Frequently asked questions regarding the admissions process:
The MLA is a highly selective graduate degree program. The number of applications received and the percentage accepted varies each year. In past years we have admitted as few as 1 in 5, and as many as 1 in 2.5 applicants.
All courses taken for the MLA degree must come from the Stanford MLA curriculum, so we do not accept transfer credit .
Graduating from an American institution does not guarantee that an applicant's written and oral communication skills are at the level required by the MLA. If you graduated from an American university with a degree in the Humanities, you may be exempted from the TOEFL requirement. For all other degrees, the TOEFL is required if English is not your native language. Setting up the TOEFL test can be time-consuming, so plan accordingly.
Yes, though you should note that as a part-time program, we are not able to sponsor student visas. The international students we have had in the program have been in the US on work or spousal visas. It is the responsibility of the applicant to research and understand if their visa type will allow them remain in the US and study at a part-time graduate degree program.
In most cases, applicants who were not admitted to the program either did not fulfill the eligibility requirements, or did not demonstrate their readiness (see Admissions Criteria) to succeed in this rigorous graduate-level liberal arts program. Unless the following year's application shows significant changes, the committee's decision will be the same.
Feedback is not available to applicants denied admission. We recognize that you devote a great deal of time and effort to your application, and may wish to discuss it with a member of our admissions committee or a faculty member. Regrettably, we are unable to provide individual feedback to any applicant.
The Master of Liberal Arts Program is intended for adults who have been out of school for a while, so many applicants find themselves in this situation. We recommend either contacting your undergraduate professors and reminding them of your work with them, or taking some Continuing Studies courses at Stanford or elsewhere. If you have turned in written work for a grade in a Continuing Studies class, you might ask the professor to write a letter of recommendation based on your written paper and participation in the class. Find a list of recommended courses below.
Recommended Continuing Studies Courses
Applicants who have been out of school for a while, or who do not have a background in the liberal arts, are encouraged to take a few Stanford Continuing Studies courses prior to applying to the Master of Liberal Arts, both to reintroduce themselves to classroom discussion and to get a sense of what it’s like to take classes at night. CSP classes provide an excellent opportunity to work with instructors who may be able to provide you with the necessary letters of recommendation to apply. If you intend to ask for a letter of recommendation, it is best to take the CSP course for a letter grade. Taking CSP courses is not a requirement for applying to the MLA program.
Prospective applicants should consider enrolling in the spring CSP course "Pay Attention, Be Astonished, Tell About It: An MLA -Style Course." This course aims to introduce those who are strongly interested in pursuing a degree in the MLA program to the kind of seminar they will encounter if they are admitted to the program.
We also recommend the following classes, offered this spring through CSP:
- Speaker, Statesman, and Philosopher: Marcus Tullius Cicero (CLA 74)
- A History of Reproductive Rights in the United States (HIS 11)
- Dante's "Paradiso": A 700th-Anniversary Exploration of The Divine Comedy(LIT 60)
- Dickens's Masterpiece: David Copperfield (LIT 118)
- The Poetry of Emily Dickinson (LIT 42)
Note: Continuing Studies classes do not transfer into the MLA Program. For enrollment dates and more information, visit the Continuing Studies website.