The Master of Liberal Arts program (MLA) provides the opportunity, at an advanced level of intellectual inquiry, to explore interdisciplinary perspectives that are the hallmark of a rigorous liberal arts education. MLA students pursue course work and independent research with Washington University scholars of history, anthropology, literature, art, music, philosophy, politics, religion, and science.
Core MLA seminars examine a broad range of intellectual history that extends from specific traditions of thought to questions of cultural difference; from specific rituals to acts of creation and innovation; and from moments of discovery to diverse responses to change, including transforming experiences such as euphoria, nostalgia, illness, and rebellion. Through a focus on interpretative skills in oral and written expression, these seminars help students sharpen their own thinking about contemporary issues in relation to ideas about justice, values, and critical inquiry that have influenced the course of history.
Students in the Master of Liberal Arts program combine graduate study with busy professional and personal lives.
They come from all corners of the St. Louis area; they are diverse in age, background, and livelihood; but they share a joy of learning and a realization that their lives and careers can be enriched by the liberal arts.
The Master of Liberal Arts program consists of seminars that introduce students to the methods and questions of different disciplines.
Planned and taught by full-time Washington University faculty, the core interdisciplinary seminars are organized into four general categories and cover a wide variety of topics and issues. Actual topics vary each semester.
Most core seminars are held one evening a week during the fall and spring semesters and twice a week during the summer term.
Some students take all 30 hours of the degree in the seminars that are designed specifically for the M.L.A. program; others augment a particular interest by taking related courses drawn from different departments.
Admission to the Master of Liberal Arts degree program is open on a selective basis to qualified persons with a baccalaureate degree. To apply to the program, please submit:
•a completed Application for Graduate Admission form, including an essay of 300-350 words describing your interest in and qualifications for the program;
•a non-refundable $35 application fee;
•three letters of reference;
•Official transcripts of all previous college work (undergraduate and, if applicable, graduate work and degrees granted); (University College can request the transcript(s) on your behalf, click here for the transcript release form)
Admission Time Line
University College and the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences review completed applications and make admissions decisions on a rolling basis. The process typically takes four to six weeks, and so we urge applicants to submit their materials by the following schedule in order to ensure a timely decision: mid-November for spring; mid-April for summer; mid-July for fall. If you plan to apply for federal financial aid, please note that this process can take six to eight weeks. It is suggested that applicants begin by completing their FAFSA at the time of application. For additional information about Financial Aid and step-by-step Financial Aid application instructions, click here.
To earn the Master of Liberal Arts degree, students must satisfactorily complete nine courses (five of which must be drawn from the core seminars) and a final independent project for a total of 30 units of graduate study. A maximum of 6 credits of related and comparable graduate-level course work may be transferred from another university or from a related graduate program at Washington University with the approval of the program director. These must be graduate-level units not used to fulfill undergraduate degree requirements. Transfer credit may be granted only for authorized courses for which the student received a grade of B or higher.
The Graduate School of Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.
Facts & Figures
Classification: Doctoral/Research University—Extensive
Locale: Large City
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