Graduate Student-at-Large/Returning Scholar

The Graduate Student-at-Large (GSAL) and Returning Scholar (RS) programs enable eligible students to take graduate and undergraduate courses throughout the University of Chicago without being enrolled in a degree program.


About the Program

Graduate Students-at-Large take regular University of Chicago courses for grades and credit, allowing students to:

  • Preview graduate school
  • Define academic focus
  • Build a transferable record of study

Returning Scholars audit courses, earning neither grades nor credit. The Returning Scholar program is ideal for:

  • Continued personal and professional development
  • Skill-based study, e.g. languages

Program Structure

  • Students work with program staff to select appropriate courses based on students’ needs and goals
  • Students may take between one and three courses per quarter, contingent on program director and departmental approval
  • International applicants are encouraged; the University of Chicago sponsors I-20s for accepted applicants
  • Students must comply with the rules and policies of the Graham School, their departments of study and the University of Chicago
  • Students are admitted on the condition that if they should receive an "F" or two grades of "C" or lower they may become ineligible to continue in the program. Students may be dismissed from the GSAL program if they are not in good academic standing.


Applicants should submit:

  • Completed online application
  • Statement of purpose
  • Resume or CV
  • Official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions attended
  • Official documentation of BA or BS or equivalent if not included on transcripts
  • TOEFL scores if appropriate
  • $75 non-refundable application fee

Admission decisions are rolling.  Applicants should expect to be notified within 1-2 weeks of submitting a complete application.  Qualified applicants will be invited for an interview.



Students bid for courses during designated registration request periods. Visit our registration page for detailed information.

Financial Aid

GSAL is a part-time, non-degree program. Students enrolled in the program are not eligible for University grants and scholarships or most federal financial aid. Student loans may be available through the Student Loan Administration and the Maroon Financial Credit Union.


Check or money order: payment and billing schedule information at the Office of the Bursar.

Credit Card: Call the Graham School Registrar at 773.702.1722 Monday-Friday, 9 am – 4 pm. You will need your 6-digit student ID number in addition to your bill.  Please note that a 3% service fee applies to credit card payments.

University tuition payment plans are not available to GSAL students.

University Staff Employee Tuition Remission

Benefits-eligible staff employees may apply for a tuition remission for courses taken through GSAL Business. The University will pay up to 50% of the tuition for up to two courses per quarter, at either the graduate or undergraduate level. The Staff Tuition Assistance Benefit form should be submitted directly to the University Benefits Office.