Program Options

Classics StairsWhile many MAPH students design their own programs of study, others select one of the pre-existing Program Options. The Program Options provide directed structure for students with interests in Cinema and Media Studies, Classics, Cultural Policy, Creative Writing, or Poetry and Poetics. MAPH administers these five Program Options in conjunction with departments, committees, and centers in the Humanities Division. 
Please note: the Program Options are optional.  For a student whose intellectual projects fit into a Program Option, that may be the best course of study. Students whose research lies in other areas (which includes the majority of our students, most years) design program s of study suitable to their own intellectual projects in consultation with their faculty advisors and preceptors.

The Cinema And Media Studies Option

The Cinema and Media Studies program has made it possible for MAPH to administer a Cinema and Media Studies MA-level program option.
Students choosing this option take the MAPH Core, the Cinema and Media Studies Methods and Issues course, CMST 40000, and History of International Film I and II. The two-term history sequence takes students from silent film up through film of the 1960s. In addition, a student choosing this option will take one or two of their remaining four elective courses in Cinema and Media Studies, and write a thesis on cinema/media under the supervision of a member of the Cinema and Media Studies faculty.
Because serious work on cinema and media requires broad intellectual engagements, students choosing this option will take at least two of their elective courses in other fields, ideally in fields that will contribute to their research.
For more information on cinema and media studies at Chicago, please visit the Department of Cinema and Media Studies website. 

The Classical Languages Option

The Classical Languages Option is offered in cooperation with the University of Chicago's Classics Department. This option is designed primarily for students interested in studying Classics but whose language skills do not yet meet the graduate admissions requirements of most major Classics Departments. Most Classics Departments look for at least two years of either Greek or Latin (three years is preferred) and at least three years of the other language. A significant motivation for this course of study, although not the only one, is an interest in strengthening an application for doctoral study in Classics. In order to do that, a student contemplating using the Classical Languages Option should have one year of either Greek or Latin and at least two years of the other language before beginning MAPH.
During the week before autumn classes begin, students admitted to MAPH's Classical Languages Option are required to sit for competency exams, administered by the Classics Department, in both Latin and Greek. Results of these exams determine placement in appropriate-level language courses for the year.
Students choosing the Classical Languages Option are required to take the MAPH Core in Autumn, and seven elective courses, six of which must be in Classics, and to complete a thesis. Core is designed to both provide a broad foundation for critical methodologies applied across humanistic fields, and serve as the experiential common denominator linking otherwise highly individualized programs of study in MAPH. Students must receive a 'B-' or better in the Core and maintain a 'B' average in all of their courses. They work out their programs of study in consultation with a Faculty Advisor from the Classics Department. In addition to the thesis written by other MAPH students, students in the Classical Languages Option must pass the language competency exams in both Greek and Latin set by the Classics Department in Spring quarter.
Students in the Classical Language Option are expected to concentrate their study on the weaker of their two classical languages in order to bring their skills up to entry-level competence for a major Classics Ph.D. program.
For information on Classics courses and faculty consult the Classics web site.

The Cultural Policy Studies Option

The MAPH option in Cultural Policy Studies is offered in cooperation with the Cultural Policy Center, a joint program of the Harris School of Public Policy Studies and the National Opinion Research Center (NORC). It is designed for students whose interests include a focus on the forces and institutions, both private and public, which shape the arts, humanities, and cultural heritage. The option serves individuals seeking careers in the public service area of the cultural sector (i.e., foundations or government agencies that support the arts); leaders and potential leaders of cultural organizations wishing to improve their understanding of the policy concerns confronting their sector; and students seeking to pursue doctoral work with a focus on the policy dimensions of culture.
Students taking this course of study will be introduced to the conceptual frameworks governing research on cultural policy, and will become acquainted with some of the basic tools used in cultural policy research, as well as with the data sources commonly used by researchers. Graduates should come away with a basic understanding of the features of the cultural sector, of the issues it faces, and of the governmental tactics (i.e., funding structures, property rights, censorship, incentives, etc.) being used to address these issues.
In addition to the MAPH Core, students will take four cultural policy courses, including an introductory course, a methods course, and at least two cultural policy-related electives. They will also write a thesis on a topic broadly related to cultural policy studies and submit a digital copy of the thesis to the Cultural Policy Center upon completion.
Students are encouraged to visit the Cultural Policy Center's website for additional information, including course descriptions. Read a profile of an alumna of the Cultural Policy option on the MAPH Alumni blog.

