Further Graduate Study

About half of the students in MAPH plan to go on to pursue doctoral study. Many MAPH students find that the program provides an ideal setting for clarifying their academic and professional goals in a year of intensive preparation for competitive PhD programs. MAPH graduates’ applications are strengthened by letters of recommendation from University of Chicago faculty and by the more accomplished writing (often taken from the MA thesis) that they are able to submit as a sample. The rate of successful placement is high.

Alumni Profiles

Diego Arispe-Bazán

I came to MAPH ready to become as much of an expert in computational linguistics as possible. It wasn’t until I took a linguistic anthropology class during my MAPH year (coaxed by my preceptor to ease into it and not run from the challenge) that I realized studying language use in context was a better fit for my interests in researching socio-political movements and transformations. After a number of years out of school, MAPH allowed me discover my true academic path. Acting as a sort of writing boot camp, it prepared me by the end of the year to know how to manage the intellectual and emotional investments I put into my research. An odd-ball MAPHer (in that I only partially focused in humanities), my experience in Core and my other humanities courses allowed me to bring alternative knowledge to my Social Science classes. I am certain MAPH’s interdisciplinary spirit and strict writing demands helped me better specify and pitch my project to PhD programs in Anthropology, including the one at University of Pennsylvania where I am now a PhD candidate in Anthropology.


Mike Bennett

I am currently in the Ph.D. program in English at USC, working on nineteenth century Irish literature. My time in MAPH was invaluable. Coming from a non-humanities background (I have a Master’s in Mathematics) and unsure of whether or not I wanted to do further graduate work, MAPH helped me adjust to the rigors of serious academic inquiry and provided me with a set of supportive mentors that assisted me throughout that challenging year. There are many analogous programs available, but I believe that what makes MAPH different is its investment in the holistic care of the student. I not only received guidance with coursework and articulating my academic goals, but learned ways to effectively manage the difficult immersion into graduate school while maintaining a life outside of it. Many of the lessons I learned stay with me today. Indeed, it is hard to believe that the program itself was relatively short in light of the experiences and connections I made. For those students in similar positions to mine, I would absolutely recommend they consider coming to MAPH. For me, it was the best decision.


Liz Blake

Liz Blake

I’m currently a Ph.D. student in the English Department at Cornell, studying the long 20th century with an emphasis on book and publishing history, specifically small press, coterie, and avant-garde publishing. My MAPH thesis was about how Gertrude Stein performed the integration of queerness and artistic creation into the daily practice of domesticity both in her poems and in her life. Coming to MAPH after four years out of academia, I had a strong sense of what kind of literature I wanted to study and a broad set of theoretical and methodological interests, but needed a way to reconcile them into a cohesive research program. My year in MAPH allowed me to clarify my own plans while re-acclimating myself to academia and learning more about the current state of my field. The result was that my applications to Ph.D. programs were clear and focused, both in terms of what I wanted to do and why particular schools were suited to my interests, helping to ensure that the place I ended up was a good fit as well as a good school.  


Dustin Brown

Dustin BrownI am a PhD candidate in the English department at the University of Chicago. My dissertation centers on the valorization of ambivalent subjectivities in the liberal culture of nineteenth-century Britain. I read novels, poems and essays to explicate the surprising recuperation of states of conflicted feeling, hesitation, and diminished will in Victorian attempts to imagine modern democracy. The Master of Arts Program in the Humanities made this work possible. My undergraduate training emphasized the interpretive practice of close reading. Crucial though this skill is to literary study, I graduated uncertain about the nature of graduate-level work. My year at MAPH amounted to a kind of language immersion experience--an intense and rewarding course in the theoretical orientations and argumentative idioms that ground doctoral work in the humanities. 


Swagato Chakravorty

I came to MAPH with inchoate interests in Art History and Film Studies. As a MAPH student in the Cinema and Media Studies track, I found myself immersed not only in one of the most stimulating intellectual environments possible, but also interacting regularly with leading scholars across English, Cinema Studies, and Art History. MAPH was a challenge in the best ways possible, and the support structures built into the program ensured I could always come back up for air at intervals. Interdisciplinary work is serious business at UChicago, and the diversity of available courses, workshops, campus events, lectures, and symposia encourages you to think differently, to make connections you otherwise wouldn't. After graduating in 2011, I remained in touch with my Chicago professors and worked to develop a refined PhD application. In 2013, I matriculated into the joint PhD program in the History of Art and Film Studies at Yale University. MAPH served as an immersion in the professional language of my fields. If I now have a strong sense of the prominent and emerging conversations in my field(s), then it is mostly due to the wide-ranging yet incisive scholarship that MAPH emphasizes. As I look forward to beginning doctoral studies this fall, I remain acutely aware of MAPH's formative role in showing me the realities of graduate work, the expectations common to programs of high caliber, the unexpected delights of academia, and the sheer focus required to succeed at the graduate level and beyond.


