The Journal of the AGLSP


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Balance your professional and academic ambitions in Penn’s Master of Philosophy in Liberal Arts 

Jonathan Broder, MPhil ’19

Jonathan Broder, MPhil ’19

“The flexibility of the Master of Philosophy in Liberal Arts was really crucial for me,” says Chris Mustazza (MPhil ’15), who is currently Director of Humanities, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences Computing at the University of Pennsylvania. “Taking one or two classes at a time, I was able to keep my job and even advance my career,” he adds. 

Jonathan Broder (MPhil ’19) agrees: as both Vice President of Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer at Conrail, his professional responsibilities demanded his full-time attention while he researched and wrote his MPhil capstone project. “My advisors were helpful in keeping me on track but also giving me the breathing space I need to do this right—because I didn’t want to do it halfway,” he says.

Ideal for lifelong learners who already have a master’s degree, the University of Pennsylvania’s Master of Philosophy in Liberal Arts (MPhil) can be completed on a full- or part-time basis. Students can choose daytime, evening, and online courses across disciplines, tailoring the advanced graduate degree to meet their unique goals—personal, professional, academic, or all of the above.  

Jonathan might have checked off “all of the above,” given the option. An alumnus of Penn’s Master of Liberal Arts program, Jonathan changed gears from his master’s thesis to a new project examining Conrail’s corporate history within the larger context of federal railroad regulation. “I've always been a lifelong learner, and I'm very passionate about my company,” says Jonathan. “I really wanted to tell our story in a way that would keep a reader’s interest.” With his company fully on board, Jonathan had the benefits of tuition reimbursement as well as research assistants to help organize the company’s archival documents. “I could write hundreds and hundreds of pages on this topic,” he laughs, “but the MPhil really needs to be focused. It felt like the right place for this work.” 

Chris Mustazza, MPhil ’15

Chris Mustazza, MPhil ’15


For Chris, taking PhD-level courses and studying with eminent literary scholars through the MPhil prepared him for his own doctoral studies in poetry, which he recently completed. Inspired by his technical work with PennSound, an online audio archive of poets reading their own poetry, Chris took a deep dive into the intersection of his interests in audio recording technologies and international modern and contemporary poetry. “The MPhil is one of the only programs I know that encourages you to take any graduate class you want, to blend knowledge and make something new,” he says.

Now an English instructor as well as an IT director, Chris encourages his staff and students alike to pursue their passions and find ways to blend seemingly separate interests. “It’s all connected,” he says. “At the end of the day, it's really about people finding work that they love and that changes their point of view.”

Penn’s flexible Master of Philosophy in Liberal Arts program supports self-directed study with the expertise of world-class faculty and personalized advising. Contact our program director, Dr. Christopher Pastore, to schedule an appointment to review your current research and explore your options for pursuing this advanced interdisciplinary degree at Penn.

(215) 898-7326