Penn LPS Coronavirus COVID-19 Update
Effective Monday, March 16 through March 31, the College of Liberal and Professional Studies staff will be working remotely to comply with University protocols as we navigate the COVID-19 virus. Penn is committed to maintaining a safe campus and workplace for faculty, students, staff, and visitors. While we are not onsite, we are still available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. by phone and online in case you need support: (215) 898-7326 or lps@sas.upenn.edu.

Visit coronavirus.upenn.edu, the University's dedicated coronavirus COVID-19 web page, for the latest updates.

Master of Liberal Arts

You are here

Master of Liberal Arts

Become a master of any subject with a degree in the liberal arts

Your journey to the Master of Liberal Arts (MLA) starts with you: your passions, your curiosity, and your aspirations. Housed in the University of Pennsylvania’s College of Liberal and Professional Studies (LPS), the MLA offers ambitious and creative thinkers like you the opportunity to design your own curriculum at the intersection of your interests. With access to courses across the University in dozens of academic departments, the MLA program provides a powerful combination of customizability, personalized advising, and the outstanding resources of one of the nation’s top research universities.

This flexible master’s degree can be completed in one full-time academic year or at a part-time pace over several years; evening and online courses make it easy to pursue your education without interrupting your career. MLA graduates come from a wide range of professional and academic backgrounds, and find in their liberal arts degree a springboard for new opportunities: enriching professional engagement, transforming passion into purpose, preparing for advanced studies, and discovering new avenues of thought. The MLA team is here to help you find your way—our doors are open.

What do you want to master?

When you join the Master of Liberal Arts program, you become part of a global network of scholars and professionals from all walks of life.

Meet the alumni who mastered it all >

Fast facts

icon
9
Number of graduate level courses required to earn the degree
icon
900+
Number of alumni in the MLA network
icon
87%
Percentage of students studying part time
icon
3.5
Average number of years to complete the MLA while studying part time

Courses and curriculum

Your ambition is the curriculum in the Master of Liberal Arts program: from the courses you take to the culminating capstone project you complete, you tailor the degree to your individual interests and goals. With access to graduate-level courses in the College of Liberal and Professional Studies and the School of Arts and Sciences, as well as schools throughout the University including the Annenberg School for Communication and the Weitzman School of Design, the MLA program places Penn’s world-renowned faculty and Ivy League resources at your fingertips.

Students may develop an entirely individualized curriculum in collaboration with their advisor, or focus their studies to a particular topic with a graduate certificate. MLA certificate requirements vary by topic, and include African studies, African-American studies, cinema studies, cultural heritage management, East Asian studies, environmental studies, folklore, gender and sexuality, global studies, Jewish studies, Latin American studies, public culture, region, and urban studies.

Learn more about courses and curriculum >

Become a Penn-made thinker and writer

The MLA Proseminar courses are intensive seminars with small class sizes that foster thoughtful conversation and intellectual growth. Each term offers several different Proseminar courses on varying topics such as international politics, film studies, and autobiographical or creative writing, and all Proseminar courses integrate the research, writing, and critical thinking skills that distinguish MLA students and prepare them to design their capstone.

The capstone project is the culminating experience of the liberal arts degree, allowing you to integrate two or more academic disciplines and define your area of expertise. Your capstone project can take the form of an in-depth research paper, a creative endeavor such as memoir or fiction, or a hybrid project designed to meet your unique academic, professional, or personal goals.  

See graduating students present their capstone projects >

Take your liberal arts education to the next level

The Master of Philosophy (MPhil) in Liberal Arts is an advanced graduate degree designed for individuals who want to demonstrate applied scholarship beyond a master’s degree. The Master of Philosophy in Liberal Arts can serve as an important step in future PhD study preparation or simply an opportunity to extend scholarly engagement with additional courses and a focused thesis project.

Learn more about the MPhil program >

Curriculum

Individualized curriculum

With Penn's MLA program, you design a curriculum centering on a particular theme that interests you.

See Courses and Curriculum >

Program Resources

MLA virtual information session

Meet MLA Director, Dr. Chris Pastore, and learn more about the program on March 12th or April 16th.

Register now >

Capstones

Individual capstone projects

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

Read about Capstone Projects >

LPS News

  • Hayley McCurdy, Master of Environmental Studies ’20—expected
    A Penn student designs her degree around the industries that power change
    For Hayley McCurdy (MES ’20—expected), an individualized curriculum helped her make connections and explore her interests in energy, economic development, and environmental stewardship. View Story
  • College of Professional and Liberal Studies students stand out in the 2020 Grad Ben Talks event
    Students from the Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences and the Master of Applied Positive Psychology won awards in their divisions. View Story

Contact

College of Liberal and Professional Studies Office

3440 Market Street, Suite 100
Philadelphia, PA 19104-3335

E-MAIL:
PHONE:
FAX:
lps@sas.upenn.edu
(215) 898-7326
(215) 573-2053

 

Ready to apply to LPS?
APPLY TODAY >

Want more information about one of our programs?

Penn LPS

The lifelong learning division of Penn Arts & Sciences

3440 Market Street, Suite 100
Philadelphia, PA 19104-3335

(215) 898-7326
lps@sas.upenn.edu