Based on
performance in the Initial Study, a decision is made by the Core
Faculty regarding the student’s eligibility to continue in the program.
MAP 201-203 - Three Learning Contracts
Following satisfactory completion of the Initial Study, the student
begins and carries out a series of three learning contracts. Approval
of contract proposals by the faculty of the Master’s Program is
required before students may register for learning contracts. Normally
all contracts are supervised by Hofstra University faculty. Contracts
consist primarily of library and/or field research but may include
course attendance, apprenticeships or internships, laboratory work and
studio participation. The requirement that the Master’s Degree Plan be
interdisciplinary may be satisfied in either of two ways. Each contract
may incorporate approaches from at least two of the Liberal Arts areas
(Humanities, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences), or at least one of the
contracts must emphasize a different area from the others. One may not,
for example, do all of one’s graduate study in the Humanities.
MAP 204 and 205 - A Master’s Thesis
The final degree requirement and fifth component of the program is the
Master’s Thesis. This is a contractual project which reflects and
integrates the preceding three contracts and the Initial Study. In
accordance with the Master of Arts Program, the Master’s Thesis must
reflect the interdisciplinary character of the topic. Work on the
Thesis is begun after a Thesis Proposal, prepared by the student, has
been approved by the MAP office. When the completed Thesis has been
approved by a group of three faculty readers and successfully defended
in colloquy with them, a recommendation is made to the Dean of New
College that the degree of Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies
Instructions for Applicants
Note: These instructions are for your benefit and apply only to the Master of
Arts Program in Interdisciplinary Studies at New College. Please read and follow these instructions carefully. All forms
must be filled out completely or the application will be returned to you. Please type your responses so that they are
- Application Deadlines
The fall semester is normally the regular point of entry into the
Master of Arts Program at New College. Occasionally students will be
permitted to enter for the spring semester. Applications should be
received no later than one month prior to a desired point of entry.
- Application Forms
In addition to the University’s Graduate Application, applicants are
asked to prepare an essay in response to the questions on the
Supplementary Application Form for the Master of Arts Program at New
College. The applicant’s answers to these questions are designed to
provide the faculty with a sense of the applicant’s desire and capacity
to work independently and the goals the applicant has in pursuing
graduate study. All completed forms should be returned to the Hofstra
University Graduate Admissions Office, 126 Hofstra University,
Hempstead, NY, 11549.
Please provide the names, addresses and telephone numbers of three
references who can be contacted, if necessary, by the Master of Arts
Program Core Faculty. At least one of these references should be
familiar with the applicant’s academic performance, and one should be
familiar with the applicant’s work, professional or volunteer service.
Official undergraduate and graduate transcripts showing possession of a
baccalaureate degree and any graduate work attempted must be sent
directly to The Office of Graduate Admissions, 126 Hofstra University,
Hempstead, NY, 11549. The applicant’s copy of the transcript is not
valid for admissions purposes. Official transcripts of all graduate
work completed should also be submitted to the Master of Arts Program
Office, New College. The faculty does not usually grant advanced
standing unless the student has accumulated a minimum of 12 s.h. in the
subject area related to the program emphasis. Advanced standing is
never granted in excess of one learning contract. Students who are
eligible to apply for advanced standing should indicate this interest
at the time of application.
- Application Fee
Applicants are required to pay a non-refundable fee of $40 with their
application. Checks or money orders should be made payable to Hofstra
University and must accompany the completed application form.
- Admissions Decisions
All of the above materials will be reviewed by the Master of Arts
Program Office. The faculty of the Master of Arts Program is
responsible for the final admissions decision. Applicants will be
notified by mail of the committee’s decision as soon as the review
process is completed.
The Admissions criteria established for the New College Master of Arts
Program and the procedures utilized in evaluating candidates for
admission are consistent with the Program’s individualized, contractual
mode of learning, its interdisciplinary orientation and the standards
for graduate study at Hofstra University.
Applicants should have:
- A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a Grade Point Average
of 3.0 (B) or better;
- Completed an undergraduate program of studies in
the Liberal Arts or prior experience demonstrating both breadth and
depth of knowledge;
- A demonstrated interest in, and capacity for, pursuing an individualized, contractual
mode of learning;
- An interest in, and capacity for, engaging in an interdisciplinary program of
- The ability to conduct original independent
research and to present the results in acceptable written style and
Applicants must submit the following materials:
- A completed application form;
- An official copy of the applicant’s undergraduate
transcript(s) and transcripts of all post-secondary educational
institutions the applicant has attended;
- Names and addresses of three references, one of
whom should be familiar with the applicant’s work or professional or
- A tentative proposal for a program of study which can be discussed in advance
with a member of the faculty;
- Other supporting materials, such as a biographical
sketch or professional resume, which aid the faculty in evaluating the
Initially, application materials will be reviewed by the Program
Administrator. Students whose credentials receive a favorable review
may be invited for an interview. The results of the preliminary review
of the application as well as the interview will be forwarded to the
faculty who will make the final admissions decision.
