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Doctor of Liberal Arts (DLA)


We live today in a rich and varied culture. Every moral, social, political, and cultural question we face demands the broadest consideration we can give it, and it is important that we draw from the multiplicity of methods and perspectives nurtured and cultivated in the many disciplines of a great university.

The Doctor of Liberal Arts (DLA) program is designed for the experienced adult learner who wishes to pursue rigorous interdisciplinary study along with independent, scholarly reading and research. The degree is designed to cultivate interdisciplinary skills, intellectual habits, analytical and critical reasoning, effective writing, and broad-based decision making. This degree neither constitutes a professional credential nor provides training for an academic career.

Part-time DLA students typically complete all course work within four to five years, followed by comprehensive exams, and an additional two years to complete the thesis.


Our advisors go the extra mile to help you navigate your path and needs. We will provide you with the tools to make each moment spent on your education as valuable as possible. Students will receive:

  • individual long appointments with an experienced advisor;
  • career planning services to prepare you for opportunities after graduation;
  • a partner throughout your journey to ensure success.

Schedule an Appointment

We have suspended in-person advising appointments temporarily according to the university’s response to COVID-19. Students should not come to campus, but advisors are still available to help you by email, phone or Zoom.​​​​ 

Student advising is available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday.

Rebecca O'Laughlin


Rebecca O'Laughlin
Academic Advisor

Meet with Rebecca

required course work

36 units: graduate course work

Course work includes twelve required DLA seminars.

Students will be required to take a comprehensive exam that tests their ability to synthesize the knowledge they have gained in individual DLA courses. The exam consists of written and oral questions. Students must pass the written exam questions as a prerequisite for taking the oral portion of the exam. 

9 units: thesis research and writing

The DLA thesis emphasizes original interpretation and synthesis. A faculty advisor, appointed to each student early in the program, works closely with the student at all stages of the thesis.

admissions requirements

Candidates will be selected by faculty members of the DLA Faculty Steering Committee and recommended to the dean of the graduate school for approval. A maximum of 6 units of graduate credit may be transferred to the DLA program.

Strong Academic Record

Candidates must have an exceptionally strong undergraduate and graduate academic record, and they must demonstrate superior writing and, preferably, research skills. Normally, the minimum undergraduate and graduate GPA will be 3.0.

Master's Degree

Candidates for the Doctor of Liberal Arts program must already hold a master’s degree in a relevant subject from an accredited institution of higher learning.

Transferring Credit

A maximum of 6 units of graduate credit may be transferred to the DLA program.

application requirements

Application Deadlines

Admission decisions are made on a rolling basis and typically take four to six weeks. Applicants are encouraged to submit all materials by the following dates:

  • FALL 2021: MAY 1, 2021
  • SPRING 2022: NOV. 11, 2021
Completed application form

The online application is available online on our Apply page. Applications are ready for review when all fields on the application form are completed and the required documents have been received.

Official transcripts from all previous college work

Transcript from the institution where you received your bachelor's degree or a higher-level degree was conferred. Official transcripts must be sent directly from the registrar to University College. Electronic transcripts should be forwarded to For transcript questions, please contact our Admissions Coordinator, Patricia Agnew, at

Non-United States course work transcript verification
If the transcript you submit for consideration is from a college or university outside the United States, a course by course transcript evaluation is also required. Evaluations will be accepted from World Education Services (WES), Spantran or another member institution of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES). For Spantran evaluations, you must use this form


TOEFL/IELTS scores (if applicable)

All international students are required to submit TOEFL, IELTS or Duolingo scores at the time of application. The TOEFL, IELTS and Duolingo requirement may be waived for applicants who, immediately prior to their application for admission, have done both of the following:

  • Lived for three years or longer in the United States or another country where English is the primary language of daily life (e.g. Canada or United Kingdom).
  • Completed three or more years of study at a college or university which is located in that country and where the language of instruction is English.

This policy applies to all international students, even those who have earned a degree from a United States college or university.

If an applicant moves away from an English-speaking country after living and studying there for three years or more, TOEFL, IELTS or Duolingo scores are then required for admission. 

For international student application deadlines, please click HERE.

Additional TOEFL and IELTS information for international students adversely affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) can be found on University College’s International Student Information webpage.

Writing Sample

Please submit a recent, research-based academic writing sample that is 10-15 pages long. If one is not available, other writing samples of comparable length may be substituted with approval from University College.

Three Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation should be completed by teachers or professional associates. Letters can be submitted through the online application or mailed by the recommender.

Current Resume
Personal Statement

In a three-page essay, discuss the ideas and questions you would like to read, write, and think about, and how doing so through this program will enrich your life. Please include prior inquiry or experiences, formal or informal, which have influenced your decision to apply to the program.

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Claire Martin

"My professors have a keen ability to be flexible with working professionals. The culture of professionalism at University College extends to the classroom."

―Claire MartinMaster of Liberal Arts

Still have questions?

Program Coordinator: Stephanie Kirk | (314) 935-5175 |

Director of Advising and Student Services: Elizabeth Fogt | (314) 935-6778 |