The University of Chicago

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Updated August 7, 2020

The University of Chicago began when a group gathered in July 1890 to draft the articles of incorporation for an institute of higher learning. The articles detailed a university with a commitment offering rigorous academics for persons of both sexes on equal terms, unusual for a college during that era. The university was officially chartered in September 1890 and an initial pledge of $600,000, valued at more than $16 million today, from John D. Rockefeller as well as contributions from the American Baptist Education Society paved the way for the new school. Land was donated by Marshall Field, owner of an historic Chicago department store.

The university quickly became a leader in higher education and research after opening in 1892. Despite the initial intention that the university would become a Baptist institution, school leaders determined that it would be gender-equal and built an atmosphere of nonsectarianism. From the beginning, students attended the university from around the globe and the open admission policy attracted American minorities, including those of the Jewish faith and African Americans, whose path to higher education was often blocked by other institutions.

The first buildings on campus were designed after English Gothic architecture used at Oxford University. The university was also a founding member of the Big Ten Conference and, in 1935, senior Jay Berwanger was awarded the first Heisman Trophy. Four years later, football was abolished on campus as then-President Robert Maynard Hutchins felt students needed to focus on academics. The sport was not reinstated until 1969.

In the 1940s and 1950s, Hyde Park and Kenwood, neighborhoods that surrounded the campus, had fallen victim to corrupt rental practices that led to deteriorated communities and high crime. The university joined local community neighborhoods to renew the communities. In 2007, the university began another project designed to renew the local area when it partnered with the city to revitalize the Hyde Park 53rd Street corridor. More than two dozen businesses have developed in the area, creating 1,100 jobs.

Today, more than 5,700 undergraduate students and 9,500 graduate students attend the university, studying a wide range of programs.

Accreditation Details

The University of Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. Accreditation demonstrates that the university offers programs that are rigorous and that leadership consistently strives to improve offerings to students. Accrediting agencies for specific industries may also accredit programs offered through the school.

Application Requirements

Freshmen students attending college for the first time must complete an application for admission and pay the applicable fee if they do not intend to apply for financial aid. Students must supply a secondary school report, teacher's evaluations, test scores and a midyear report. Students may request an interview but it is not required for admission. Specific programs may require additional application materials so students are encouraged to speak with an admissions counselor before applying.

Students who have completed one term at a different college or university may apply to the university as a transfer student. Students must complete two academic years and the Core curriculum as well as half of their major at the University of Chicago. Students who already hold a bachelor's degree may not apply to the university as the college does not offer second bachelor's degrees. Instead, students may apply to a graduate program or as a student-at-large through the Graham School of General Studies.

There is no minimum GPA or test score required for acceptance into undergraduate programs at the University of Chicago and no course load is mandatory.

Graduate students must complete the online application used by the program they wish to enter. Each program has specific application requirements so students are encouraged to discuss those requirements with an admissions counselor prior to applying.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Undergraduate tuition at the University of Chicago averages around $6,000 per course. Graduate tuition ranges between $14,000 per quarter to $25,000 per quarter. Financial aid is available for both undergraduate and graduate students in the form of grants, scholarships and work-study programs. Students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be eligible and must also complete the College Scholarship Service Profile.

The university has a No Barriers program that provides need-based financial aid in the form of grants rather than loans that students do not have to repay. Students who apply for financial aid also do not have to pay an application fee and there is ample opportunity for students to engage in internships and other employment throughout the school year as well as during summer months. The college also provides lifelong career support to all graduates.

University of Chicago Degree(s) Available

Business PhD Program

The University of Chicago offers a doctorate in Business through the Booth School of Business. It is the first business doctorate established in the United States and provides students with the knowledge necessary to become highly-skilled researchers. Graduates often go on to become faculty members at academic institutions throughout the world. The program is a full-time course of study and most students take five years to complete the program and defend a dissertation. Students also participate in multiple workshops where they are able to discuss and debate research completed by their colleagues. The program is highly flexible so that students can design the program that fits their needs.

The focus of the doctorate program in business is research, providing students with the ability to cultivate their own research interests from the day they begin the program. Coursework is focused on the student's research interests as well. Students gain skills through an environment that is collaborative and without hierarchy. The program offers multiple interactive forums where research is proposed, presented, debated and refined. Whether the student's focus is in economics, psychology, sociology or statistics, the University of Chicago pushes the boundaries of what the student already knows. Students may also take classes outside the program area and even outside Chicago Booth. Dissertation areas include:

  • Accounting
  • Behavioral Science
  • Economics
  • Finance
  • Management Science/Operations Management
  • Marketing
  • Joint Program in Business and Psychology
  • Joint Program in Financial Economics

Students are encouraged to think outside the box and collaborate with others across areas of study. Faculty offices are integrated without limiting them to one discipline so students are provided mentors with a wide range of skills and knowledge.

The University of Chicago doctorate in business offers students with the flexibility they need to meet family, work and social obligations that may prevent them from achieving their higher education goals.

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