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Office: 365 Lasuen Street, Littlefield Center
Mail Code: 94305-6079
Phone: (650) 725-2650
Web Site:

The Continuing Studies Program provides adults from the surrounding communities the opportunity to take courses for the purpose of intellectual enrichment. Courses and events are offered in all four academic quarters, with over 400 courses planned throughout the year. The Continuing Studies Program, except for the MLA program, is a non-degree granting program.

The instructors are largely drawn from the ranks of the University's professoriate and academic staff. The program presents a wide variety of courses, with a central concentration in the liberal arts, including literature, history, art and architecture, and music.

Tuition discounts are available to University employees, Stanford students and faculty, Stanford Alumni Association members, educators, and those over age 65.

For a list of offered courses, see the Courses tab the Continuing Studies web site.

Master of Liberal Arts Program

Associate Dean and Director: Linda Paulson
Participating Faculty: Jonathan Berger (Music), Russell Berman (Comparative Literature, German Studies), Marc Bertrand (French and Italian, emeritus), Jay Bhattacharya (Medicine), George Brown (English, emeritus), Eamonn Callan (Education), William Chace (English, emeritus), James Daughton (History), Gerry Dorfman (Hoover Institution, Political Science), William Durham (Anthropology), Michele Elam (English), Martin Evans (English), Paula Findlen (History), Larry Friedlander (English), Kenneth Fields (English), Hester Gelber (Religious Studies), Albert Gelpi (English, emeritus), Barbara Gelpi (English, emerita), Denise Gigante (English), Robert Gregg (Religious Studies, emeritus), Tom Grey (Music), Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht (French and Italian), Van Harvey (Religious Studies, emeritus), Allyson Hobbs (History), (Gavin Jones (English), Charles Junkerman (Continuing Studies Program), Nancy Kollmann (History), Herbert Lindenberger (English, emeritus), Marsh McCall (Classics, emeritus), Mark Mancall (History, emeritus), Scotty McLennnan (Religious Life), Thomas Mullaney (History), Alexander Nemerov (Arts), David Palumbo-Liu (Comparative Literature), Linda Paulson (English), Grant Parker (Classics), Arnold Rampersad (Humanities, emeritus), Ronald Rebholz (English, emeritus), Rush Rehm (Drama, Classics), John Rick (Anthropology), John Rickford (Linguistics), David Riggs (English, Emeritus), Eric Roberts (Engineering), Paul Robinson (History, emeritus), Jeremy Sabol (SLE), Ramón Saldívar (English), Paul Seaver (History, emeritus), Thomas Sheehan (Religious Studies), Robert Siegel (Microbiology and Immunology), Peter Stansky (History, emeritus), Stephen Stedman (Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies), Barton Thompson (Law), Peter Vitousek (Biology), Caroline Winterer (History), Yvonne Yarbro-Bejarano (Latin American Cultures), Ernlé Young (Medicine, emeritus), Steven Zipperstein (Jewish Culture and History)

Program Offices: 365 Lasuen Street, Littlefield Center, Level G
Mail Code: 2078
Phone: (650) 725-0061 Fax: (650) 725-4248
Web Site:

Courses offered by the Master of Liberal Arts Program are listed under the subject code MLA on the Stanford Bulletin's ExploreCourses web site.

Program Description

The Master of Liberal Arts (MLA) program aims to provide a flexible, interdisciplinary program for returning adult students who seek a broad education in the liberal arts. The underlying premise of the MLA program is that knowledge gained through an interdisciplinary course of study leads to intellectual independence and satisfaction not always found in discipline-based programs of study. The goals of the MLA program are to develop advanced critical thinking, to foster intellectual range and flexibility, and to cultivate an individual's ability to find the connections among different areas of human thought: art, history, literature, music, philosophy, political science, science, and theology.

The program is designed with part-time students in mind: seminars meet in the evening, and students complete the degree in 4-5 years. All master's seminars are taught by members of the Stanford faculty. Seminar size is limited to 20 students.

Learning Outcomes (Graduate)

The purpose of the Master of Liberal Arts Program is to address subjects that cross disciplinary boundaries; to develop an understanding of the strength and the shortcomings of disciplinary evaluation; to help students to refine their skills in writing, research, critical thinking, collaborative work, and collegial discussion.While students are not being groomed for academic careers, graduates of the program have used their experience to gain acceptance into Ph.D. programs at Stanford and elsewhere.Students who complete the MLA program are well positioned to advance in careers that require the careful analytical and rhetorical training they receive.This training is achieved through the completion of four foundations courses, which together emphasize the program’s goals as stated above; seven seminars that offer a more specific engagement with interdisciplinary subject matter; and a master’s thesis, accomplished under the direction of a Stanford faculty member who is expert in the subject of the thesis.

Degree Requirements

Candidates for the MLA degree must complete a minimum of 50 units of course work with at least a grade point average of 3.3 (B+). These units must include a three-quarter foundation course (equal to 12 units total), one 4-unit core introductory seminar for second-year students, at least seven 4-unit MLA seminars, and a 6-unit master's thesis. Students must also fulfill distribution requirements in each of the following areas: humanities; social science or social policy; and science, engineering, or medicine.

