Our Community

MAPH students come from an extraordinarily diverse range of backgrounds. Our students have included recent college graduates, professionals at mid-career, and those seeking new challenges during retirement. They have had undergraduate degrees from public and private institutions throughout the world in disciplines ranging from biology to art history to marketing. A number have come with experience in nonacademic fields, including independent filmmaking, industrial design, politics, science, foundation work, and business.

In addition to the numerous talks, workshops, conferences, and screenings held throughout the year at the University of Chicago, MAPH sponsors events of specific interest to our students, ranging from MAPH social hours to special writing seminars, student readings, and cultural outings. Recent fall quarter social events have included barbecues, pub nights, MAPH Oktoberfest, and trips to various cultural institutions around the city - notably the Court Theater, the Chicago Cultural Center, the Art Institute of Chicago, and Second City. Other off-campus outings have included trips to the Hancock Building, seeing the Chicago Blackhawks play hockey and the White Sox play ball, roller derby and a boat tour of Chicago architecture. These activities are organized by Mentors and the student-run MAPH Social Committee, so they vary from year to year along with the interests of current students.

An extracurricular life is crucial to productive graduate study.

MAPH is more demanding than any other first-year graduate program in the Humanities Division. All that work, in turn, requires balance—some combination of social life, casual conversation, excursions, and play. If you want to wind down, meet friends, or just have some fun, an extracurricular life is crucial to productive graduate study.

The following links and suggestions will introduce you to some of the social, cultural and entertainment possibilities on campus and throughout the city. Chicago offers all of the resources of a major metropolitan center with its commitment to the arts, its music and literary scenes, its cultural institutions, sports teams, street festivals, and diverse neighborhoods. 


At the University

On campus, students can take in a film at DOC, a play at the Court Theatre, concerts at Mandel Hall, or the current exhibitions at the Smart Museum and Renaissance Society gallery. The University Theater offers student productions each term; Off-Off-Campus offers Friday evenings of comedy improv with the organization that gave birth to Second City. And any evening you'll doubtless find people you know having a drink at The Pub, the UChicago bar in the basement of Ida Noyes Hall.

Want more? Learn about sports and social clubs at the Student Activities website. Or, follow the student life links to learn about religious services on campus, Major Activities Board (MAB) events, the campus radio station, student media, visiting dignitaries, community service programs, the Council on University Programming's schedule of festivals, feasts, performances and parties, and more.

Over the course of the year, you’ll get so much email about exciting lectures, conferences, and events that you’ll barely be able to keep track, let alone attend all of the ones that pique your interest. Before the barrage begins, it’s wise to check out some of the sponsoring institutions. Franke Institute for the Humanities sponsors conferences and public lectures, as do the University's interdivisional centers, projects, and institutes. Follow the links to their websites to learn about current and coming events. Many MAPHers are especially interested in the events offered by the Karla Scherer Center for the Study of American Culture, the Nicholson Center for British Studies, and the Film Studies Center. Even if you don’t study film, the Film Studies Center has fabulous screenings all year long. Follow the links to their web sites to learn about current and coming events.

Some, but not all, of the doings on campus are announced university-wide in the official Events Calendar, on the calendar page of The University of Chicago Chronicle, on the Humanities Division Calendar, and on the MAPH website calendar. You can also poke around on MAPHtastic to find information about past events.


Life in Hyde Park

Hyde Park is a surprisingly quiet, yet genuinely urban neighborhood. It’s bordered by Lake Michigan to the east, Washington Park to the west, the Midway Plaisance to the south, and Madison Park to the north. Most University of Chicago students live in Hyde Park, as do most faculty. It has some of the qualities of a small town—you’re just as likely to run into fellow MAPHers (or even professors) on the street as on campus. You might find them buying apples at the farmer’s market, browsing for books at Powell’s, having coffee at Plein Air, or enjoying a beer at Jimmy’s, the Cove, or the on-campus Pub. In the summer, you’ll find many Hyde Park residents enjoying the lakefront, or sitting outside Bonjour Bakery eating croissants. That description may make it sound like the average idyllic college town, but don’t be fooled: Hyde Park is a complex and vibrant urban area that constantly interrogates the divide between city life and the academic cloister.  For more perspectives on the neighborhood, you might want to check out the University's Hyde Park guide, Hyde Park Progress, or the Chicago Reader's Special Issue on Hyde Park.

Technically, Hyde Park has everything you need to get by: grocery stores, restaurants, bike shops, record stores, hardware stores, pet shops, drug stores, bars, banks, barbers, beauty salons, and even a comic book store. It is home to one of the best academic bookstores in the world, the Seminary Co-op Bookstore, which is located in the basement of the Chicago Theological Seminary. It is entirely possible to pass an entire academic year without leaving the neighborhood. But most students spend much of their time outside the neighborhood - after all, the whole city is right at your doorstep.

The City of Chicago

Cloud GateChicago is a vast city of neighborhoods with a central downtown - the Loop - just 20 minutes away from Hyde Park by bus. The Art Institute is in the Loop, as are the Lyric Opera, the Goodman Theatre, the Orchestra Hall-Symphony Center, the Chicago Cultural Center, and Millennium Park.

 The Jazz Institute of Chicago maintains a calendar of jazz events, as does the Jazz Hotline (312-427-3300). If you like jazz, don't miss the Dusty Groove or the Jazz Record Mart, both long-time Chicago institutions. Centerstage Chicago gives brief descriptions of more than 1,000 local bands, and keeps track of their gigs for you. Their Art Guide has excellent information on more than 100 Chicago galleries. Their guide to Chicago Theater gives you articles, reviews, and listings for more than 130 Chicago theaters.

For movies, check out the Chicago Reader for listings and reviews. The Reader also maintains listings for Dance, Music, Performance, and Theater. Many arts venues offer discounted tickets for students but be sure to checkout hottix for weekly discounted tickets to Chicago theater performances. Additionally, your student ID works as your UChicago Arts Pass, giving you discounts to arts events and performances across the city.


Chicago is a vast city of neighborhoods with a real downtown - the Loop - just 20 minutes away from Hyde Park.

Chicago has thousands of restaurants, thousands of small shops, and a network of distinctive neighborhoods. You can start online exploration of city guides by following the U of C Student Life links.

You might want to visit Chinatown on the South Side, close to Hyde Park along Cermak Road and Wentworth Avenue, as far south as 24th Place. Pilsen, also on the South Side, centered at Halsted and 18th Street, is the hub of Chicago's Mexican heritage community, and the home of a budding artists' colony. Korea Town is farther north, concentrated between the 2700 and 3700 blocks of North Lawrence Avenue. Much of the hipster scene revolves around neighborhoods to the north and west like Wicker Park and Bucktown. Logan Square is home to some of the best neighborhood bar scenes around. Boystown, a vibrant center of Chicago's gay and lesbian community, is located on North Halsted Street, between Belmont and Addison. Some of the best known gay, lesbian, and bisexual bars and dance clubs are clustered around that area, right on Halsted, or along Belmont or Clark. Lincoln Park plays host to many of Chicago’s trendiest restaurants, bars and shops. Devon Avenue on the North Side from Damen to Kedzie is home to the largest South Asian communities in the United States, a Hasidic community, the Chicago Assyrian community, and others.

You can also find dozens of posts on events and activities in Hyde Park and beyond by scrolling through the MAPH Blog.

Student Life Links