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Application Overview

Master of Liberal Arts application deadlines

You may apply to begin Master of Liberal Arts studies during the fall, spring or summer terms. Your application portfolio, including all transcripts, must be received by the following deadlines:

Summer 2015 admission
Application deadline: April 1, 2015

Fall 2015 admission
Application deadline: July 1, 2015

Spring 2016 admission
Application deadline: November 1, 2015

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International Student Deadlines:

Summer 2015 admission
Application deadline: March 1, 2015

Fall 2015 admission
Application deadline: July 1, 2015

Spring 2016 admission
Application deadline: October 1, 2015

Start your application now

Applications for the Master of Liberal Arts program are accepted on a rolling basis. Candidates under serious consideration are invited to interview with a member of the Admissions Committee on campus or remotely.

Application materials checklist

Since all required supporting documents are submitted through the online application system, hardcopy material other than official transcripts or letters of recommendation will not be accepted.* Please urge your recommenders to submit their letters through the online system.

Applications must contain all of the following in order to be considered complete:

*Unsolicited material will not used for review.

  • Completed online application
  • Current résumé
  • Nonrefundable application fee
  • Application essays, listed below
  • Unofficial transcripts from each post-secondary school attended uploaded through the online application system 
  • Standardized test scores, if applicable (details below)
  • Two letters of recommendation (details below)

After a complete application is received and reviewed, candidates under serious consideration are invited to interview with a member of the Admissions Committee on campus or remotely. 

Master of Liberal Arts application essays

Your application will include essays addressing the following topics. Please compile all essays 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.

  • Have you ever been placed on probation, dismissed or suspended from any college or university for reasons pertaining to academic integrity? If this does not apply, please write N/A in your response. If yes, please include any facts that you believe bear on the significance of this circumstance.
  • In a 350-word essay, discuss your interest in the program and your reasons for wanting to enroll, drawing on your previous academic experiences, your current intellectual interests, and including any biographical information that may be relevant.
  • To help up advise you, identify as concisely as possible the topical area, intellectual problem or set of issues you hope to explore within the 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.
  • Is there other information about yourself that you consider important that has not been covered in the previous questions?

Letters of recommendation

Each applicant will submit two letters of recommendation. Letters should come from individuals in a position to evaluate your professional and/or academic work, such as a supervisor or professor, and who know of your desire to enter the Master of Liberal Arts program. Recommendations may be submitted online (preferred) or by mail. For online recommendations, please follow the instructions in the Recommendations section of the online application.

Standardized test scores

Standardized test scores are not required for admission to the Master of Liberal Arts. However, you may choose to submit standardized test scores, such as the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), in support of your application. Request that your scores report for the GRE test be forwarded to the College of Liberal and Professional Studies, using ETS institutional code 2986.

International applicants whose first language is not English must also submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores to demonstrate English proficiency. Please note that the TOEFL is rarely waived; therefore, we encourage applicants to take the test to avoid delays in completing the application. 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. International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is also accepted and the minimum score for consideration is a 7. You may upload a copy of your IELTS test to the standardized test score section of the application.

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

Individual Capstone Projects


The capstone project is the culminating experience, allowing you to integrate and celebrate your education at Penn.

Read about Capstone Projects >

Master of Liberal Arts Information Session

Program Resources

Meet MLA Program Director, Dr. Chris Pastore, as he discusses the MLA Program, its curriculum and what MLA graduates are doing with their degrees.

View Info Session Video >

Summer Application Deadline: April 1st

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Get your application started!

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