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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.

Applicants whose native language is not English are required to take the TOEFL exam. The test must have been taken within the past 18 months.

GREs are not required.

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



The Application Instruction Document will be posted here as a downloadable PDF, with a link to the online application system, when the application site opens in September 2023.

Stanford campus

University Policies

Nondiscrimination Policy

Stanford University admits students of any sex and any race, color, religion, sexual orientation, or national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the university. It does not discriminate against students on the basis of sex, race, color, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, or national and ethnic origin in the administration of its educational policies, scholarships and loan programs, and athletic and other university-administered programs.

Sexual Harassment Policy

Stanford University strives to provide a place of work and study free of sexual harassment, intimidation, or exploitation. Students, faculty, and staff are expected to treat one another with respect, and violations of this policy may result in discipline.


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 Stanford Continuing Studies.