The University of Chicago | Graduate Admissions

Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences (MAPSS) - MA

Division: Social Sciences
Degree Type: MA

Program Description

The Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences (MAPSS) is a one-year program of graduate studies leading to the MA degree. MAPSS offers a wide variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary opportunities for advancing academic or career goals, while allowing flexibility unusual among graduate programs. Each student works closely with the director and an assigned preceptor on all aspects of the program, from designing a customized curriculum, to defining the area of scholarly research, to writing the thesis. MAPSS provides every student with a vibrant and collaborative intellectual community and core-course training in social science theory. Students meet a social sciences methods requirement and choose seven additional courses from the full range of regular doctoral and graduate professional offerings of the departments and committees of the Division of Social Sciences and of the other divisions and professional schools of the University. MAPSS M.A. theses are directed by Departmental faculty from across the SSD and the University.

The program is well suited for those who wish either to take advantage of the resources of several disciplines to study a problem or area of interest, or to strengthen their training and achievement in a single discipline. Some MAPSS students acquire skills and knowledge for careers that make use of the social sciences; others prepare for further graduate work or professional training. The program provides students with the opportunity to develop their existing research projects on the graduate level or to explore fields in which they may have limited background before making a major professional or educational commitment.

Specific Areas of Focus

  • Anthropology
  • Comparative Human Development
  • Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science
  • History
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Social Thought
  • Sociology


Application Method

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


Deadline for admissions and financial aid: Priority Deadline - January 5; Final Deadline - April 30

The Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences 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 available, but not required. A travel-subsidized program for admitted students is held in the second week of April.

Degree Objective

MAPSS admits applicants only for the MA program.

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. Transcripts

Admissions Decisions

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

Program Requirements

Master's Requirement 

Students in the Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences are expected to complete (1) nine graduate-level courses with a minimum grade average of "B" and (2) a Master's Paper that must be approved by both a faculty sponsor and a MAPSS preceptor.

Coursework Requirement

The nine courses must include the core course and meet the methods requirement, as described below. The core course, "Perspectives in Social Science Analysis", provides a critical understanding of the major theoretical approaches used by professional social scientists. It supplies all MAPSS students with a common technical vocabulary and evens out their foundational preparations across the various disciplines. Because "Perspectives" is offered only in the Autumn Quarter, students may not begin the MAPSS program in any other quarter.

Students must also fulfill a social sciences methods requirement. MAPSS itself offers courses in historical, ethnographic, political theory, museological, and psychological research methods. Survey research methods courses are sponsored by the Division of Social Sciences. Dozens of other methods courses‑from statistics and policy methods to interview and case study methods‑are available to fulfill the requirement in any given year. Students may also fulfill the requirement by demonstrating prior methods coursework.

Students select courses with the guidance and approval of a MAPSS preceptor and the MAPSS director. The full-time graduate student registers for three courses each quarter, and completes the nine-course requirement in three quarters.

Master's Paper Requirement

Students write the paper under the supervision of a regular faculty member in the University and a preceptor, both of whom provide a written evaluation and a letter grade upon its completion. The Master's Paper may be based upon: empirical research testing a social science hypothesis or deploying a specified social science perspective; a theoretical critique of existing social science literature on a selected topic; systematic survey or evaluation research; or any other topic acceptable to the faculty sponsor, the preceptor, and the program director. During Winter Quarter, preceptors hold regular thesis proposal writing workshops. Any faculty member from any school, division, or department of the University may serve as the thesis paper sponsor. In any two academic years, as many as 240 individual faculty members supervise MAPSS papers. 

Costs & Financial Aid

For information on the estimated cost of attendance, please visit the Social Sciences Division website.

 Loans for Domestic Students

Admitted students may need to apply for loans (private or federally supported) and/or the federal work-study program to cover any tuition and living expenses not covered by a University award. If you need to subsidize your graduate studies through loans and/or work-study, you will need to complete the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) and apply for student loans through the University's Student Loan Administration. Visit the Student Loan Administration to download loan forms and to search the frequently asked questions. Students admitted for Autumn Quarter who wish to be considered for a student loan should submit a loan application to the SLA office by the May 15 priority deadline; notifications concerning loan approval are sent out in the summer. SLA also determines eligibility for the work-study program, but job assignments cannot be made until the student is actually on campus.

 Merit-based Scholarships and Fellowships

All applicants who indicate on the graduate application that they would like to be considered for financial aid will be reviewed for merit-based scholarships and fellowships; there are no separate forms to complete. The Division of the Social Sciences has limited resources, which are allocated based on the criteria of academic record and scholarly promise; financial need and U.S. citizenship are not factors. We offer a limited number of partial tuition scholarships (one-third tuition, one-half tuition, two-thirds tuition) along with a very small number of full-tuition awards. Students who we admit without a financial award or with partial tuition scholarships pay the balance of tuition from a combination of their own resources and educational loans.

More financial information »