If the faculty’s review of an applicant’s credentials is favorable, the
student will be admitted to the next available Initial Study.
In some cases, applicants who have completed graduate level work either
at Hofstra University or at another accredited institution may apply
some of this work towards their Master of Arts degree at New College.
In its review of the Master’s Degree Plan, the Core Faculty may
recommend to the Dean of New College a modified set of learning
contracts which will take into account previous successful graduate
Requests for Advanced Standing are made in the Master’s Degree Plan and
must be accompanied by an official transcript of previous graduate work
as well as a statement of its relevance to the Degree Plan. Students
must demonstrate the relevance of their work during the Initial Study.
The award of Advanced Standing is limited to one learning contract.
Eligibility for Advanced Standing
Those seeking advanced standing must satisfy the following criteria:
Other Learning and Life Experience
- Students who have completed graduate level work
either at Hofstra University or another accredited institution may seek
to apply a maximum of 12 semester hours of this work towards one
learning contract only among the components leading to the Master of
Arts degree at New College;
- Grades of B or better must have been awarded for
the courses that are to be applied to the Master of Arts Degree at New
- All advanced standing credits applied toward the
New College Master’s Degree normally must have been earned within a
period of five years preceding the granting of the Master of Arts
degree by New College;
- The credits must not have been applied to any other degree;
- Credits and courses must be related to the
student’s MAP emphasis as demonstrated in the approved MAP Degree Plan.
Other learning and “life experience” are of interest and relevance in
determining admission to the Master of Arts Program at New College.
Experiential learning may be employed in designing a student’s
individualized curriculum and in estimating the amount of time needed
to satisfy the various learning components. However, “life experience,”
experiential learning and non-accredited study cannot be applied
directly to satisfy degree requirements.
Registration and Student Status
Upon favorable faculty review of application materials and the
interview, applicants will be sent a letter of acceptance to the New
College Master of Arts Program which is valid for one year and which
includes permission to register for an Initial Study.
Registration for an Initial Study must be completed through the Program
Administrator’s Office no later than two weeks prior to the starting
date of that Initial Study. Initial Study tuition and fees must be paid
at the time of registration. Applicants are considered enrolled in the
Program when registration for the Initial Study is complete and all
appropriate tuition and fees have been paid.
Registration, billing, and receipt of tuition and fees are administered
cooperatively by the Program Administrator’s Office and appropriate
Students unable to meet the original contract or Thesis deadline may
submit to the Program Administrator’s Office a written request for an
extension. Students should specify the reason why the extension is
required and propose a new date for the completion of the project.
Contract and Thesis extension periods must be consistent with the New College
academic calendar (see New College Adviser.)
The Master of Arts Program reserves the right to charge an emendation fee, usually
$200, for such extensions.
Students not registered for a MAP learning component or not working
within an approved extension of a MAP learning component are considered
withdrawn from the program. Withdrawn students must apply for
readmission by written request to the Core Faculty if they wish to
register for subsequent learning components.
Leave of Absence
Students may apply formally for a leave of absence through the Program
Administrator’s Office. In submitting an application for a leave,
students must indicate the period of inactivity which must be
coincidental with the New College academic calendar. Leaves normally
are not in excess of one academic year; students on a leave of absence
do not have to apply for readmission.
Evaluation and Standards
Each of the five learning components in the program is graded on a
Pass/Fail basis. In addition, upon completion of each component, the
Supervisor(s) prepare(s) a statement discussing the quality of the
A grade of Incomplete (INC) may be awarded if additional time is needed
to complete a learning component. This grade, if not resolved, may be
converted to NCr (No Credit) at the end of the following eight-week
session. Components may be extended by formal written request to the
Program Administrator’s office during the period of INC.
Students may elect an NCr (No Credit) grade if they no longer wish to
continue a learning component. The election of the NCr grade may
jeopardize continuance in the New College Master of Arts Program.
