Greg Nault is no stranger to academia — after earning both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from DePaul, he spent the next seven years teaching composition at multiple colleges. But he desired a change, one with more opportunities than he had as an adjunct instructor. At the same time, his scholarly interests had veered toward the cultural and economic theories of cities; he dreamed of earning a PhD that would allow him to do work in this area. Nault decided to enter SCS’ Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program to see whether he’d have “the chops” to make it in a PhD program.
“It’s one thing to teach undergraduate composition or write professional communication, and another to do academic research and writing,” he says. “It had been a long time since I was in graduate school for my master’s, and I felt out of touch with the rigors of academic reading, especially theoretical works.” Nault used the program’s flexibility, emphasis on critical and analytical thinking, and diverse topics — a broad variety in the humanities and social science — to polish his skills and define his interests.
“The ability to tailor my courses and projects, and certain classroom experiences, were great preparation,” he says. “My very first class with Professor Henry Binford, who specializes in urbanization, really helped focus my interests. A literature class with Professor Jane Winston explored the effect of the built environment on people. I’m now looking at cities the way I used to look at novels.”
Nault is considering PhD programs that draw upon geography, cultural studies, urban studies and other disciplines to shape our understanding of cities. He intends to apply in the fall of 2013 with the goal of eventually teaching at the college level. But he’s open to other opportunities in the private sector.
“In MALS you learn to research, analyze and write at a much higher level,” he says. “I’m confident that this will help me not only as a PhD student, but in any other career path I might choose.”