M.A. in Digital Studies of Language, Culture, and History

The Digital Studies M.A. curriculum is tailored for humanities students. Combining technical and humanistic courses, our M.A. program allows students flexibility to explore interests in a number of areas, including textual analysis, computational linguistics, historical or cultural studies, and digital arts and media.

Course Requirements

  • 10 courses over 3 academic quarters.
  • 6 required courses, 3 elective courses, and 1 thesis preparation course.
  • Students with little or no programming experience must enroll in the intensive Introduction to Computer Programming "boot camp" which takes place in September, immediately preceding the Autumn Quarter.
  • At least one of the elective courses must have a digital component; the other two electives can be in any department of the humanities or humanistic social sciences.

Course Sequence

September (before the start of the Autumn Quarter)

  • Introduction to Computer Programming (intensive "boot camp")

Autumn Quarter

  • DIGS 30002. Basic Mathematics and Statistics for Digital Studies
  • DIGS 30003. Data Management for Linguistic, Cultural, and Historical Research
  • DIGS 30007. Issues in Digital Studies of Language, Culture, and History

Winter Quarter

  • DIGS 30004. Data Analysis for Linguistic, Cultural, and Historical Research
  • DIGS 30005. Data Publication for Linguistic, Cultural, and Historical Research
  • Approved elective 

Spring Quarter

  • DIGS 30006. Natural Language Processing
  • DIGS 30008. Thesis Preparation 
  • Approved elective 
  • Approved elective 

Summer Quarter (if necessary)

  • Completion of thesis project, in consultation with faculty adviser. The MA thesis will normally have both a software component and a written component.

Introduction to Computer Programming

Introduction to Computer Programming is an intensive three-week “boot camp” for DIGS MA students that is offered in September, immediately preceding the Autumn Quarter. This non-credit course is required for incoming MA students who have little or no knowledge of programming.

MA students coming into the program with a demonstrable knowledge of programming from previous courses or work experience may not need to enroll in the introductory boot camp. Exemptions will be granted on a case-by-case basis and will normally require an interview with the faculty director of Digital Studies. 

Current undergraduate students at the University, including those who are pursuing the Digital Studies minor or BA/MA, are not eligible to take this intensive course and instead are expected to enroll in the full-quarter equivalent, DIGS 20001, which is offered in the Spring; or they may fulfill this requirement via a Computer Science course such as CMSC 12100, Computer Science with Applications 1, which is offered every Autumn.

MA Thesis Timeline

Each student’s M.A. thesis project will be co-advised by the Digital Studies Senior Lecturer and a faculty member. The faculty adviser may or may not be someone whose own research entails digital methods; expertise in that area is provided by the lecturer. Thesis projects that involve collaborative software development by groups of students will be encouraged. 

Students must consult a faculty adviser and gain approval for their MA thesis projects no later than the eighth week of the Winter Quarter. Students will enroll in the Thesis Preparation course in the Spring Quarter. Some students may be able to finish the thesis during the spring; however, in most cases, students can expect to complete it later, with the completed project due at the beginning of August. Students who continue their project into the following summer will not need to register for any further courses at that time and thus will not be required to pay for additional tuition or maintain residence in the Chicago area during the summer.

Students who have completed all the requirements of the MA program except the thesis are welcome to march in the June Convocation. Students who plan to continue working on the thesis during the summer are encouraged to consult the Digital Studies program administrator, confirm their expectations with their faculty adviser, and make any necessary arrangements well in advance.