The temporary designation of Pr (Progress) on a student’s record
indicates that the approved duration of the contract was longer than
Academic Standards and Dismissal
Students in the Master of Arts Program at New College are expected to
demonstrate intellectual rigor, scholarly integrity, personal
responsibility and professional commitment throughout all their work
leading to the Master of Arts degree.
Students not demonstrating both promise and acceptable progress in the
Program may be dismissed (or placed on leave of absence for a specific
term) by recommendation of the Core Faculty to the Dean of New College.
Students dismissed from the Program (or placed on leave of absence) by
the Core Faculty and Dean of New College will be informed by letter.
The letter will specify both the reasons for dismissal (or placement on
leave of absence) and the appeal procedure.
- The first appeal is directed to the faculty
through a letter in which the student addresses the reasons for
dismissal (or placement on leave of absence).
- If the appeal is denied by the faculty, a second
appeal may be submitted, again by letter, directed to the Dean of New
- If the second appeal is denied, the student may
make a third appeal, to the Provost’s office of Hofstra University in
accordance with University procedures.
Transcripts and Records
The official records of students in the New College Master of Arts
Program are maintained by the University’s Office of Academic Records.
Files of student activity and copies of all student work are kept in
the Program Administrator’s Office.
The official transcript lists the titles of each of the five learning
components, the semester of registration for each component and the
awarded grade. To assure the accurate transcription of MAP work,
students must provide proper registration information when it is
requested by the Program Administrator’s Office. Students may see
up-to-date reports of their MAP component grades online. Requests for
official transcripts must be made in writing to the Academic Records
Office: Memorial Hall, Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York 11549.
Degree Requirements (in Detail)
The Initial Study— MAP 200
The Initial Study is the first of five components in the Master of Arts
Program in Interdisciplinary Studies at New College. It is a structured
seminar, usually consisting of twelve class meetings during a
The Initial Study fulfills several functions not specifically addressed
by subsequent components of the Master of Arts Program. First, it
provides a community for scholars-in-the-making necessary because the
rest of the Program is individualized. Attendance at all of the Initial
Study meetings is required. Second, it provides an opportunity for
students to discover any weaknesses in their academic skills before
undertaking the learning contracts. Until the Initial Study has been
completed, neither the instructor nor the student can be certain that
the candidate is ready to proceed in the Master of Arts Program.
During the Initial Study, students are expected to satisfactorily complete several
short papers and four major products:
- A research paper and abstract
A Master’s Degree Plan (a tentative outline of three contracts and the Master’s
A learning contract proposal (a detailed description of the first Learning Contract)
- An annotated bibliography for the entire program as outlined in the Degree Plan.
These four items are described below.
- Initial Study Research Paper
A major requirement of the Initial Study is the library research paper
which demonstrates the student’s ability to conduct library research,
to organize it, to express it effectively and to document it correctly.
It may also reveal those academic skills which need improvement. The
student chooses the topic of the research paper, subject to the
approval of the Initial Study Supervisor. A topic relevant to the whole
Degree Plan will permit the student to explore pertinent sources, as
well as verify that the theme of the Degree Plan is feasible and
interesting. Along with the research paper, the student submits an
abstract, a concise description of the paper (200-300 words).
- The Master’s Degree Plan
The Master’s Degree Plan is a comprehensive description of the
student’s individual program at New College. It consists of a statement
of the overall topic, a brief description of each of the three learning
contracts and the Master’s Thesis, a discussion of the
interdisciplinary character of the program, an estimate of the length
of time the program as well as each of its components will require and
suggestions for supervision. The Degree Plan is reviewed by the Core
Faculty which considers such matters as (a) the availability of the
faculty and professional resources for each component of the Plan; (b)
the availability of library and technical resources for each component;
(c) the appropriateness of the student’s projected schedule for
completion of the total program; and (d) the consistency of the Plan
with the student’s stated motivation for graduate work in
interdisciplinary studies. The student is informed in writing of the
Core Faculty’s approval of the Degree Plan or of required revisions.
As students progress in the Program, they may discover lines of study
more appropriate than proposed in the approved Degree Plan. These
students may submit a revised Plan for review by the Core Faculty. If a
revised Plan is not approved, the student may continue with the
original Plan or substitute a modification of the revised Plan for
evaluation. Since it often happens that students modify their plans for
the second and third Contracts as they progress through the Program,
the summary statements of these contracts included in the Plan are
expected to be brief.
