About Stanford's MLA

Rafael, The School of Athens, 1510-11 

Why is interdisciplinary liberal arts study so crucial today?

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What Does 'MLA' mean?

Charles Junkerman, Associate Provost and Dean of Continuing Studies, outlines the skills and attributes that are nurtured and cultivated in the MLA Program.

The questions we ponder differ very little from those that worried our remote—and not so remote—ancestors. Their wisdom and their imaginings weave the fabric of what we call human nature. Philosophy, mythology, music, art, literature, history, religious studies—these records of human experience, thought, and interpretation have formed the core of the liberal arts education ever since the Greeks encouraged their citizens to live with well-informed skepticism and to speak with courage. We want to know, as they did, who we are, what the past tells us, and how to move responsibly into the future. We need to know, too, how best to respect the diverse social and biological world we inhabit, and how to husband it for the future.

Today’s investigations into the human condition include the sciences, psychology, anthropology, geography, economics, sociology, and political science. Understanding the human impact of scientific discovery and the scientific necessity of humanistic thinking is vital. Bringing the fullness of human intelligence into creative conversation is the business of the interdisciplinary scholar, and of the student of the liberal arts.

Begun in 1991, Stanford's MLA Program aims to help students

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What is Stanford's MLA Program?

Members of the MLA Community describe the program and their reasons for pursuing this degree.

  • develop the intellectual methodology they need to engage in contemporary debates;
  • the cultivate their ability to find connections among different areas of human thought;
  • to acquire the tools to conduct original research; and, most of all,
  • to pursue a life of ideas.

Whatever your interests, Stanford University's MLA Program offers an extraordinary opportunity to pursue an interdisciplinary course of study in the liberal arts and to earn your master's degree at one of the world's great centers of learning.

About the Program

Our program is part-time, to accommodate the needs of busy adults, and:

  • Features evening classes once a week on the Stanford campus (usually 7:00-9:30pm)
  • Can be completed in four or five years
  • Offers small class size (most are limited to 20 or fewer students) for greater individual attention