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The University of Chicago (UChicago, U of C, or Chicago) is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois. Founded in 1890, the school is located on a 217-acre campus in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood, near Lake Michigan.[7] The University of Chicago holds top-ten positions in various national and international rankings.[8][9][10][11][12]

The University of Chicago
University of Chicago shield.svg
Latin: Universitas Chicaginiensis
MottoCrescat scientia; vita excolatur (Latin)
Motto in English
Let knowledge grow from more to more; and so be human life enriched[1]
Academic affiliations
Endowment$7.928 billion (2018)[2]
PresidentRobert J. Zimmer
ProvostDaniel Diermeier
Academic staff
Administrative staff
15,949 (including employees of the University of Chicago Medical Center)[3]
Location, ,
United States
217 acres (87.8 ha) (Main Campus)[4] 41°47′23″N 87°35′59″W / 41.78972°N 87.59972°W / 41.78972; -87.59972Coordinates: 41°47′23″N 87°35′59″W / 41.78972°N 87.59972°W / 41.78972; -87.59972
42 acres (17.0 ha) (Warren Woods Ecological Field Station, Warren Woods State Park)[5]
30 acres (12.1 ha) (Yerkes Observatory)
ColorsMaroon and White[6]
Sporting affiliations
MascotPhil the Phoenix
University of Chicago wordmark.svg

The university is composed of the undergraduate college as well as various graduate programs and interdisciplinary committees organized into five academic research divisions. Beyond the arts and sciences, Chicago is also well known for its professional schools, which include the Pritzker School of Medicine, the Booth School of Business, the Law School, the School of Social Service Administration, the Harris School of Public Policy Studies, the Divinity School and the Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies, as well as the recently-launched Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering. The university has additional campuses and centers in London, Paris, Beijing, Delhi, and Hong Kong, as well as in downtown Chicago.[13][14]

University of Chicago scholars have played a major role in the development of many academic disciplines, including economics, law, literary criticism, mathematics, religion, sociology, and the behavioralism school of political science, establishing the Chicago schools in various fields.[15][16][17][18][19] Chicago's Metallurgical Laboratory produced the world's first man-made, self-sustaining nuclear reaction in Chicago Pile-1 beneath the viewing stands of the university's Stagg Field.[20] The university research efforts include administration of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory, as well as the Marine Biological Laboratory. The university is also home to the University of Chicago Press, the largest university press in the United States.[21] With an estimated completion date of 2021, the Barack Obama Presidential Center will be housed at the university and include both the Obama presidential library and offices of the Obama Foundation.[22]

The University of Chicago has produced many prominent alumni, faculty members and researchers. As of 2018, 98 Nobel laureates have been affiliated with the university as professors, students, faculty, or staff, making it a university with one of the highest concentrations of Nobel laureates in the world.[23] Similarly, 34 faculty members and 18 alumni have been awarded the MacArthur "Genius Grant".[24] In addition, as of 2018, UChicago's alumni and faculty include 54 Rhodes Scholars,[25] 26 Marshall Scholars,[26] 9 Fields Medalists,[27] 4 Turing Award Winners, 25 Pulitzer Prize winners,[28] 20 National Humanities Medalists,[29] 16 billionaire graduates and a plethora of members of the United States Congress and heads of state of countries all over the world.[30]



An early convocation ceremony at the University of Chicago.

Early yearsEdit

The University of Chicago was incorporated as a coeducational[31] institution in 1890 by the American Baptist Education Society, using $400,000 donated to the ABES to match a $600,000 donation from Baptist oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller,[32] and including land donated by Marshall Field.[33] While the Rockefeller donation provided money for academic operations and long-term endowment, it was stipulated that such money could not be used for buildings. The Hyde Park campus was financed by donations from wealthy Chicagoans like Silas B. Cobb who provided the funds for the campus' first building, Cobb Lecture Hall, and matched Marshall Field's pledge of $100,000. Other early benefactors included businessmen Charles L. Hutchinson (trustee, treasurer and donor of Hutchinson Commons), Martin A. Ryerson (president of the board of trustees and donor of the Ryerson Physical Laboratory) Adolphus Clay Bartlett and Leon Mandel, who funded the construction of the gymnasium and assembly hall, and George C. Walker of the Walker Museum, a relative of Cobb who encouraged his inaugural donation for facilities.[34]

The Hyde Park campus continued the legacy of the original university of the same name, which had closed in 1880s after its campus was foreclosed on.[35] What became known as the Old University of Chicago had been founded by a small group of Baptist educators in 1856 through a land endowment from Senator Stephen A. Douglas. After a fire, it closed in 1886.[36] Alumni from the Old University of Chicago are recognized as alumni of the present University of Chicago.[37] The university's depiction on its coat of arms of a phoenix rising from the ashes is a reference to the fire, foreclosure, and demolition of the Old University of Chicago campus.[38] As an homage to this pre-1890 legacy, a single stone from the rubble of the original Douglas Hall on 34th Place was brought to the current Hyde Park location and set into the wall of the Classics Building. These connections have led the Dean of the College and University of Chicago and Professor of History John Boyer to conclude that the University of Chicago has, "a plausible genealogy as a pre–Civil War institution".[39]

