What is a Master of Liberal Arts?

The Master of Liberal Arts is a unique, non-traditional graduate degree. Whereas most graduate programs ask students to become more and more specialized, the MLA expects students to both broaden and deepen their educational experience. Our MLA is interdisciplinary in approach and draws from a range of different curricular fields including history, religion, literature, philosophy, political science, the humanities, music, art history, and the performing arts. The program of study is ten courses and includes a Capstone (graduate project or portfolio).

Who are MLA students?

There is no “typical” MLA student. We have students from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds.

How long do I have to complete the requirements of the program?

Students have up to five years to complete their degree.

How long does it take to go through admissions process?

We have rolling admissions. We admit for the Fall, Spring, and Summer. There is no standard time frame for the admission process. It depends on the time it takes for all application materials to be submitted.

Am I automatically rejected for consideration if my GPA falls below 3.0?

If you are fewer than five years from completing of a bachelor’s degree, the transcript is an important component in the admissions decision. Having a cumulative GPA that is under 3.0 is not automatic grounds for rejection. Students in that situation should explain relevant extenuating circumstances in their admissions essay. If your transcripts are ten or more years old, the life experience of the applicant becomes an important factor in the review of their admissions materials. The Admissions Committee reserves the right to request additional information from applicants to assess their candidacy for admission.

Can students concentrate in a particular field or area of study?

We do not offer formal concentrations and most students select a wide variety of courses during their time in the MLA. Some students, however, have clustered courses in a particular field or thematic area in consultation with their academic advisor. 

How do I decide what courses to take?

Students may consult with their academic advisor as they determine which courses they will take from one semester to the next. The same courses are rarely offered two years in a row.

How many courses can I enroll in per semester?

Most of our students work full time and have other life responsibilities. We recommend that students take 1-2 courses at a time. Students who would like to take 3 courses in a semester should not have any other full-time commitments.

Can I transfer courses into the MLA from another school or program?

If you are applying to the MLA from outside of Johns Hopkins, you must follow the instructions to apply for Advanced Standing. If you are pursuing a degree in another program in AAP and decide to switch programs it may be possible to transfer up to two courses into the MLA provided that these are liberal arts oriented courses. Course transfers are approved by the Program Director on a case by case basis.

Can I take a course from another program and have it count towards my requirements?

Students are allowed to take up to two courses in any of the other programs in AAP if the course has a liberal arts orientation and if the student has the permission of the Program Director. The MLA also cross-lists courses with the other programs from time to time.

Is there any fellowship money available?

MLA alums over the years have generously donated funds to support MLA students in completing their MLA degree. These are small fellowships and usually cover only a portion of the tuition for one class. Fellowship funds are reserved for students currently enrolled in the program who have completed at least 2 semesters in the program and who have successfully completed (with posted final grades) at least 2 courses. Students with pending incompletes are not eligible to apply.

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.