The undergraduate program in Comparative Human Development (CHDV) focuses on the study of persons over the course of life; on the social, cultural, biological, and psychological processes that jointly influence development; and on growth over time in different social and cultural settings. The study of human development also offers a unique lens through which we consider broad questions relevant to the social sciences, like the processes and impacts of social change, and the interactions of biology and culture. Faculty members in Comparative Human Development with diverse backgrounds in anthropology, biology, psychology, and sociology conduct research on topics that include (but are not limited to): the social and phenomenological experience of mental illness; the impact of socioeconomic context on growth and development; the influence of social interaction on biological functioning; the tensions inherent in living in multicultural societies; the experience and development of psychotherapists in Western and non-Western countries; and the ways in which youth in developing countries are forging new conceptions of adulthood. Given this interdisciplinary scope, the program in Comparative Human Development provides an excellent preparation for students interested in advanced postgraduate study at the frontiers of several social science disciplines, or in careers and professions that require a broad and integrated understanding of human experience and behavior—e.g., mental health, education, social work, health care, or human resource and organizational work in community or corporate settings.
About 90% of our graduates plan to enter a post-graduate or professional program within five years of leaving The College. A third to a half of our alumni go on to post-graduate and professional schools, in programs offering a PhD, MD, JD, Masters, MSW, or Masters in Teaching. These schools include University of Chicago, Oxford University, Northwestern University, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Dominican University, and Midwestern University, among others.
Many alumni go on to full-time jobs after graduating, such as in education, medical or healthcare areas, science research and development, data analysis, advertising, law, journalism and publishing, finance/banking, government or the non-profit sector (see the figure). Employers have included educational centers such as universities (including the University of Chicago), A+ Illinois, and Back on Track; service organizations such Peace Corps, Americorps and Teach for America; health care organizations such as Illinois Department of Children and Family, Hartgrove Hospital, Care Hawaii, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, and the International Children's Center; financial centers such as JP Morgan Chase, Discover Financial Services, and FinanSure; not-for-profit organizations such as Brookfield Zoo, Chicago Public Radio, Community Energy Cooperative; and other businesses, such as BearingPoint and Hughes Hubbard & Reed, to name just a few. The figure above shows the percentage of Comparative Human Development students working in each sector after graduating from The College.
Quotes from recent CHD graduates:
“I really enjoyed the HD major. It was so flexible and allowed me to explore a lot of interests while also helping me see how topics related to each other. I pursued my initial interest in child and language development; I was just talking with colleagues about Susan Goldin-Meadow's research on gestures! I also remember taking a course on Identity, which helped me with my senior BA on Asian-White Biracial Identity - a topic that still resonates with me on a daily basis.
Since leaving UChicago, I was an AmeriCorps Health Educator on the westside of Chicago. I learned more about motivation and health and community - important topics that I was exposed to during my time in undergrad. From that experience, I wanted to start examining schools as a source of support to at-risk youth, so I started working at UIC doing evaluation research for Chicago Public Schools.
Next year, I am going to the Harvard Graduate School of Education to study education policy and management. Although I've taken many different looks at HD, I wouldn't be where I am today without having pursued the HD concentration.”
- Jess (AB '06)
"When I found the CHD major, I felt like I’d found my academic home at UChicago. I really enjoyed the range of courses I was able to take—from the late Bert Cohler’s seminar on memory to Jill Mateo’s class on Animal Behavior. I also loved that we learned a variety of research methods in Micere Keels course; in fact, I still use the textbook from her class! I am so grateful for how generous all of the faculty and graduate students in the department were with their time, expertise, and support—during my time at UChicago and well beyond it.
The major gave me the foundation for how to do research and the tools to search for answers to a wide variety of questions—skills that I took with me to my job as a high school teacher, to graduate school, and still use every day in my work as an Assistant Professor of Education. It also gave me a deeper understanding and appreciation for an interdisciplinary way of thinking. I feel that this perspective helps me not only do my work in a thoughtful way but also gives me a helpful framework to better understand our world and my place in it.”
- Zitsi (BA '08)
"CHD fostered open discussion in its classes and equipped me with the tools to make sense of this world."
- Niamh (BA '11)