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University of Chicago - MAPSS?


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On 10/7/2015 at 8:36 PM, mapssalum said:

Lets start with the Pros:

You can ask for more money. I started with an offer of 1/3 tuition and leveraged it to a full-tuition scholarship with relative ease.

 

Important! Got a 1/2 offer last year. 100% would make my life much easier. What did you do? Did you have other offers to use as leverage? 

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So I have just been offered admission to the MAPSS program with a third tuition covered. I think if I had more options I would immediately turn down this offer, as I've already been offered funding to a PhD program (Purdue), but obviously this school isn't nearly as reputable as Chicago. Purdue is a really great fit for me, and I wouldn't have to worry about applying to a PhD program next year (the application process was extremely stressful to me) but I just know Chicago's reputation would probably take me further... Does anyone have advice? I really did not expect any sort of offer from Chicago, and was reluctant to even apply because of how competitive it is.

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On 3/4/2016 at 3:33 PM, Danger_Zone said:

So I have just been offered admission to the MAPSS program with a third tuition covered. I think if I had more options I would immediately turn down this offer, as I've already been offered funding to a PhD program (Purdue), but obviously this school isn't nearly as reputable as Chicago. Purdue is a really great fit for me, and I wouldn't have to worry about applying to a PhD program next year (the application process was extremely stressful to me) but I just know Chicago's reputation would probably take me further... Does anyone have advice? I really did not expect any sort of offer from Chicago, and was reluctant to even apply because of how competitive it is.

Hi Danger_Zone,

It really is up to you. Purdue is a good school, but is it great? It doesn't hold the intellectual prestige that the University of Chicago holds. It doesn't take one long to figure out which school looks better on a CV.

While Purdue gives you the path of least resistance, I think you have to seriously consider which university is going to open more doors for you in your future. Not an easy choice but often times the tougher choice has a bigger payout in the end.

Something to consider.

Good luck!

 

Edit: Forgot to mention, I picked MAPPS for the exact reason you're worried about (last of prestige of another school accepting you). My undergraduate history advisor let me know that the school(s) attended becomes a big deal after you've attained a MA/PhD.

Edited by Valley_of_Yosemite
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39 minutes ago, Valley_of_Yosemite said:

Hi Danger_Zone,

It really is up to you. Purdue is a good school, but is it great? It doesn't hold the intellectual prestige that the University of Chicago holds. It doesn't take one long to figure out which school looks better on a CV.

While Purdue gives you the path of least resistance, I think you have to seriously consider which university is going to open more doors for you in your future. Not an easy choice but often times the tougher choice has a bigger payout in the end.

Something to consider.

Good luck!

 

Edit: Forgot to mention, I picked MAPPS for the exact reason you're worried about (last of prestige of another school accepting you). My undergraduate history advisor let me know that the school(s) attended becomes a big deal after you've attained a MA/PhD.

Thank you for the advice! It's definitely true that Chicago would carry more prestige.. I just honestly can't think of anything appealing to me other than that. Chicago is a pretty bad fit for me in terms of research but I applied to it because a few profs recommended it and I knew it was a well-respected school. 

 
It's also going to cost me nearly 50k in tuition alone and I'll probably have to go home for a year (unless student visas cover gap years?) But it's still a big opportunity.. I've definitely been thinking it over. :) I still need to email Chicago and try to get a better idea of what the program is like at least. 
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I was also accepted for the 2016-2017 year. I plan on attending, but I would appreciate advice and information on what to expect regarding the program. Also, if anyone succeeded in negotiating for more funding, please regale us with the gory details. 

Also, for anyone who wants to know:

Grad housing at UChicago - not nice. It's pretty expensive compared to regular apartment deals, and the quality of rooms range from mildly sad to causing bodily harm (like $900 for a one-room in a gross old building with windows that face a brick wall, bad soundproofing, very possible bedbug infestations, etc.). But I say this with reference to only three data points that I've accumulated (UChicago grad students I've come into contact with), so take it with a grain of salt. 

If you're looking for apartment or other deals, the usual place to look is marketplace.uchicago.edu. 

Source: Hyde Park resident (myself)

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Hello all! I just sent a PM to someone with this info, but figured for the common good--and to correct some of the statements on GradCafe from memories of my own thinking about whether to attend--I should add to this forum. I am a MAPSS alum who had a 1/2 tuition scholarship and who had to take out student loans to pay for the rest. Attending was the best decision I ever made.