William Rainey Harper became the university's president on July 1, 1891 and the Hyde Park campus opened for classes on October 1, 1892.[35] Harper worked on building up the faculty and in two years he had a faculty of 120, including eight former university or college presidents.[40] Harper was an accomplished scholar (Semiticist) and a member of the Baptist clergy who believed that a great university should maintain the study of faith as a central focus.[41] To fulfill this commitment, he brought the Old University of Chicago's Seminary to Hyde Park. This became the Divinity School in 1891, the first professional school at the University of Chicago.[42]

Harper recruited acclaimed Yale baseball and football player Amos Alonzo Stagg from the Young Men's Christian Association training Shool at Springfield to coach the school's football program. Stagg was given a position on the faculty, the first such athletic position in the United States. While coaching at the University, Stagg invented the numbered football jersey, the huddle, and the lighted playing field. Stagg is the namesake of the university's Stagg Field.[43]

The business school was founded in 1898,[44] and the law school was founded in 1902.[45] Harper died in 1906[46] and was replaced by a succession of three presidents whose tenures lasted until 1929.[47] During this period, the Oriental Institute was founded to support and interpret archeological work in what was then called the Near East.[48]

In the 1890s, the university, fearful that its vast resources would injure smaller schools by drawing away good students, affiliated with several regional colleges and universities: Des Moines College, Kalamazoo College, Butler University, and Stetson University. In 1896, the university affiliated with Shimer College in Mount Carroll, Illinois. Under the terms of the affiliation, the schools were required to have courses of study comparable to those at the university, to notify the university early of any contemplated faculty appointments or dismissals, to make no faculty appointment without the university's approval, and to send copies of examinations for suggestions. The University of Chicago agreed to confer a degree on any graduating senior from an affiliated school who made a grade of A for all four years, and on any other graduate who took twelve weeks additional study at the University of Chicago. A student or faculty member of an affiliated school was entitled to free tuition at the University of Chicago, and Chicago students were eligible to attend an affiliated school on the same terms and receive credit for their work. The University of Chicago also agreed to provide affiliated schools with books and scientific apparatus and supplies at cost; special instructors and lecturers without cost except travel expenses; and a copy of every book and journal published by the University of Chicago Press at no cost. The agreement provided that either party could terminate the affiliation on proper notice. Several University of Chicago professors disliked the program, as it involved uncompensated additional labor on their part, and they believed it cheapened the academic reputation of the university. The program passed into history by 1910.[49]


In 1929, the university's fifth president, 30-year-old legal philosophy scholar Robert Maynard Hutchins, took office. The university underwent many changes during his 24-year tenure. Hutchins reformed the undergraduate college's liberal-arts curriculum known as the Common Core,[50] organized the university's graduate work into four divisions,[51] and eliminated varsity football from the university in an attempt to emphasize academics over athletics.[51] During his term, the University of Chicago Hospitals (now called the University of Chicago Medical Center) finished construction and enrolled their first medical students.[52] Also, the philosophy oriented Committee on Social Thought, an institution distinctive of the university, was created.

Some of the University of Chicago team that worked on the production of the world's first human-caused self-sustaining nuclear reaction, including Enrico Fermi in the front row and Leó Szilárd in the second.

Money that had been raised during the 1920s and financial backing from the Rockefeller Foundation helped the school to survive through the Great Depression.[51] Nonetheless, in 1933, Hutchins proposed an unsuccessful plan to merge the University of Chicago and Northwestern University into a single university.[53] During World War II, the university's Metallurgical Laboratory made ground-breaking contributions to the Manhattan Project.[54] The university was the site of the first isolation of plutonium and of the creation of the first artificial, self-sustained nuclear reaction by Enrico Fermi in 1942.[54][55]

It has been noted that the university did not provide standard oversight regarding Bruno Bettelheim and his tenure as director of the Orthogenic School for Disturbed Children from 1944 to 1973.[56][57][58]

In the early 1950s, student applications declined as a result of increasing crime and poverty in the Hyde Park neighborhood. In response, the university became a major sponsor of a controversial urban renewal project for Hyde Park, which profoundly affected both the neighborhood's architecture and street plan.[59] During this period the university, like Shimer College and 10 others, adopted an early entrant program that allowed very young students to attend college; in addition, students enrolled at Shimer were enabled to transfer automatically to the University of Chicago after their second year, having taken comparable or identical examinations and courses.

The university experienced its share of student unrest during the 1960s, beginning in 1962, when then-freshman Bernie Sanders helped lead a 15-day sit-in at the college's administration building in a protest over the university's off-campus rental policies. After continued turmoil, a university committee in 1967 issued what became known as the Kalven Report. The report, a two-page statement of the university's policy in "social and political action," declared that "To perform its mission in the society, a university must sustain an extraordinary environment of freedom of inquiry and maintain an independence from political fashions, passions, and pressures."[60] The report has since been used to justify decisions such as the university's refusal to divest from South Africa in the 1980s and Darfur in the late 2000s.[61]

In 1969, more than 400 students, angry about the dismissal of a popular professor, Marlene Dixon, occupied the Administration Building for two weeks. After the sit-in ended, when Dixon turned down a one-year reappointment, 42 students were expelled and 81 were suspended,[62] the most severe response to student occupations of any American university during the student movement.[63]

In 1978, Hanna Holborn Gray, then the provost and acting president of Yale University, became President of the University of Chicago, a position she held for 15 years.[64]


View from the Midway Plaisance.

