Master of Liberal Arts FAQ

The University of Chicago Master of Liberal Arts offers an experience that’s distinct from career-oriented degrees you may have completed in the past. Rather than focus on a singular role or industry, this multidisciplinary program expands broadly applicable skills as a leader, communicator, and thinker through extensive exploration, discussion, and writing. Below, we answer some of the most commonly asked questions about the MLA.

Admissions Process

UChicago has a reputation for academic rigor. Will I be able to succeed in this environment?

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.

When we admit someone to the MLA, it’s because we believe that they will benefit from engaging with our multidisciplinary curriculum and make worthwhile contributions to our classroom discussions. We intentionally build a learning community that encompasses diverse backgrounds and viewpoints. By advancing these conversations with your individual perspective, you’ll help all your peers have more rewarding 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.

See our student experience page for more details on the support that’s available in the MLA program.

What is the minimum undergraduate GPA required for acceptance into the MLA program?

There is no minimum GPA. While we do consider your academic record, this is just one of many factors we take into consideration as our admissions team conducts a holistic review of application materials to assess whether applicants are likely to succeed in the program.

We understand that MLA applicants often have professional accomplishments as well as other meaningful life experiences that might make them valuable additions to the program. You’ll have opportunities to outline your achievements and qualifications in your resume, candidate statement, and interview. Your professional and life experience will be seriously considered as part of the evaluation process.

Can I speak to a current student or graduate about their experience in the MLA program?

Sign up for a virtual information session to hear first-hand from an MLA student. These sessions also include an overview of the program, the application process, and the resources available to our students.

If I am offered admission, how do I submit my official transcript(s)?

If you are offered admission, one official transcript for each university attended will be required prior to the first day of the term. Your institution should submit your final official transcript(s) electronically to Your transcript must be received directly from the issuing institution’s e-transcript service to be considered official. If for any reason you are unable to request electronically, please have them send official paper transcripts to the below address. Please note – if physical transcripts are sent via mail, they must be received in an original, school-sealed envelope.

The University of Chicago Professional Education
Attention: Enrollment Management 
455 North Cityfront Plaza Dr, Suite 950
Chicago, Illinois 60611

Tuition and Financing

How much is tuition?

As of the 2023-2024 school year, tuition for the MLA is $4,050 per course and $36,450 total for the program (based on taking nine courses in the current academic year). Tuition is subject to change. See our tuition and financial aid page for details.

I am considering seeking tuition reimbursement from my employer. Will this degree provide end benefit to my employer?

Yes, the MLA helps to develop a wide range of skills and knowledge that employers are actively
seeking. Dynamic, rapidly evolving workplaces need effective leaders who can persuasively communicate, productively collaborate, and understand how each individual’s contributions fit into the bigger picture. By earning this degree, you’ll build your abilities in critical and synthetic thinking, writing, verbal communication, listening, creativity, problem solving, and adapting to change. These human qualities will only become more important as businesses embrace the possibilities of data-driven decision making and artificial intelligence.

Visit our careers page for additional details on how the MLA can further your professional goals.

Can I apply for federal student loans for this program?

Students who are enrolled in at least two courses each quarter are eligible to apply for federal student loans. Those who are enrolled in just one course per quarter, as well as international students, may consider taking out private loans. Visit the UChicago financial aid website for more information.

Are scholarships available for this program?

Merit scholarships are available for MLA students. When you apply to the program, you’ll automatically be considered for one of these scholarships. Apply early for the best chance to qualify.

What is the FAFSA code for UChicago?

The UChicago school code is 001774.

Do I need to pay for required texts?

The cost of books varies by course, but is generally less than $100. Often, the required texts are available online free of cost.

Learning Experience

What is UChicago’s approach to online education?

As a pioneer in distance learning, UChicago is committed to making exceptional online education available to lifelong learners. We harness world-class technology and resources to provide a seamless online learning experience that’s intellectually rigorous and conveniently flexible. The online MLA exemplifies the Chicago Approach, a core philosophy that promotes intellectual curiosity, risk-taking, and molding good ideas into great ones.

What is the Socratic seminar course format like?

Students sign into the Zoom meeting for each MLA class prepared to engage in lively discussions about the assigned reading. Together with your peers and professor, you’ll examine fundamental questions in multiple disciplines. Respectfully debating complex ideas will enhance your skills in critical thinking, analysis, and communication. Our most successful students come to every class confident that they have valuable ideas to offer, but also eager to have their views challenged and improved upon through open dialogue.

See our learning experience page for more information.

What happens when students disagree?

MLA students come from a wide array of personal, educational, and professional backgrounds, so it’s natural for them to disagree at times while grappling with complicated issues. Our faculty and learner community promotes an atmosphere where those disagreements are addressed in a respectful and constructive manner. You and your peers will share thoughts and opinions in the spirit of joint inquiry with expert faculty present to facilitate meaningful dialogue. Maintaining an open mind as you thoughtfully listen to many different viewpoints will help you grow as a person and a professional. You’ll make sharper, more nuanced arguments as a result of addressing your classmates’ points.

Can I complete the program fully online?

Yes. The optional residential seminar is the only on-campus element of the MLA program. If you prefer, you can finish all the requirements to graduate online.

Am I required to choose a concentration?

No, you can pursue a general course of study by taking electives on multiple topics.

What can I expect from a residential seminar?

The week-long residential experience offers the opportunity to immerse yourself in a topic, attending class sessions twice a day. You’ll meet in person with peers that you’ve gotten to know in virtual classrooms as well as some students enrolled in other programs. Available activities include an opening reception, lunch and learns with guest speakers, campus tours, and group outings to explore the city of Chicago.

Visit the residential seminar page to learn more.

Can I attend more than one residential seminar?

Yes, there are two residential seminars per year, and you’re welcome to continue to attend throughout your time in the program.

How long does it take to complete the 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. Students who don’t complete their requirements within five years will not be permitted to finish their degree

Are instructors available to meet individually?

You can make an appointment to have an in-depth conversation with your professor during regularly scheduled office hours. Additionally, you will have support from a faculty advisor while working on your thesis or special project.

Can I access help with my writing?

Many MLA students are long-time professionals who need a refresher in academic writing, including properly using and citing sources. That’s why we’ve made a dedicated writing advisor available to work with students individually to review papers and provide feedback. You can also attend regular writing workshops on subjects like “Topics and Academic Writing.” In these workshops you’ll find guidance on citation style, sentence structure, thesis development, organization, and more.

MLA Benefits

How can I benefit from earning an MLA?

The MLA prepares you to contribute to the conversations that influence how organizations and communities address complex issues. By taking multidisciplinary courses taught by UChicago’s globally respected faculty and engaging with diverse perspectives, you’ll become a more well-rounded individual who’s equipped to excel in a constantly evolving professional landscape.

The MLA enhances your skills as a critical thinker, writer, communicator, collaborator, and leader. You can join the learner community at one of the world’s foremost institutions of higher learning, accessing career support resources and our worldwide network of close to 200,000 alumni.

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 or a graduate program in a technical field often teaches the specialized knowledge that’s necessary to work in a particular role or industry. The MLA connects your individual experience to the big picture, addressing overarching questions about why organizations and communities function the way they do.

In a world of dynamic, constantly evolving industries, where workers take on increasingly hyperspecialized roles, it’s important to have leaders who think innovatively, creatively, and critically. The MLA gives you the intellectual tools to challenge the status quo, question conventional wisdom, and collaborate with others to achieve shared goals.

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.

For details, visit our career development page.