When I applied to PhD programs the first time, I received no PhD offers (there are several reasons for this), but I was really considering not going to MAPSS since everyone denigrates the program on GradCafe and calls it a "cash cow." I felt like it might be some joke going to the program. But, if you work extremely hard, it can pay off immeasurably. This round, with the MAPSS degree, the story changed completely: I received 5 funded PhD offers, including 3 at ivy league schools (one of which is #1 in my field). Since PhD offers are fully-funded these days, I feel like the investment literally pays back with funded offers, not to mention that I did get a job and have been able to pay off a good amount of loans just this year. 

Most people, I will admit, decide in that MAPSS year that they don't want to do a PhD though, so you'd have to be comfortable with the idea of taking out loans if you decide the PhD is not for you. Also, not every PhD application story is the same as my own--everyone has different experiences so nothing is a guarantee. BUT, every year MAPSS gets people who didn't get many (if any) great PhD offers and then every year they churn out students who get accepted into the top programs their next time around. And I cannot stress enough that it is completely how much you put into it: MAPSS gives you the access/chance to be seen by the top scholars in your field, but then the ball is in your court after that. But if you're a really serious student then you shouldn't listen to those on GradCafe who usually don't even go to the school, or who are undergrads with tangential experience. MAPSS has a wonderful placement rate that you can be a part of if you work for it! And I am happy to meet with anyone visiting the campus for more information if you're interested.

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  • 1 month later...

Thank you guys for information sharing

The following is what I think about MAPSS program-Economics concentration

The MAPSS program (especially economics concentration) is really mathematics intensive and ,of course,  very competitive. Since the courses are the same with doctoral students, it has a huge work load. Therefore, it gives a special opportunity to learn. By the time, no data exists on the acceptance rates for PhD positions after the economics program. However, considering the reputation of the U of Chicago's Department of economics and the historical acceptance rates of other MAPSS concentrations, I guess it will finally end up with great admissions. The professors and staffs try to prepare students for a prestigious PhD program. Therefore, I think it would be a great terminal program if you want to pursue your education in a top-ranked university.

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  • 10 months later...

Thanks for all those insightful posts in this thread. Now I have a fully funded PhD offer from a good university that is ranked around 50 in history, and then I have the Mapss with 1/3 tuition remission. Can anyone offer some insights/opinions that would help me make the decision? Perhaps on the question how likely one can land an academic job (tenure-tracked) after graduating from a 50s-ranked program, whether it is worth while to turn down a fully funded phd for the Mapss, and, in case I decide to not pursue a phd after the mapss, to what extent the Mapss can help one find a decent job in the US or overseas.

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I got this offer for anthropology and I'm honestly not sure if I can accept it. It's probably the only acceptance I'll get (I've had six rejections out of eight so far), but I absolutely can't afford it. I'm looking for alternate avenues of funding, but they only offered me one-third tuition coverage and I'm going to petition for more aid. Is it worth even considering if it's my only offer and I can't get more funding? I really don't want to be in debt for 30 years for a Masters degree that won't even matter much aside from getting me into a doctorate program.

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This is a tough one, and the MAPSS program can be great in some respects, but it isn't a guarantee that you will get in elsewhere afterward. Prestige warrants prestige and you get some great work and LOR and acceptances coming out. But I have a friend who did MAPSS and still got rejected everywhere again, and had to reapply yet one more time. So it's not 100%

If you have a funded offer to go elsewhere, I consider that. If you really hate that program, imagine it as a fully funded MA, giving you two or three years to flesh out your project and work on yourself. It's not duplicitous, it's responsible.

Worth considering - Chicago's program is expensive, and you won't be applying for PhD programs again this Fall, you're going to be taking classes for a year, then applying that Fall, so you're going to have to support yourself for a year in between not in classes. Think about what you want to plan for that year as well. 

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So I'm actually in the MAPSS program right now and I wanted to kind of offer an honest opinion of my experience so far.

I seriously regret accepting their offer. I would rather have not gone to school for another year than experience what I'm going through right now. I love my preceptor, but I despise the MAPSS program. The mandatory Perspectives course is a waste of time and only 18 out of the 270 total students in the program got As on the midterm. They played it off as having high standards, but it really was the result of having a badly written essay prompt, improper course planning, and a badly written article to work off of. The professor teaching the course doesn't finish his lectures and goes off on tangents. It's honestly not worth even attending the course.

