Admissions and Eligibility

Applicants to the Master of Liberal Arts (MLA) program must possess at least a 3.0 grade point average in their undergraduate coursework. Previous coursework in the Liberal Arts, as well as evidence of preparation of graduate studies such as independent research and writing is also necessary. As day courses may be required, some degree of flexibility in schedule is beneficial to students.

A brief telephone interview is required for all applicants under serious consideration for admission to the MLA program.



  • Fall Admission: August 1 (July 1 for international applicants) 
  • Spring Admission: November 15 (October 15 for international applicants)
  • Summer Admission: April 15  (April 1 for international applicants)                              

Applications must be submitted through our online application system and must contain all of the following in order to be considered complete:

  • Completed online application
  • Current résumé
  • Non-refundable application fee (Make checks payable to the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania or pay by credit card through the online application)
  • Application essays, listed below
  • Unofficial transcripts from each post-secondary school attended uploaded through the online application system (*international transcript policy)
  • Standardized test scores, if applicable (please see below)
  • Two letters of recommendation (please see below)

Apply Online

After a complete application is received and reviewed, candidates under further consideration are invited to interview with the Program Director. Admissions decisions are generally made within two weeks of the interview.

Application Essays

Please respond to each of the following questions. If you are submitting your essays online, please upload them together in one document. Number your essays clearly and begin each essay on a separate page. Responses may be as long or as short as you feel necessary.

  • In a 350-word essay, discuss your interest in the MLA program and your reasons for wanting to enroll, drawing on your previous academic experiences, your current intellectual interests, and including any biographical information which may be relevant.
  • To help us advise you, identify as concisely as possible the topical area, intellectual problem, or set of issues you hope to explore within the MLA program.
  • If you believe your transcripts and other records do not present an accurate picture of your ability, please explain.
  • Describe an experience, event, or person that has been important to you in your development.
  • Have you ever been placed on probation, dismissed or suspended from any college or university for reasons pertaining to academic integrity? Yes/No
    If yes, please include any facts that you believe bear on the significance of this circumstance.
  • Is there other information about yourself that you consider important which has not been covered in the previous questions?

Letters of Recommendation

You must submit two letters of recommendation. Letters should come from someone in a position to evaluate your professional and/or academic work, such as a supervisor or professor, who knows of your desire to enter the MLA program. Recommendations may be submitted online or by mail. For online recommendations, please follow the instructions in the Recommendations section of the online application. For paper recommendations, please print a copy of the University of Pennsylvania’s College of Liberal and Professional Studies recommendation form and supply a copy to each recommender.

Standardized Test Scores

Standardized test scores are not required. However, you may opt to submit standardized test scores such as the GRE. Use ETS code 2986 when requesting test scores. 

Most international applicants must also submit TOEFL scores (see: If the medium of instruction for your undergraduate degree was not English, you must submit an official TOEFL score. The minimum TOEFL scores required for admissions consideration are: 100 (iBT), 250 (CBT), or 600 (PBT). The TOEFL must be sent from ETS using the institutional code 2986. To locate a testing site near you or schedule an exam, visit the TOEFL website.

Upon review of an applicant's file, the admissions committee reserves the right to request TOEFL scores.

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Philadelphia, PA 19104-3335

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Fax: 215.573.2053
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