The road less traveled
Your journey to the Master of Liberal Arts (MLA) at Penn starts with you: your passions, your questions and your unique combination of academic interests. You state your goals, and we help you craft your course of study within the rigorous academic environment of the Ivy League.
A curriculum created with you, for you
The MLA offers intellectual explorers like you the opportunity to design your own curriculum at the intersection of your interests in the liberal arts. With the support of Penn professors and program staff, you’ll choose nine courses that deepen and broaden your engagement with the ideas, questions and practices that matter most to you. Most of our courses take place in a small seminar format, allowing you to connect with both professors and peers in an intimate setting.
The program culminates in a large-scale capstone project tailored to your professional and intellectual goals. Our alumni have found the capstone—whether a research paper, memoir, screenplay, novel or other form of expression—to be both a defining process of intellectual self-discovery and a professional asset as they consider a career shift or prepare for a PhD program.
Why choose the MLA at Penn?
The MLA at Penn provides a powerful combination of customizability, advising and the outstanding resources of one of the nation’s top research universities.
Whether as a full- or part-time student, you’ll have access to classes in over 50 liberal arts course areas, and the chance to study in other world-renowned departments throughout the university. You’ll have the full run of our unmatched libraries and archives. You’ll enjoy the support and challenge of your MLA peers: driven, curious and accomplished professionals like you.
And most importantly, you’ll receive one-on-one guidance from MLA program staff and your professors as you clarify your goals for the program and design your course of study.
The MLA beyond Penn
Our alumni have used their MLA degrees to enrich their current working lives or launch themselves into their ideal careers by gaining expertise at the precise nexus of interests about which they’re most passionate. Many of our alumni successfully enter advanced degree and PhD programs, and state that they find themselves better equipped to pursue their chosen career path. The MLA degree has helped our alumni advance in the workplace professionally and financially and even discover new career paths. We welcome you to read more alumni stories to learn how the MLA can work for you in the real world.
Connect with the MLA today
The Penn MLA program prioritizes the power of personal connection — between students, teachers and program staff. We’re available to answer any questions that may arise as you explore the MLA program at Penn.