Course offerings have been abysmal. I've never had issues trying to find relevant classes to take and I'm seriously upset that such a "great" school doesn't offer anything relevant to my areas of research. There are at least seven ethnomusicologists that teach at the university and not a single one of them is offering an ethnomusicology course. We're not allowed to take foreign languages even if it's for research purposes. We're allowed to take any courses in the graduate school, but good luck getting into the classes you need. I got locked out of a methods course because there were only 15 slots and the professor wouldn't give me permission to take the course, but gave me permission to take a computational data analysis course that they would be teaching in the spring. I study anthropology, so I'm really confused as to how they think computational data analysis will benefit me when we don't use that type of data.

I do appreciate the chance to do research, but I feel like I'm vastly under prepared to take it on. We have to go through the process of IRB approval, getting approval from our informants, finding a willing faculty advisor, continue working on our thesis, and do our classwork all at the same time. I often feel like there aren't enough hours in the day to do everything I have to do. You do have the option of doing a "ghost course" to work on your thesis, but my preceptor wouldn't let me do it even though I had already made great headway on my thesis.

I often feel like MAPSS students are the butt of some joke at the university. Professors don't seem to take me seriously and I feel like a lot of the PhD and MA/MS students feel sorry for me that I wasn't "good enough" to get in through the traditional channels and got passed off to an alternative program. I feel like my "degree," which is a Masters in the Social Science and only exists at the University of Chicago, is going to be completely worthless and I won't be able to teach community college like I had planned to after I receive it because I won't have enough credit hours to qualify. You can try taking classes only in your field, but good luck with that. Oftentimes you won't find anything that interests you or they will all fill up within seconds of course registration opening.

During orientation they told us that most of us will be too burnt out to consider continuing on for a PhD. That's the reason why they have a 90% fully funded PhD placement rate. I'm an extremely academic person, but I've begun to hate the culture that surrounds the university. It's very stuck up and people tend to live within a bubble. The amount of income disparity in Chicago is appalling and is one of the reasons for the large amount of crime in the area. I was nearly mugged this quarter and watched a man get beaten up for his wallet. A 19 year old kid was shot in the head in a drive by shooting down the street from me. It's appalling how the university ignores how it contributes to this vicious cycle of income inequality and how they try to shelter the students, especially the undergrads, from that reality.

Take my advice and stay away from this program. I took out over $50,000 in loans to come here and the thought of having to immediately repay those loans is the only reason why I haven't dropped out. It's not worth the unreasonable amount of stress and pressure they put on you. If this is your only offer, just try again next year. I'm utterly miserable in this program and wish I could go back in time and convince myself not to accept the offer.

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On 13/11/2017 at 11:24 AM, ironshieldmaiden said:

So I'm actually in the MAPSS program right now and I wanted to kind of offer an honest opinion of my experience so far.

I seriously regret accepting their offer. I would rather have not gone to school for another year than experience what I'm going through right now. I love my preceptor, but I despise the MAPSS program. The mandatory Perspectives course is a waste of time and only 18 out of the 270 total students in the program got As on the midterm. They played it off as having high standards, but it really was the result of having a badly written essay prompt, improper course planning, and a badly written article to work off of. The professor teaching the course doesn't finish his lectures and goes off on tangents. It's honestly not worth even attending the course.

Course offerings have been abysmal. I've never had issues trying to find relevant classes to take and I'm seriously upset that such a "great" school doesn't offer anything relevant to my areas of research. There are at least seven ethnomusicologists that teach at the university and not a single one of them is offering an ethnomusicology course. We're not allowed to take foreign languages even if it's for research purposes. We're allowed to take any courses in the graduate school, but good luck getting into the classes you need. I got locked out of a methods course because there were only 15 slots and the professor wouldn't give me permission to take the course, but gave me permission to take a computational data analysis course that they would be teaching in the spring. I study anthropology, so I'm really confused as to how they think computational data analysis will benefit me when we don't use that type of data.

I do appreciate the chance to do research, but I feel like I'm vastly under prepared to take it on. We have to go through the process of IRB approval, getting approval from our informants, finding a willing faculty advisor, continue working on our thesis, and do our classwork all at the same time. I often feel like there aren't enough hours in the day to do everything I have to do. You do have the option of doing a "ghost course" to work on your thesis, but my preceptor wouldn't let me do it even though I had already made great headway on my thesis.

