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Master of Philosophy in Liberal Arts

Expand your master’s research, develop new methods and define your expertise

The Master of Philosophy in Liberal Arts (MPhil) is an advanced interdisciplinary graduate degree designed for individuals with a passion for academic pursuits. Available on a full- or part-time basis, you elect the courses most relevant to your interests, around your schedule. The Master of Philosophy in Liberal Arts can serve as an important step in future PhD studies, or as a way to deepen engagement with the topics that challenge and excite you.

Courses and thesis

If you already hold a master’s, you can earn an additional graduate degree in just six course units (c.u.).* Your MPhil program includes five courses (up to four in a single discipline) and an independent study dedicated to completing the final thesis project. We strongly encourage MPhil candidates to take advantage of the many disciplines and departments available across the University during your course selection process.

Advisory committee

When you join the MPhil program, you select an advisory committee of two members of Penn’s acclaimed faculty. It is likely that you will work with professors from your coursework or with faculty who are performing research in your area of interest. Though much of your work is done independently, the MPhil program director is available to help you navigate the process and discuss options along the way.

The advisory committee helps you establish guidelines for your thesis and approves the written project as part of your successful completion of the Master of Philosophy in Liberal Arts degree. The rigorous MPhil thesis exemplifies dedication to your chosen field and serves as an ideal tool for demonstrating the quality of your research and writing skills to employers, PhD programs and peers.

We encourage you to contact our program director, Dr. Christopher Pastore, to schedule an appointment to review your current research and explore your options for pursuing an MPhil at Penn.

Student and Alumni Stories

Karen Borek, MPhil ‘19

Master of Philosophy student, University of Pennsylvania

Learn how Karen deepened and expanded her study of South African culture.
Jonathan Broder, MPhil ‘19

Chief Legal Officer at Conrail

Hear how the MPhil program supported Jonathan's ambition to write an engaging historical narrative about his company.
Denise Dahlhoff
Denise Dahlhoff, MPhil ‘10

Senior Researcher, Consumer Research at The Conference Board
Senior Fellow at the Lauder Institute for Management and International Studies at the Wharton School

Explore the unexpected intersection of folklore, urban studies, and pop culture history that served as the foundation for Denise’s ethnographies of urban places.
Director of Leadership Gifts at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
Lisa Katz, MPhil ‘21

Director of Leadership Gifts at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Learn how Penn’s Master of Philosophy in Liberal Arts opened the doors of the Ivy League for Lisa S. Katz (MPhil ’21) and invited her to explore new subjects.
Jeffrey LaMonica, PhD, MPhil ‘17

Associate Professor of History, Global Studies Program Coordinator, Delaware County Community College

Discover how the MPhil program enriched Jeffrey’s teaching and writing career.
Daniel E. Murray, MPhil ‘19

President & CEO, Praitie Studios LLC
President & CEO, Jobs Logger LLC

See how the MPhil program strengthened Daniel’s research and his skill set as a scholar.
Chris Mustazza, MPhil ‘15

Director of Humanities, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences Computing at the University of Pennsylvania

Discover how MPhil research helped Chris prepare for a PhD while he contributed to PennSound's audio archive.
Ryan Tsapatsaris, MPhil ‘17

PhD student at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania

Learn about Ryan’s research interests in LGBTQ media practices and how his experiences in the MPhil program helped him prepare for a PhD.
Andie Tursi, MPhil ‘19

Director of Marketing and Communications, Cesium

Hear how the MPhil program positioned Andie to fulfill her professional and creative writing ambitions.

Culture, community, and city living

Explore everything Penn has to offer, including the vibrant city life of Philadelphia.

Looking for financial assistance?

Learn about the options at Penn.

Contact us

Have any questions about the MLA? Reach out to our program director or enrollment team for a one-on-one discussion.