The University of Chicago | Graduate Admissions

Comparative Human Development (CHD) - PhD

Division: Social Sciences
Degree Type: PhD (For the MA degree, see the Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences)

Program Description

The Department of Comparative Human Development (CHD) focuses on the study of the individual within context. Its faculty believes that behavior is too complex to be left within any one discipline. Consequently, the department brings together anthropologists, psychologists, sociologists, and biologists who highlight, for example, the role that culture plays in individual psychology, the interplay of biological and social processes, and all of this as individuals travel through the life course. Some current research programs include the impact of globalization on family relationships, the relation of language to thought, the health consequences of social experiences, gender identity, the nature of the self, the consequences of cultural collision, and variations in the learning process in educational settings. Applicants should be prepared to work on the critical edge of thought and research in the social sciences.

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Specific Areas of Focus

  • Comparative Life Course
  • Health, Culture, and Mental Health
  • Cultural Psychology and Psychological Anthropology
  • Comparative Behavioral Biology
  • Language, Communication, and Cognition


Application Method

Applications should be initiated through the online application. Paper applications are not accepted.


Deadline for admissions and financial aid: December 15

The Department of Comparative Human Development admits applicants once a year for the following Autumn Quarter. Applications received after the deadline cannot be considered.

Campus Visits

Campus visits and interviews are not required. Please contact the department for more information.

Degree Objective

The Department of Comparative Human Development admits applicants only for the PhD degree. We do not offer an MA program. If you are interested in pursuing an MA focusing in Comparative Human Development, look at the Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences (MAPSS).

Application Requirements

  1. Online Application Form
  2. Non-refundable application fee Fee waiver information »
  3. 3 Letters of Recommendation
  4. GRE and TOEFL Scores
  5. Resume/CV
  6. Statement of Academic Purpose
  7. Writing Sample
  8. Transcripts

More application information »

Admissions Decisions

Admissions decisions are emailed in early March. Direct all questions about your application directly to the admissions office.

Program Requirements


Every student is required to take the following courses for a quality grade:

  • Human Development Concepts
  • Comparative Behavioral Biology Course
  • Comparative Life Course Course
  • Cultural Psychology and Psychological Anthropology Course
  • Health Culture and Mental Health Course
  • Language, Communication, and Cognition Course
  • Intermediate Statistics
  • 1 additional methods courses (not introductory statistics)
  • 2 trial research seminars (may be taken pass-fail)
  • 2 additional CHD courses in area of specialization

Students are not required to complete all these requirements by the end of their second year. However, they must have five quality grades by the end of Spring Quarter of their first year, and 10 quality grades by the end of the second year.

In addition, students participate in elective courses and workshops in the department and the University in consultation with their advisors. The CHD Concepts course is taken during Autumn Quarter of the first or second year.

The trial research seminars launch students into their research projects and guide them from the beginning to the completion of those projects. One seminar is taken in Spring Quarter of the first year, and the other seminar is taken in Autumn Quarter of the second year. Trial research papers are due by Spring Quarter of the second year.

A grade of "B" or better is required to satisfy the requirements of these courses. Students are expected to maintain an average of "B+" or higher.

Trial Research

All students are required to enroll in a trial research seminar in Spring Quarter of the first year and Autumn Quarter of the second year. The trial research project must be completed and formally approved by the faculty during Spring Quarter of the student's second year. Students are expected to report regularly on the progress of their research to the trial research seminars. The trial research is carried out under the direction of the research advisor and is read by one other faculty member.

Costs & Financial Aid

As a general principle, we provide extensive funding for all students who matriculate in our doctoral programs. Applicants to our doctoral programs are considered for all fellowship resources at the University of Chicago for which they are eligible. More information »