I often feel like MAPSS students are the butt of some joke at the university. Professors don't seem to take me seriously and I feel like a lot of the PhD and MA/MS students feel sorry for me that I wasn't "good enough" to get in through the traditional channels and got passed off to an alternative program. I feel like my "degree," which is a Masters in the Social Science and only exists at the University of Chicago, is going to be completely worthless and I won't be able to teach community college like I had planned to after I receive it because I won't have enough credit hours to qualify. You can try taking classes only in your field, but good luck with that. Oftentimes you won't find anything that interests you or they will all fill up within seconds of course registration opening.

During orientation they told us that most of us will be too burnt out to consider continuing on for a PhD. That's the reason why they have a 90% fully funded PhD placement rate. I'm an extremely academic person, but I've begun to hate the culture that surrounds the university. It's very stuck up and people tend to live within a bubble. The amount of income disparity in Chicago is appalling and is one of the reasons for the large amount of crime in the area. I was nearly mugged this quarter and watched a man get beaten up for his wallet. A 19 year old kid was shot in the head in a drive by shooting down the street from me. It's appalling how the university ignores how it contributes to this vicious cycle of income inequality and how they try to shelter the students, especially the undergrads, from that reality.

Take my advice and stay away from this program. I took out over $50,000 in loans to come here and the thought of having to immediately repay those loans is the only reason why I haven't dropped out. It's not worth the unreasonable amount of stress and pressure they put on you. If this is your only offer, just try again next year. I'm utterly miserable in this program and wish I could go back in time and convince myself not to accept the offer.

Hey ironshield. Has your situation turned any better? How are doing those students interested in economics or political science? Your description of all the experience is quite shocking. I was interested on this program, but I am not sure anymore.

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I applied to the psychology Ph.D program last year and was rejected from that but accepted for MAPSS with, I think, a 1/2 scholarship, so it would have still been outrageously expensive. After talking to some of the students I met during interviews, they did admit that MAPSS students just aren't viewed the same and are somewhat like second-class students. I think I made the right decision in not attending and I have a few interviews lined up for this year so *fingers crossed* 

I also decided not to reapply to the Ph.D program. I got the feeling from students and faculty that they were a bit snobbish and very aware that the University of Chicago is relatively prestigious right now. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

I had a slightly different experience at MAPSS. To be sure MAPSS isn’t for everyone but it fit my circumstances and I did NOT take out 50k. RE: the disappointment with the program, I think it’s avoided if you really know what you are getting. I posted the following under History, but will post here too.

TL;DR types sorry skim the paragraphs to find the pertinent information for [you]

I've written this in email form twice now and thought I would post it here as well. It caters towards undergrads considering the program directly out of school, so ignore bits that are irrelevant to [you] and forgive the familiar language.
 
Just to give you some background, I was in the MAPSS program for 2016-2017: concentrating in history. I finished my thesis in August 2017 and am in the process of doing PhD apps for 2018-2019 while working.
 
I will begin with the standard cautionary advice: graduate degrees are career choices. If you are not certain about your career path then you should not consider investing the time or money that an MA will demand of you until you do. If your thoughts change over the course of an MA (which is statistically likely), you might be putting yourself in a position to either not be able to pursue the path you end up wanting or setting yourself up for paying for grad school twice. Many come directly into the program from undergrad, and fewer waited a few years before returning to school. This may be personal bias, but I believe those who waited, performed better and came out of the program in a better position to achieve their career goals. This is ultimately the goal of an MA degree, to put yourself in the best possible for your future career, albeit for doing something you are passionate about. That being said, it doesn’t really matter if this is what you want to do and please disregard this advice. (I was given the same advice by many, I took some time but always knew I would return to grad school to pursue academic work, even when job prospects are not good).
 
In general MA programs are shit. Not because you don’t learn anything, but because they are used by universities to fund their other programs. This is a fact and MAPSS is not different.  It is also true that they are necessary prep programs for many jobs, in this sense they are more similar to an MBA, MPP, or JD program. Some will say you should never pay for graduate school. I agree that you shouldn’t unless you have reason to. If you need what the program offers then pay. It’s just a question of whether or not it is right for you. MAPSS offers a lot of things, and it is cheaper than many other programs, which is why I chose it. It is not a free ticket, it costs money and will require you to be next to anti-social for 9 months to do well.
 
