The Journal of the AGLSP


Ryan Tsapatsaris  Master of Philosophy in Liberal Arts, University of Pennsylvania ‘17

Ryan Tsapatsaris
Master of Philosophy in Liberal Arts, University of Pennsylvania ‘17


Become an expert in the subject you choose with Penn’s Master of Philosophy in Liberal Arts 

The Master of Philosophy in Liberal Arts at the University of Pennsylvania is an advanced interdisciplinary graduate degree designed for individuals with a passion for academic pursuits. Ideal for lifelong learners who previously completed a master’s degree in the liberal arts, Penn’s MPhil offers the independence of self-directed study with the expertise of world-class faculty and advising. 

“The first class I ever took in the MPhil program was on the subject and theory of publics. That shaped my theoretical framework for my PhD research and probably for the rest of my academic career,” shares Ryan Tsapatsaris (MPhil ’17), who is now a PhD student at Penn’s Annenberg School for Communication. “I was drawn to Penn because I could expand my research and benefit from the multitude of departments in the School of Arts and Sciences and across the University.” During his time in the program, Ryan selected and tailored courses to his own interests. “Even though I often designed my MPhil independently, I always felt supported,” he adds. 

For his MPhil thesis, Ryan explored the parallels between the media uses of Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump. “When I learned in one of my courses that ‘Make America Great Again’ was first Reagan’s slogan, I knew I had to research it,” he says. Ryan’s MPhil thesis readers and advisors were Dr. Guobin Yang and Dr. Sharrona Pearl—faculty members with dual appointments in the Annenberg School for Communication and the School of Arts and Sciences, who now advise his doctoral studies in the Annenberg School. “They helped expand my knowledge bases without compelling me to fall into their philosophies,” he continues, “They gave me the freedom I needed to accomplish my goals.”

Ryan’s doctoral research explores the role that identity plays in media practices, particularly for the LGBTQ community. He credits his MPhil advisors with empowering him to work through interdisciplinary lenses. “The MPhil coursework was extremely productive, maybe even more so than my focused master’s,” says Ryan. “Having the ability to choose from a vast array of disciplines was unbelievably useful. I can’t state that enough.”

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. Available on a full- or part-time basis, you select the courses most relevant to your interests, around your schedule.

Contact our program director, Dr. Christopher Pastore, to schedule an appointment to review your current research and explore your options for pursuing a Master of Philosophy in Liberal Arts at Penn.

(215) 898-7326