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Master of Liberal Arts Program
811 Anderson Hall
Temple University
Philadelphia, PA 19122
215-204-1644 (phone)
215-204-9611 (fax)

Michael Szekely
Director, MLA Program
215-204-6479 (phone)

Stephanie Morawski
215-204-8516 (phone)

The Master of Liberal Arts Qualifying Paper

The MLA Qualifying Paper is the culminating research project toward fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Liberal Arts degree.

The MLA Qualifying Paper must demonstrate the student's ability to:

- write critically and analytically on a topic of the student's choice

- read, absorb, evaluate, and cite scholarly sources

- develop and establish the student's own perspective on the topic

In keeping with the interdisciplinary orientation of the MLA Program, Qualifying Papers may also incorporate creative work, as well as work draw upon other media.

While we strongly encourage that MLA Qualifying Papers entail entirely new research projects, some qualifying papers may develop out of a previously written paper required for the student's specialized subject area or for another graduate course. However, in the latter case, a Qualifying Paper based on a previously written paper must entail more than a simple expansion of the topic. In addition to the demonstration of scholarly research and analytical skills mentioned above, the Qualifying Paper must also demonstrate a substantial alteration of dimensions and content with respect to the previously written paper.

The MLA Qualifying Paper is typically undertaken in conjunction with MLA 9995 Master's Project credits. The student will be registered by the department for MLA 9995 credits once the Qualifying Paper project proposal is approved. (NOTE: Qualifying Papers may no longer be undertaken in conjunction with MLA 9082 Independent Study credits.)

The MLA Program requires that students work closely with an MLA faculty member or other expert in the field whose approach to the subject is compatible with the selected Qualifying Paper topic and who is willing to serve as the principal faculty advisor of the Qualifying Paper project. Typically, a second reader is also assigned.

Students who are unsure about whom to select as a faculty advisor for their Qualifying Paper should consult with the MLA Assistant Director/Advisor.

The MLA Program strongly recommends that students planning to graduate at the end of any given semester should be prepared to submit an initial FULL draft of their Qualifying Paper to both the principal faculty advisor and the second reader (if applicable) ** BY WEEK 8 OF THAT SEMESTER **

Failure to submit the initial draft of the Qualifying Paper within this time frame may result in delaying graduation. Faculty advisors and second readers need time to read and, where necessary, articulate concerns and suggest edits for revision.

MLA Qualifying Papers are evaluated by the faculty advisor and a second reader (if applicable), who will fill out and sign the MLA Qualifying Paper Evaluation Form and submit this form, along with comments, to the MLA Program. Once approved by both the faculty advisor and second reader (if applicable), the student's qualifying paper is filed with the MLA Office. [NOTE: should there be a significant discrepancy between the faculty advisor and the second reader evaluations of the qualifying paper, a third reader will be assigned whose decision will determine the status of the qualifying paper.]

Should a Qualifying Paper be found to have been been plagiarized, the student will receive an "F" for the paper. The case will then be forwarded to the University Disciplinary Committee (UDC) for further action. For more information on plagiarism and academic honesty, please consult the "Student Resources" section of the website.

Technical requirements for the MLA Qualifying Paper:

The title page must include the following information in this order:

[Click HERE for suggested title page template.]

Past Qualifying Papers (by general area of interest) have included such topics as:

Cultural Studies / Popular Culture

“'A Pirate’s Life for Me': Pirates, Cowboys, Presidents, and the Reinvention of American Iconography”

“Nostalgia Crisis: A Visual Anthropology of Lehigh Valley Punk and Hardcore”

"Fat Girls – The New Minority in Visual Media Representation"

"On the Resurrection of the Mammy Character: A Response to The Help"

"The Rising Epidemic of Delinquency among Fatherless Girls"

"The Use of Celebrity Image within an Advertising Endorsement: Grant Hill Drinks Sprite"

"Problematizing the Portrayal of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in Monk"

“Truths and Consequences: A Study of the Angry Black Women Stereotype”

"Black Vegetarianism: Food Minority Groups in a Racialized America"

"Nuclear No More: An Analysis of Changes to the American Family Since the 1950s"

