Master of Arts in Digital Studies
The Master of Arts in Digital Studies of Language, Culture, and History provides a solid grounding in computational methods and their use in the arts and humanities. It is a stepping stone to careers that require a combination of coding skills with the skills in research, writing, and critical thinking provided by an education in the humanities.
Graduates of this program are eligible for non-academic jobs in software development or software-related marketing, communications, and technical writing. Alternatively, they may pursue doctoral studies in order to apply their computational skills to research and teaching; or they may take on an academic support role in digital humanities at a college, university, or cultural institution.
Get in Touch With Us
Enter your contact information and you will receive details regarding graduate study at UChicago as well as Humanities Division updates, news, and admissions-related information.
The deadlines and required materials for applying for the M.A. are described on the Apply for the M.A. page of this website. For more information, please send email to email@example.com.
Click here to start your application. If you have questions about the application process, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The application window for the 2023–2024 academic year is now closed. Applications for 2024–2025 will be accepted beginning in October 2023.
A STEM Designated Degree Program
The M.A. in Digital Studies qualifies as a STEM Designated Degree Program under the regulations of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Although the program is primarily intended for students who have majored in the arts or humanities, students who majored in science (including computer science) may also benefit from the program and are encouraged to apply.
There is a one-year version of the M.A. program with no thesis requirement and a two-year research-intensive version that requires a thesis project and a specialization in a particular area. The two-year M.A. is recommended for students who wish to pursue a Ph.D. in the future. Please note that the two-year M.A. option will be available only to students entering in the autumn of 2024 and later.
Click the image to view a recent info-session video with members of the M.A. program staff.
Info-session video with program staff
One-Year M.A. (no thesis)
Students in the one-year version of the master’s program take courses full-time on the University of Chicago campus for one academic year, from late September to the end of May. They do not do a master’s thesis.
Please note that students who are admitted to do a one-year M.A. will not be able to stay on to do a two-year M.A. The decision about whether to do a one-year M.A. or a two-year research-intensive M.A. must be made at the time of application.
Students in the one-year version of the master’s program take three courses per quarter in the Autumn, Winter, and Spring quarters, for a total of nine courses, including six core courses in Digital Studies (DIGS) and three elective courses. The elective courses may be in any department of the humanities or social sciences.
In the Autumn Quarter, students take three required core courses in Digital Studies (DIGS):
- DIGS 30001: Introduction to Computer Programming with Python
- DIGS 30002: Data Analysis I: Introduction to Statistics (using Python and Jupyter Notebook)
- DIGS 30003: Data Management for the Humanities (including topics such as the acquisition and cleaning of digital data, database models and querying languages, and the construction of data ontologies using the Web Ontology Language)
A grade of C (2.0) or higher in both DIGS 30001 and DIGS 30002 is a requirement for continuing in the M.A. program. These two introductory core courses are prerequisites for additional core courses in the Winter and Spring Quarters.
Students who have previously passed an equivalent college-level course in computer programming and/or statistics with a grade of B (3.0) or higher may petition the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for an exemption from taking one or both of these core courses and for permission to take an additional elective course or courses instead.
In the Winter Quarter, students take two required core courses in Digital Studies (DIGS) and one elective course:
- DIGS 30004: Data Analysis II: Data Visualization and Machine Learning (using Python)
- DIGS 30007: Introduction to Digital Humanities (this course surveys the the history and theory of digital computing, the various uses of computers in the humanities, and current debates concerning digital humanities)
- One elective course chosen from a preapproved list or individually approved by the Director of Curriculum and Instruction
In the Spring Quarter, students take one required core course in Digital Studies (DIGS) and two elective courses:
- Two elective courses chosen from a preapproved list or individually approved by the Director of Curriculum and Instruction
Two-Year M.A. (with a thesis project)
Students in the two-year research-intensive version of the master’s program take courses full-time on the University of Chicago campus for two consecutive academic years. In their first year, they take the same six core courses as the students doing a one-year M.A. (described above) and three courses prescribed for their area of specialization. In their second year, they take additional courses prescribed for their area of specialization and do a thesis project in that area under the supervision of a faculty advisor. The tuition fee is reduced by 50 percent in the second year.