The Creative Writing Option

The MAPH option in Creative Writing (CRWR) is intended for students who plan to do a creative writing thesis project in fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction.  Unlike MFA programs that offer professionally oriented training in writing, students taking the Writing Option are not expected to concentrate all their attention on their own writing, but rather to develop their writing skills in the context of humanistic study. Students who wish to study, say, philosophy, music, or art history along with creative writing are encouraged to do so.
In addition to completing the MAPH core course, students in the Writing Option take:
  • 1 CRWR course in the student's chosen genre in fall quarter
  • CRWR Thesis/Major Projects workshop in winter quarter
  • 3 academic courses relevant to the proposed thesis area
  • 2 elective courses to be taken in any area of student interest
CRWR thesis projects must have both a creative component and a brief critical essay about the work. In practice, the CRWR Option is designed to provide a flexible structure for creative thesis work.
Instructor permission is required for most creative writing courses. This process requires submission of previous creative writing work by fixed deadlines prior to the start of each quarter.  Students who apply to and are admitted to the Writing Option in the spring before their MAPH year have priority for spots in  autumn quarter CRWR classes, but must still submit writing samples for writing courses requiring them.  They also automatically have a place reserved for them in the genre-specific Thesis/Major Projects workshop in winter. The creative writing faculty member who leads the winter workshop will also be available to serve as the student's thesis director during spring quarter.
MAPH students have the opportunity to switch into the Writing Option even if they did not originally apply to the Option.  Any student contemplating a creative thesis in fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction should take a creative writing course in the relevant genre during fall quarter.  A student who decides to do a creative writing thesis too late to apply for a creative writing course in fall quarter may still switch into the Option, if their writing sample qualifies them for admission to a Thesis/Major Projects workshop course in winter quarter.

Applicants to this program option are also encouraged to visit the website for the Committee on Creative Writing for further information on creative writing at the University of Chicago. In addition to the regular application materials, applicants to the creative writing option must also submit two copies of a creative writing sample with their application.  Visit our admissions web page for more detailed information about the application process.  Watch interviews with core creative writing faculty.

The Poetics Option

The MAPH Option in Poetics is intended for students who are primarily interested in the critical study of poetry and poetics.  Offered in cooperation with the university’s Program in Poetry and Poetics, this option facilitates a critical engagement with the poetry of numerous historical periods, geographical regions, and aesthetic traditions, including modern and contemporary English-language poetry.  

Students enrolled in this option are required to take the MAPH Core course in the autumn quarter, the autumn Poetics seminar, and three courses on the study of poetry and poetics from any number of departments and committees across the Humanities Division.  (Relevant courses in the Social Sciences Division may also count toward these requirements).  Of these three courses, one must be on pre-Romantic poetry, one on non-Anglophone poetry (which can be studied in English translation), and one on modern and/or contemporary poetry.  Students will consult with their MAPH preceptors and advisors on how to fulfill these distribution requirements, and may petition to substitute other courses for these requirements under special circumstances.  Additionally, students in the MAPH Poetics Option will write a thesis with a relation to poetry and poetics under the supervision of a faculty member in the Poetics Program.

Further opportunities for students in the Poetics Option may include internships at The Chicago Review—the university’s graduate student-run literary journal—and participation in the Poetics Workshop, a bi-weekly colloquium for the peer review of student and faculty work.  Students in the option also benefit from frequent visits to campus by nationally-recognized poets through the Poetics Program’s “Poem Present” reading series, and talks by distinguished visiting scholars through the “History and Forms of Lyric” lecture series. 

Students interested in this option are encouraged to visit the Poetry and Poetics website for more information about faculty and resources for the study of poetry at the university.