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 an 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 September and runs through the middle of June.

In their first year, all MA students will complete:

  • The Computational Math camp or the Econ Math camp, which run for three weeks in September.
  • A Computational Statistics placement exam, offered during orientation week.
  • A three-course core in Perspectives (Perspectives on Computational Analysis, Perspectives on Computational Modeling, and Perspectives on Computational Research).
  • A two-course core in Computer Science with Social Science Applications in the Fall and Winter, and Large-Scale Computing for the Social Sciences in the Spring.
  • Three graduate social science electives that will vary, depending on the student’s prior training and intended disciplinary path.
  • Minor exceptions: (1) students who do not place out on our statistics exam will take an introductory course in computational statistics instead of a social science elective in the Fall quarter; (2) students who need additional math for computational economics will take those courses before attempting graduate electives in economics; (3) students may take more advanced programming instead of the two courses in Computer Science with Social Science Applications, if they place out on a computer science placement exam.

In their second year, all MA students will complete:

  • Three advanced courses in computational methods, drawn from any graduate department or professional school of the University.
  • Three graduate social science electives.
  • Three graduate courses that the student may select, from any UChicago department or professional school, where the student meets the minimum prerequisites.
  • Students may take the MA Research Commitment as one of their three courses. It provides more time to work on the MA thesis. Each quarter, students may select either the structured or the unstructured alternative. For the structured alternative, the course grade will hinge on the successful submission of a faculty-approved proposal, a literature review, and a cleaned data set. The final grade will be assigned by our Faculty Director in consultation with the preceptor. For the unstructured alternative, there are no requirements or class meetings. The course grade will be the one the faculty reader assigns on the final draft of the MA thesis, no matter when that paper is submitted.

Summer Preparation

For anyone who is not a native writer of English, the University offers a writing-focused summer program that is remarkably comprehensive and very reasonable in cost.

The course is designed to bring students’ English to the graduate level, and to help prepare them for academic and professional interviews after they graduate.

The course will also make sure that students do as well as possible in their writing-intensive graduate seminars.

More information is available here.

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 Social Science Applications (MACS 30121) sequence in the Fall are automatically registered. No placement exam is necessary. They go on to take MACS 30122 in the Winter.

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

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.