Online Master of Liberal Arts

New Perspectives, Limitless Possibilities

Gain the multidisciplinary knowledge and intellectual tools to fuel your personal and professional growth.

No. 6 National University
US News & World Report 2023
No. 13 World University Rankings
Times Higher Education 2023
Master of Liberal Arts
Editors Choice |
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Is an MLA Right for You?


Interdisciplinary Graduate Education From UChicago

Grow your skills in strategy, leadership, and synthetic thinking

To lead an organization responsibly, to develop a new product or service, or to make a difference in your community, you need a strong foundation in the principles and practices of reasoned inquiry.

The University of Chicago online Master of Liberal Arts will allow you to engage with fresh perspectives in a transformative educational environment that’s driven by intellectual curiosity and open dialogue.

MLA program benefits

  • Exchange ideas with highly accomplished peers and eminent faculty in a program where nearly a third of students work in executive leadership positions.
  • Build valuable skills in synthetic thinking, critical thinking, communication, problem solving, and adaptability.
  • Pursue a general course of study or specialize through a concentration in Ethics and Leadership, Literary Studies, or Tech and Society.
  • Attend an optional, one-week residency on our storied Hyde Park campus.
  • Advance your education and career while working full-time with online class sessions in evenings and on weekends.
  • Access career support resources and our worldwide network of more than 193,000 alumni.

Our Learner Community

As a pioneer in distance learning at one of the world’s foremost higher education institutions, the UChicago MLA program brings together accomplished individuals from a wide range of personal and professional backgrounds. In MLA courses, you’ll exchange ideas with thought leaders and sharpen your arguments in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

Average years of professional experience
30 %
of students work in executive leadership roles
59 %
of students already hold at least one graduate degree

To get answers to your questions about the program and hear directly from an MLA student, sign up for a virtual information session.

Fabiola Delgado
Fei Ni
Natalie Schreyer
Cara Brennan Allamano

Student Stories

The program more than met expectations. It taught me to ask better questions, dig deeper for answers, challenged me to consider perspectives outside my expertise, and connected me to a community of talented and curious individuals.

Sarah Hope Marshall
Sarah Hope Marshall

Meet Sarah Founder and Principal, Profound Hope Industries

The MLA program helps you develop skills to better organize your thoughts, sharpen your points, and deliver a strong argument.

Brian O'Connor
Brian O’Connor

Meet Brian Head of Embedded Banking, JP Morgan

The UChicago MLA program allows me to transfer my real-world experience in scaling startups to the realm of academic thought and beyond, all while being a part of an exciting learning community that challenges my current notions and helps me grow as an individual and executive.

Cara Brennan Allamano
Cara Brennan Allamano

Meet Cara Chief People Officer, Lattice

Waking up early in the morning here in Shanghai and immediately diving into the prescient geniuses of Weber or Kant, I am able to discover time-tested insights that help me think more clearly and make better decisions in this time of unpredictability.

Fei Ni
Fei Ni

Meet Fei Chairman & CEO, Pingyuan App-Ark Education

Each deep conversation with my professors, each vivid discussion with my classmates, and each page of the books I read, help me to better articulate my worldview, and paint a vivid picture of the future destinations that I want to explore.

Fabiola Delgado
Fabiola Delgado

Meet Fabiola Assistant VP for Finance and Chief of Staff for National Laboratories, University of Chicago


Concentrate on what matters to you

The liberal arts encompass both broad opportunities for personal development and avenues to gain expertise in specific areas that fit your interests or professional objectives. You can complete a general course of study or focus on the topics that you’re passionate about by selecting from these concentrations:

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Ethics and Leadership

Take an interdisciplinary look at leaders and leadership strategies, interrogating the ethical implications of our choices and reflecting on your own leadership style.

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Literary Studies

Read some of the best writing that humanity has produced as you learn from faculty members who approach literature from a wide range of disciplinary standpoints.

Technology on tablet

Tech and Society

Examine the relationship between emerging technologies and society through the lenses of history, anthropology, science, policy, and business.

