Requirements for Graduate Study

The Department of Comparative Human Development along with the Division of Social Sciences offers financial support and faculty advising to guide PhD students through the course and research requirements that define our program.

Financial Aid

Most applicants who receive an offer of admission to our PhD program in Comparative Human Development are also offered financial support in the form of renewable fellowships. These are intended to be their foremost source of aid.

From the Social Sciences Division website:

We offer Divisional fellowships at two levels. Both levels provide support for up to five years, are contingent on good progress, and are renewed annually.

  • Five-year Fellowships: Full tuition, University student health insurance, and an annual combination of stipend and teaching assignments of at least $22,000, and four summer grants of $3,000 each, disbursed over the five years of the award.
  • Two-year tuition scholarships/three-year fellowships: Full tuition and University student health insurance for the first two years; for years three through five, full tuition and University student health insurance, an annual combination of stipend and teaching assignments of at least $22,000, and three summer grants of $3,000, disbursed over years three through five.

Teaching is a requirement of all of our doctoral programs. Doctoral students are must complete the equivalent of five teaching assistant appointments. For students receiving divisional fellowships, the annual support of $22,000 incorporates the teaching component, configured as two teaching assistantships in the third year, two teaching assistantships in the fourth year, and one teaching assistantship in the fifth year.

New students apply for financial aid at the time they apply for admission. Financial aid must be reapplied for each year, even when renewal is expected; renewal is contingent on good academic performance and standing. (See below for these course requirements.)

There are additional sources of funding available for students. For information on scholarships, fellowships, traineeships, or part-time work (clerical, statistical, research assistantship, course assistantship, etc.), students should consult the Student Affairs Secretary, their faculty advisor, and the University Student Employment office. For a sample of the grants and prizes our students have won to support their study, see our Awards page.

Faculty Advising

Upon entering the program, every student is assigned an advisor by the department Chair. In consultation with the student's advisor, each student may expect to create a unique program of study in Comparative Human Development.

As students progress through the program and define their interests, they may change advisors in line with their research activities. This decision to change should be made in agreement with the advising faculty, and the Students Affairs Secretary should be informed in writing. Students should expect to be affiliated with one or more research advisors throughout their graduate careers.

The student will also receive faculty assistance in obtaining a professional position after graduation.

Course Registration

In the first quarter/year of registration, new students are required to obtain their advisor's approval of their planned schedule of courses before they may register. The advisor will indicate to the Student Affairs Secretary that a student's course plan has been approved, and the Secretary will then give the student's account permission to register for courses online.

The time schedule contains the official calendar of courses for the upcoming quarter. Changes in course offerings will appear there; last-minute changes will be sent to student email. The Courses page on the department website contains an informal course plan for upcoming quarters as well as course descriptions and information pertinent to department course requirements. More information on courses including descriptions and evaluations can be found at http://classes.uchicago.edu.

Course Requirements

In addition to a core program of courses, students are expected to design their program of study to include other courses and seminars offered by CHD faculty as well as courses from other departments in the University.

Every student is required to take the following courses for a quality grade (B or higher):

  • Comparative Human Development Concepts
  • Six breadth courses, one in each program area:
    • Comparative Behavioral Biology
    • Society, Institutions, Culture and the Life Course
    • Cultural Psychology, Psychological Anthropology, Immigration Studies
    • Health, Vulnerability and Culture
    • Language and Communication in Thought and Interaction
    • Methods in Human Development Research
  • Intermediate Statistics
  • One additional methods courses (not introductory statistics)
  • Two trial research seminars (may be taken Pass/Fail)
  • Two additional CHD courses in a chosen area of specialization

Consult the Graduate Announcements to see this year's planned courses and the area requirements they fulfill.

Through these courses, students will specialize within the broader areas of child development, adolescent development, adult development and aging, personality processes, psychological anthropology, cultural and mental health, cultural psychology, and biology of development. In keeping with the department's interdisciplinary nature, considerable flexibility exists between these areas.

Comparative Human Development Concepts is required of all students in the Autumn Quarter of their first or second year. It provides an introduction to the history, theoretical bases, and concepts of the field of human development, and to the major areas of inquiry in the Department of Comparative Human Development.

The Trial Research Seminars will launch students into their research projects and guide them from the beginning to the completion of those projects. The Trial Research Seminar is taken in the Winter Quarter of the first year and the Autumn Quarter of the second year. Trial research papers are due by Spring Quarter of the second year.

A student who can demonstrate basic competence in the core curricular areas may petition the faculty through the Chair's office to place into an advanced course in the same area. A well-qualified student may place out of intermediate statistics by the instructor's examination. If a student can demonstrate that they are unable to take any of the designated Methods courses, they may petition through the Chair's office to have an equally relevant and rigorous course from another department count towards the requirement.

By the end of their first year, students are required to have earned five quality grades for courses taken towards fulfilling these requirements. By the end of their second, they must have ten. On average a graduate student should take at least two courses for quality grades in each quarter of their first two years. Students are expected to maintain an average of B+ or better.

In addition to these required courses, students will participate in elective courses and workshops inside and outside the department, chosen in consultation with their advisors.

Trial Research Project

All students are required to enroll in the Trial Research Seminar in the Winter Quarter of the first year and the Autumn Quarter of the second year. The trial research project must be completed and formally approved by the faculty during the Spring Quarter of the student’s second year. Students are expected to report regularly on the progress of their research to the trial research seminars. The trial research is carried out under the direction of the research advisor and is read by one other faculty member. This project meets all the requirements of a Master of Arts degree, and with the proper paperwork, a successful Trial Research Project may be applied toward a MA in the course of your PhD program. For more information, consult the Graduate Student Manual.

Evaluations

All students are evaluated by the department each year. To be considered in good standing and for continuation of financial aid, first and second year students must have earned at minimum five quality grades (B or better) over Autumn and Winter Quarters by the time of the spring review, with satisfactory spring grades expected to follow. The evaluation at the end of the second year is particularly important, as it determines whether a student will be permitted to conduct dissertation research.

For more information

Current students may obtain the Graduate Student Manual, a more thorough guide to these requirements, by contacting the department staff.