Program Overview

Our two-year MA program draws on some of the latest innovations in machine learning, statistical inference, and large data analysis to engage big questions about our social world. We have a structured curriculum that is demanding but accessible for anyone with late-blooming interests in quantitative or social scientific research. We also have substantial merit aid that we can offer.

The best short description of our program is available here.

STEM Authorization

For international students, Computational Social Science is an approved STEM program for your work authorization in the US. That means you will receive three years of work permission, following your graduation from our two-year program.

The optional paid internship between your first and second year, meanwhile, can be held under your regular student visa, because of the “collaborative” status our program has negotiated with those employers.

Student Outcomes

We expect most of our Computation students to go on for PhD study in their chosen social science discipline. The training we provide will make them maximally competitive at leading departments in their field. We will draw on our experience placing students for the PhD in a neighboring MA program, the MA Program in the Social Sciences (MAPSS), where we have had a 91% funded PhD placement rate for over a decade.

Students who decide not to pursue the PhD will find weekly support with a structured curriculum of professional development workshops. We have an in-house Director of Career Services who will facilitate internships between the first and second year, and work with students on an individual basis as they seek employment afterwards.

Math Requirements

The mathematical components of the degree can be formidable, but are designed to ramp up in a way that is accessible for all students. You’ll find a good description of the curriculum on the program’s webpage, under MA Program Requirements.

As a rule of thumb, we expect all admitted students to have a quantitative GRE score of 158 or better, placing them in the top 30% of all test takers.

There are no formal math or computer science prerequisites for the program. There will be an intensive summer math camp to assist students who may have had less exposure to linear algebra, differential/integral calculus, and statistics.

That summer math camp will also be a useful refresher for anyone who has not done that kind of work recently.

MA Thesis

The MA thesis will be written under the direct supervision of a Computation faculty member, as a part of a three-course “research commitment” in the second year of study. 

Class Size

We have 31 students in our 2017 cohort. 85% are international. 47% are female. Those students are coming from 31 different undergraduate or graduate institutions. 100% received significant financial aid from the University. The average age is 23.3. The average quantitative GRE is 90%.

We also have 24 second-year students in the program. 79% are international. 63% are female. They came from 23 different undergraduate or graduate institutions. 96% received significant financial aid from the University in their first year, and 100% in their second. Their average quantitative GRE was 87%.

Merit Aid

We provide significant financial aid, with most students earning an award of one-half tuition in the first year, and an award of two-thirds tuition in the second, if they achieve a modest 3.4 GPA. (A threshold reached by 88% of Computation students last year.)

Our very best candidates come in at two-thirds or full tuition in year one.

Course Selections

Courses are selected from the regular graduate offerings at the University. You can get a good sense of the available options by going to this link.

RA/TA Opportunities

Many of our Computation students will seek and find RAships with UChicago faculty. Given the intense academic demands of the program, we recommend that students start with a 5 hour per week commitment and see if they can handle 10.

At the University of Chicago, graduate students cannot teach other students until their 3rd year of graduate study. Computation students can serve as RAs, but not as TAs.

There are a variety of other on-campus employment opportunities, including work at the Regenstein Library, the Smart Museum, and the Oriental Institute, or in part-time administrative positions at one of the 140 Centers and Institutes we have on campus.

Computation Workshop

As part of their degree requirements, all students attend our weekly Computational Social Science Workshop.

The Workshop gives you a chance to see emergent computational work in the social sciences, to learn new methodological tools, to meet leading computational researchers from around the world, and to forge connections with faculty and students across campus.