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Apply to join our vibrant MLA community

We designed the online Master of Liberal Arts program to welcome individuals with a wide range of educational and professional backgrounds. We build diverse cohorts of students who bring a wealth of lived experiences and unique points of view into class discussions. You do not need to have earned a previous liberal arts degree to succeed in this program.

Admissions decisions are based on a holistic review of your application materials. To be considered for admission, an applicant must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university with any major. Standardized test scores (e.g., GRE or GMAT) are not required.

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Our Curriculum

The Online Master of Liberal Arts Curriculum

The online MLA features a rigorous interdisciplinary curriculum that centers around open discussion of big ideas, led by the renowned faculty at one of the world’s premier research institutions.

In the Master of Liberal Arts, you will:

  • Take core courses in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.
  • Prepare to apply concepts and methodological approaches from multiple disciplines to real-world problems.
  • Complete a thesis or special project on a topic of your choosing.
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learning experience

The Online MLA Learning Experience

The UChicago MLA is not driven by traditional lectures or exams. Instead, you’ll engage in Socratic seminar-style discussions, sharing your thoughts in a respectful atmosphere dedicated to open inquiry.

Each course consists of weekly, synchronous sessions—scheduled on weekday evenings and Saturdays— in which you’ll talk in detail about the topics raised in the assigned reading. You’ll analyze ideas from a variety of sources, make persuasive arguments, and synthesize information in unique ways.

“Our Master of Liberal Arts students are accomplished professionals who refuse to rest on their laurels. They’re dedicated to self-improvement and pushing their careers to even higher levels of achievement. They enter our program seeking to add layers of complexity and nuance to their thinking.”

Tim Murphy

Master of Liberal Arts Program Director

“Interdisciplinary collaboration opens up remarkable possibilities for confronting complex social problems and building a better future. In our MLA courses, students gain a deeper understanding of the world around them and the intellectual tools to make a meaningful impact.”

Omar McRoberts

Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Chicago

“MLA students have found direct career benefits from this program. Learning to think in more creative, analytical and critical ways opened up their imaginations, taught them problem-solving skills, and nurtured an intellectual creativity that they were then able to bring back to their work.”

Mark Miller

Associate Professor of English, University of Chicago

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have questions about our master’s degree in liberal arts that aren’t answered here? Find answers on our FAQ page

What’s it like to take an online course in a Socratic seminar format?

You’ll sign into the Zoom meeting for each MLA class prepared to engage in lively, respectful discussions about the assigned reading. With a small group of peers, averaging 15 students per course, and your professor, you’ll examine fundamental questions through the lenses of multiple disciplines and varied lived experiences. Our most successful students come to every class session confident they have valuable ideas to contribute, but also eager to have their views challenged and improved upon through open dialogue.

Will I be able to succeed as a UChicago student?

The MLA offers rich intellectual engagement in a format that’s designed specifically for busy professionals and ambitious lifelong learners. Many of our students have been out of school for years or decades, and our admissions team conducts a holistic review of application materials to seek individuals with a variety of work and life experiences.

We provide extensive resources to support our students. A dedicated writing advisor is available to review essays and assignments, giving expert feedback to sharpen your arguments and refine your prose. Our faculty members regularly hold virtual office hours, and we offer specialized workshops on the skills necessary to excel in your graduate courses.

How long does it take to complete the online MLA program?

You can finish the MLA in one year on a full-time schedule or take courses part-time at your own pace for up to five years.

I already have a graduate degree. Does an MLA make sense for me?

The MLA is an ideal complement to other master’s degrees. An MBA, JD, MD, or graduate program in another professional field often teaches the specialized knowledge that’s necessary to advance in a specific industry. The MLA connects you to the big picture, addressing overarching questions about why organizations and communities function the way they do. You’ll gain the intellectual tools to think deeper, lead smarter, question conventional wisdom, and collaborate with others in complex environments.

What career resources are available to MLA students?

MLA students have full access to UChicago career resources. Career advisors are available to review resumes, connect you with networking opportunities, conduct mock interviews, and answer your questions. You can also attend virtual or on-campus career events to meet with top employers who are actively recruiting UChicago alumni.

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November 8, 2023 Information Session

MLA Information Session

Glimpse into our Master of Liberal Arts.

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