With its Gothic quadrangles, dynamic faculty and student body, exciting research, and seminar-style classes that emphasize critical thinking and interdisciplinary scholarship, the University of Chicago stands as one of the world’s great intellectual communities and centers of learning. Founded in 1890 by John D. Rockefeller, who called it “the best investment I ever made,” the University is private, nondenominational, and coeducational. Through the years, it has played a leading role in providing equal opportunity for women and minorities in higher education. The strength and distinction of its faculty is reflected in the 81 Nobel laureates who have been associated with Chicago, including 8 current faculty members. In addition to the undergraduate liberal arts college, the University of Chicago is composed of four graduate divisions, six professional schools, an extensive library system, the Graham School of General Studies, the Laboratory Schools, and the University of Chicago Press. In more than a century of challenging existing educational traditions, Chicago has established new ones, such as a coherent program of general education for undergraduates, the four-quarter system, and the “Chicago School” of thought in economics, sociology, and literary criticism.
The University of Chicago stands at the forefront of academic discovery. Some of the innovations and groundbreaking studies of Chicago scholars include carbon-14 dating, REM sleep, urban sociology, classical literary criticism, the first controlled nuclear chain reaction, the F-scale for measuring tornado severity, pioneering scientific archaeology of the ancient Near East, the nation’s first living-donor liver transplant, and discovery in the last three years of three new prehistoric creatures from the dinosaur era. Chicago undergraduates are often involved in academic exploration with graduate students and faculty members. In addition, they take graduate-level courses, travel and study abroad, and participate in internships in Chicago and beyond. Indeed, Chicago shows a dedication to the undergraduate college experience that is rare among research universities.
Currently enrolling 4,600 students, the undergraduate college is the largest division of the University of Chicago. Students come from all parts of the United States and forty-nine countries. Most undergraduates live on campus in the unique House System that includes graduate students and faculty members in housing that is guaranteed for all four years. Ninety percent of arts and sciences faculty members teach undergraduates. Eighty-eight percent of classes have fewer than 30 students, with most classes based in discussion and the free exchange of ideas and numbering fewer than 15. Arts and sciences faculty members total 1,055, and the student-faculty ratio is 5.6:1.
Students pursue every aspect of life—athletic, academic, social, cultural—enthusiastically and with a distinctly Chicago style. They are involved in more than 500 student organizations, including numerous groups for community service, academic interests, publications, cultural awareness, music, and theater. Some popular activities are University Theater, Model UN, Quiz Bowl, DOC Films, Jazz X-Tet, and the Chicago Maroon newspaper. A member of the Division III University Athletic Association, Chicago is a great place to play athletics, with nineteen varsity sports for men and women and more than 70 percent of the student body participating in intramural sports. In 2003, the Gerald Ratner Athletics Center opened, providing new athletic facilities to the entire Chicago community.
Located approximately 7 miles from the center of the city, the University of Chicago’s dramatic Gothic buildings frame tree-shaded quadrangles and occupy a 204-acre campus. Recently, the campus was designated a botanic garden, and, with such architectural landmarks as Rockefeller Chapel and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The University’s neighborhood, Hyde Park, is a residential community of 43,000 situated on the banks of Lake Michigan. Home to more than 60 percent of the faculty who walk or bike to campus, the neighborhood is often cited as a model of cosmopolitan and multiethnic city living. Other Chicago neighborhoods are accessible by commuter trains, University-operated express buses, and elevated trains. As the largest city in the Midwest and the third-largest in the nation, Chicago offers abundant cultural and entertainment opportunities, including the Lyric Opera, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Art Institute of Chicago, Sox Park and Wrigley Field, the Field Museum of Natural History, Steppenwolf Theatre, and the city’s myriad ethnic neighborhoods.
The College of the University of Chicago grants Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in more than fifty majors in the biological, physical, and social sciences, as well as in the humanities and interdisciplinary areas. A major may provide a comprehensive understanding of a well-defined field, such as anthropology or mathematics, or it may be an interdisciplinary program such as African and African American studies, environmental studies, biological chemistry, or cinema and media studies. Joint B.A./M.A. and B.S./M.S. programs are offered in a number of disciplines.
Degrees are awarded in the following majors: African and African American studies; ancient studies; anthropology; art history; astronomy and astrophysics; biological chemistry; biological sciences; chemistry; cinema and media studies; classical studies; comparative literature; computer science; early Christian literature; East Asian languages and civilizations; economics; English language and literature; environmental studies; fundamentals: issues and texts; gender studies; general studies in the humanities; geography; geophysical sciences; Germanic studies; history; history, philosophy, and social studies of science and medicine (HiPSS); human development; international studies; Jewish studies; Latin American studies; law, letters, and society; linguistics; mathematics; medieval studies; music; Near Eastern languages and civilizations; philosophy; physics; political science; psychology; public policy studies; religion and the humanities; religious studies; Romance languages and literatures; Russian civilization; Slavic languages and literatures; sociology; South Asian languages and civilizations; South Asian studies; statistics; tutorial studies; and visual arts.
Chicago’s undergraduate curriculum is designed to give students the opportunity to fully participate in the intellectual life of a world-renowned research university. The curriculum became famous in American higher education during the 1930s when it challenged the prevailing model of elective-based programs by introducing a coherent core of general education courses. These courses made it possible, then and now, for college students to share certain kinds of crucial intellectual experiences, to create a community of young scholars who can talk across disciplines, and to form habits of mind necessary for advanced study, successful careers, and a productive life.
