The University of Chicago has long been renowned for its provocative essay questions. We think of them as an opportunity for students to tell us about themselves, their tastes, and their ambitions. They can be approached with utter seriousness, complete fancy, or something in between.
Each year we email newly admitted and current College students and ask them for essay topics. We receive several hundred responses, many of which are eloquent, intriguing, or downright wacky.
As you can see from the attributions, the questions below were inspired by submissions from UChicago students and alumni.
To begin working on your UChicago supplement visit, getstarted.uchicago.edu, the Coalition Application, or the Common Application.
2017-18 UChicago Supplement:
How does the University of Chicago, as you know it now, satisfy your desire for a particular kind of learning, community, and future? Please address with some specificity your own wishes and how they relate to UChicago.
Extended Essay Questions:
(Required; Choose one)
Essay Option 1.
“The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress.” – Joseph Joubert
Sometimes, people talk a lot about popular subjects to assure ‘victory’ in conversation or understanding, and leave behind topics of less popularity, but great personal or intellectual importance. What do you think is important but under-discussed?
Essay Option 2.
Due to a series of clerical errors, there is exactly one typo (an extra letter, a removed letter, or an altered letter) in the name of every department at the University of Chicago. Oops! Describe your new intended major. Why are you interested in it and what courses or areas of focus within it might you want to explore? Potential options include Commuter Science, Bromance Languages and Literatures, Pundamentals: Issues and Texts, Ant History... a full list of unmodified majors ready for your editor’s eye is available here: https://collegeadmissions.uchicago.edu/academics/majors-minors.
-Inspired by Josh Kaufman, Class of 2018
Essay Option 3.
Earth. Fire. Wind. Water. Heart! Captain Planet supposes that the world is made up of these five elements. We’re familiar with the previously-noted set and with actual elements like hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon, but select and explain another small group of things (say, under five) that you believe compose our world.
-Inspired by Dani Plung, Class of 2017
Essay Option 4.
The late New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham once said "Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life. I don’t think you could do away with it. It would be like doing away with civilization." Tell us about your “armor.”
-Inspired by Adam Berger, Class of 2020
Essay Option 5.
Fans of the movie Sharknado say that they enjoy it because “it’s so bad, it’s good.” Certain automobile owners prefer classic cars because they “have more character.” And recently, vinyl record sales have skyrocketed because it is perceived that they have a warmer, fuller sound. Discuss something that you love not in spite of but rather due to its quirks or imperfections.
-Inspired by Alex Serbanescu, Class of 2021
Essay Option 6.
In the spirit of adventurous inquiry, pose your own question or choose one of our past prompts. Be original, creative, thought provoking. Draw on your best qualities as a writer, thinker, visionary, social critic, sage, citizen of the world, or future citizen of the University of Chicago; take a little risk, and have fun.
Applications are considered on an individual basis by the Graduate Admissions Committee. A complete set of transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work is required before an applicant is considered. In addition to the application requirements of the Office of Admissions and the policies set by the Graduate College, applicants must meet the following program requirements:
- Baccalaureate Field Computer science or computer engineering. Outstanding candidates from other related fields with substantial course work in computer science will also be considered.
- Grade Point Average At least 3.50/4.00 for the final 60 semester hours (90 quarter hours) of undergraduate study.
- Tests Required GRE General scores are recommended for all applicants and required for financial aid applicants and all applicants with degrees from outside the U.S. A total score of 308 or above (new GRE scoring system as of August 2011) on the GRE General Exam (153+ verbal, 155+ quantitative and 4.5/6.0 analytical). For the old GRE scoring system (prior to August 2011), a combined score of 1200 or above (500+ verbal, 700+ quantitative, and 4.0+/6.0 analytical). All international students are required to submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the IELTS (International English Language Testing System), or PTE-Academic scores as well.
- Minimum English Competency Test Score
- TOEFL 570 PBT; 80, with subscores of Reading 19, Listening 17, Speaking 20, and Writing 21 (iBT Internet-based), OR,
- IELTS 6.5, with subscores of 6.0 for all four subscores, OR,
- PTE-Academic 54, with subscores of Reading 51, Listening 47, Speaking 53, and Writing 56.
- Letters of Recommendation Two Required. Applicants for financial assistance must provide three letters of recommendation.
- Personal Statement Required.
- Deadlines The application deadline is the same as the Graduate College deadline.
In addition to the Graduate College minimum requirements, students must meet the following program requirements:
- Minimum Semester Hours Required 36.
- Course Work At least 28 hours (with thesis), 32 hours (with project), 36 hours (for course-work-only), 12 hours of which (for thesis and project) and 16 hours (for course-work-only) must be CS course offerings at the 500-level (excluding CS 590, CS 595, CS 596, CS 597, CS 598, and CS 599). No more than one special topics course (CS 594) may be counted toward the 500-level CS requirement. At most 8 hours of non-CS graduate courses may be counted toward the overall requirement.
- Comprehensive Examination None.
- Thesis, Project, or Course-Work-Only Options Thesis, project, or course-work-only required.
- Thesis: Thesis students must earn 8 hours in CS 598; no more than 8 hours of CS 598 may be applied toward the degree.
- Project: Project students must earn 4 hours in CS 597; no more than 4 hours of CS 597 may be applied toward the degree.
- Course-Work-Only: Students must earn all 36 hours from course work as described in Course Work above.