In 1999, then-President Hugo Sonnenschein announced plans to relax the university's famed core curriculum, reducing the number of required courses from 21 to 15. When The New York Times, The Economist, and other major news outlets picked up this story, the university became the focal point of a national debate on education. The changes were ultimately implemented, but the controversy played a role in Sonnenschein's decision to resign in 2000.[65]

From the mid-2000s, the university began a number of multimillion-dollar expansion projects. In 2008, the University of Chicago announced plans to establish the Milton Friedman Institute, which attracted both support and controversy from faculty members and students.[66][67][68][69][70] The institute will cost around $200 million and occupy the buildings of the Chicago Theological Seminary. During the same year, investor David G. Booth donated $300 million to the university's Booth School of Business, which is the largest gift in the university's history and the largest gift ever to any business school.[71] In 2009, planning or construction on several new buildings, half of which cost $100 million or more, was underway.[72] Since 2011, major construction projects have included the Jules and Gwen Knapp Center for Biomedical Discovery, a ten-story medical research center, and further additions to the medical campus of the University of Chicago Medical Center.[73] In 2014 the University launched the public phase of a $4.5 billion fundraising campaign.[74] In September 2015, the University received $100 million from The Pearson Family Foundation to establish The Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts and The Pearson Global Forum at the Harris School of Public Policy Studies.[75]

On May 1, 2014, the University of Chicago was named one of fifty-five higher education institutions under investigation by the Office of Civil Rights "for possible violations of federal law over the handling of sexual violence and harassment complaints" by the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.[76]

In 2019, the university created its first school in three decades, the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering.[77][78]


Main campusEdit

The campus of the University of Chicago, from the top of Rockefeller Chapel, the Main Quadrangles can be seen on the left (West), the Oriental Institute and the Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics can be seen in the center (North) and the Booth School of Business and Laboratory Schools can be seen on the right (East), as the panoramic is bounded on both sides by the Midway Plaisance (South).

The main campus of the University of Chicago consists of 217 acres (87.8 ha) in the Chicago neighborhoods of Hyde Park and Woodlawn, approximately eight miles (12 km) south of downtown Chicago. The northern and southern portions of campus are separated by the Midway Plaisance, a large, linear park created for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. In 2011, Travel+Leisure listed the university as one of the most beautiful college campuses in the United States.[79]

Aerial shots from the University of Chicago campus.
Cobb Lecture Hall, part of the Main Quadrangles, was the first and most expensive of the campus' original 16 buildings. Designed by Henry Ives Cobb (no relation to benefactor Silas B. Cobb) and constructed in 1892, it was modeled after Gothic buildings at University of Oxford.[80]

The first buildings of the campus, which make up what is now known as the Main Quadrangles, were part of a master plan conceived by two University of Chicago trustees and plotted by Chicago architect Henry Ives Cobb.[81] The Main Quadrangles consist of six quadrangles, each surrounded by buildings, bordering one larger quadrangle.[82] The buildings of the Main Quadrangles were designed by Cobb, Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge, Holabird & Roche, and other architectural firms in a mixture of the Victorian Gothic and Collegiate Gothic styles, patterned on the colleges of the University of Oxford.[81] (Mitchell Tower, for example, is modeled after Oxford's Magdalen Tower,[83] and the university Commons, Hutchinson Hall, replicates Christ Church Hall.[84]) In celebration of the 2018 Illinois Bicentennial, the University of Chicago Quadrangles were selected as one of the Illinois 200 Great Places[85] by the American Institute of Architects Illinois component (AIA Illinois).

Many older buildings of the University of Chicago employ Collegiate Gothic architecture like that of the University of Oxford. For example, Chicago's Mitchell Tower (left) was modeled after Oxford's Magdalen Tower (right).

After the 1940s, the campus's Gothic style began to give way to modern styles.[81] In 1955, Eero Saarinen was contracted to develop a second master plan, which led to the construction of buildings both north and south of the Midway, including the Laird Bell Law Quadrangle (a complex designed by Saarinen);[81] a series of arts buildings;[81] a building designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for the university's School of Social Service Administration,[81] a building which is to become the home of the Harris School of Public Policy Studies by Edward Durrell Stone, and the Regenstein Library, the largest building on campus, a brutalist structure designed by Walter Netsch of the Chicago firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.[86] Another master plan, designed in 1999 and updated in 2004,[87] produced the Gerald Ratner Athletics Center (2003),[87] the Max Palevsky Residential Commons (2001),[81] South Campus Residence Hall and dining commons (2009), a new children's hospital,[88] and other construction, expansions, and restorations.[89] In 2011, the university completed the glass dome-shaped Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, which provides a grand reading room for the university library and prevents the need for an off-campus book depository.