One third of the courses taken for graduation are modern descendants of that first revolutionary general education core. They include courses in social and natural sciences, humanities, mathematics, Western or non-Western civilization, and art or music. These small, faculty-taught courses, taken in the first two years, lead naturally to the next stages of the curriculum, which is equally divided between courses in the concentration and elective courses. The total program may also include research projects, honors projects, foreign travel and study, and internships. The eventual shape of the individual Chicago experience is determined by the student, in consultations with an academic adviser, departmental adviser, and faculty mentors.
Students in the College of the University of Chicago are encouraged to study abroad and can take part in programs in many countries. Programs range in length from a summer or a single academic quarter to a full academic year and include course work and other experiences that can be tailored to fit degree programs in any discipline, whether humanities, social sciences, or natural sciences. Most important, all programs provide the opportunity to live among people whose ways of living and thinking challenge students to look at their own lives with a fresh perspective.
These programs are sponsored by the University of Chicago, either alone or in cooperation with other universities and with two groups to which the University belongs: the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) and the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC). For most programs, participants receive full credit for courses and are eligible for University of Chicago financial aid.
One of the strengths of the University of Chicago is that the campus maintains excellent academic facilities that serve the community as a whole. The University library system holds more than 6 million volumes and 7 million manuscripts and archival materials. The Joseph Regenstein Library for humanities and social sciences is one of the nation’s largest academic libraries, and John Crerar Library is recognized as one of the best libraries in the country for research and teaching in the sciences, medicine, and technology. Joining Crerar Library to form a science quadrangle is the Kersten Physics Teaching Center, the most advanced facility in the U.S. for the teaching of undergraduate physics. Students in the college have access to all the University’s special libraries, including the D’Angelo Law Library, Yerkes Observatory Library for astronomy and astrophysics (home of the world’s largest refracting telescope), the Social Service Administration Library, and the Eckhart Library for mathematics and computer science.
Other facilities providing Chicago students with research and internship opportunities are the recently renovated Oriental Institute Museum, a showcase of the history, art, and archaeology of the ancient Near East; the Smart Museum, which houses a collection of more than 7,000 works of art, spanning five centuries of both Western and Eastern civilizations; the Enrico Fermi Institute, which has played a central role in nuclear physics and nuclear chemistry research, elementary particle physics, and astrophysics; Midway Studios, where art students enjoy studio space; and the University of Chicago Medical Center, which includes five major hospitals and 125 specialty outpatient clinics that work to advance biomedical innovation, serve the health needs of the community, and further the knowledge of medical students, physicians, and others dedicated to medicine.
Tuition for the 2007—08 school year was $35,169, and room and board charges were $11,139. Fees for other services, including books, health insurance, orientation, and activities, totaled $4492.
Chicago is committed to helping students from all economic backgrounds attend the University and makes admissions decisions on a need-blind basis. Furthermore, the University meets 100 percent of students’ demonstrated financial need. More than 65 percent of Chicago students receive some form of financial assistance. Students wishing to apply for financial aid should submit the University of Chicago financial aid application along with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and the Financial Aid PROFILE of the College Scholarship Service. Merit scholarships also are available.
The instructional faculty of the University of Chicago is composed of distinguished scholars and teachers. Faculty members typically teach both undergraduate and graduate courses, and senior professors often teach undergraduate general education courses. Because classes are small and discussion is the preferred mode of instruction, faculty members often become mentors and partners in inquiry with students.
Student Government is composed of students in the college and other graduate and professional schools. Student government assists student organizations, sponsors events, and deals with the academic, social, and economic issues of University life. The Student Assembly, the legislative branch, is the only organization on campus that represents all students. Members of the Assembly are elected in the autumn quarter. Student Government also supports a number of committees that focus on issues ranging from student affairs to community relations to student services. The Inter-House Council serves as an advisory body for the House System and allocates money for Inter-House activities.
The Office of College Admissions does not have a rigid formula for the successful applicant and considers a candidate’s entire application: academic and extracurricular records, essays, letters of recommendation, and SAT or ACT scores. A personal interview is optional and can provide prospective students with a chance to learn more about the college. The essay is an opportunity to show individuality, in addition to clear and effective writing ability.
Though no specific secondary school courses are prescribed, a standard college-preparatory program is recommended: 4 years of English, 3 to 4 years of math and laboratory sciences, 3 or more years of social sciences, and a foreign language. The University of Chicago does not use numerical cut-offs when evaluating applications for admission. Of the 1,284 students in the class of 2011, 80 percent graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school classes. The middle 50 percent of admitted students scored between 1330 and 1540 on the SAT or between 28 and 33 on the ACT.
|Application and Information
The University of Chicago offers students two application plans. Early action is for candidates who seek an admission decision in mid-December and a provisional financial aid assessment by early January. Candidates must complete their applications by November 1 and may apply to other schools if they wish. Chicago’s early action program is nonbinding; admitted students need not reply to the Office of Admissions until May 1. Regular notification is for candidates who prefer an admission and financial aid decision by early April. Candidates must complete their application by January 1 and must reply to the offer by May 1. Students who have completed one or two years of course work at another college are welcome to apply for transfer admission.
For further information students should contact:
University of Chicago
Office of College Admissions
1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637, United States
World Wide Web:
Last updated: 03/06/2008