Degree Requirements

Structure

The Master of Liberal Arts Program at Johns Hopkins is flexible, interdisciplinary, and dynamic. Each MLA student completes a total of ten courses. Students design their own program of study with the help of an advisor and other students. The breadth of the curriculum allows students to combine their interests in creative ways whether they seek professional development, personal enrichment or a combination of both. Courses are offered both online and onsite (the latter on evenings and weekends). The MLA program has three full semesters, Fall, Spring, and Summer. Admission is continuous; the program can be taken entirely online and there is no residency requirement.

Program Requirements

One Interdisciplinary Core (IC)

(To be taken within the first three courses of the program.) Using a thematic approach, this core class introduces students to the breadth of the liberal arts. The class provides a multidisciplinary perspective on a theme to illustrate how different “ways of knowing” can broaden and deepen our understanding of culture. Recent examples of Interdisciplinary Core courses have included:

  • The Self in Question: Readings in Psychology and Literature
  • Monstrosity and Metamorphosis: Imagining Animals in Early Art and Literature
  • Poetry and the Visual Arts
  • The American Southwest: Crossroads of Culture
  • Science Fiction Film in the 20th Century

Elective Courses

8 or 9 electives (Eight for the Graduate Project option; nine for the Portfolio option.)

  • 450.510 – Leadership and the Classics
  • 450.527 – Literature and the Healing Arts
  • 450.581 – The American Revolution
  • 450.603 – Baltimore and the Environment
  • 450.605 – Religion and 20th Century Drama
  • 450.608 – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
  • 450.612 – Great Ethical Philosophers
  • 450.614 – Beyond Morgan and Blackbeard: Piracy from Ancient Rome to the Present
  • 450.616 – Modern Irish Literature
  • 450.620 – Art of the Court of Burgundy, 1364-1477
  • 450.623 – The Theater of Revolt: Makers of Modern Drama
  • 450.625 – Bioethics
  • 450.626 – Physics of the Universe
  • 450.632 – The Art of Nature and the Nature of Art: Landscape Painting of the 19th Century
  • 450.635 – Modern English Literature
  • 450.636 – Cultural Eras: The 1950s
  • 450.640 – Inventing Modern America
  • 450.641 – Food and Politics
  • 450.643 – Reading Photographs
  • 450.645 – Documentary Photography
  • 450.649 – Languages of the World
  • 450.650 – Cultural Eras: The 1960s
  • 450.652 – Understanding Modern Art
  • 450.657 – Introduction to World Religions
  • 450.660 – Extreme America: Political Extremism in the U.S., 1870-1920
  • 450.661 – History of Russia
  • 450.664 – Ideas of Justice
  • 450.672 – Down to the Sea in Ships: Introduction to Underwater Archaeology
  • 450.677 – Place and Vision in Contemporary World Literature
  • 450.678 – Religions of the Emerging World
  • 450.680 – From Jerusalem to Graceland
  • 450.681 – Religions of India, China, and Japan
  • 450.682 – The American Presidency
  • 450.686 – Modern Sculpture
  • 450.687 – Art And Mythology
  • 450.688 – Violence to End Violence: Slavery, Anti-Slavery and the Coming of the Civil War
  • 450.690 – Literature of Existentialism: An Interdisciplinary Exploration
  • 450.692 – Shakespeare: Tragedies and Histories
  • 450.693 – A Comparative Look at the Manuscript Book
  • 450.701 – Theories of Ethics
  • 450.702 – History of the Book in the West
  • 450.703 – Philosophy, Faith and Fiction in Tolstoy and Dostoevsky
  • 450.705 – Art Collectors and Collecting
  • 450.710 – The Mind of Leonardo Da Vinci
  • 450.711 – Romanesque and Gothic Art
  • 450.712 – Cosmos and Consciousness: Perspectives from Modern Physics and Religion
  • 450.714 – Progress and the American Environment
  • 450.715 – Evil in Modern Literature
  • 450.718 – Faulkner’s Fiction: Beyond the Southern Mystique
  • 450.719 – American Short Story
  • 450.722 – Southern Women Writers
  • 450.726 – Lost Books of Bible
  • 450.729 – Maya Worlds: Ancient and Modern
  • 450.731 – American Composers of the 20th Century: Ives, Gershwin, Copland and Bernstein
  • 450.732 – Literature of Oppression: Louise Erdrich and Toni Morrison
  • 450.735 – Text & Image: The Material Culture of Renaissance Europe, 1400-1650
  • 450.737 – Indian Philosophy
  • 450.739 – Race and Jazz
  • 450.743 – Idea of Freedom
  • 450.744 – Murder and Espionage in Maryland
  • 450.745 – King Arthur in Legend and Literature
  • 450.752 – Spies, Sabotages, Escapes, Evasions and Code-Breaking in World War-II
  • 450.754 – Alienation and Deviance
  • 450.755 – Evil From Greek Tragedies to Gothic Tales
  • 450.756 – What is History?
  • 450.757 – Music and Literature: Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus
  • 450.763 – Myths: Development and Significance
  • 450.764 – Medicine in the Ancient Near Eastern and Classical Worlds
  • 450.765 – Politics and Culture of the Holocaust
  • 450.769 – Dead Sea Scrolls
  • 450.770 – The New South
  • 450.775 – The History of Cosmology from Babylon to the Big Bang
  • 450.776 – American West: Image and Reality
  • 450.787 – Angst and Alienation
  • 450.791 – A Cultural History of New York City: World’s Fair to World Trade Center

