Degree Requirements


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

Ten three-credit hour courses, including:

  • One interdisciplinary core completed within the first three courses, to be selected from the MLA Program electives and approved on a student-by-student basis by their academic advisor.
  • Either eight or nine electives:
    •  8 electives for students who complete the Graduate Project option.
    •  9 electives for students who complete the Portfolio option.
  • Capstone – Graduate Project, Internship, or Portfolio
    The Capstone is designed to encourage the integration of course work in the program and comes at the end of a student’s coursework. Students conclude the MLA degree through the completion of a non-credit portfolio or a one course graduate project (which may be a thesis, internship, or other approved form of creative work). Students work with their advisors to determine the option best suited to the student’s needs and goals.

Students have five years to complete the degree. If a student earns a C in a course, they are placed on academic probation. Students who earn two grades of C or below in any of their MLA courses will be dismissed from the program.

The Capstone Experience

The Capstone is designed to encourage the integration of course work in the program and comes at the end of a student’s MLA career. The student works with the Associate Program chair to determine the best option for that student’s needs and goals. The MLA is more than just a string of courses and the Capstone is designed to help students integrate their graduate experiences in a meaningful and thoughtful way.

The MLA Program offers two basic options for the Capstone: Portfolio and Graduate Project. Please start thinking about the Capstone before it is time to register. You must have permission from your advisor in order to register for either option, and you must complete a Capstone Contract. The MLA Program recommends that the Capstone proposal process is completed in the semester prior to the semester in which they enroll in their Capstone course. Both options have deadlines that students must meet in order to graduate on time.

The Portfolio (450.082)

Students who select the Portfolio option will take ten courses in the program. The Portfolio will be completed within the same semester as the tenth course. The portfolio consists of a sampling of the most representative 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 how all aspects of the program are interconnected. It also provides a reflective chronicle of the student’s learning and intellectual development during the MLA program.

Special Note: Since this is a zero-credit course, it is offered at a reduced tuition rate. For the 2018-2019 academic year, that rate is $350.

Please see Portfolio Description.

Graduate Project (450.830)

The Graduate Project allows students to conclude the MLA degree by completing a project of their own design on a topic of their choosing. Students complete this project under the guidance of a faculty member. The graduate project is interdisciplinary in scope and reflects an emphasis or interest that a student has discovered through the MLA program. The project provides the opportunity for the student to apply the concepts and knowledge gained through the program to an independent project of his/her design. The project should be thirty to fifty pages and can include a range of multimedia materials. The final project is generally in the form of a research paper, though it may be in a creative format as well (such as a play or visual arts project).

Internship (450.850)

For additional information about possible internships please contact your academic advisor.

Please see Internship Capstone Contract.

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.