In keeping with University of Chicago tradition, at least nine courses are required to earn a master’s degree. The MLA program distributes the course requirements this way:
- 1 humanities core course
- 1 social science core course
- 1 biological science course
- 1 physical science course
- 4 elective courses (must include one non-Western topic)
- 1 independent study course
Before you register for an Autumn Quarter elective, you must take a humanities core course. Similarly, before you register for a Winter Quarter elective, you must take the social science core course. If you would like to take two or more courses during a quarter, you must take or have taken that quarter's core course.
The independent study course enables a student to work independently with a University of Chicago faculty member on his or her thesis or special project and receive a quality grade for the work.
Students are given freedom and guidance in selecting and researching a master’s thesis or special project. A thesis is a formal paper exploring a specific topic. Special projects can range from a video project to a compilation of poems, photographs, or a story. A paper, although shorter than the thesis, is expected of the student pursuing the special project option.
We offer the program’s courses in a flexible, part-time weekday evening or Saturday format. Most students complete the program within a three-year period but have up to five years to do so. We also accommodate those who would like to complete the program at an accelerated rate.
Student Status and Academic Expectations
Once you are admitted, you must make academic progress through coursework and/or make measurable progress toward writing a thesis or special project. Staff evaluates each student's academic progress, at least, twice each academic year.
Provided that you are making academic progress, you will retain full use of the libraries and online accounts. When registered, you also have full use of the athletic facilities. While a rare occurrence, students who do not make satisfactory academic progress over a period of time may be administratively withdrawn from the program.
We appreciate that adult lives are busy and can be very complicated. Sometimes it is not possible to register in a particular quarter or academic year. If, at any point, you feel that your progress will be significantly impeded, let us know. This way, we can have a conversation about how to best manage your studies in light of your particular situation.