The MLAS program was founded in 1992 by Russell McIntire, Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Science. During Dean McIntire's time as Director, the program grew in the number of courses offered each semester and enrolled students, with over 70 graduates. In 2006 its direction passed to Martin Rapisarda, Associate Dean for Post-Baccalaureate Programs. Under Dean Rapisarda's guidance, the MLAS program evolved into the enhanced program it is today. With the addition of the certificates in concentrated fields of study, such as ethics, creative arts, history, and creative writing, the Capstone projects, and the recruitment of the most distinguished Vanderbilt professors, the MLAS program has become one of the most desirable Master’s programs for adult learners in the Nashville region, resulting in hundreds of graduates having marched across the commencement stage. In 2017, Alan Itkin, Assistant Dean for Graduate Education and Research, took over as director of MLAS, followed in 2019 by Andrea Hearn, Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education, and the program has continued to grow under their leadership.