Most MA programs I am familiar with take two years to complete. Can I really accomplish very much in a one-year program?
The University operates on the quarter system, and full-time CIR students register for three courses per quarter, completing the nine-course requirement for the CIR MA degree between late September and mid-June. The workload in many Chicago quarter courses is equivalent to what is assigned for a semester elsewhere. In addition, a continuous stream of non-credit graduate workshops, lecture series, and departmental seminars add opportunities for intellectual growth throughout the year.
How many students actually complete the CIR degree in one year? And what is the overall graduation rate?
All students complete their nine course registrations by the end of spring quarter. These days, over 96% of our students complete all of their work for those courses in the three quarters, between late September and mid-June.
In a typical year, 30-35% complete the MA thesis by the end of three quarters as well. It is common for the rest to finish and submit their theses during the summer months. This is an unusually strong record of student completion, particularly at Chicago standards of performance. It testifies to the care with which CIR makes admissions decisions and the continuous support the program provides its matriculants.
Does the Committee on International Relations offer a PhD degree?
No, CIR does not offer a PhD; CIR only offers one program, the Master of Arts in International Relations.
I am trying to choose between MA and PhD programs in international relations. What are the main differences?
The CIR program is a good entry point for students who consider entering a top-quality PhD program but are still unsure if they want to commit to prolonged graduate study (usually 5 - 7 years). The program is especially valuable because it offers a more "academic" curriculum than most schools. Here students take regular graduate courses with graduate faculty alongside PhD candidates. As a result, students can explore their interest in a research-oriented doctoral program while strengthening their academic credentials for further study.
The PhD in political science (with an IR focus) is essentially a degree aimed at teaching and research. It is sometimes used for consulting or specialized work in government or business. Graduates from the University of Chicago Department of Political Science take up teaching positions at other highly ranked schools such as Yale or Cornell, or they go to work for think tanks like RAND, government agencies like the State Department, or international business. The focus of a PhD program, however, is usually on academic jobs and scholarly research. Generally speaking, a university teaching job requires a PhD, and top graduate programs focus on producing such teachers.
I am interested in a PhD at some point in the future. Will my CIR coursework transfer to a PhD program elsewhere?
That depends on the university and department in question. Students should contact individual departments with this question. In the past, some CIR students who applied to PhD programs at the University of Chicago and elsewhere have had most of their CIR coursework transfer over to the PhD program.
If for whatever reason it is impossible for me to matriculate in CIR next fall, may I defer my admission?
CIR does not defer admission to the program. Students may "reactivate" their application the following year. There is a high likelihood of being admitted again. The procedure is as follows: students should decline their offer of admissions for next autumn, while indicating by email to the Dean of Students Office their intention to "reactivate" (the trigger-word) their application for the following year. This will keep the student file available and current, allowing students to supplement it for the next admissions cycle with a new candidate statement and any other new supporting materials they care to supply.
Is it possible to begin the program in winter, spring, or summer quarters?
No, the University has only one admissions selection season, and this is for fall quarter. The university's cycle runs autumn to spring. MA thesis workshops are taught in winter and spring. Students complete their theses in either spring or summer quarter.
May I pursue the CIR degree part-time?
No, the program requires a full-time commitment, but only for one year (which amounts to nine months of classes). There are next to no graduate courses offered in the evenings, and part-time students would find that they are disadvantaged in this respect. More importantly, part-time students are not eligible to apply for or to receive University financial aid.