Areas of Concentration

While MAPSS students pursue an individualized curriculum, many concentrate in a specific discipline or interdisciplinary research area. We ask applicants to identify the discipline or concentration most aligned with their interests as part of the application. With the exceptions of MAPSS-Economics, MAPSS-Psychology, and MAPSS-QMSA, which have specific pre-requisites and additional course requirements, the specific discipline indicated on the application does not restrict or define a student's curriculum. 

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 colloquia, MAPSS students interact with senior scholars and anthropology doctoral students in a collaborative and supportive environment. MAPSS Students also work with anthropologists and archaeologists in the Divinity School, the Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures, and the Harris School of Public Policy.

The Department of Comparative Human Development (CHD) is an interdisciplinary program at the critical edge of thought and research in the social sciences, examining what it means to be human during a contemporary moment marked by rapid social, technological, and ecological change; massive global movements of people and ideas; and wide-ranging forms of inequality. Faculty and students in CHD conduct interdisciplinary, holistic and comparative research and scholarship focused on individual lives within various, changing, and heterogeneous contexts. Drawing on methods and concepts from anthropology, biological and developmental psychology, educational research, sociology, and statistics, Department members are committed to examining humans as simultaneously sociocultural, biological, and psychological beings who change over developmental and historical time. Such perspectives make CHD a unique space for research addressing topics including difference, equality, and power in multicultural societies; the developmental, symbolic and embodied processes involved in learning and socialization; the social shaping of vulnerability and resilience in relation to shifting categories such as gender, race, class, age, sexuality, and ability, among others. CHD faculty and graduate students conduct research in both US and non-US settings using diverse methods including long-term participant observation, qualitative interviewing, analysis of survey data, experiments, classroom observation, and field research with non-human animals.

The Committee on the Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science draws on work in history, philosophy, and the social relations of science, with areas of research that include the history of biology, psychology, medicine, and psychiatry; the history of statistics and probability; the sociology and anthropology of science; and the history of communication and the book.

Rooted in the conviction that economics is a powerful tool for understanding society, the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics is the center of the discipline across the University of Chicago and the home of the Chicago School of Economics. Faculty and alumni of the Griffin Department, renowned for their many and diverse achievements, have been recognized with numerous Nobel Prizes, Clark Medals, and other pre-eminent distinctions. Their innovations in applying economic analysis include the economics of education and other acquired skills (human capital), quantitative economic history, the economics of information, political economy, the economic theory of socialism, the economics of the household, the economics of information, the monetary approach to international finance, and rational expectations in macroeconomics, and mechanism design, among others. 

Learn more about MAPSS-Economics.

MAPSS students with interests in gender and sexuality can work with affiliated faculty in The Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality. The Center coordinates a number of courses which examine the study of gender and/or sexuality as a historical practice; as scientific concepts and sites of representation; in social movements such as feminism and gay and lesbian liberation; within feminist and queer theory; as family structures; in the gendering of labor force participation; as representations of women in literature and the visual arts; in the intersections of race and gender; in transnational movements; and as they impact women’s and men’s participation in politics, among other domains.

MAPSS students are eligible to complete the Graduate Certificate in Gender and Sexuality Studies. Learn more about certificates.

The History Department at the University of Chicago is an intellectually diverse community of faculty, whose interests span six continents, from Ancient to contemporary times. The department does not have a single methodological or thematic focus, as the faculty’s research and teaching interests vary widely, and include the study of politics, economics, society, ideas, environment, and culture. 

MAPSS students at UChicago are encouraged to integrate fully into the life of the department, by enrolling in courses with History PhD students, participating in student-led workshops, and attending the countless talks, seminars, and conferences that take place on campus each year. History graduate courses are generally small and offer opportunity for substantive conversation and debate, including discussion of the methodological choices researchers make as historians.

MAPSS students with a strong interest in Latin America can work with affiliated faculty in the Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) to develop a personalized program of study. More than 50 faculty members throughout the University focus their teaching or research in the area, offering a full range of disciplinary and regional coverage. Students can select courses in economic development; Mayan art and architecture; immigration; the environment; human rights; urban studies; revolution and dictatorship; law and citizenship; slavery and its afterlives; politics and public policy; crime and criminal governance; wealth and inequality; literature and society; religion; commodity capitalism; and many others.

MAPSS students are eligible to complete the Graduate Certificate in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Learn more about certificates.

For over a century, the Department of Psychology has been a leading center of scholarship, research and teaching in psychology and related fields. 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.

Learn more about MAPSS-Psychology.

The field of political economy applies tools such as game theory and empirical methods for causal inference to the study of political institutions and behavior.

Since its founding, the Department of Political Science has been a pioneer in the development of social scientific understandings of government and politics. And throughout this history, faculty and students have maintained an unabashed intellectualism, disregard for disciplinary and subdisciplinary boundaries, a commitment to diversity of approach and method, and a pure appreciation of scholarship. The department has made fundamental contributions in all major areas of political science, and its members pride themselves on innovative work that overcomes traditional subfields within political science and meaningfully engages disciplines all throughout the social sciences and humanities.

The MAPSS Quantitative Methods and Social Analysis (QMSA) concentration prepares a new generation of scholars to innovate methodologically and to use the theory of statistical inference to tackle challenging problems in a wide range of research such as poverty, crime, health disparity, public opinions, political participation, human development, cognition and emotions, genes and environment, and knowledge diffusion. The concentration is led by the Committee  on Quantitative Methods in Social, Behavioral, and Health Sciences, a University-wide interdisciplinary group of distinguished scholars who share the intellectual focus on developing innovative methods and incorporating new technology for advancing theory-driven and data informed rigorous research on populations, societies, and behavior. The members include faculty from departments in the Division of Social Sciences (Comparative Human Development, Economics, Political Science, Psychology and Sociology), Biological Sciences (Human Genetics, Medicine, and Public Health Sciences), the Harris School of Public Policy, and the Department of Statistics. Committee faculty work at the cutting-edge of quantitative methods including but not limited to geo-spatial modeling, intensive longitudinal data analysis, multilevel modeling, network analysis, causal inference, econometrics, demographic techniques, measurement, survey methodology, innovative research designs, machine learning and content analysis.

Learn more about MAPSS-QMSA.

The John U. Nef Committee on Social Thought is an interdisciplinary, Ph.D. granting graduate program that frequently engages with MAPSS students. Its guiding principle is that the serious study of many academic topics, and of many philosophical, historical, theological and literary works, is best prepared for by a wide and deep acquaintance with the fundamental issues presupposed in all such studies, that students should learn about these issues by acquainting themselves with a select number of major ancient and modern texts in an inter-disciplinary atmosphere.

Fields shaped by UChicago’s Department of Sociology include urban studies, global studies, race, education, economic sociology, organization, demography, ethnography, survey research, and computational sociology. Faculty and students in Department today – diverse in their interests, methodologies, theories, and politics – are not only heirs of the earlier Chicago Schools of Sociology, but a vibrant community actively creating the new approaches in the UChicago tradition. Department 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.