Academic Stories

“4+1” Program offers College students new pathway to a master’s degree

Inaugural cohort beginning graduate studies in Autumn

The recently established UChicago Advanced Scholars “4+1” program will allow UChicago students to complete an undergraduate and a master’s degree at the University, typically in a total of five years.

The program aims to simplify the graduate school admissions process and help students develop additional skills that will improve their job or educational outcomes. Undergraduate students can apply as early as their second year to secure a spot in a UChicago master’s program after graduating from the College. The program also offers tuition scholarships, internship funding and career support from the Office of Career Advancement and UChicagoGRAD.

During the 2022-23 academic year, nine master’s programs from four divisions – Humanities, Social Sciences, Physical Sciences, and the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering – participated in a successful pilot.

This year, the “4+1” program became official, encompassing 24 master’s programs across seven divisions and schools. The inaugural cohort of graduate students began their studies this fall. 

The program, first proposed by University President Paul Alivisatos, offers a streamlined graduate admissions process for students in the College. Its implementation is a result of efforts from several UChicago administrators, including Provost Katherine Baicker, Vice Provost and Faculty Director of UChicagoGRAD Jason Merchant, and the Deans of the different departments and divisions.

“The UChicago Advanced Scholars Program is an investment in our students’ future,” said Merchant. “We’re pleased to offer College students this opportunity to continue their education, build specialized skills, and put them in an ideal position for starting their careers or further graduate study. Our faculty in the master’s programs look forward to helping these ‘double Maroons’ further develop their talents.”

At a reception for admitted 4+1 students on Oct. 2, Baicker said her hopes for this program are to teach not just a specific set of skills for a specific industry, but for students to learn “approaches that will serve you well for your whole career.”

“Our hope is that people will be able to take these master’s programs and get an additional degree that will deepen their education,” Merchant added. “We’re trying to make it easy to get a great degree, so that people will go onto great careers or continue on to further graduate study. This is a great way to get into a Ph.D. program, or an M.D., or a J.D.”

Devon Delgado, AB ‘23, for example, hopes to use what he learns this year as a master’s student as a data engineer. After majoring in and developing a passion for computer science, Delgado is now pursuing a master’s in applied data science in his master’s year. 

He decided to apply for the program in hopes of attaining “a professional edge when entering the job market and learning exactly what [he] needs to know to enter the job force confidently from industry leaders.” 

The capstone project for his degree – a long-term group project where a small group of master’s students are presented with a data-related problem from a real company and are tasked with solving it–also provides a helpful look into what a future career in data science could look like.

Watson Lubin, AB ‘23, who double majored in sociology and human rights, is starting his studies as part of the UChicago Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences (MAPSS). He said he chose the 4+1 program in part to develop further research skills and obtain a useful background for his future career path in teaching.

“MAPSS will equip with me the quantitative skills that I wish I cultivated during my time at the College, allow me additional research experience I could not obtain as a result of the pandemic, and non-negligibly increase my lifetime earnings, while positioning me well for PhD applications,” Lubin said. “MAPSS has ultimately given me the chance to concentrate my studies through its Education & Society certificate, which might better help me understand the landscape I will traverse as a future educator.”

Similarly, Angelysse Madsen, a current fourth-year student in the College double majoring in psychology and comparative human development, hopes that her studies next year as part of the MAPSS program in psychology will help her narrow her academic and career interests.

While she focused on moral psychology in her undergraduate research, she hopes to explore topics like behavioral economics, decision research, and even mental health research and clinical psychology.

Faculty members are also enthusiastic about how this program combines their joint mission of supporting both undergraduates and graduate students.

“[The 4+1 program] brings together two things that we do so well at the University of Chicago: undergraduate education and providing really important opportunities for our students to learn what they need to learn and have strong outcomes after and during graduate education,” said Amanda Woodward, dean of the Division of Social Sciences and faculty member in the psychology department. “In the Division of the Social Sciences, we have very old, very eminent, and very wonderful master’s programs, so it allows us to unite those two parts of our teaching mission in a really exciting way.”

Beyond the academic and career benefits of the program, remaining in Chicago for another year also offers students a stability and familiarity many appreciate.

“I felt very at home at UChicago and because of COVID, I just wasn’t ready to leave,” Madsen said. “Doing a fifth year also took off a lot of pressure about applying to grad schools in the fall of fourth year. It means I can really focus on my thesis and RSOs my first year and not have to worry about moving to another city and being in an unfamiliar place to do graduate school.”

Current second, third and fourth-year students can apply for future cohorts on Handshake with a resume, personal statement and transcript to be considered. The first application cycle’s deadline is Nov. 1, 2023, and the program’s second application cycle will close in January 2024.

To learn more about UChicago Advanced Scholars and view a full list of participating master’s programs, visit the program website