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Liberal Studies Major


The Liberal Studies Major (LSM) is a unique opportunity for Bentley students to stand out in a crowd-- to sharpen their competitive edge by demonstrating their ability to think analytically, critically, and creativity.

The LSM is an optional double major. It does not stand alone, but is an interdisciplinary second major that is paired with a primary B.S. major. The impulse behind the LSM is to help students increase the value and make meaning out of their liberal arts education at Bentley by combining some required courses in the general education curriculum with arts and science electives and some business electives under specific themes or concentrations.

The major is significantly different from the traditional liberal arts major--like philosophy or history or political science--that drills deep within a particular field of study.  Instead, it explores important themes that cut across many disciplines of the arts and sciences, such as ethics and social responsibility, global perspectives, media arts and society, and issues related to the environment; the major offers breadth with coherence.

Students opting to complete an LSM will do so in one particular area of concentration.

 Program Goals and Objectives

  • Students pursuing an LSM will be able to make connections relevant to the particular concentration’s theme across courses and disciplines.
  • Students will be able to analytically reflect on and meaningfully discuss choices and insights within the LSM.
  • Students will be able to write coherently about their choices and insights within the LSM and/or between the LSM and their primary major or their co-curricular activities.

Once accepted into a particular LSM concentration, students will be required to:

  • acquire signoff/approval each semester for all courses in the LSM by their LSM mentor;
  • write annual analytical retrospective/prospective pieces to be discussed with their mentor and included in their LSM portfolio; and
  • complete a unifying/culminating experience appropriate to the particular student and concentration.

Successful LSM graduates will:

  • Choose a coherent course of study within a particular LSM concentration, making a case for those choices each semester;
  • Demonstrate—through an iterative process over time—their reflections, insights, and connections across disciplines through discussion with their LSM Mentor and periodic narrative reflections that map where they have been and where they intend to go in order to expand their current understanding;
  • Produce a culminating project that demonstrates their transdisciplinary insights, connections, and understandings as a consequence of their work within the concentration. 

The Electronic Portfolio

The concentrations within the LSM are designed to help students increase the value and meaning of their liberal arts education. Faculty mentors will work closely with each student to help formulate a plan for taking the courses that fulfill the concentration as well as help students make connections across the material they study in courses representing different disciplines. This is a critical dimension of the second major -- when significant connections are made across bodies of knowledge, breadth becomes depth.  It is these connections that make the LSM a major rather than just a collection of courses.

The portfolio will be maintained electronically and will contain:

  1. Statement of Interest: Student eportfolios are designed as an iterative learning process, and the first step in this journey is to answer the question, why am I pursuing a Liberal Studies Major.   Please write a brief essay (1-2 pages) explaining your interest in the LSM, the concentration you are pursuing, what you expect to get out of it, and how see your LSM connecting to your academic and life goals.
  2. A record of Mentor/Advisee planning meetings
    Upon declaring an LSM major, the student will be assigned an LSM mentor in the chosen concentration.  Students will use the portfolio to communicate with their LSM mentor prior to registration each semester for discussion of course choices for the upcoming semester.  Once a year, in an individual or group format, students and mentors will discuss insights gained from courses already taken and  connections between courses and disciplines.
  3. Analytical Retrospective
    In the spring of each year that the student is in the program, the student will write an analytical narrative focusing on the work done within the LSM that year.  Initially, this critical thinking may include a retrospective/prospective analysis of the LSM experience thus far.  As the major evolves, the narrative should expand to include an account of a highlight of their LSM so far—an “aha” moment, or connections drawn between two areas of their LSM or between their LSM and other electives or major courses. These narratives are meant to show the student’s growth in understanding as the major evolves; they are not to be done solely at the end of the course of study.  They should show the student’s iterative process of reasoning in the conceptualization of his or her concentration.  Students may also place supporting course and/or co-curricular projects and activities in their portfolios if they so desire.
  4. Unifying/Culminating Piece
    Students choose a unifying/culminating experience in consultation with the LSM mentor.  While the annual retrospectives show the student’s evolving understanding of the concentration over time, the unifying piece is the culmination of this evolution.  Unifying pieces will be completed at the end of the LSM course of study and will be pre-approved by the mentor. Possibilities include, but are not limited to:
  • An essay demonstrating what the student has pulled together from the LSM, with cross-disciplinary insights within the LSM and/or between the LSM and their major. This paper might identify and reflect upon the readings or activities that most contributed to the student’s academic growth and insight, or it might draw connections between major assignments done along the way, or it might explore some related topic and present the student’s findings.
  • A capstone paper prepared for a course taken at the conclusion of the LSM that demonstrates effective reflection on LSM themes and methods. If such a paper is put forward as the unifying piece, the student will also include an explanation demonstrating how it fits within the LSM as a whole. (Note: The course in which this paper is written may appear in any DRS slot. It is not an extra course, and does not have to specifically be contained in the LSM.)
  • A project that demonstrates the student’s understanding of the core concepts and connections of the concentration. Examples include a play or short story, a piece of artwork, a web page design, a scientific experiment and analysis, or an academic conference presentation that draws on and illustrates one or more key concepts of a particular LSM. If such a project is put forward as the unifying piece, the student will also include an explanation demonstrating how it fits within the LSM as a whole.

