BA/MA in Digital Studies

The Master of Arts Program in Digital Studies allows students in the College to combine a BA program in an undergraduate major with an interdisciplinary MA program in Digital Studies. The MA 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.

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 contiguous quarters.

Where to Begin

Qualified students in the College who wish to pursue a joint BA/MA degree in Digital Studies should consult with their College Adviser and/or the College BA/MA Adviser, followed by conversations with the Digital Studies program director and the Dean of Students Office 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 the BA/MA Adviser in the College during the Autumn Quarter of their third year to fill out a BA/MA worksheet. The BA/MA Adviser’s signature certifies that prospective applicants 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/MA degrees in Digital Studies 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 Digital Studies Program Director), before entering concurrent residence status for the three quarters preceding the anticipated quarter of graduation.

How to Apply

Interested students should apply through the online graduate application through the Humanities Division. The application should be completed by February 1.

Applicants must submit the following items:

  • MA application
  • Statement of academic purpose
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official transcript(s)
  • BA/MA Worksheet, signed by the student's College adviser

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 Digital Studies program director. These conversations will focus on the program’s requirements and the applicant’s qualifications and objectives.

The application is evaluated by the admissions committee of the MA program 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.

Program Requirements

Students pursuing the DIGS BA/MA are required to complete 9 courses - 7 DIGS courses, one elective, and one capstone project course.

Elective courses must have a component relevant to the digital humanities and are subject to approval by the Digital Studies program director. Currently approved electives can be found on the Digital Studies website Course Descriptions page, though this list is not exhaustive and class availability is subject to change in future years. Courses taken prior to entry into the MA may be counted as electives to fulfill this requirement.

DIGS 20001 is an introduction to programming that must be taken before the autumn quarter of the student's fourth year, as it is a prerequisite for all other core classes in the DIGS program. This class is offered every Spring Quarter and is recommended as it is tailored specifically for students in Digital Studies, but the following courses in the Computer Science department are also accepted as substitutes demonstrating sufficient programming knowledge: CMSC 12100, 15100, or 16100

Students who have already completed one of these CMSC courses as an undergraduate do not need to also enroll in DIGS 20001 for the purposes of the MA program.

DIGS 20002 (currently offered in the Autumn Quarter) or STAT 22000 (currently available every quarter) may also be taken as an undergraduate prior to the student's final year, or DIGS 30002 must be taken in the Autumn Quarter of their final year. An introduction to statistics is a prerequisite for DIGS 30004: Data Analysis in the Winter Quarter of the final year.

Course Sequence

The elective course requirement may be fulfilled during any quarter with approval of the Digital Studies program director and in consultation with the student's BA/MA adviser. The following summarizes the timeline of required Digital Studies courses:

Prior to Autumn Quarter

  • DIGS 20001. Introduction to Programming. Offered yearly in the Spring Quarter. Preferred for Humanities students, but CMSC 12100, 15100, or 16100 are equivalent introductory courses.

Autumn Quarter

  • DIGS 30003. Data Management for Linguistic, Cultural, and Historical Research. 
  • DIGS 30007. Issues in Digital Studies of Language, Culture, and History. 
  • DIGS 30002. Basic Mathematics and Statistics for Digital Studies. Required only if the student has not previously completed STAT 22000 or DIGS 20002 as an undergraduate, as an introduction to statistics is a prerequisite for DIGS 30004 in the Winter quarter.

Winter Quarter

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

Spring Quarter

  • DIGS 30006. Natural Language Processing.
  • DIGS 30008. Thesis Preparation. This is the nominal capstone project course. Students are expected to make individual arrangements to meet with their advisers to complete their thesis by the end of the spring.

 

Thesis Project

Students prepare their thesis under the supervision of a faculty member and a lecturer in Digital Studies. During the Winter and Spring Quarters, students consult with their faculty adviser as well as the lecturer in Digital Studies as they develop and write their thesis. The lecturer will schedule biweekly individual and group meetings.

Students in a major in which a BA paper is required may submit a Digital Studies MA paper proposal related to their BA essay, subject to the approval of their BA advisers and the director of the MA program, with the understanding that it is based on substantial additional research and analysis.

An important distinction for the BA/MA is that while students enrolled in the standalone one-year MA program have the option of completing their thesis over the summer, BA/MA students must complete their thesis by the end of the spring quarter. Therefore, it is important for students to discuss this option with a College adviser early on and work closely with a faculty adviser throughout the final year.

 

General Guidelines

  • Students who begin work towards the MA in Digital Studies degree and then leave the University without completing the program will not be allowed to complete the MA in Digital Studies at a later date.
  • Once a student has begun to pursue both the BA degree and the MA in Digital Studies a leave of absence is not normally possible. 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 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.

Contact

For any other questions regarding the BA/MA program, the Digital Studies administrative staff may be reached at digitalstudies@uchicago.edu.

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