Social Science Disciplines

Students determine their course of study with the assistance of their preceptor and senior staff. They may choose to specialize in a particular discipline, taking the majority of their 2nd year courses with department faculty, with a few additions to round out their methodological and substantive training. Or, they may decide on a more interdisciplinary path, taking courses from around the University that highlight different approaches to their research problem.

The Division of the Social Sciences is committed to putting scholars in conversation. Most faculty hold appointments in more than one teaching unit, many graduate courses are cross-listed, and the graduate workshops draw students and faculty from across campus.

Students may focus on such fields as:

Anthropology | The University of Chicago’s Department of Anthropology is one of the leading centers of socio-cultural, linguistic, and archaeological research in the United States. Faculty and students pursue knowledge in areas such as archaeology, linguistic anthropology, human rights, indigenous groups, globalization, the politics of race, gender, sexuality, mass media, visual culture, and the study of science and technology. In research seminars, workshops, conferences, and weekly colloquium, students have the opportunity to interact with senior scholars and doctoral students in a collaborative and supportive environment. The diversity of the intellectual conversation in the Department of Anthropology can be found in the work of current faculty and graduate students. Beyond the Anthropology Department, many students also work with anthropologists and archaeologists in the Divinity School, Oriental Institute, and the Harris School for Public Policy. Related Workshops

Economics | Since its founding in 1925, the students and faculty of the Department of Economics (including numerous Nobel laureates) have advanced the world’s understanding of society by extending economic analysis to new spheres of social life, spearheading the study of ideas ranging from economic growth to human capital. Over the decades, numerous new ideas in the field of economics emerged from the University of Chicago, including the economic theory of socialism, the economics of the household, the rationality of peasants in poor countries, the economics of education and other acquired skills (human capital), the economics of information, and the monetary approach to international finance. The unifying thread? The conviction that economics is a powerful tool for understanding society. Graduate study in the Department of Economics is intensely mathematical. Prospective students who declare Economics as their primary field must have prior exposure to real analysis, econometrics, and advanced coursework in multivariable calculus, linear algebra, probability, and statistics. A solid foundation in micro and macroeconomics is strongly preferred. Related Workshops

History | Established as one of the founding departments at the University, the Department of History has developed into a leader in cultural and intellectual history, integrative and comparative history, and international history. Traditional fields of study are enriched by an emphasis on interdisciplinary workshops and special conferences that bring together students and faculty from throughout the University for intellectual exchange. The Department strives to sustain research by supporting diverse student cohorts in as many historical fields as possible, and aims to welcome students who bring a variety of perspectives to the program—especially those from outside the United States. The Department’s distinguished faculty (which includes five MacArthur Foundation Fellows and three past presidents of the American Historical Association), works closely with students in the graduate seminars, colloquia, and tutorials that form the core of advanced training at Chicago. As in any history program, students are expected to learn to read critically, to search out and analyze primary materials with skill, and to write with rigor and depth. Related Workshops

Political Science | In the 1940s, University of Chicago scholars constructed the empirical and quantitative study of politics and government as a behavioral science, thus pioneering the Chicago school of political science. What emerged is one of the most intellectually stimulating and challenging places to study in the world. The department is well-balanced in all four substantive fields and is hailed as one of the leading departments in Political Theory in the country.  Additionally, it has been found to be one of the most plural departments, from a methodological perspective.  The achievements of the department are numerous: teachers like Hans Morgenthau helped shape the field of international relations and alumni include Herbert Simon, who in 1978 became the first-ever political scientist to earn a Nobel prize. The department does not rest on its reputation, however. Political Science is committed to the pursuit of new paradigms for understanding the world and thus prioritizes hiring a distinguished faculty that represent eclectic fields of study, addresses issues of inequity and inclusion within both faculty and graduate students, and encourages faculty involvement with the many interdisciplinary centers on campus. Related Workshops

Psychology | For over a century, the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago has been a leading center of scholarship, research and teaching in psychology and related fields. Its faculty and students range from John B. Watson, the founder of behaviorism, to Roger Sperry, who won a Nobel Prize in 1981 for his research on the differences between the left and right brains. Today, faculty like Susan Levine pioneer research in the science of children’s learning. True to the Division’s interdisciplinary nature, its faculty members reflect the contemporary state of the field by serving on more than one of the department’s programs in cognition, developmental psychology, integrative neuroscience, and social psychology. Additionally, the department maintains close connections with other areas of the university: faculty and students participate in courses, colloquia, workshops and joint research ventures with scholars in related departments including anthropology, biology, computer science, education, linguistics, and philosophy, and in the University’s professional schools of business, public policy, law, medicine, and social service administration. Related Workshops

Sociology | The University of Chicago's Department of Sociology is among the great sociology departments in the world. Founded in 1892 as the first sociology department in the United States, the Department and its faculty have pioneered new literatures and methodologies in the discipline. In the 1920s, the Chicago School of Sociology became synonymous with well theorized and carefully researched urban ethnographic fieldwork. Building off this tradition, past students and faculty have shaped sociological subfields from stratification and demography to deviance and urban studies. They have originated methodologies from path analysis and log-linear modeling to new modes of urban ethnography. Diverse in interest, methodology, theory, and politics, the Department’s faculty and students are united in their intensity of intellectual commitment, in their embrace of rigorous inquiry with mutual intellectual respect, and in their goal to deploy sociological frameworks and understanding across a wide array of social phenomena. Related Workshops

Comparative Human Development | The department is an interdisciplinary department at the critical edge of thought and research in the social sciences, who believes that social life is too complex and too exciting to be left within any single discipline. Consequently, we bring together anthropologists, biologists, linguists, psychologists, sociologists and methodologists whose methods and theories cross individual social science disciplines. Faculty and students' research examines issues of central concern to socio-cultural anthropology, medical anthropology, comparative education, behavioral biology, language and thought, cultural and developmental psychology. In addressing those issues, we highlight shifting categories such as gender, race, class, age, sexuality, and ability. Related Workshops

Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science | The Committee on the Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science (CHSS) is a graduate program at the University of Chicago that offers students the opportunity to work toward the MA and PhD degrees in areas concerned with the history, philosophy, and social relations of science. Though faculty interests range broadly, CHSS has particular strengths in the history and philosophy of biology and psychology, history of medicine and psychiatry, history of statistics and probability, sociology and anthropology of science, and history of communication and the book. Related Workshops