My impressions would be that the program is fast-paced, but manageable. The program is on a quarter system, so basically the two/three lazy weeks you are used to at the beginning of semesters don’t exist you just gotta be on it from the beginning. This is an adjustment but fairly easy particularly if you are intentional about choosing your courses (3 per quarter). As a history concentrator you will choose a seminar that will last two quarters (fall and winter). The seminar professor will also be your adviser for your thesis and your seminar paper is usually a first, very rough draft of half your thesis. So this is set up quite nicely cause it forces you to start work early. You will also have to take Perspectives (boring AF, but not difficult) and a Methods class--most likely Historical or Ethnographic Methods. This leaves you with 5 other courses that you can pick and choose from across all graduate level courses, professional schools included. The program is fairly generous with funding. I was initially offered 1/3 scholarship, but after writing a short 1 page summary of my continued work towards my goals, I was able to get 1/2 scholarship. Some get 2/3 and maybe one or two people get full. This is fairly rare for MA programs from what I know.
 
In terms of staff of the program i.e. your preceptor/advisor, it varies about how committed they are. I don’t feel that I was disregarded, but I definitely had to initiate the relationship (send emails, go to office hours, etc). As one of a cohort of about 250 students, you need to make sure claim the attention you need. I think this is more a feature of graduate school and less the program. It also makes a huge difference about the amount of footwork you do: going to the library early, having research ideas, and knowing some of the historiography before you meet with people makes them more productive meetings, and will show advisers that you deserve their attention. It will also put you in a better position to graduate in June. (It isn’t necessary to graduate in June, most don’t, but it is a huge relief if you can finish in 9 months...I did not.) 
 
I will say the program is not for everyone. I think it really depends on what you want out of the degree. For me, I was transitioning from philosophy to wanting to pursue a history PhD. So it allowed me to get the necessary coursework I needed and also allowed me to work with leading professors in my field and more broadly in historical methodologies. Having these recommenders for a PhD program will significantly improve the competitiveness of my application to “top” PhD programs. Some needed a better institution name on their resume (shitty but unfortunately a reality for many career types). Others needed to gain specific coding languages, math, lab experience, or interview/qualitative research skills depending on their fields. Knowing what you might be needing ahead of time is to your benefit, as the program is short and you won’t want to waste one of your 8 courses on something not worth your time/money. I would look at possible job listings/PhD programs you might want to have and look at the skills they are asking for and then take courses/find volunteer and work opportunities during the MAPSS year to prepare you for them. Also look at the people who have the job you want and look at their CV/resume. 
 
It’s a one-year program which is good for the pocket book and a quick turn around, but not so good for forming relationships, both with others in your cohort and profs. It also means that by the time you are entering you already need to be planning for your next year, which isn’t the easiest task with a full course load and managing your thesis. Also people’s minds change as a result of their research, some decide they no longer want to do PhD others who never considered it apply the following year. If you are considering a PhD you will have a gap year between the end of MAPSS and the beginning of your school year. Those who began figuring out job applications and writing cover letters etc. in Feb/March were much more successful immediately after school. I was fortunate to find a part-time job that helped me work on applications but still gave me enough to live on and the benefits to take language courses at the University. 
 
I have mostly talked about how it relates to extended graduate school careers, but many come to the program for a quick MA from a good school. They leave with excellent job offers (if they put in the right hours for job searches) and are better qualified to pursue what they want. I will say that these options favor those in the harder social sciences (Econ, Sociology, Poli Sci.). I would make sure the program/courses/professors (department websites) offer you want you need. Particularly professors, you need to be able to identify someone you could write a thesis with.
 
UChicago people can be super pretentious and believe the brand name gives them a right to the privilege it affords. This is shitty and so are the people that think it, but it is true that it gives you a little extra that will help you in whatever your pursuits are. For me, I paid to have access to excellent professors and prep me for grad a PhD and my envisioned career path. Worst case, I was appropriately trained to enter an IR-peace/conflict think tank and find employment that way.  I could have gone to a PhD program, but I had a not so good funding package which hurt to think about. I wouldn’t have been able to get in to recognized programs from my small liberal arts school without an MA. It isn’t that it's an inferior school to other big name institutions, it is just really small and I didn’t have the necessary experiences while there. So for me the program was worth it, but it wasn’t for some of my friends. 
 
Bottomline: you have to decide if the program is worth it for your goals. But if you are interested in an MA and the program offers what you want, it is definitely worth an application. Weigh your options, living expenses, cost of attendance with other programs and then decide. If you get a full ride else where go there, if not you could def do worse than MAPSS.
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