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Master of Philosophy in Liberal Arts Application Overview

Admissions and eligibility

Admission to the Master of Philosophy in Liberal Arts (MPhil) degree is available to individuals who have:

  • Earned a graduate degree from Penn and have an interdisciplinary academic background
  • Previously completed a Master of Liberal Arts degree at Penn
  • Previously completed a Master of Liberal Arts degree at Penn, or an equivalent interdisciplinary master's degree from another institution

Our rigorous Master of Philosophy thesis exercises your dedication and expertise in your chosen field. The degree also serves as an ideal tool for demonstrating the quality of your research and writing skills to potential PhD programs. 

Application deadlines

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

Admission Cycle Deadline
Spring 2017November 1, 2016
Summer 2017April 1, 2017
Fall 2017July 1, 2017

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Application materials checklist

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
  • 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)

Master of Philosophy application essays

Your application will include essays addressing the following topics. Responses should not exceed four pages in length for all the questions combined. (Please compile your responses into a single document, but keep them as separate essays.)

  • During your master's program, you developed an interdisciplinary curriculum that explored one or more themes. Please describe your intellectual journey during your previous graduate studies and discuss, in detail, how your experience has prepared you to undertake further study in the Master of Philosophy program.
  • Describe the final research project you would pursue during your Master of Philosophy program. Be as specific as possible concerning the questions you would like to explore, the methodology you would employ, the kinds of sources you would consult, the courses you would take and the faculty with whom you would like to work. You should also describe the relationship between your proposed program and your previous graduate research. If you propose to depart from your previous research, describe any coursework or experiences that have prepared you to undertake your proposed course of study. 

Letters of recommendation

Each applicant will submit two letters of recommendation. These should be from Penn faculty with whom you propose to study in the Master of Philosophy program if you have already completed a Master of Liberal Arts at Penn or from two of your advisors or instructors from a previous master's 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 download a copy of the recommendation form (PDF) and supply a copy to each recommender.

Standardized test scores

Standardized test scores are not required for admission to the Master of Philosophy in 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.

A strong command of the English language is necessary for successful study at Penn. Applicants for whom English is a second language must 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.

Walk-In Wednesday

Walk-In Wednesday

Members of the MLA program team are here to answer your questions face-to-face on the first Wednesday of each month.

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Financial Aid

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Spring application deadline: November 1st

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Philadelphia, PA 19104-3335

(215) 898-7326
(215) 573-2053

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