Applications and Admissions

Do I already need to have a degree in the liberal arts to apply?
MLA students are a diverse group, united in their commitment to developing their critical thinking and writing skills through pursuing a rigorous, multidisciplinary graduate program. Many MLA students are mid-career, and take advantage of the program’s flexibility. All MLA students have their bachelor’s degrees. Beyond this, students in the program span a wide range of age and experience levels.
When can I apply to the MLA?
The MLA accepts applications for Autumn, Winter, and Spring Quarter. Students are able to begin their studies during any of these quarters. Please consult the How to Apply page for specific application deadlines and requirements.
When will I find out if I was admitted?
We review applications on a rolling basis. On average, candidates are notified of their admissions decisions about one month after submitting their applications. This can be longer during busy periods, specifically in the months leading up to Autumn quarter, which is when we typically see our largest pool of applicants as well as our largest incoming class size.
What elements of the application are most important?
We give special weight to the statement of purpose and letters of recommendation. Your transcript and writing sample are also very important.
Can international students apply?
Yes. We welcome international applicants. Due to visa regulations, international students take the program full-time, completing their degree in one academic year. If admitted, you will work with the University’s Office of International Affairs to complete the F-1 Visa process.
Do I need GRE or GMAT scores?
No. GRE and GMAT scores are not required for admission to the MLA program. Applicants may submit test scores as supplemental materials with their applications, but this is optional and does not necessarily have a bearing on the admission process.

The Program

Can I pursue the MLA degree part-time?
Yes. Many MLA students pursue their degree part-time, taking one or two courses per quarter.
How long will the program take to complete?
That depends. Full-time students, taking 3 courses per quarter, can finish the program 9 months, or 3 academic quarters. Most students, however, take longer than this. The average length is 2-3 years; we allow students up to 5 years to complete the program.
Once admitted, am I required to enroll every quarter?
No. Students have up to 5 years to complete the program. Within this period, students often take quarters off from their MLA coursework.
Is tuition assessed on a class-by-class basis?
Yes; students pay for the MLA program on a class-by-class basis. Students only pay tuition during quarters when they are enrolled in classes.
Is financial aid available for the MLA?
No; the MLA program does not award financial aid. However, two important avenues are available to many students. Employers frequently offer benefits in the form of annual tuition reimbursement stipends. Tuition reimbursement benefits offer substantial assistance for many MLA students. In addition, students who are US citizens, nationals, or permanent residents who are enrolled at least half-time (2 courses per quarter) are eligible to apply for a federal student loans.
What is the quarter system?
Quarters are shorter academic units than semesters and allow a school to offer three to four different sessions of classes per year. A quarter lasts 10 weeks. The MLA holds classes in Autumn, Winter, and Spring quarters each year (there are no classes during the summer).
How many students will be in each of my classes?
Classes are capped at 25 students. The majority of MLA classes have between 10-20 students. All courses are taught as seminars; we believe that the small seminar format is essential for the development of strong intellectual exchange among students and with faculty.
Are all of the courses taught by University of Chicago professors?
All MLA courses are taught by tenured University of Chicago faculty. They are internationally renowned experts at the tops of their respective fields, and believe very strongly in their roles as teachers.
When and where do classes meet?
Classes meet at the Gleacher Center in downtown Chicago. Sessions meet once per week for 3 hours on weekday evenings and Saturdays.

The Curriculum

What are the degree requirements?
To receive the MLA degree, students complete 9 courses: 4 core courses, 4 electives, and a thesis. Please see the Program Structure page for detailed information.
How many courses are offered each quarter?
5-6 courses are offered in a typical quarter; course offerings can be explored in greater detail on the Curriculum page.
Are there any concentrations available within the program?
Yes. The MLA Ethics and Leadership Concentration launched last year. More information about this program can be found here.
Is writing assistance available?
Yes. The MLA has resident writing advisors, who are available to assist students with writing, research, revising, editing, proofreading and more. They meet with students individually and through group writing workshops. The MLA writing advisors also guide students through the thesis proposal process, from brainstorming and proposal revisions to securing a Faculty Advisor.

The MA Thesis

Will I work with an individual faculty thesis supervisor?
The MLA writing advisors guide students through the thesis proposal process. Once the proposal is approved, a Faculty Advisor will guide students through the writing process. Faculty from across the University may serve as MA thesis advisors, though most MLA students work with faculty who teach in the program.
How long do I have to complete my MA thesis?
For most students, the MA thesis is a two-quarter commitment from proposal to submission. Arrangements can be made, however, for students who require additional time to complete their projects.
What kinds of things do MLA students write about?
MA thesis topics reflect a broad range of interests, disciplines, and methodologies. Some recent titles include:

  • Microbrew Economics: Solutions for a Slowing Craft Beer Market
  • Hearts with Such a Fire: A Case Study in the Abuse of Minority Rights at UNESCO
  • Know Thyself: Self-Awareness in Wuthering Heights
  • The Chiraq Orchestra Conducted by Richard J. Daley

MLA Students

How many students are currently in the program?
There are approximately 100 students currently enrolled in the MLA program.
Where are your students from?
The majority of MLA students live in the Chicagoland area. However, as a diverse group of students, they have lived all over the country and internationally before their time in the program.
How many students take the program part-time?
The majority of MLA students take the program part time, completing the degree in 2-5 years.
What do MLA graduates do with their degrees?
MLA alumni have professional careers in many different fields. Many alumni use the degree to explore career change options, to advance in their current careers, or to pursue field interests that lie outside their professions. See the range of MLA student careers on the Where to Find Our Students page (coming soon).