MA Program Policies

Faculty Advisors
Incoming MA students will be advised by either Prof. Brian Muhs for the ancient track or Dr. Paul Walker for the modern track. Each has the assistance of our lecturer-preceptors Dr. Bandy (ancient track) and Drs. Kaya and Shook (modern track). We expect that during the first year in the program each student will find a faculty specialist in their particular field of interest who is willing to serve as faculty adviser for the student’s thesis. Interaction with that adviser may become more frequent over the second year.

Academic Honesty
The University of Chicago has adopted the following statement on academic honesty:

It is contrary to justice, academic integrity, and to the spirit of intellectual inquiry to submit another’s statements or ideas as one's own work. To do so is plagiarism or cheating, offenses punishable under the University’s disciplinary system.

Because these offenses undercut the distinctive moral and intellectual character of the University, we take them very seriously. Proper acknowledgment of another’s ideas, whether by direct quotation or paraphrase, is expected. In particular, if any written or electronic source is consulted and material is used from that source, directly or indirectly, the source should be identified by author, title, and page number, or by website and date accessed. Any doubts about what constitutes “use” should be addressed to the instructor.

Plagiarism or other forms of cheating, including the unauthorized use of ChatGPT and similar generative AI tools to complete assignments, may result in a grade of “F” for the course and may also result in additional disciplinary measures at the discretion of the instructor and/or the Dean of Students, up to and including expulsion from the University.

See the Student Manual for further information.

Academic Probation
A grade lower than a C in any course ordinarily yields no credit and forces a serious interruption in the student’s progress to degree. The student will be placed on probation, and a remedy will be determined by the program director, which may involve the requirement to take a substitute course. Students on probation must meet with their MA program’s academic leadership to agree on a timeline for completing missing work and getting back on track.

If a student in Humanities has any missing or incomplete course grades at the beginning of the second academic year, those grades will become “Unofficial Withdrawals” or UW. A UW grade confers no credit and bears no point value. Note that faculty can still post a quality grade within 8 quarters of a UW being assigned. If a UW grade is posted, the student will be placed on academic probation, and a meeting with the MA program’s academic leadership will be held in order to help the student get back on track. Our program will do everything possible to assist students, drawing on other university resources – UChicago Student Wellness, Writing Program, course advising and mentorship support – to help the student maintain steady progress toward degree completion. When necessary, we will also draw on available options from the Dean of Students office, including advocating a drop to part-time or Reduced Course Load (RCL) status, a temporary leave of absence, or other measures as may be needed.

For students in both the Humanities and Social Sciences, note especially that the award of a higher level of financial aid from the divisions for the second year depends strictly on completion of all nine courses taken in the first year with a certain GPA required. No additional aid will be granted if such grades remain outstanding or are not quality grades.

Additionally, having a UW on the transcript moving into the second year may have repercussions outside the MA program, including with the Office for International Affairs and Graduate Financial Aid.

There may be other cases where academic probation is necessary, including consistent grades that are below the academic requirement of the program, continued absences from courses, and/or failure to engage with coursework.

No permanent notice will be made on student transcripts to indicate academic probation. The probationary policy is designed to help students stay on track for MA completion. Students placed on academic probation will be informed in writing about the expectations for their return to good academic standing, including required coursework and the timeline for completion. The student will be asked to confirm, in writing, receipt of the probationary document and that they have read and fully understand the probationary terms.

Failure to satisfy the terms of academic probation will result in a recommendation to the Dean of Students that the student be administratively withdrawn from the M.A. program. After withdrawing or being withdrawn, there may be the possibility of being reinstated to the program. We encourage students to be in touch with the respective divisional Dean of Students Offices for further information about this reinstatement process.

Leaves of Absence and Reduced Course Loads
Students who are struggling academically or encounter an emergency may need to take extended time away from their program of study. In such cases, the CMES MA program follows the policies of the Division of the Humanities or the Division of Social Sciences and the University. Students who need an extended time away for family, personal, or medical reasons should discuss this matter with the Dean of Students of their division and with the CMES MA Program Director. Students may request various kinds of leaves of absence: personal, medical, parental, military, or curricular. Students may request up to four quarters of personal or medical leave; the length of other leaves may vary. In contrast to students who withdraw or are withdrawn (see below), a student who complies with the terms of the leave does not have to apply for reinstatement; depending on the type of leave (medical and parental), the student may also maintain some privileges while on leave, including health insurance. In addition to maintaining contact with the Dean of Students, students returning from leave must contact the MA Program Director and develop a plan to satisfy all degree requirements.

International students must also meet registration requirements to maintain their visa eligibility. In some cases (documented medical problems, academic difficulties, and reduced final quarter loads), international students may request a reduced course load and/or leave of absence. International students must contact the Office of International Affairs (and the Dean of Students, if a leave of absence is involved) to receive updated visa documents before dropping below full-time registration.

Students can elect to withdraw themselves from the University for a variety of reasons. Likewise, the University can also administratively withdraw a student due to restricted registration holds, disciplinary action, or failure to meet academic probation deadlines. Further details concerning withdrawal from the University may be found in the Student Manual.

MA Service Requirement
The CMES MA program requires 24 service hours (4 hours/quarter) over the course of the degree. Service hours include all activities supporting the CMES community and academic field outside of ordinary degree requirements. Examples of service hours include but are not limited to:

  • Writing news articles and event reviews for the CMES website
  • Volunteering at the annual MEHAT Conference
  • Participating in outreach programs to K-12 schools and community colleges
  • Presenting research at academic conferences
  • Assisting at CMES events

If you have any questions about qualifying activities for the service hour requirement, please contact the CMES staff.