Requirements

All applications must be made through our online system. Apply now.

Most supporting documents should be uploaded into our system. All documents uploaded to support your application should include:
  • Your full name
  • The name of the department to which you are applying
Any documents that must be mailed should be sent to:
  • Division of Social Sciences
    Office of Admissions
    1130 E. 59th St., Room 107
    Chicago, IL 60637

The online application, all supporting documents, and the processing fee must be submitted no later than the appropriate deadline date. We process only those applications for which payment has been made and for which supplementary materials have been received in the Office of Admissions. Please refer to the online application for instructions. Incomplete applications are reviewed but may be severely disadvantaged. Late material is reviewed only at the discretion of the faculty admissions committees.

Please note that applicants may apply to no more than two programs in the Division of the Social Sciences in a given year.

Application Fee

The application-processing fee is $90* for all departments except Economics, which has a fee of $135. Your application fee payment may be made online by credit card (Visa or MasterCard only) at the time you electronically submit your application. If you make the application fee payment online using a credit card, it takes two business days for the payment to finalize. We do not process an application until that time.

*The application fee will be waived for all applications to MA programs submitted before December 1, 2017.

Application Fee Waivers

Within the application, you will find a link to a Fee Waiver Request form with a variety of categories (listed below). If you believe you are eligible for a fee waiver, please complete as many of the form’s categories that apply to you, and submit the form before submitting the application. If we require additional information, we will contact you.

Please note: the application fee is nonrefundable. If you are applying for a fee waiver, do not submit the application fee online. If your waiver is denied, you will be asked to pay the application fee by credit card.

Please do not contact departments regarding fee waivers. All communication about fee waivers should be with the Office of Admissions.

The Division of the Social Sciences will consider application fee waivers for the following groups of applicants:

Category A

University of Chicago students or alumni from degree-granting programs

Category B

Current/Recent Participants in certain programs*
(Within last two years unless otherwise stated)

  • Americorps
  • Bill and Melinda Gates Millennium Scholar
  • Institute for the Recruitment of Teachers (IRT) (current intern/associate)
  • Leadership Alliance
  • Fulbright/IIE Fellowship Recipient for 2017-2018
  • Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship
  • Peace Corps
  • Project 1000
  • Ronald McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program
  • Teach for America
  • U.S. Military (currently serving)
Category C

Qualified applicants through the CIC FreeApp Program*
Applicants to PhD programs only, may qualify through the CIC FreeApp Program. In addition to submitting the Fee Waiver Request Form, applicants must also apply for the CIC FreeApp Program and must meet all CIC FreeApp Eligibility requirements. Additionally, applicants must meet at least one of our local criteria:

  • Member of an underrepresented minority group, as defined by the National Science Foundation (see: http://www.nsfagep.org/)
  • Participant in a CIC SROP program
  • Participant in MARC, McNair, Howard Hughes, or CORPrograms
  • Currently receiving a Pell Grant
Category D

Current undergraduates receiving documented need-based financial aid*

Applicants must be U.S. Citizens or Permanent Residents currently enrolled as undergraduates in U.S. colleges or universities and must provide a letter verifying receipt of need-based financial aid in the current academic year, signed by the financial aid officer at the institution currently being attended.

Category E

Applicants who have received Fee Waiver codes from a program in the Division of the Social Sciences at the University of Chicago

Please do not request Fee Waiver codes from programs or from the Admissions Office. Applicants receiving such codes will be contacted in advance by the program with instructions.

  • *Applicants in these categories B, C and D must be U.S. Citizens or Permanent Residents.

Transcripts

Please upload copies of your transcripts for all post-secondary schools that you have attended. If you transferred coursework from one school to another, and all course titles and grades are listed on the second school’s transcript, you do not need to upload the first school’s transcript. You should upload final transcripts from any schools from which you have received a degree, listing the degree name and date conferred.

Please note: If you are admitted and accept our offer, we will require you to have an official transcript sent to our office from the Registrar’s offices at any schools you have attended. We will compare the official transcripts to the unofficial transcripts you submitted, and we reserve the right to revoke the offer of admission if there are any unexplained discrepancies.

Applicants who did not attend an institution where the primary language of instruction was English must submit an official English translation in addition to the transcript issued in the language of instruction. Applicants may prepare the translation themselves and have it verified by a person whose position requires knowledge of both English and the pertinent language, such as a professor of English at a French university, or they may have the translation done by such a person. A signed statement or certificate of verification should be included with the translation. An official translation may also be obtained from a certified translation service, an embassy or consulate office, or other official entity requiring knowledge of both languages.

Letters of Recommendations

We require three letters of recommendation in support of each application. These letters will be submitted electronically through the online application. We do not accept letters of recommendation as attachments to an email or by fax. Special instructions for online letters of recommendation can be found in the “Recommendation” section of the online application.

Guidelines for Letters of Recommendations

Because of the highly specialized graduate training we offer at Chicago, we find that letters of recommendation from instructors at academic institutions are the most useful to the faculty reviewers.

If possible, instructors in the discipline to which you are applying should write them all. It is also acceptable to submit letters from individuals in related disciplines. For instance, those applying to Economics may submit a letter written by a Mathematics instructor. Those applying to Sociology may use a letter from a Statistics professor. However, the majority of the letters (i.e. at least two out of three) should come from instructors within the field to which you are applying.