The site of Chicago Pile-1 is a National Historic Landmark and is marked by the Henry Moore sculpture Nuclear Energy.[90] Robie House, a Frank Lloyd Wright building acquired by the university in 1963, is also a National Historic Landmark,[91] as is room 405 of the George Herbert Jones Laboratory, where Glenn T. Seaborg and his team were the first to isolate plutonium.[92] Hitchcock Hall, an undergraduate dormitory, is on the National Register of Historic Places.[93]

Satellite campusesEdit

The university also maintains facilities apart from its main campus. The university's Booth School of Business maintains campuses in Hong Kong, London, and the downtown Streeterville neighborhood of Chicago. The Center in Paris, a campus located on the left bank of the Seine in Paris, hosts various undergraduate and graduate study programs.[96] In fall 2010, the university opened a center in Beijing, near Renmin University's campus in Haidian District. The most recent additions are a center in New Delhi, India, which opened in 2014, and a center in Hong Kong which opened in 2015.

Administration and financesEdit

Hutchinson Commons.

The university is governed by a board of trustees. The Board of Trustees oversees the long-term development and plans of the university and manages fundraising efforts, and is composed of 55 members including the university President.[97] Directly beneath the President are the Provost, fourteen Vice Presidents (including the Chief Financial Officer, Chief Investment Officer, and Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services), the Directors of Argonne National Laboratory and Fermilab, the Secretary of the university, and the Student Ombudsperson.[98] As of May 2016, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees is Joseph Neubauer,[99] and the President of the university is Robert Zimmer. In December 2013 it was announced that the Director of Argonne National Laboratory, Eric Isaacs, would become Provost. Isaacs was replaced as Provost in March 2016 by Daniel Diermeier.[100]

The university's endowment was the 12th largest among American educational institutions and state university systems in 2013[101] and as of 2018 was valued at $8.2 billion.[102] Part of President Zimmer's financial plan for the university has been an increase in accumulation of debt to finance large building projects.[103] This has drawn support and criticism from many in the university community.


The University of Chicago Main Quadrangles, looking north.

The academic bodies of the University of Chicago consist of the College, five divisions of graduate research, six professional schools, and the Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies. The university also contains a library system, the University of Chicago Press, and the University of Chicago Medical Center, and oversees a number of laboratories, including Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), Argonne National Laboratory, and the Marine Biological Laboratory. The university is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.[104]

The university runs on a quarter system in which the academic year is divided into four terms: Summer (June–August), Autumn (September–December), Winter (January–March), and Spring (April–June).[105] Full-time undergraduate students take three to four courses every quarter[106] for approximately eleven weeks before their quarterly academic breaks. The school year typically begins in late September and ends in mid-June.[105]


University rankings
ARWU[107] 8
Forbes[108] 16
Times/WSJ[109] 14
U.S. News & World Report[110] 3
Washington Monthly[111] 38
ARWU[112] 10
QS[113] 10
Times[114] 10
U.S. News & World Report[115] 14

The University of Chicago has an extensive record of producing successful business leaders and billionaires.[30][116][117][118] ARWU has consistently placed the University of Chicago among the top 10 universities in the world,[119] and the 2020 QS World University Rankings placed the university in 10th place worldwide.[120] The university's law and business schools rank among the top five professional schools in the United States.[121] The business school is currently ranked first in the US by US News & World Report[122] and first in the world by The Economist,[123] while the law school is ranked fourth by US News & World Report[124] and first by Above the Law.[125]

Chicago has also been consistently recognized to be one of the top 15 university brands in the world,[126] retaining the number three spot in the 2019 U.S. News Best Colleges Rankings.[127] In a corporate study carried out by The New York Times, the university's graduates were shown to be among the most valued in the world.[128]

Undergraduate collegeEdit

Harper Memorial Library was dedicated in 1912 and takes inspiration from various colleges in England.

The College of the University of Chicago grants Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in 51 academic majors[129] and 33 minors.[130] The college's academics are divided into five divisions: the Biological Sciences Collegiate Division, the Physical Sciences Collegiate Division, the Social Sciences Collegiate Division, the Humanities Collegiate Division, and the New Collegiate Division.[131] The first four are sections within their corresponding graduate divisions, while the New Collegiate Division administers interdisciplinary majors and studies which do not fit in one of the other four divisions.[132]

Undergraduate students are required to take a distribution of courses to satisfy the university's general education requirements, commonly known as the Common Core. In 2012–2013, the Core classes at Chicago were limited to 17 courses, and are generally led by a full-time professor (as opposed to a teaching assistant).[133] As of the 2013–2014 school year, 15 courses and demonstrated proficiency in a foreign language are required under the Core.[134] Undergraduate courses at the University of Chicago are known for their demanding standards, heavy workload and academic difficulty; according to Uni in the USA, "Among the academic cream of American universities – Harvard, Yale, Princeton, MIT, and the University of Chicago – it is UChicago that can most convincingly claim to provide the most rigorous, intense learning experience."[135]

Eckhart Hall houses the university's math department.

Graduate schools and committeesEdit

The university graduate schools and committees are divided into five divisions: Biological Sciences, Humanities, Physical Sciences, Social Sciences, and the Institute for Molecular Engineering.[136] In the autumn quarter of 2015, the university enrolled 3,588 graduate students: 438 in the Biological Sciences Division, 801 in the Humanities Division, 1,102 in the Physical Sciences Division, 1,165 in the Social Sciences Division, and 52 in the Institute for Molecular Engineering.[137]

The university is home to several committees for interdisciplinary scholarship, including the John U. Nef Committee on Social Thought.