Raff Donelson

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I am currently pursuing a joint JD-PhD in philosophy at Northwestern. My research focuses on the relation between law and morality and on the nature of moral and practical thought. Every time I state my research interests succinctly like that, I recall the many times I practiced doing this in MAPH. My time at Chicago was useful for all sorts of reasons: I gained friends, mentors, and an irremediable love for the Second City. Most useful, though, was the professionalization MAPH provided. I learned so much about the philosophy profession during my MAPH year. Before coming, I knew little about analytic vs. continental philosophy, little about the orientations of different philosophy departments, little about the ‘seminal’ texts even in the areas I studied. All I knew was that I loved thinking about moral and legal norms and that I wanted the chance to think about these for a living. From conversations with my preceptor, the MAPH co-directors, professors, and other graduate students, I got the professional know-how I needed, and I’ve been lucky enough to nudge one step closer to my goal.


John Hoffmann

After graduating from MAPH in 2011, I began to refine my work at Chicago into an application for a PhD in English. Given the resources available during my MAPH year, as well as continued contact with faculty after graduation, the transition from Master’s student to PhD applicant was relatively smooth. I’ve since been accepted to a number of outstanding English departments, including New York University and Johns Hopkins University. NYU and Hopkins are vastly different departments, both institutionally and ideologically. My success at such different departments testifies to the opportunity to specialize during MAPH, but this need not come at the expense of developing a diverse range of interests. For me, this was especially true in the robust workshop program at Chicago, which in my mind is the most valuable resource for potential PhD applicants. The workshops honed my knowledge of the field while also exposing me to new work from doctoral students and faculty. Reading and discussing papers by other young scholars allowed me to learn about emerging issues, and taught me how to craft those ideas into a compelling argument. Such a skill is essential for any successful PhD application, and no less for a successful academic career.  


Julia Mueller

I came to MAPH full of passion and interest; but passionate about and interested in what, exactly? I had applied to the PhD program in English at Chicago and was at first insecure about entering a terminal master’s program. There was no guarantee of eventual acceptance into a PhD. But my year in MAPH gave me the tools to secure a place in a program I didn’t know existed before I started it. I did my undergraduate work at the University of Oregon’s Clark Honors College, majoring in English and French. I knew I wanted to write. I knew I was interested in poetry, ethics and aesthetics. I did not have to sacrifice my sensibilities; I had to clarify them. The opportunity to write multiple course papers and a thesis at Chicago was invaluable. I worked within the conventions of rigorous academic writing, and became more deliberate both in heeding and in breaking them. I found a way to work outside the existing disciplines in a disciplined way. MAPH does not require its students to take courses from any particular department. I ended up taking just one course in the English department, courses in Comparative Literature and Creative Writing, and two courses in the Committee on Social Thought, where I became a PhD student in fall 2013.


Danni Simon

I came to MAPH in the fall of 2010 intending to take full advantage of the program’s interdisciplinary nature. I wanted to take classes in both the English and Music departments, and although I wasn’t sure how this would result in a cohesive field of study, I optimistically believed that I would eventually find my academic path. During a course on Theories of Media with W.J.T. Mitchell, I was introduced to the comic strip that would change everything: Little Nemo in Slumberland by Winsor McKay, adapted into an operetta by Victor Herbert (Little Nemo, 1908).  This became the subject for my MAPH thesis, and although I’d never anticipated that comics would become a central part of my academic work, my thesis offered the perfect avenue to approach my multidisciplinary interests.  Over thcourse of the year, I took courses in music theory, history, media and comics, and along with the MAPH core, these provided the basis for my thesis work. The wide variety of classes broadened my intellectual horizon and gave me the means for studying multiple conflicting layers of visual, verbal and musical signification within a single text. Now, as a PhD student in Musicology at UC Berkeley, I use these skills in my work on music performance and digital media.


Whitney Sperrazza

I graduated from the MAPH program in June 2011 and spent a year working as a mentor for the 2011-2012 MAPH students. As a recent graduate, it’s hard to talk about just one or two ways this program helped prepare me for further graduate work. The reality is I didn’t know what it meant to be a graduate student until I went through this program. I entered MAPH committed to eventually getting a Ph.D., but without knowing how to focus that commitment into the type of project doctoral programs require. MAPH introduced me not only to the intense level of academic work expected at the doctoral level, but also to the broader culture of academia and the type of environment I could expect in a doctoral program. My thesis work was invaluable; it served to narrow my area of research specialization and taught me how to articulate a focused project for my applications. Consequently, I finished MAPH with a solid idea of the type of student graduate programs are looking for and knowing without hesitation that I was that student and how to market myself as such. Thanks to the rigor of this program and the incredible support of my UChicago professors and the MAPH staff, I’m now pursuing a Ph.D. in English Literature at Indiana University Bloomington.