The proposed area of specialization must be indicated at the time of application to the two-year M.A. program. Four areas of specialization are currently available. A specialization in Digital Ethics is planned for the future. Click the links below for more information on each of the areas of specialization:
In their second year, students will do a thesis project under the guidance of a thesis advisor who is a University of Chicago faculty member, instructional professor, or lecturer. The thesis advisor may or may not be someone whose own research entails computational methods. The Director of Curriculum and Instruction of the Forum for Digital Culture will work with students to select a feasible topic and find a suitable advisor. Training and advice concerning the computational methods used in the thesis project will be provided by the staff of the Forum for Digital Culture.
The thesis must have a software component as well as a written component. In the written component, the student will explain the computational aspects of the project and reflect critically on the methods being used with reference to the historical development of these methods and the assumptions underlying them and with reference to current debates in digital humanities. The length of the written component of the thesis may vary, depending on the subject matter and the expectations of the thesis advisor, but it will be at least 25 pages and no more than 50 pages of text (double-spaced 12-point Times New Roman with one-inch margins), not counting illustrations and bibliographic references.
Students must submit to the Director of Curriculum and Instruction a thesis proposal form signed by the thesis advisor no later than the end of Week 6 of the Spring Quarter of their first year. This form will contain the thesis title and abstract and a schedule for regular consultation with the faculty advisor and the Forum staff, who will help the student with the technical aspects of the project.
The completed thesis project (both the software component and the written component) must be submitted to the thesis advisor and the Director of Curriculum and Instruction no later than the end of Week 6 in the Spring Quarter of the student’s second year in the program.
Students in the two-year M.A. program are eligible for a paid internship to work part-time on campus in the summer between their first and second year under the supervision of a member of the staff of the Forum for Digital Culture. Students are expected to begin work on the software component of their thesis projects during that period.
How to Apply
The application window for students entering in the 2023–2024 academic year is now closed. Applications for students entering in the 2024–2025 academic year will be accepted beginning in October 2023.
Click here to start your application. Contact email@example.com with questions about the application process.
If you have questions about any of the Digital Studies programs, please send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Admission Requirements and Minimum Grades
No previous background in computer programming is required and students are admitted from a wide variety of undergraduate majors. However, to be admitted to the program, the student will normally have passed at least one college-level course in mathematics or statistics with a grade of B (3.0) or higher.
Students will apply for either the one-year M.A. or the two-year research-intensive M.A., which requires a thesis project and a specialization in a particular area. Admission to the two-year M.A. will take into account the applicant’s prior training and aptitude for the area of specialization specified in the application, i.e., Digital Texts, Digital Media, Digital Archaeology, or Artificial Intelligence and Language. However, an undergraduate major in the chosen area of specialization is not required.
While in the M.A. program, students must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 2.7 (B-). If they fall below this average, they will be placed on academic probation and if their grades do not improve, they may be withdrawn from the program.
In addition, a grade of C (2.0) or higher in the initial courses in computer programming (DIGS 30001) and statistics (DIGS 30002) is a requirement for continuing in the M.A. program. These courses are prerequisites for subsequent core courses required to complete the program. Students who fail to obtain a grade of C (2.0) in either of these courses in the Autumn Quarter will be placed on academic probation and must then either (1) request a leave of absence, if they plan to return in the Autumn of the following year to re-take the course or courses in which they failed to obtain the required grade, or (2) withdraw from the program entirely.
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.
UChicagoGRAD offers a range of services and resources to enhance the ability of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to navigate their careers at UChicago and beyond, including (and certainly not limited to) one-on-one advising and workshops related to:
- Career Planning
- Academic Writing
- Public Speaking
- Diversity and Inclusion
- Financial Wellness & Payments
Some of the other services offered by the UChicagoGRAD office include employer info sessions and career fairs, the Family Resource Center for student parents, the Diversity Advisory Board and Graduate Council, Grads on the Ground, and the Chicago Center for Teaching. You can RSVP for GRAD events and workshops, schedule advising appointments, and find and apply for jobs and internships at the GRAD Gargoyle.