Online Master of Liberal Arts Learning Experience

The University of Chicago online Master of Liberal Arts offers a distinctive approach to learning that augments students’ skills in critical reasoning, leadership, writing, communication, and collaboration.

Our globally renowned faculty provide guidance and insight, but they’re not in the class to tell you what to think. Rather, they equip you to think through complex topics for yourself with logical rigor and openness to different perspectives.

In many ways, you can define your own learning experience. For example, you may complete your degree fully online or choose to participate in our week-long residential seminars. By selecting an optional concentration, you can gain a firm grounding in an area of study that interests you, delving into big questions about ethical leadership, literary analysis, and the social impact of technological advancements.

Master of Liberal Arts Resources

Throughout your time in the MLA program, you’ll benefit from a variety of resources to manage the rigors of coursework and make the most of your career opportunities. Our students have access to:

Academic Advising

An academic advisor will assist you to plan your path toward completing the MLA degree by selecting courses that align with your goals and setting a schedule that fits into your personal and professional obligations.

Writing Support

A dedicated writing advisor works with MLA students individually to review papers and provide feedback before assignments are due.

Regular writing workshops cover topics like citations, sentence structure, thesis statements, and organization.

Career Support

Career advisors review resumes, connect you with networking opportunities, conduct mock interviews, and answer your questions.

Attend virtual or on-campus career events to meet with top employers actively recruiting UChicago alumni.

For details, visit our career development page.

University Libraries

MLA students who visit campus have physical access to all locations of the ninth largest academic library in North America. While you’re enrolled at UChicago, there’s no limit on the number of books that you can check out.

Take advantage of the library’s online resources such as databases featuring a vast selection of academic journals and eBooks. UChicago librarians are available to assist in your online research.

Alumni Network

As a member of UChicago’s vibrant learner community, get in touch with our global alumni network of nearly 200,000 people. Our graduates include numerous leaders in industry, research, policy, and nonprofit organizations.

Virtual and In-Person Events

Attend information sessions, lectures, and panels, either on-campus or online.

In addition to attending classes in person, during the optional residential seminars, you can participate in a reception dinner, lunch and learns with guest speakers, campus tours, and group outings to explore the city of Chicago.

See our events page for more information.

Request more information about the UChicago Master of Liberal Arts.

Seminar Format

In the online MLA program, you’ll attend weekly online, synchronous seminars conducted via Zoom. Each class lasts three hours and takes place in the evening on a weekday or on Saturday.

The primary mode of instruction is a Socratic seminar, in which students come to class having carefully read an assigned text and prepared to engage in a wide-ranging discussion. Extended lectures are rare in this program. More often, your professor will encourage you to converse with your peers, working together to make sense of the ideas and information presented in a reading assignment.

Distinctive Learning Community

MLA Students come from diverse personal, educational, and professional backgrounds. Many are business leaders, but our community also includes educators, healthcare workers, lawyers, content writers, stay-at-home parents, and others. This could be their first graduate education program, or they might hold multiple advanced degrees. While the people we admit to the MLA are different from one another, they have all exhibited powerful intellectual curiosity and the ability to make meaningful contributions to important conversations.

Through these discussions, you’ll be exposed to a range of perspectives on vital issues. Students share viewpoints informed by their individual life experiences, learning from each other as much as from the professor. We structured the MLA around the philosophy that a whole class benefits when all feel welcome to share their thoughts in a respectful, friendly atmosphere.

You’ll get the most out of this program by entering the virtual classroom with confidence that you have valuable thoughts to offer on the topic of discussion but also an open mind. You should be eager to hear responses from peers who may challenge or add nuance to your views. Through an exchange of ideas, you can sharpen your own arguments and may come to see a topic in a different light.

The MLA has provided me with an unparalleled intellectual feast without requiring relocation that might interrupt my professional life. 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
Chairman & CEO, Pingyuan App-Ark Education

Class assignments and assessments

Our faculty designed the MLA to facilitate independent thought, critical analysis, and open dialogue. Your success in the program won’t depend on rote memorization of facts or data since there are few exams included in the curriculum. Instead, you’ll be asked to demonstrate your ability to express ideas clearly and defend your positions through both verbal and written communication.

Faculty mainly assess student performance based on their participation in course discussions and their writing. The assignments range from short reading reflections to longer essays, and the program culminates in a thesis or special project on a topic of your choosing. In your writing, you’ll be expected to engage with nuanced ideas, analyze data, make persuasive arguments, and synthesize information from multiple sources in unique ways.

Close Reading

Engaging with the complex ideas that are central to MLA courses starts with closely reading the assigned texts. You may be more accustomed to skimming quickly through articles or fiction, but close reading demands a thoughtful approach: you take notes, ask questions, highlight key passages, seek patterns, and make connections with other works or real-life experiences.

Close reading reveals the subtle details and surprising resonances that exist beneath the surface level of all texts, whether you’re considering a poem, story, novel, essay, analysis, or philosophical treatise. This program will train you to understand and evaluate authors’ choices, accounting for their historical and social contexts.

Reading attentively doesn’t just help you to understand texts written by others. Through this practice, you develop an awareness of what elements make a piece of writing informative and compelling, cultivating a stronger command over your own use of language. The MLA prioritizes these skills throughout the program, beginning from when you start by taking a humanities course.

See our curriculum page for more information about our MLA course offerings and instructional format.

Learning Management System

Based on many years of experience in executive learning and distance education, the faculty and staff at the UChicago Graham School keep all class information well organized and readily accessible. We leverage the learning management system, Canvas, to help our students easily find the materials they need and come to class prepared to do their best work.

Courses are intuitively organized into modules and sections so you can quickly locate the materials you need. From Canvas, you’ll access each week’s Zoom session and, in many cases, required readings or other assignments. You may be asked to post reflections on your reading, which can help you acquire a deeper understanding of how your peers responded to the assignment and get ready to talk with them directly during that week’s discussion.

Request more information about the UChicago Master of Liberal Arts.

Swipe Up: Is an MLA Right for You?