Capstone—Graduate Project and Portfolio

The Capstone is designed to encourage the integration of course work in the program and comes at the end of a student’s course work. Students conclude the MLA degree through the completion of a non-credit portfolio or a one course graduate project. The student works with the associate program chair to determine the option best suited to the student’s needs and goals. There is also an Internship option within the Graduate Project.

450.082 – MLA Portfolio
The Liberal Arts Portfolio is a non-credit option within the MLA Capstone. Students who select the portfolio option will take 10 courses in the program. The portfolio will be completed within the same semester as the 10th course, and for students not selecting a graduate project or thesis, the portfolio is a degree requirement. The associate chair serves as the portfolio adviser. The portfolio consists of a sampling of the best papers and projects written over the course of the student’s graduate career. It is not simply a collection of papers but designed to help students see the intellectual point of convergence in their studies. It is also provides a travel log chronicling the student’s journey toward their own “way of knowing.”

450.830 – MLA Graduate Project
Most students enrolled in the Master of Liberal Arts program conclude their degree requirements by writing an independent project under the direction of a faculty sponsor. The graduate project is interdisciplinary in scope and reflects an emphasis or interest that the student has discovered in the MLA program. Before registering for the graduate project, a student must receive proposal approval from the faculty sponsor and the MLA Program Director.
450.850 – Internship
The Internship is part of the MLA Capstone. For additional information about possible internships please contact the program director. Students have five years to complete the degree.

The MLA is tailored to students’ needs and priorities. Courses described in the catalog and online are representative of the broad range of MLA offerings. The same courses are rarely offered two years in a row. The electives are drawn from faculty across Johns Hopkins University including history, philosophy, art history, political science, physics, music, environmental sciences, and religion.  Courses are also provided by field specialists from surrounding cultural institutions (For example The Maryland State Archives and The Walters Art Museum).

Capstone –  Graduate Project and Portfolio

The Capstone is designed to encourage the integration of course work in the program and comes at the end of a student’s course work. Students conclude the MLA degree through the completion of a non-credit portfolio or a one course graduate project. The student works with the associate program chair to determine the option best suited to the student’s needs and goals. There is also an Internship option within the Graduate Project. See Capstone Requirements for more information.

Students have five years to complete the degree.

Students who earn a C or below in the core course must retake the course. Students who earn two grades of C or below will be dismissed from the program.

State-specific Information for Online Programs

Note: Students should be aware of state-specific information for online programs. For more information, please contact an admissions representative.