Why Digital Studies?

The University of Chicago's Digital Studies of Language, Culture, and History curriculum introduces students to computer programming and the use of cutting-edge software tools for representing, exploring, analyzing, and publishing the products of human language and culture. These products range from everyday speech and writing to historical documents and literary texts, and they encompass music and art as well as mundane objects, places, and institutions. The courses in this program will help students not just to understand and use digital tools but to see digital computing as a cultural activity in its own right—an activity to be studied with respect to its historical development, social setting, cultural impact, and aesthetic qualities, as well as the ethical problems it creates in our increasingly digitized and networked world.

Outcomes of the Master's Degree

There is a growing demand for certification in the broadly defined field of digital humanities. There are job opportunities for students who have a background in the humanities, linguistics, or the arts, and who also have training in computer programming and the use of software tools for the study of language, culture, and history.

The University of Chicago's Digital Studies of Language, Culture, and History program is both technical and humanistic. The goal of the curriculum is to supply students not just with training in computational concepts and methods in the abstract, but also with examples of research and publication across the humanities in which digital techniques have been applied. So equipped, graduates of the program will be empowered to facilitate traditional kinds of work; to detect patterns that may stimulate new insights; and to reflect critically on digital computation itself and its meaning in our culture.

The MA in Digital Studies is a stepping stone to a number of different careers that require a combination of computing skills and training in the humanities—training that fosters much-needed skills in writing and critical thinking. Graduates of this program would be eligible for non-academic jobs in software development or software-related marketing, communications, and technical writing; they may pursue doctoral studies in order to apply their computational skills to research and teaching in the humanities; or they may take on an academic support role in digital humanities at a college, university, or cultural institution.

"Digital Humanities" vs. "Digital Studies"

The term “digital humanities” is contested and, for many people, implies a focus on texts and literary studies and so does not include important aspects of computational linguistics or digital approaches in the visual arts and media studies—and perhaps does not even include non-textual digital work in archaeology, art history, history, and musicology.

For this reason, the title of "Digital Studies of Language, Culture, and History" used in the M.A. and minor is intended to reflect the inclusion of the numerous disciplines involved at the University of Chicago, among them anthropology, archaeology, art history, history, legal studies, linguistics, literary studies, media studies, musicology, philology, philosophy, religious studies, social theory, and visual arts. Scholars and students of these disciplines at the University are found primarily in the Humanities Division but are also found in the Social Sciences Division (especially in Anthropology, History, and Social Thought), the Divinity School, and elsewhere.

The University of Chicago

Convocation, 1910

University of Chicago Photographic Archive, apf3-00435r, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

As one of the world’s great intellectual destinations, the University of Chicago empowers students and scholars to ask big questions, break disciplinary boundaries, and challenge conventional thinking in virtually every field.

An integral part of Chicago’s urban landscape—with additional locations in Beijing, Delhi, London, Paris, and Hong Kong—UChicago, its world-class Medical Center, and three national laboratories have helped launch and advance the careers of Nobel laureates, CEOs, Supreme Court justices, literary giants, MacArthur “geniuses,” astronomers, astronauts, and more.

Further information about the graduate experience can be found at UChicagoGRAD.