Joint BA/MA in Digital Studies

Trees with fall colors on campus

The four-year joint BA/MA in Digital Studies allows students in the College of the University of Chicago to combine a BA program with the MA in Digital Studies. The Digital Studies curriculum allows students flexibility to explore their interests in areas such as digital texts, digital art and archaeology, digital media, and computational linguistics.

Undergraduate students pursuing this option are in “concurrent residence” beginning in the Autumn Quarter of their fourth year at the University and remain in this status for three consecutive quarters.

Where to Begin

Qualified students in the College of the University of Chicago who wish to pursue a joint BA/MA in Digital Studies should consult with their College adviser and/or the College BA/MA Adviser, followed by conversations with the Director of Digital Studies and the Office of the Dean of Students in the Division of the Humanities. Interested students are advised to begin these discussions by the end of their second year in the College.

Potential applicants should meet with their College adviser during the Autumn Quarter of their third year to confirm that they are far enough along in their College program to complete the course requirements for both degrees within four years.

Eligibility

Permission to receive concurrent BA and MA degrees is a privilege extended only to those undergraduate students who have demonstrated a record of uncommon excellence and who are sufficiently advanced in the fulfillment of the undergraduate degree requirements. The academic demands on these students are significant, and applicants are carefully reviewed in the context of both their undergraduate major and the Digital Studies degree requirements.

  • Applicants should have a GPA of 3.55 or higher for their undergraduate work and are expected to have entered their major. 
  • Applicants are expected to have completed 39 of the 42 courses required for graduation, including all general education requirements (exceptions must be approved by the Director of Digital Studies), before entering concurrent residence status for the three quarters preceding the anticipated quarter of graduation.

How to Apply

Interested students in the College of the University of Chicago should apply through the online graduate application website of the Division of the Humanities. The application must be submitted by February 1 in order for the student to be informed of the admission decision before the end of the Winter Quarter. 

Applicants must submit the following items:

  • MA application
  • Statement of academic purpose
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Official transcript(s)

Applicants are not required to pay the application fee nor are they required to sit for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

Applicants will be interviewed by the Director of Digital Studies or by the Associate Director of Curriculum and Instruction. These conversations will focus on the program’s requirements and the applicant’s qualifications and objectives.

The application will be evaluated by the Digital Studies admissions committee on the basis of the student’s academic record, letters of recommendation, and personal statement of intellectual and academic goals. Admission to the MA program is highly competitive and subject to approval by the College.

UChicago Accelerated Scholars Program

For UChicago College students only:

Take your career to the next level with UChicago’s 4+1 graduate programs! Separate from the joint BA/MA program, in which you complete an MA in your fourth year, this special program allows you to continue your intellectual journey right here in Hyde Park and graduate with both a BA in your major and an MA in Digital Studies, typically within five years. As a UChicago Accelerated Scholar (UAS), you will enhance your skills to complement your bachelor’s degree and in just a year gain advanced skills and expertise that leads to higher salaries and fast-tracked opportunities. The value of a University of Chicago degree is unmatched in the breadth of opportunities available, where you will gain a deeper understanding of your chosen field and gain expertise that provides real-world returns.

Read more and find out how to apply on the UChicago Accelerated Scholar website.

Requirements

Students pursuing the joint BA/MA in Digital Studies are required to complete the six core courses and three elective courses prescribed for the MA in Digital Studies. They may also do a thesis project, but this is optional and is not required for the MA degree. At least one of the three elective courses must deal in some fashion with digital computing, whether or not it entails actual coding.

Courses taken to fulfill the requirements of other programs may be counted toward the Digital Studies course requirements, subject to approval by the Director of Digital Studies. However, no more than 300 units of course credit (typically three 100-unit courses) may be double-counted in this way.

Two of the core courses required for the MA in Digital Studies are DIGS 20001/30001, Introduction to Computer Programming,” in which students learn the Python programming language, and DIGS 20002/30002, Data Analysis for the Humanities I: Introduction to Statistics.” Both of these courses are taught annually in the Autumn Quarter and are open to both undergraduate and graduate students. However, undergraduates in the College of the University of Chicago who plan to do the joint BA/MA in Digital Studies are strongly encouraged to take the equivalent courses in the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Statistics, listed below:

  • CMSC 12100, “Computer Science with Applications I”; or CMSC 14100, “Introduction to Computer Science I;” CMSC 15100, “Introduction to Computer Science I”; or CMSC 16100, “Honors Introduction to Computer Science I.” Note that CMSC 12100, 15100, and 16100 will no longer be offered as of the academic year 2022–2023 and CMSC 14100 will henceforth be the introductory course offered by the Department of Computer Science.
  • STAT 22000, “Statistical Methods and Applications,” or a more advanced STAT course, may be taken instead of DIGS 20002/30002, Data Analysis for the Humanities I: Introduction to Statistics.” Note that STAT 20000, Elementary Statistics, is not acceptable as a substitute for DIGS 20002/30002.

Timeline

Autumn Quarter of the Fourth Year (or the final year before graduation)

  • DIGS 30001. Introduction to Computer Programming
    • CMSC 14100 or an equivalent or more advanced computer science course may be taken instead of DIGS 30001.
  • DIGS 30002. Data Analysis for the Humanities I: Introduction to Statistics
    • STAT 22000 or an equivalent or more advanced statistics course (but not STAT 20000) may be taken instead of DIGS 30002.
  • DIGS 30003. Data Management for the Humanities

Winter Quarter of the Fourth Year

  • DIGS 30004. Data Analysis for the Humanities II: Applications of Machine Learning
  • DIGS 30007. Introduction to Digital Humanities
  • One approved elective course
  • Students who choose to do an optional thesis project must select the thesis topic and obtain a thesis adviser by the end of Week 4

Spring Quarter of the Fourth Year

  • DIGS 30005. Data Publication for the Humanities
  • Two approved elective courses
  • Students who choose to do an optional thesis project must submit the completed thesis to their thesis adviser no later than May 15

Note that a passing grade in both DIGS 30001 and DIGS 30002 in the Autumn Quarter (or in equivalent courses taken in another department) is a requirement for continuing in the MA program because these courses are prerequisites for required core courses in the Winter and Spring Quarters. Students who fail to obtain a passing grade in either DIGS 30001 or DIGS 30002 must withdraw from the MA program.

General Guidelines

  • Students who begin work toward the MA in Digital Studies and then leave the University without completing the program will not be allowed to complete the MA program at a later date.
  • A leave of absence is not normally possible after a student has begun to pursue both the BA degree and the MA in Digital Studies. Students who find that they must take a leave of absence for a medical or family emergency during this period must obtain the approval of the Dean of Students in the Division of the Humanities as well as the Dean of Students in the College.
  • Admissions decisions are usually not released before College preregistration for the following year takes place. Admissions committees often wish to see Winter Quarter grades before making decisions. Thus, applicants should preregister for the coming academic year as usual.
  • For each of the three quarters in which students are registered in the Digital Studies MA program, they pay tuition at the graduate tuition rate, which is somewhat higher than the undergraduate tuition rate. Students are not eligible for financial assistance from the Humanities Division. However, any awards a student receives from College Aid will continue in the MA year.

Contact

For more information about the Program in Digital Studies of Language, Culture, and History and about the joint BA/MA program in particular, please send email to digitalstudies@uchicago.edu.

Photo by Robert Kozloff

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