What do MAPSS graduates do with their degrees?

The UChicago MA is an increasingly important credential in a wide number of professional and academic fields.

Have a look at the detailed summaries of our professional career outcomes and our recent PhD placements.

In a recent, University-wide, independently-commissioned survey, 89% of our alumni, five years after graduation, said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their investment in MAPSS.

We are very proud of that number, and we are determined to continue providing the very best placement support we can.

Each year, about 1/3 of our graduates go on to work in private industry, especially consulting, management, and research-oriented positions.

About 1/3 go on to work in the non-profit world, including government, educational administration, think tanks, and social service organizations.

A little more than 1/3 apply successfully for PhD programs in the social sciences, professional, and interdisciplinary fields.

If I do decide to go on for the PhD, how will the MAPSS MA help me?

If you’ve done well in your UChicago courses and written a well-received MA thesis, you’ve proved that you are ready for graduate work in any doctoral program.

With a polished MA thesis as your writing sample, clarified disciplinary and research field commitments, and strong letters from University of Chicago faculty, you will be well-situated to go on.

The MAPSS Directors and senior academic staff work closely with our graduates to identify the right doctoral programs, review and strengthen your applications, and help you negotiate your final decisions. Our PhD placement success is detailed here.

If I do well in MAPSS, am I certain to be able to stay on for the PhD at UChicago?

Unfortunately, no. MAPSS students face the same stiff competition as anyone else when they apply or reapply for the UChicago PhD. In some cases, an applicant’s research agenda, developed over the course of their MA study, turns out to be a better fit for faculty and departments elsewhere. For that reason, some of our best students pursue their doctoral work at other highly ranked institutions.

In recent years, we have averaged 2-4 admits per application cycle in most UChicago departments, but we have had as many as 9 (one year in Sociology) and occasionally 0 (especially in those departments, like our Committee on Social Thought, that take just a handful of students per year).

There are more than 100 MAPSS graduates in various stages of PhD study at UChicago, including 90+ in the Social Sciences and another 10 elsewhere on campus.

Our distinguished alumni include Judith Farquhar, the recent Chair of our Anthropology department. Several of our graduates have won national prizes for their PhD dissertations, in just the last 5 years.

Even if a MAPSS degree improves my competitiveness for doctoral admissions and aid, don’t I still lose a year?

It depends. First, many PhD programs have sharply curtailed the number of required courses their students must complete before taking their comprehensive exams and submitting their dissertation proposals. In most departments, those course requirements are easily dispensed with in your first two years of study.

For those anxious to forge an academic career, however, it is usually the case that students will seek a more thorough exposure to their disciplines and methodologies than these modest requirements permit.

So even if you spend your first two years in a doctoral program like all other entering students, getting to know their faculty while completing your course distributions, your time in MAPSS will leave you far more prepared to move expeditiously afterwards, from the qualifying exams through the writing of the dissertation.

Indeed, by the time you finish MAPSS you will have been fully socialized into graduate academic life. You will know what it means to write a graduate paper; you will have developed serious methods training that will prepare you for more advanced seminars; and you will have a far better sense of exactly what project you might pursue in your doctoral work.

Many doctoral students are left to figure out these things on their own, in sink or swim environments that can flummox even the most promising researchers. In MAPSS you have the distinct advantage of a preceptor, someone who, week by week, will socialize you into the informal norms and formal expectations that other graduate students may take several years of trial and error to discern.

That means you will leave MAPSS ready to perform at a very high level in your doctoral program. You are likely to move through that program much more quickly than your peers.

I am taking my next degree directly into the job market. How are the University of Chicago and MAPSS prepared to help me?

MAPSS has its own full-time Director of Career Services in charge of career counseling, recruitment, and alumni networking. Shelly Robinson and her team offer a series of workshops to train our students in effective networking, interviewing, and resume and cover letter writing. They also run experience-based programs in which students can explore different career paths through internships and externships.

A week does not pass without notices of job openings, paid internships, research opportunities, and hiring events announced on the MAPSS Weekly Digest.

We have an annual career event, featuring alumni panels and TED-style talks on how to secure career-level positions in different sectors. In addition, our Alumni Association hosts networking and social events throughout the year.

MAPSS students also have access to UChicagoGRAD which offers additional support and campus-wide recruitment.

See our outcomes for recent MAPSS professional placements.