During the semester in which the unifying piece is to be completed, the student will register for a non-credit LSM Portfolio “course.”  Upon review of the entire portfolio, the LSM mentor will issue a grade of Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Liberal Studies Major (LSM)?

  • An optional double major that is done in conjunction with a B.S. major;
  • An opportunity for students to leverage general education and elective courses to provide added value to their business education;
  • A major where students plan part of their general education and elective requirements around a chosen concentration;
  • A vehicle by which students make meaningful connections across and within disciplines; and
  • A way for students to explore and reflect upon their discoveries with a faculty mentor. 

Why is the LSM a valuable complement to a Bentley business major?

  • The business community knows Bentley graduates have an excellent business background and are well versed in state-of-the-art technology, but employers will focus on students who have even more – those who stand out in a crowd.
  • According to Career Services, employers want evidence that students can think and express themselves analytically and creatively.
  • The LSM e-portfolio demonstrates the student’s ability to approach and make sense of a particular theme from a multidisciplinary perspective.

What is the basic structure of the major?

The LSM consists of 8 courses, at least 6 of which must be from A&S departments.  No more than 4 may be in any one discipline.

  • These courses all satisfy some other requirement on the DRS; most will fall in GenEd or elective slots.
  • Students choose one of several possible concentrations; Choices and detailed descriptions of each can be found above
  • In addition to courses, students prepare 1) a planning meeting summary for each semester and 2) an annual retrospective piece; each of these is included in an electronic portfolio.
  • At the conclusion of coursework, and in consultation with the mentor, the student will complete 3) a culminating or unifying piece to be included in the e-portfolio.

Who is eligible and how is the major declared?

  • Any student who entered Bentley in fall 2005 or later.  The LSM must be declared by the last day of classes in the fall semester of sophomore year.  For current sophomores, that date is December 12, 2016. 
  • To declare the LSM, students must submit a major declaration form after receiving approval from the appropriate concentration coordinator as listed on the LSM web page.
  • Students may not choose a concentration that is similar in nature to the primary major.  Prohibited combinations are:

         - Information Design and Corporate Communication/Media Arts and Society

         - Mathematical Sciences/Quantitative Perspectives

         - MEQA/Quantitative Perspectives

         - Creative Industries/Media Arts and Society

Can changes be made once a concentration is chosen?

  • Students may change concentrations by repeating the process above with the coordinator of the new concentration.  Concentration changes must be by the last day of classes in the fall semester of sophomore year.  For current sophomores, that date is December 12, 2016. 

How do students select LSM courses?

  • Prior to registration each semester, students and assigned mentors meet to discuss course choices.
  • The LSM is designed so that students will be able to complete it – as well as a major and minor – without taking any “extra” courses.  However, certain business major/LSM/minor combinations may be more difficult than others and early careful planning is necessary.
  • Information sheets with guidelines and updated course lists for each concentration are located at on the LSM web page listed above.
  • Courses whose content may differ from section to section are listed as acceptable “with appropriate theme.”  A complete list of applicable courses for each semester will be posted on the LSM site. 
  • As in the primary major, up to two transfer courses may be applied to the LSM.  One AP and/or IB course may be used, but the combined number of transfer, and AP and/or IB courses may not exceed two.
  • Students may apply no more than two courses from their primary major to their LSM.  However, no course may count towards both a minor and the LSM.   
  • LSM progress will be shown on the student’s DAS.

Who should I contact with questions?

Contact concentration coordinators for specific information.

Additional Notes  

What happens if a student has declared an LSM but has not completed all requirements by graduation?

Since the LSM is an optional major that does not stand alone, a student satisfying all graduation requirements who has failed to complete LSM requirements will graduate with their primary major only.  Courses taken for the LSM will still appear on the transcript, but the student will not receive credit for the LSM. 

Students may now take one elective course under the pass/fail option.  Will this course be admissible as an LSM required course?

No, the pass/fail option is available only for electives not used within a major.

What is the process for declaring a Liberal Studies Major?

Students considering the LSM should read concentration descriptions and choose one that is of interest to them.  Students wishing to receive additional information on one or more concentrations, or who wish to discuss options further, should contact the appropriate concentration coordinator(s):

Once a concentration is chosen, the student should meet with the appropriate coordinator to discuss requirements and declare the major.  The coordinator will also assign a LSM mentor at this time.

I am a transfer student.  Can I declare a LSM?

LSM Policy for Transfer Students

Transfer students who arrive as class code 4 or earlier have until the last day of classes of the semester in which they are a class code 4 to enroll in the LSM (unless they plan to graduate in four semesters, see ** below).  This one semester extension allows transfer students extra time to declare an LSM, since, unlike traditional Bentley students, they will not have had three semesters to make a decision. 

Transfer students who arrive as class code 5 may enroll in the LSM during the first two weeks of their first semester only.  This is because transfer students must work with a LSM mentor for a minimum of two years, as well as complete their e-portfolio.  This two year minimum is necessary in order to maintain the integrity and iterative nature of the program.   

**This two year minimum also means that class code four transfer students who plan to graduate in four semesters must register for the LSM in the first two weeks of their class code 4 semester (starting from the first day of classes) and may not wait until the end of that semester.