An MA Program That Will Surprise You

MAPSS is very different from most MA programs. We are highly selective for admission, and we offer partial and full tuition scholarships. We recruit the most promising graduate students we can find, persons of unusual academic or professional accomplishment, and we give them the same access and faculty support as UChicago doctoral students. We achieve academic and career placement rates, of 90% or higher in all PhD disciplines, and across a variety of professional careers, that no other MA program approximates.

There are more than 100 MAPSS graduates now studying for the PhD at UChicago. 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.

Approximately 18% of a typical MAPSS cohort will turn down PhD offers to join us, in most cases because they are switching disciplines, or unsure about their placement prospects. Another 14% of the cohort will come to MAPSS with an MA degree already in hand, typically when that degree was earned overseas, or outside of the social sciences.

The 250 students that we matriculate come from more than 192 different undergraduate institutions. Dozens will have graduated Phi Beta Kappa, or with departmental prizes, from institutions large and small, well-known and obscure. Dozens more will have found their footing after an initial transition, or some early missteps, showing the resilience and tenacity that are critical for graduate success.

MAPSS is a program where the prize-winning student from Messiah College receives the same faculty attention and support as the PBK graduate from Stanford. We take pride in catapulting students from outside of conventional pipelines into the most competitive ranks for PhD and career entry.

A Transformative One-Year Degree

Why MAPSS? Our admitted students:

  • Get full access to the faculty and resources of the University of Chicago, including all graduate workshops and the centers and institutes.
  • Select eight graduate courses from any department or professional school of the University. While most of those classes will be in the social sciences, others may come from the Division of the Humanities, the Harris School of Public Policy, the Booth School of Business, the Law School, Divinity, and the School of Social Service Administration.
  • Take one required course, “Perspectives in Social Science Analysis,” furnishing a common vocabulary, and exposure to canonical texts, across each of our social science disciplines.
  • Write an article-length MA thesis under the direct supervision of UChicago faculty, from any department or professional school.
  • Acquire professional-grade methods training, selecting from dozens of graduate offerings in ethnographic methods, network analysis, game theory, involved interviewing, historical methods, comparative case study, rational choice, content analysis, linear models, comparative historical analysis, statistics, experimental methods, organizational analysis, interpretive methods, survey research, computational methods, and more.
  • Receive close mentorship and weekly support by a MAPSS preceptor, our senior academic staff, our senior administrators, and our Director of Career Services.
  • Learn how to write for a professional readership, and make original contributions that will be persuasive to specialists in the field.
  • Achieve extraordinary placement success, with 91% of MAPSS students accepted for funded PhD study each year. We support even larger numbers for an impressive range of professional careers.
  • Qualify for partial and full tuition scholarships, awarded at the time of admission, with 97% of our 2016 cohort receiving significant merit aid.
  • Begin MA study in September, taking three graduate courses for each of the Fall, Winter, and Spring quarters, and complete the MA thesis for June or August convocation, with an 80% completion rate. That figure rises to 85% by December, and we keep pushing to get you through.

In just one year, you can make remarkable transitions in your intellectual and professional development. Confirm your PhD path, or switch to an entirely new academic discipline. Take your research into the field, drawing on our extensive career placement resources. Our MAPSS staff is fully invested in your success.