- The First Learning Contract Proposal
The first learning contract proposal includes: its subject, the mode of
study anticipated, its relevance to the library research paper of the
Initial Study and to the subsequent learning contracts and the Thesis,
descriptions of the proposed schedule and of the type of supervision
required. The student may also suggest a particular Supervisor. Final
decisions concerning supervision and other aspects of the contract are
made by the Core Faculty.
- The Annotated Bibliography
The annotated bibliography is a list of the sources of information
(books, articles, government documents, etc.) on which students expect
to rely as they advance in the Program. Students should provide, for
items listed in the bibliography, brief comments indicating scope,
relevance and anticipated value to the study.
The Learning Contracts: MAP 201, 202, 203
The learning contract is the chief mode of study in pursuit of the
Master’s Degree. Each contract must have a specific focus or topic, and
the three contracts must be clearly related to each other and to the
theme of the student’s plan of study and Thesis. The contractual study
may take or combine several forms: library research, laboratory
research, field research, apprenticeship, internship, course
attendance, or studio work. Whatever the manner of study, some form of
written report, chiefly analytical and substantive, must be submitted
for evaluation. Before undertaking the work involved in a contract, the
student must submit to the faculty a contract proposal (the first
contract proposal being prepared under the guidance of the Initial
The Contract Proposal
The Contract Proposal contains the following elements:
- Purpose – A description of the topic with a clear
indication of the goals of the study, its scope and its
- Methodological Procedures – A statement of the
ways in which data are to be collected and an indication of the major
resources to be used (e.g., library research, clinical observation,
course attendance). The site or sites where the information is to be
gathered should be identified, and their suitability to the study
indicated. If it is necessary to use consultants who are not members of
the Hofstra faculty, their qualifications should be substantiated
through professional resumes.
- Preparation – A review of the student’s
preparation for undertaking the study (e.g., through prior study or
- Outline – An outline of the anticipated major divisions and subdivisions of the
- Function – A statement of the manner in which the
learning contract contributes to the fulfillment of the Master’s Degree
- Time Estimate – The anticipated length of time
needed to complete the learning contract. Units of time should be in
keeping with the New College calendar composed of eight-week sessions.
Students who require additional time may apply in writing for an
- Annotated Bibliography – A list of articles,
books, records and other documents which are expected to be of use in
the fulfillment of the contract. Each item should be accompanied by a
brief comment on its expected value to the study. It is understood that
the bibliography is tentative and subject to modification during the
course of the research. For the first contract, the majority, if not
all, of the student’s sources will be from the original Master’s Plan
annotated bibliography. As research continues, additional sources will
- Supervision – Supervisors are normally drawn from
the Hofstra University faculty. Upon approval of a contract proposal,
if the sudent has not suggested an appropriate Supervisor, one will be
assigned by the MAP office. The student then confers with this
Supervisor and, if the two agree, the contract is implemented.
Evaluation of the Contract Proposal
After reviewing the contract proposal, the faculty notifies the student
in writing that the learning contract has been approved, not approved,
or approved conditionally, pending revisions. When notified of
approval, the student registers for the contract through the Program
Administrator’s Office. Students should allow approximately one month
prior to the desired registration period for review of the Proposal.
Evaluation of the Learning Contract
A learning contract is considered satisfactorily completed when
student, Supervisor and MAP office are satisfied with the finished
product(s). It should be anticipated that revisions of written work to
satisfy student, faculty, and Program standards will be necessary.
When the learning contract has been completed, the student is asked to
confer with the Supervisor. This conference should result in the
preparation of two documents: the Supervisor’s evaluation of the
student’s performance and the student’s contract abstract. This
abstract, not to be longer than one typewritten page, should include
The subject of the project: theme, hypothesis or problem;
The goal of the project;
The results of the learning contract research;
The relationship of the project to the next contract.
An additional copy of the learning contract paper, the abstract for that paper
and the Supervisor’s evaluation are submitted
to, and kept on file in, the Master of Arts Program Administrator’s Office.
The Master’s Thesis Proposal and Thesis: MAP 204, 205
Any student who has successfully completed the three Learning Contracts
has acquired the tools and skills necessary for success in the Thesis.
All work is to be fully documented in a manner consistent with the
standards of The New College Writing Program Manual.
It is a source of pride to our Faculty and Alumni that more than a few
of our students’ Theses have been published. While publication is not
required, it is a desirable outcome of the extensive and intensive
efforts required for the Thesis.
For specific information, see the Program Administrator.
