How to Apply

We invite you to apply. The MLA application offers an opportunity to reflect on your education to this point, and to consider starting a new chapter.

Admissions Season

The MLA program admits one time per year. The application opens in late September, with everything due by late January, for the class that begins the next September.

Application Components

  • Online application that includes contact, biographical, academic, and employment information
  • A one- to two-page essay on an intellectual interest you’ve developed
  • A critical response to a written piece that we assign. Examples of previous subjects include Failed Prophecies, Glorious Hopes by Richard Rorty; The American Scholar by Ralph Waldo Emerson; Politics and the English Language by George Orwell; and A History of Violence by Steven Pinker.
  • Official transcripts of all college work toward degree, and all other academic coursework completed since college
  • A current curriculum vitae
  • Three letters of recommendation that shed light on your academic ability, promise, and motivation. Ideally at least one of these three should be from a teacher or others able to comment directly on your intellectual capacity, academic potential, and writing ability.
  • Application Fee: $125

Specific instructions for each component will be provided in the Application Instruction Document.

Test Information

GREs are not required.

TOEFL Requirement:

  • If your first language is not English, you are required to submit an official test score from the TOEFL iBT. Information on minimum TOEFL requirements, reporting scores, and valid test dates can be found on the Graduate Admissions Test Scores page.

TOEFL Exemption
MLA applicants are exempt from submitting a TOEFL score if they meet one of the following criteria;
-They (will) have a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in the Humanities from a regionally-accredited college or university in the United States (excluding territories and possessions).
-They (will) have an equivalent degree from an English-language university in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore or the United Kingdom.
Note that the exemption requirement for MLA applicants includes that the degree earned must be in the Humanities, which is more restrictive than is required by other Stanford departments.

Preparing to Apply

Before starting the application, you may wish to

  • Attend an Information Session. These sessions are an excellent opportunity to find out more about the program, and experience getting to campus at night
  • Take a Stanford Continuing Studies course. Taking one (or more) of these courses
    • allows you to see how evening classes work for you
    • can be helpful in your application if your background is not in the Humanities or Liberal Arts
    • can give you the opportunity to request a letter of recommendation from the instructor (three letters of recommendation are required in the application)

For more details, and a list of recommended courses, visit our FAQs


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Application Instructions will be available here when the application opens in September 2024.

Stanford campus


Stanford University is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), 985 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 100, Alameda, CA 94501; (510) 748-9001. The Master of Liberal Arts program is a Stanford University graduate program, fully accredited by and responsible to Stanford’s Academic Senate; it functions under the auspices of the School of Humanities and Sciences.

Stanford campus