Professional schoolsEdit

The university contains seven professional schools: the Pritzker School of Medicine, the Booth School of Business, the University of Chicago Law School, the University of Chicago Divinity School, the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy Studies, and the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. The Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies offers non-degree courses and certificates as well as degree programs.[138]

The Law School is accredited by the American Bar Association, the Divinity School is accredited by the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, Pritzker is accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education.[104]

Associated academic institutionsEdit

The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, a private day school run by the university.

The university runs a number of academic institutions and programs apart from its undergraduate and postgraduate schools. It operates the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools (a private day school for K-12 students and day care),[139] and a public charter school with four campuses on the South Side of Chicago administered by the university's Urban Education Institute.[140] In addition, the Hyde Park Day School, a school for students with learning disabilities,[141] and the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School, a residential treatment program for those with behavioral and emotional problems,[142] maintains a location on the University of Chicago campus. Since 1983, the University of Chicago has maintained the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project, a mathematics program used in urban primary and secondary schools.[143] The university runs a program called the Council on Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences, which administers interdisciplinary workshops to provide a forum for graduate students, faculty, and visiting scholars to present scholarly work in progress.[144] The university also operates the University of Chicago Press, the largest university press in the United States.[145]

Library systemEdit

University of Chicago, Harper Library.

The University of Chicago Library system encompasses six libraries that contain a total of 11 million volumes, the 9th most among library systems in the United States.[146] The university's main library is the Regenstein Library, which contains one of the largest collections of print volumes in the United States. The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, built in 2011, houses a large study space and an automated book storage and retrieval system. The John Crerar Library contains more than 1.4 million volumes in the biological, medical and physical sciences and collections in general science and the philosophy and history of science, medicine, and technology.[147] The university also operates a number of special libraries, including the D'Angelo Law Library, the Social Service Administration Library, and the Eckhart Library for mathematics and computer science.[148][149] Harper Memorial Library is now a reading and study room.


Aerial view of Fermilab, a science research laboratory co-managed by the University of Chicago.

In fiscal year 2015, the University of Chicago spent $421.1 million on research.[150] It is classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as an institution with "highest research activity"[151] and is a founding member of the Association of American Universities and was a member of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation from 1946 through June 29, 2016, when the group's name was changed to the Big Ten Academic Alliance. The University of Chicago is not a member of the rebranded consortium, but will continue to be a collaborator.[152][153]

The university operates more than 140 research centers and institutes on campus.[154] Among these are the Oriental Institute—a museum and research center for Near Eastern studies owned and operated by the university—and a number of National Resource Centers, including the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. Chicago also operates or is affiliated with a number of research institutions apart from the university proper. The university manages Argonne National Laboratory, part of the United States Department of Energy's national laboratory system, and co-manages Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) , a nearby particle physics laboratory, as well as a stake in the Apache Point Observatory in Sunspot, New Mexico. Faculty and students at the adjacent Toyota Technological Institute at Chicago collaborate with the university.[155] In 2013, the university formed an affiliation with the formerly independent Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass.[156] Although formally unrelated, the National Opinion Research Center is located on Chicago's campus.

The University of Chicago has been the site of some important experiments and academic movements. In economics, the university has played an important role in shaping ideas about the free market[157] and is the namesake of the Chicago school of economics, the school of economic thought supported by Milton Friedman and other economists. The university's sociology department was the first independent sociology department in the United States and gave birth to the Chicago school of sociology.[158] In physics, the university was the site of the Chicago Pile-1 (the first controlled, self-sustaining man-made nuclear chain reaction, part of the Manhattan Project), of Robert Millikan's oil-drop experiment that calculated the charge of the electron,[159] and of the development of radiocarbon dating by Willard F. Libby in 1947. The chemical experiment that tested how life originated on early Earth, the Miller–Urey experiment, was conducted at the university. REM sleep was discovered at the university in 1953 by Nathaniel Kleitman and Eugene Aserinsky.[160]

The University of Chicago (Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics) has owned the Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wisconsin since 1897, where the largest operating refracting telescope in the world and other telescopes are located.


Saieh Hall for Economics, housing the Department of Economics and the Becker Friedman Institute.

The UChicago Arts program joins academic departments and programs in the Division of the Humanities and the College, as well as professional organizations including the Court Theatre, the Oriental Institute, the Smart Museum of Art, the Renaissance Society, University of Chicago Presents, and student arts organizations. The university has an artist-in-residence program and scholars in performance studies, contemporary art criticism, and film history. It has offered a doctorate in music composition since 1933 and in cinema and media studies since 2000, a master of fine arts in visual arts (early 1970s), and a master of arts in the humanities with a creative writing track (2000). It has bachelor's degree programs in visual arts, music, and art history, and, more recently, cinema and media studies (1996) and theater and performance studies (2002). The College's general education core includes a "dramatic, musical, and visual arts" requirement, inviting students to study the history of the arts, stage desire, or begin working with sculpture. Several thousand major and non-major undergraduates enroll annually in creative and performing arts classes.[161] UChicago is often considered the birthplace of improvisational comedy as the Compass Players student comedy troupe evolved into The Second City improv theater troupe in 1959. The Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts opened in October 2012, five years after a $35 million gift from alumnus David Logan and his wife Reva. The center includes spaces for exhibitions, performances, classes, and media production. The Logan Center was designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien. This building is actually entirely glass. The brick is a facade designed to keep the glass safe from the wind. The architects later removed sections of the bricks when pressure arose in the form of complaints that the views of the city were blocked.