The Thesis Proposal
The Thesis Proposal contains the following elements:
- Purpose - Generally, the Thesis should represent
an interdisciplinary integration of the theme of the candidate’s
previous contracts. It is much to be desired that the Thesis will: 1)
make a persuasive case for a proposition (one which earlier research
rather than preconception has revealed to the writer); or 2) will test
an hypothesis by means of empirical research. In the former case, the
research will draw on library materials using well-rehearsed skills. In
testing an hypothesis, appropriate research methodology must be
followed including adherence to appropriate ethical standards.
- Methodological Procedures - The candidate will
propose the Thesis just as he or she proposed earlier contracts, i.e.,
with a statement describing the ways in which data are to be collected
and the major resources to be employed: library research, field
research, apprenticeship, workshops, clinical observation or course
work. The site or sites where the information is to be gathered must be
identified and their suitability to the study discussed. The proposal
can be prepared with the help of the supervisor of the third contract.
The proposal is reviewed by the Program office which will help the
candidate to identify members of the Thesis Committee. If the student
proposes a Thesis Supervisor who is not a member of the Hofstra
faculty, his or her professional resume must be submitted for approval.
The Thesis Committee will consist of at least three people. One, the
Thesis Adviser, will take primary responsibility for guiding and
over-seeing the candidate’s work. It will be his or her responsibility
to suggest sources, to discuss and evaluate the work as it progresses,
to encourage the timid and/or to restrain the excessively ambitious.
Since its integrative nature virtually guarantees that the Thesis will
have an inter- or multidisciplinary character, two readers will be
assigned to assist with perspectives from their discipline(s).
- Annotated Bibliography - A list of articles,
books, records and other documents expected to be used in the course of
study is to be submitted with a brief commentary on their anticipated
value. It is understood that the bibliography is tentative and subject
to revision during the course of the research.
- Relationship to the Degree Plan - To be included
in the Thesis proposal is a description of how the Initial Study
research paper and the three learning contracts contributed to the
Thesis. Further, the ways in which the Thesis may be regarded as the
culmination of the Degree Plan must be discussed. This should be
demonstrated by means of abstracts of the prior components of the
- Outline - An outline of the anticipated Thesis is
required showing the likely major divisions and subdivisions of the
- Time Estimate - Anticipate the length of time
required for the completion of the Thesis. The minimum time required
for completion of the Thesis is two New College sessions (one
semester); the maximum time does not usually exceed four New College
sessions (an academic year).
- Evaluation - When the Thesis Supervisor and any
assigned reader are satisfied that the work has been completed and is
ready for formal evaluation, a Thesis Committee will be asked to
evaluate the Thesis and meet with the candidate for an oral defense.
While the term suggests that some sort of attack is to be launched
against the work or even its author, the reality is that a discussion
will take place.
- It is often helpful for the student to remember
that at least one faculty member has approved the work in principle.
While other committee members may have questions and even objections,
it is most unlikely that the oral defense will be the occasion at which
the Thesis is rejected. If the student followed the guidance of the
Thesis adviser closely and properly, rejection by the Committee should
be quite rare. It sometimes happens that the Thesis is accepted as
submitted, the Committee being unable to suggest any way in which the
work requires improvement. This does not happen very often. More
likely, certain revisions will be required as the four discussants
review the work in a spirit of constructive criticism. These revisions
are classed as:
*”Minor Revisions” in which case relatively
straightforward corrections, clarifications or amplifications may be
required. In such cases, only the approval of the Thesis Adviser will
be necessary for final acceptance of the Thesis.
*”Major Revisions” in which case the candidate will
be required to do a substantial amount of rewriting or additional
writing, e.g., a new chapter. Here, a second oral defense will be
required so that the entire Thesis Committee may be satisfied that the
work has been done acceptably.
- Publication - When the Thesis has been approved by
the Thesis Committee and by the Core Faculty, it is bound according to
requirements established by the University’s Axinn Library. Degree
candidates must deliver an original and at least three copies to be
bound on 20-pound bond paper, free of corrections of any kind and with
margins of 1.5 inches to the left and one inch margins at top, bottom
and right. The title page, whose form can be found in the MAP addendum,
is to be signed where indicated by the three Thesis Committee members.
The original and one copy remain in the Library’s collection. One copy
will be kept in the collection of the Master of Arts Program
Administrator’s Office. A third copy will be given to the student.
While it is not required, some students choose to give an additional
copy to the Thesis Adviser, as well. The Master’s Degree will not be
awarded until these requirements are met. Failure to complete all
Thesis mechanics will result in delays in degree conferral.