"More Than Meets the Ear: Taking Another Look at Hip Hop Lyrics"

“Alt(ernative) Consumption: Kat Von D, the New Female Identity, and Why Girls Desperately Need to Find a New Way to Offend"

“The Current State of the African American Family and Its Depiction in Hollywood Drama”

"Madonna:  The Unlikely Force behind the Empowerment of a Generation of Women"

“The Civic Identity of a Metropolis:  Examining the Cultural Assets of Philadelphia”

"Simone de Beauvoir: A Vulnerable Force"

"Confusion, Recognition, and Reconstruction of Cultural Identities: The Exploration of Three Chinese-American Women Writers"

"The Facebook/MySpace Bug"

Philosophy and Religion

"Toward Anarchic Poetics:  Reading Poetry after Reiner Schürmann and Martin Heidegger"

“Exploring Catholic Sexuality Using John Paul II’s Man and Women He Created Them – Theology of the Body”

"Critical Theory Today: History, the Appropriation of Art, and Critical Realism"

The Arts and Art History

"Revival of the Sweetest: Retro-artisanal Entrepreneurship as Historical Exhibition"

“Photography as a Tool of Modern Man Through the Words of Walter Benjamin and the Images of Robert Frank”

“The Study of Five Fascinations Layered in Architectural History: Using Philadelphia as a Case Study”

"The Virtual Art Museum: Goals, Problems, and Inspirations"

Psychology and Health

"The Changing Face of Suicide"

"Peer-to-Peer Violence in Nursing: Why Has It Become Endemic and What Can We Do About It?"

“Belief and the Mind: Exploring how racial bias and belief structures affect cognitive development in intelligence and human behavior”

“Resiliency: The Story of Covenant House and the Youth They Serve”

"Tuberculosis: When American Biomedical Research is Not Enough"

"Uncle Sam in The Kitchen: The American Diet as The New Frontier for Public Health Action"

"The Psychology of Creativity: Exploring the link between creativity and mental health in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia"


"The comprehensive location of videogames on the university campus: Integrating students, faculty, university administration and the videogame industry for teaching, learning, research and recreation"

"Cognitive Science and Education: Building a Cautious Bridge"

“Media and Culture: A curriculum for an upper level high school media studies class”

"Diamonds in the Rough: The Cultivation of Black Children and Adolescents in Camden, NJ"

Politics and History

"Identity and Politics in the Philadelphia Puerto Rican Community"

"Transcultural Geographies of Oppression and Resistance: The status of disability self-advocacy in the U.S and Colombia"

"The Communist Party, Left-wing Sports Programs 1939-1947, Organizing and Recruitment, Decline, and Lessons for Today’s American Left"

“Displaced Identities in the Caribbean: A comparative study of how the political and social histories of Haiti and Dominican Republic have shaped islander identity”

“Women's Rights Today: Have We Achieved the ‘Perfect Equality’ Mill's Liberal Feminism, or Were His Ideas Destined to Fail?”

"The Philadelphia Nativist Riots of 1844: The Spatial and Racial problems that predicated the collapse of the Whig Party"

"Identity Politics in Santeria"

"Ernest Poole (1880-1950): The Apprenticeship of a Socialist Journalist 1902-1914"

"His Name or Mine: An Identity Crisis Rooted in Sexism"

“The Displacement of Immigrant Women in 20th Century America”

"Women Surviving in a Man's World: An Exploration of Gender and Racial Equality"

“The Big Rich in the Big Picture: The Impact of Conservative Advocacy Among Independent Texas Oilmen”

“Like Minded: The Afrocentric Methodology of the Constructive Participation and Contribution of Whites in the African American Civil Rights Movement”

"The City and the Company: Public Utility and Philadelphia’s Private Railways, 1858-1907"

"The Neoliberal Neocolonization of Bolivia"

"Torture and U.S. Policy"

"Media Control and Democracy"

"Gender Equality: Seeking a National Prioritization and Universal Awareness"



"My course of study culminated in a project where I was able to take everything I had worked on and learned through the program and craft a class in Media and Culture for high school students that I am now teaching."

MLA alumnus, '11