Student body and admissionsEdit

Student body demographics, spring quarter 2016[A]
By sex[162]
College Graduate
Male 52.64% 60.15% 59.84% 57.09%
Female 47.36% 39.85% 40.16% 42.91%
By race[162]
College Graduate
International student 11.05% 34.91% 24.05% 21.52%
African American 5.30% 2.64% 4.27% 4.34%
Native American 0.23% 0.30% 0.16% 0.22%
Arab/Middle Eastern/
North African
0.20% 1.03% 0.30% 0.46%
Asian 17.22% 5.82% 12.76% 12.83%
Pacific Islander 0.05% 0.03% 0.02% 0.04%
Hispanic/Latino 8.73% 5.24% 5.79% 6.92%
Multiracial 3.61% 2.06% 1.66% 2.51%
White 43.74% 36.33% 44.79% 42.42%
Unspecified 9.88% 10.42% 6.20% 8.73%

In the spring quarter of 2016, the University of Chicago enrolled 5,547 students in the college, 3,249 students in its five graduate divisions, 3,498 students in its professional schools, and 14,095 students overall.[162] In the 2016 spring quarter, international students comprised over 21% of the overall student body, over 27% of students were domestic ethnic minorities,[163] and about 43% of enrolled students were female.[164] Admissions to the University of Chicago is highly selective. The middle 50% band of SAT scores for the undergraduate class of 2019, excluding the writing section, was 1450–1550,[165] the average MCAT score for entering students in the Pritzker School of Medicine in 2011 was 36,[166] and the median LSAT score for entering students in the Law School in 2015 was 171.[167] For the class of 2023, the College of the University of Chicago had an acceptance rate of 5.9%, the lowest in the college's history and among the lowest in the country.[168]

In 2018, the University of Chicago attracted national headlines by becoming the first major research university to no longer require SAT/ACT scores from college applicants.[169]


Official Athletics logo.

The University of Chicago hosts 19 varsity sports teams: 10 men's teams and 9 women's teams,[170] all called the Maroons, with 502 students participating in the 2012–2013 school year.[170]

The Maroons compete in the NCAA's Division III as members of the University Athletic Association (UAA). The university was a founding member of the Big Ten Conference and participated in the NCAA Division I men's basketball and football and was a regular participant in the men's basketball tournament. In 1935, the University of Chicago reached the Sweet Sixteen.[170] In 1935, Chicago Maroons football player Jay Berwanger became the first winner of the Heisman Trophy. However, the university chose to withdraw from the Big Ten Conference in 1946 after University President Robert Maynard Hutchins de-emphasized varsity athletics in 1939 and dropped football.[171] (In 1969, Chicago reinstated football as a Division III team, resuming playing its home games at the new Stagg Field.) UChicago is also the home of the ultimate frisbee team Chicago Junk.[172]

Student lifeEdit

The university's Reynolds Club, the student center.

Student organizationsEdit

Students at the University of Chicago operate more than 400 clubs and organizations known as Recognized Student Organizations (RSOs).[173][174] These include cultural and religious groups, academic clubs and teams, and common-interest organizations.[174] Notable extracurricular groups include the University of Chicago College Bowl Team, which has won 118 tournaments and 15 national championships, leading both categories internationally. The university's competitive Model United Nations team was the top ranked team in North America in 2013–14, 2014–2015, 2015-2016, and again for the 2017-2018 season. The University’s model UN team is also the first to be in the top 5 for almost a decade, according to Best Delegate. Among notable RSOs are the nation's longest continuously running student film society Doc Films, the organizing committee for the University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt, the twice-weekly student newspaper The Chicago Maroon, the alternative weekly student newspaper South Side Weekly the satirical Chicago Shady Dealer,[175] the nation's second oldest continuously running student improvisational theater troupe Off-Off Campus, and the investment club The Blue Chips.

Student governmentEdit

All Recognized Student Organizations, from the University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt to Model UN, in addition to academic teams, sports club, arts groups, and more are funded by The University of Chicago Student Government. Student Government consists of graduate and undergraduate students elected to represent members from their respective academic unit. It is led by an Executive Committee, chaired by a President with the assistance of two Vice Presidents, one for Administration and the other for Student Life, elected together as a slate by the student body each spring. Its annual budget is greater than $2 million.[176]

Fraternities and sororitiesEdit

There are Sixteen Fraternities are Alpha Delta Phi (Chicago Chapter), Alpha Epsilon Pi (Lambda Chapter), Alpha Phi Alpha (Theta Chapter), Delta Epsilon Psi (Alpha Kappa), Delta Kappa Epsilon (Delta Delta), Delta Tau Delta (Gamma Alpha), Delta Upsilon(Chicago Chapter), Kappa Alpha Psi (Iota Chapter), Lambda Phi Epsilon (Psi Chapter), Phi Delta Theta (Beta Chapter), Phi Gamma Delta (Chi Upsilon Chapter), Phi Iota Alpha (Chicago Colony Chapter), Psi Upsilon (Omega Chapter), Sigma Chi (Omicron Omicron Chapter), Sigma Phi Epsilon (Omicron Omicron Chapter) and Zeta Psi (Omega Alpha Chapter). There are Six Sororities are Alpha Kappa Alpha (Beta Chapter), Alpha Omicron Pi (Phi Chi Chapter), Delta Gamma (Eta Zeta Chapter), Delta Sigma Theta (Lambda Chapter), Kappa Alpha Theta (Epsilon Phi Chapter) and Pi Beta Phi (Kappa Chapter) at the University of Chicago,[177] as well as one co-ed community service fraternity are Alpha Phi Omega(Gamma Sigma Chapter).[178] Social fraternities and sororities are not recognized by the university as registered student organizations. Four of the sororities are members of the National Panhellenic Conference[179] There is no Interfraternity Council on campus. As of 2017, approximately 20 to 25 percent of students are members of fraternities or sororities.[179] Increasing from the numbers published by the student activities office stating that one in ten undergraduates participate in Greek life in the year 2007.[177]

