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Master of Philosophy in Liberal Arts

Expand your master’s research, develop new methods and define your expertise

The Master of Philosophy in Liberal Arts (MPhil) is an advanced interdisciplinary graduate degree designed for individuals with a passion for academic pursuits. Available on a full- or part-time basis, you elect the courses most relevant to your interests, around your schedule. The Master of Philosophy in Liberal Arts can serve as an important step in future PhD studies, or as a way to deepen engagement with the topics that challenge and excite you.

Courses and thesis

If you already hold a master’s, you can earn an additional graduate degree in just six course units (c.u.).* Your MPhil program includes five courses (up to four in a single discipline) and an independent study dedicated to completing the final thesis project. We strongly encourage MPhil candidates to take advantage of the many disciplines and departments available across the University during your course selection process.

Advisory committee

When you join the MPhil program, you select an advisory committee of two members of Penn’s acclaimed faculty. It is likely that you will work with professors from your coursework or with faculty who are performing research in your area of interest. Though much of your work is done independently, the MPhil program director is available to help you navigate the process and discuss options along the way.

The advisory committee helps you establish guidelines for your thesis and approves the written project as part of your successful completion of the Master of Philosophy in Liberal Arts degree. The rigorous MPhil thesis exemplifies dedication to your chosen field and serves as an ideal tool for demonstrating the quality of your research and writing skills to employers, PhD programs and peers.

We encourage you to contact our program director, Dr. Christopher Pastore, to schedule an appointment to review your current research and explore your options for pursuing an MPhil at Penn.

Student and alumni stories

Karen Borek, MPhil ‘19

Master of Philosophy student, University of Pennsylvania

Learn how Karen deepened and expanded her study of South African culture.

Chief Legal Officer at Conrail

Hear how the MPhil program supported Jonathan's ambition to write an engaging historical narrative about his company.

Associate Professor of History, Global Studies Program Coordinator, Delaware County Community College

Discover how the MPhil program enriched Jeffrey’s teaching and writing career.

President & CEO, Praitie Studios LLC
President & CEO, Jobs Logger LLC

See how the MPhil program strengthened Daniel’s research and his skill set as a scholar.

Director of Humanities, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences Computing at the University of Pennsylvania

Discover how MPhil research helped Chris prepare for a PhD while he contributed to PennSound's audio archive.

PhD student at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania

Learn about Ryan’s research interests in LGBTQ media practices and how his experiences in the MPhil program helped him prepare for a PhD.

MPhil student Andie Tursi

Associate Senior Writer, Office of Development and Alumni Relations at the University of Pennsylvania

Hear how the MPhil program positioned Andie to fulfill her professional and creative writing ambitions.

*Academic credit is defined by the University of Pennsylvania as a course unit (c.u.). A course unit (c.u.) is a general measure of academic work over a period of time, typically a term (semester or summer). A c.u. (or a fraction of a c.u.) represents different types of academic work across different types of academic programs and is the basic unit of progress toward a degree. One c.u. is usually converted to a four-semester-hour course.

Individual capstone projects


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

Read about Capstone Projects >

Looking for financial assistance?

Financial Aid

Learn about the options at Penn.

See Financial Aid >

Featured courses

Featured Courses

Planning your class schedule? Consider these exciting summer and fall courses.

See Featured Courses >

Penn LPS

The lifelong learning division of Penn Arts & Sciences

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

(215) 898-7326