MA Program Overview

We seek to produce University of Chicago-trained social scientists, well versed in the most recent literatures of their discipline, and ready to make important contributions by deploying computational research designs. 

All MA students will complete the equivalent of 18 graduate seminars and write a MA thesis, modeled on a professional journal article.

Students take three - and no more than three - classes in each of the Fall, Winter, and Spring quarters, in each of their two years.

The academic year begins in late September and runs through the middle of June.

Summer Preparation

We offer a summer camp in Academic English from August 4 to August 25, for all non-native English speakers.

Professor Justin Grimmer is teaching a Computational Math Camp from August 28 to September 15, before the academic year begins.

We also offer summer placement in lab, for incoming computational psychologists or those doing lab-oriented research.

Computer Science Placement Exam

Students taking our Computer Science with Applications (CAPP 30121) sequence in the Fall are automatically registered. No placement exam is necessary. They go on to take CAPP 30122 in the Winter, and CAPP 30123 in the Spring.

Students who hope to take more advanced Computer Science classes without taking CAPP 30121 and CAPP 30122 must take a programing placement exam. See this link for prior exams, how to prepare, and how the tests are evaluated.

Statistics Placement Exam

Students who hope to place out of our required course, STAT 23400, must take a placement exam before the Fall quarter begins. The core text is Bertsekas and Tsitsiklis, Introduction to Probability, 2nd edition (available through Amazon).

In their first year, all MA students will complete:

  • A three course core in Perspectives (Perspectives on Computational Analysis, Perspectives on Computational Modeling, and Perspectives on Computational Research).
  • A three course core in Computer Science with Applications. Students may take more advanced courses through a placement exam. Psychology concentrators can take a different sequence in computational neuroscience.
  • Three courses that will vary, depending on the student’s prior training and intended disciplinary path. Priority will go to any needed courses in statistics, linear algebra, or advanced math in particular disciplines (e.g., real analysis in economics). If those requirements are met, the student will take up to three social science electives, in their area of research.

In their second year, all MA students will complete:

  • A three course “research commitment,” working directly with a member of our Computation faculty, producing a MA thesis modeled on a professional journal article.
  • Three advanced courses in computational methods, tailored to their disciplinary interest. They may be drawn from any graduate department or professional school of the University.
  • Three social science electives, in their area of research.
  • If students desire, they can petition to replace any portion of the three quarter research commitment with social science electives or other courses in computational methods.

Computation Workshop

All MA students are expected to attend our weekly Computation Workshop, where advanced scholars and invited guests present drafts of their research for critique and discussion.

Summer Practicum

All MA students may participate in an optional summer practicum between their first and second year, with internships drawn from academic and professional organizations. Our Director of Career Services will help you find and secure those positions. International students will not require any additional visa permissions, and they do not draw on their three years of work eligibility after they graduate.