Student housingEdit

Max Palevsky Residential Commons, a dormitory completed in 2001 designed by postmodernist Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta.

On-campus undergraduate students at the University of Chicago participate in a house system in which each student is assigned to one of the university's 7 residence hall buildings and to a smaller community within their residence hall called a "House". There are 39 houses, with an average of 70 students in each House.[180] First-year students are required to participate in the house system, and housing is guaranteed every year thereafter.[181] About 60% of undergraduate students live on campus.[181]

For graduate students, the university owns and operates 28 apartment buildings near campus.[182]


Qwazy Quad Rally, Scav Hunt 2005, item #38.

Every May since 1987, the University of Chicago has held the University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt, in which large teams of students compete to obtain notoriously esoteric items from a list.[183] Since 1963, the Festival of the Arts (FOTA) takes over campus for 7–10 days of exhibitions and interactive artistic endeavors.[184] Every January, the university holds a week-long winter festival, Kuviasungnerk/Kangeiko, which include early morning exercise routines and fitness workshops. The university also annually holds a summer carnival and concert called Summer Breeze that hosts outside musicians, and is home to Doc Films, a student film society founded in 1932 that screens films nightly at the university. Since 1946, the university has organized the Latke-Hamantash Debate, which involves humorous discussions about the relative merits and meanings of latkes and hamantashen.


There have been 98 Nobel laureates affiliated with the University of Chicago,[185] 20 of whom were pursuing research or on faculty at the university at the time of the award announcement.[186] Notable alumni and faculty affiliated with the university include 32 Nobel laureates in Economics.[187] No university has had more affiliated Nobel laureates in Economics.[188]

In addition, many Chicago alumni and scholars have won the Fulbright awards[189] and 53 have matriculated as Rhodes Scholars.[25]


Physicist Enrico Fermi

In 2004, the University of Chicago claimed 133,155 living alumni.[190] While the university's first president, William Rainey Harper stressed the importance of perennial theory over practicality in his institution's curriculum, this has not stopped the alumni of Chicago from being amongst the wealthiest in the world.[116][117][118]

In business, notable alumni include Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Oracle Corporation founder and the third richest man in America Larry Ellison, Goldman Sachs and MF Global CEO as well as former Governor of New Jersey Jon Corzine, McKinsey & Company founder and author of the first management accounting textbook James O. McKinsey, co-founder of the Blackstone Group Peter G. Peterson, co-founder of AQR Capital Management Cliff Asness, founder of Dimensional Fund Advisors David Booth, founder of The Carlyle Group David Rubenstein, former COO of Goldman Sachs Andrew Alper, billionaire investor and founder of Oaktree Capital Management Howard Marks (investor), Bloomberg L.P. CEO Daniel Doctoroff, Credit Suisse CEO Brady Dougan, Morningstar, Inc. founder and CEO Joe Mansueto, Chicago Cubs owner and chairman Thomas S. Ricketts, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

Notable alumni in the field of law, government and politics include Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, President of the Supreme Court of Israel Shimon Agranat, Attorney General and federal judge Robert Bork, Attorneys General Ramsey Clark, John Ashcroft and Edward Levi, Prime Minister of Canada William Lyon Mackenzie King, 33rd Prime Minister of New Zealand Geoffrey Palmer (politician), 11th Prime Minister of Poland Marek Belka, Governor of the Bank of Japan Masaaki Shirakawa, Obama campaign advisor and top political advisor to President Bill Clinton David Axelrod, the founder of modern community organizing Saul Alinsky, Prohibition agent Eliot Ness, the first female African-American Senator Carol Moseley Braun, United States Senator from Vermont and 2016 Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders, former World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, and Amien Rais (Ph.D. 1984) – professor; former Chairman of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) of the Republic of Indonesia.

Notable alumni, who are leaders in higher education, have emerged from almost all parts of the university: college president and chancellor Rebecca Chopp; current president of Middlebury College Laurie L. Patton; Master of Clare College, Cambridge and Vice-Chancellor of University of Cambridge Eric Ashby, Baron Ashby; president of Princeton University Christopher L. Eisgruber; former president of Morehouse College Robert M. Franklin, Jr.; and president of Shimer College Susan Henking.

In journalism, notable alumni include New York Times columnist and commentator on PBS News Hour David Brooks, Washington Post columnist David Broder, Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham, reporter and commentator Virginia Graham, investigative journalist and political writer Seymour Hersh, The Progressive columnist Milton Mayer, four-time Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Rick Atkinson, statistical analyst and FiveThirtyEight founder and creator Nate Silver, and CBS News correspondent Rebecca Jarvis.