Foundation Course

During the Autumn, Winter, and Spring quarters following admission to the program, a three quarter foundation course is required of all students. The purpose of this course is to lay the groundwork for the interdisciplinary, intercultural studies the student will shortly undertake. The foundation course introduces students to the broad framework of history, literature, philosophy, political science, and art.

Core Seminar

During the first quarter of the second year, students take the core introductory seminar, MLA 102 An Introduction to Interdisciplinary Graduate Study. This seminar prepares students for interdisciplinary graduate work at Stanford. Students concentrate on writing a critical graduate paper, conducting library research, presenting the results of their research, and productively participating in a collaborative seminar.

MLA Seminars

Students are required to take at least seven MLA seminars of 4 units each. Each year, at least nine seminars are offered in the MLA program. Each MLA course requires a substantial seminar paper. Students are encouraged to use these papers as a way to investigate new fields of interest, as well as a way to develop different perspectives on issues in which they have an ongoing interest.

Master's Thesis

The MLA program culminates in the master's thesis. Students approaching the end of the program write a thesis, approximately 75-100 pages in length, that evolves out of work they have pursued during their MLA studies. The thesis is undertaken with the prior approval of the MLA program, and under the supervision of a Stanford faculty member. During the process of writing the thesis, students are members of a work-in-progress group, which meets regularly to provide peer critiques, motivation, and advice. Each student presents the penultimate draft of the thesis to a colloquium of MLA faculty and students, in preparation for revising and submitting the final draft to the adviser and to the MLA program.

Enrollment Requirements

MLA students must enroll for each academic year from the time of original matriculation until conferral of the degree. To remain active, students must either:

  1. complete a minimum of two courses (eight units) in one academic year, defined as from the beginning of Autumn Quarter through the end of the following Summer Quarter; or,
  2. be actively working on their thesis and regularly attend a minimum of three quarters of the work-in-progress meetings from the time the student enrolls in work-in-progress through graduation.

Timeline for Completion

All requirements for the Master of Liberal Arts degree must be completed within five years after the student's first term of enrollment in the program. If extraordinary circumstances prevent completion within five years, a student may submit a written petition for a maximum one-year extension to the Associate Dean and Director. This petition is reviewed by a committee which makes a recommendation to the Director; the final decision is at the discretion of the Director. To be considered, the petition must be submitted on or before May 1 of the student's fifth year in the program.


Master of Liberal Arts students enroll in courses through Stanford's Axess system.

Summer Session

Associate Dean & Director of Stanford Summer Session: Bill Whobrey


Program Offices: 365 Lasuen Street
Mail Code: 94305-6079
Phone: (650) 723-3109; Fax: (650) 725-6080
Web Site:

Students attending Stanford Summer Session are either matriculated Stanford students, visiting undergraduate or graduate students, or enrolled in the High School Summer College.

Degree-seeking Stanford students should indicate on Axess during Spring Quarter that they intend to register for Summer Quarter. Separate application is not required.

Visiting undergraduate or graduate students are not presently candidates for a Stanford degree. These are students and adults who have taken at least one course at another college or university. These students must complete a short application, available at Qualified high school students who are at least sixteen years old may apply to the High School Summer College program.

Students in Stanford Summer Session, in general, enjoy the privileges of students in the regular degree programs except that work completed cannot be applied toward a Stanford degree or credential unless and until the student has been admitted to regular Stanford student standing. Admission as a visiting student does not imply later admission to matriculated status. However, should the visiting student matriculate at a later date through normal admission procedures, the summer work may be applied toward the requirements for a Stanford degree or credential at the discretion of the University or academic department.

Visiting undergraduate and graduate students and students in the High School Summer College are not matriculated Stanford University students, and not all University student policies apply to such students. The University reserves the right, at its discretion, to withhold registration from or require withdrawal from Stanford Summer Session for these students or applicants.

Individuals who commit violations of University policy, the Honor Code, or the Fundamental Standard are subject to termination. Individuals in non-degree granting programs are subject to removal or discipline according to the program's policies or practices, not through the Office of Community Standards.

For more information, contact Summer Session by email, mail, phone, or fax using the listings above. Information is updated annually in January and may also be found online at

Nondiscrimination Policy

Stanford University admits qualified students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the University. Consistent with its obligations under the law, Stanford prohibits unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by applicable law in the administration of the University's programs and activities; Stanford also prohibits unlawful harassment including sexual harassment and sexual violence. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding this nondiscrimination policy: Director of the Diversity and Access Office, Mariposa House, 585 Capistrano Way, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-8230; (650) 723-0755 (voice), (650) 723-1791 (fax), (email). Stanford’s Title IX Coordinator, Cathy Glaze, has been designated to handle inquiries regarding sexual harassment and sexual violence: Mariposa House (2nd floor), 585 Capistrano Way, Stanford, CA 94305, (650) 497-4955 (voice), (650) 497-9257 (fax), (email).

Dean and Associate Provost: Charles Junkerman

Associate Dean and Director: Dan Colman