What do MAPSS graduates do with their degrees?

Current job markets remain strong for MAPSS graduates. In a recent, independently-commissioned survey, 89% of our alumni said they were satisfied with their employment outcomes. The MA has become the entry-level professional credential in many fields, and the value of a University of Chicago degree is recognized around the country, indeed through much of the world. What we call “research training” is often called “analytical skills” in the public and corporate worlds. These skills are highly valued and compensated, especially for MA graduates who complement them with solid writing and communication abilities. While the recent recession may be slowing time-to-hire for some graduates, we see no evidence of a decline in our degree’s marketability.

About one third of MAPSS graduates enter the for-profit sector, with spiking demand for market research (both quantitative and qualitative), digital publishing, and research-based consulting.

About one third enter the non-profit sector in fields such as government, publishing, university administration, high school and community college teaching, health care management, journalism, institutional research, and grants management.

About one third pursue doctoral or professional degrees within eighteen months of completing MAPSS.

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 Director and our senior academic staff work closely with our graduates to identify the right doctoral programs, to review and strengthen your applications, and to help you negotiate your final decisions. Our PhD placement record can be reviewed under our outcomes. Results for this current cycle are still being tabulated and will be presented at Campus Days.

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

No. MAPSS graduates 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 have opted to pursue their doctoral work at other first-rate institutions.

In recent years, we have averaged 2 admits per application cycle in most UChicago departments, but we have had as many as 7 (one year in History) and occasionally 0 (especially in those committees, like Social Thought, that take just a handful of students per year).

There are approximately 100 MAPSS graduates in various stages of PhD study at UChicago, including 90+ in the Social Sciences and another 7 elsewhere on campus.

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 take before being passed on to their comprehensive exams and the submission of 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 and not an undergraduate paper; you will have developed serious methods training that will steer you through subsequent research and prepare you for more advanced seminars; you will have a far better sense of exactly what project you might pursue in your doctoral work, and which faculty and departments would be the best fits for your interests.

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’ll leave MAPSS ready to perform at a very high level in your doctoral program, and that 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 offers a series of lectures and workshops to train our students in effective networking, interviewing, and resume and cover letter writing. She also runs experience-based programs in which students can explore different career paths (internships, externships, and CivX). A week does not pass without notices of job openings, paid internships, research opportunities, and hiring events announced on the MAPSS Weekly Digest.

Our Alumni Association is very active. Each winter they host our flagship MA Alumni Career (MAC) event. MAC features 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 where MAPSS students have been hired recently.