The best letters of recommendation are likely to be written by those instructors with whom you have had a long and successful working relationship. Before asking an instructor to write a recommendation, consider how long you have known that person, how many of his or her classes you have taken, whether you have been actively engaged in those classes, and whether you have produced lengthy papers or other significant projects for that person. Receiving a good grade in a class may not be enough to guarantee a strong or useful recommendation letter for the purpose of gaining admission to graduate school.

Faculty admissions committees want to know what kind of professional colleague you are likely to become, what drives you intellectually, how you go about solving problems, and how committed you are to your goals.

We also recognize that some applicants who have been away from school for a year or more may have trouble obtaining letters of recommendation from their former instructors. Many colleges and universities nowadays offer credential services that store letters of recommendation in perpetuity. We strongly advise applicants to make use of such services before leaving a particular school so that letters of recommendation are always available to them.

Letters of Recommendations for the Department of Economics Only

It would be particularly helpful to the graduate admissions committee if the recommender can provide the following information, if applicable:

  • Rank the performance of the applicant in their class or program (e.g. 3rd of 23).
  • Compare the applicant to others with similar backgrounds who are applying or have recently applied to similar economics Ph.D. programs (e.g. the applicant is better than “x” who is attending university y but not as good as “z” who is also applying to Chicago).
  • If a recommender is writing letters for more than one applicant, compare and rank them as completely as possible.

Candidate Statement

A candidate statement of academic purpose should discuss your academic and career objectives in a concise, sharply focused, and well-crafted essay. This statement must be completed online as part of the Online Graduate Student Application. Admissions committees are particularly interested in this statement, so it is considered a vital part of your application. Therefore, you should be as specific as possible in discussing your academic objectives and research interest. There is a 2,500-word limit for the statement of purpose on our online application. The 2,500-word limit is division-wide. Please check the website of the program to which you are applying for more specific guidance.

Writing Sample

Programs requiring a writing sample are: Anthropology, Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science, Economics, History, Comparative Human Development, Committee on International Relations, Latin American & Caribbean Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, Political Science, Committee on Social Thought, and Sociology.

Writing samples are not required for the Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences (MAPSS) or for the Master of Arts in Computational Social Science but are strongly encouraged for both.

Writing samples should be uploaded into the online application and must meet the following protocol:

The proper format for a submitted writing sample is:

  • The writing sample must have a cover sheet and proper identification. The cover sheet must have your full name, the department to which you are applying, and the type of writing sample submitted.
  • The writing sample must be in English*.
  • The writing sample is not a paper written specifically for your application but a written work submitted for either a grade or publication. The preferred paper to submit is one closely related to the field of study you wish to pursue in the Division of Social Sciences at the University of Chicago. The paper can be one submitted for a grade in a class, a degree paper or something for publication, such as a magazine feature or journal article. Departments prefer single-author papers. However, if you must submit an item with a collaborative work, all writers’ names should be included with your name highlighted, along with a memo explaining your contribution to the work.
  • Some departments have specific requirements when submitting a writing sample. Please check the department’s website for specific instructions.
  •  
  • *The MA Program in Latin American and Caribbean Studies will accept writing samples written in Spanish.

Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Office of Admissions at ssd-admissions@uchicago.edu.

GRE Test: Graduate Record Exam

The GRE General Test is required of all applicants for admission. We will accept scores from either the new or the old test, as long as they are valid, unexpired scores. We make no distinction between the old format and new format for the GRE. The important issue is review committees are looking for strong scores in all section for their very competitive programs.

The scores cannot be older than five years old at the application deadline. The University does not have a minimum or average score requirement. However, because our master’s and PhD programs are extremely competitive, a strong GRE score is an important component of a strong application. We do not require Subject Tests for admission in any of our departments.

Please keep in mind that it can take 4–6 weeks for GRE scores to reach our office from ETS. Applications that do not have a complete score report at the time of review will be considered as incomplete and will be reviewed as such. Please note that even if your application is reviewed without GRE scores, you will be unable to matriculate without official GRE scores on file. In the cases of multiple tests, the overall best test date is used for review purposes.

For more information on the GRE, visit the GRE website or you may call ETS at 609.771.7670. Please have your scores sent to institution code 1832; we will receive scores sent to any department code.

English Language Requirements

International applicants must demonstrate an adequate command of both spoken and written English, and they are required to submit English proficiency test scores as part of their application. Domestic applicants whose native language is not English or who have not attended undergraduate or graduate schools in countries where the primary language is English may also be required to submit proof of English proficiency. 

The University of Chicago accepts either the internet-Based Test (iBT) of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) for the purpose of meeting the English language requirement. Official TOEFL should be sent by ETS to institution code 1832. Official IELTS reports should sent via online delivery to the University of Chicago Graduate Enrollment (no code is needed).

  • *Minimum requirements for the TOEFL iBT are: no less than 26 in each of the four sections.
  • *Minimum required scores in the IELTS are an overall score of 7, with sub scores of 7 in each section.

Keep in mind it will take two to six weeks after the test date for us to receive the official reports.

The English language requirement may be waived if the applicant is a native of or studied in full-time status for at least one academic year within the last five years in the U.S., the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, or English medium universities in Canada or South Africa. Students who studied in English in other countries, for example, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore, etc., are not exempt from the English language requirement. Please see the website of the Office of International Affairs for complete information.

Please note: TOEFL or IELTS score reports are valid for two years, and scores will be considered expired if the test was taken more than two years prior to the application deadline.

  • For more information regarding the TOEFL visit the ETS website.
  • For more information regarding the IELTS visit the IELTS website. The University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations, the British Council, and IDP Education Australia jointly manage the IELTS.