In literature, author of the New York Times bestseller Before I Fall Lauren Oliver, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Philip Roth; Canadian-born Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize for Literature winning writer Saul Bellow; political philosopher, literary critic and author of the New York Times bestseller The Closing of the American Mind Allan Bloom; author of The Big Country and Matt Helm spy novels Donald Hamilton; The Good War author Studs Terkel; writer, essayist, filmmaker, teacher, and political activist Susan Sontag; analytic philosopher and Stanford University Professor of Comparative Literature Richard Rorty; cultural commentator, author, and president of St. Stephen's College (now Bard College) Bernard Iddings Bell; and novelist and satirist Kurt Vonnegut are notable alumni.

In the arts and entertainment, minimalist composer Philip Glass, dancer, choreographer and leader in the field of dance anthropology Katherine Dunham, Bungie founder and developer of the Halo video game series Alex Seropian, Serial host Sarah Koenig, actor Ed Asner, Pulitzer Prize for Criticism winning film critic and the subject of the 2014 documentary film Life Itself Roger Ebert, director, writer, and comedian Mike Nichols, film director and screenwriter Philip Kaufman, and photographer and writer Carl Van Vechten, photographer and writer, are graduates.

Astronomer Carl Sagan in 1980

In science, alumni include astronomers Carl Sagan, a prominent contributor to the scientific research of extraterrestrial life, and Edwin Hubble, known for "Hubble's Law", NASA astronaut John M. Grunsfeld, geneticist James Watson, best known as one of the co-discoverers of the structure of DNA, experimental physicist Luis Alvarez, popular environmentalist David Suzuki, balloonist Jeannette Piccard, biologists Ernest Everett Just and Lynn Margulis, computer scientist Richard Hamming, the creator of the Hamming Code, lithium-ion battery developer John B. Goodenough, mathematician and Fields Medal recipient Paul Joseph Cohen, geochemist Clair Cameron Patterson, who developed the uranium-lead dating method into lead-lead dating, geologist and geophysicist M. King Hubbert, known for the Hubbert curve and Hubbert peak theory, the main components of peak oil, and "Queen of Carbon" Mildred Dresselhaus. Nuclear physicist and researcher Stanton Friedman, who worked on some early projects involving nuclear-powered spacecraft propulsion systems, is also a graduate (M.Sc). Ray Solomonoff, one of the founders of the field of Machine Learning as well as Kolmogorov Complexity, got a BS and MS in Physics in 1951, studying under Rudolf Carnap.

In economics, notable Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences winners Milton Friedman, a major advisor to Republican U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Conservative British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, George Stigler, Nobel laureate, CEO of Goldman Sachs, and proponent of regulatory capture theory, Joshua Nash, an important contributor to the family economics branch of economics, Herbert A. Simon, responsible for the modern interpretation of the concept of organizational decision-making, Paul Samuelson, the first American to win the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, and Eugene Fama, known for his work on portfolio theory, asset pricing and stock market behaviour, are all graduates. American economist, social theorist, political philosopher, and author Thomas Sowell is also an alumnus. Brazil's Minister of the Economy Paulo Guedes received his Ph.D. from UChicago in 1978.

Other prominent alumni include anthropologists David Graeber and Donald Johanson, who is best known for discovering the fossil of a female hominid australopithecine known as "Lucy" in the Afar Triangle region, psychologist John B. Watson, American psychologist who established the psychological school of behaviorism, communication theorist Harold Innis, chess grandmaster Samuel Reshevsky, and conservative international relations scholar and White House Coordinator of Security Planning for the National Security Council Samuel P. Huntington.

American Civil Rights Movement leaders Vernon Johns, considered by some to be the founder of the American Civil Rights Movement, American educator, socialist and cofounder of the Highlander Folk School Myles Horton, Tuskegee Airmen commander Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., and African-American history scholar and journalist Carter G. Woodson are all alumni.

Three students from the university have been prosecuted in notable court cases: the infamous thrill killers Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb and high school science teacher John T. Scopes who was tried in the Scopes Monkey Trial for teaching evolution.


The archway between Bond Chapel and Swift Hall, home of the university's Divinity School

Notable faculty in economics include Frank Knight, Milton Friedman, George Stigler, James Heckman, Gary Becker, Robert Fogel, Robert Lucas, Jr. and Eugene Fama.[187] Additionally, the John Bates Clark Medal, which is rewarded annually to the best economist under the age of 40, has also been awarded to 4 current members of the university faculty.[191]

Notable faculty in physics have included the speed of light calculator A. A. Michelson, elementary charge calculator Robert A. Millikan, discoverer of the Compton Effect Arthur H. Compton, the creator of the first nuclear reactor Enrico Fermi, "the father of the hydrogen bomb" Edward Teller, "one of the most brilliant and productive experimental physicists of the twentieth century" Luis Walter Alvarez, Murray Gell-Mann who introduced the quark, second female Nobel laureate Maria Goeppert-Mayer, the youngest American winner of the Nobel Prize Tsung-Dao Lee, and astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar.

In law, former U.S. President Barack Obama, the most cited legal scholar of the 20th century Richard Posner, Supreme Court justices Elena Kagan, Antonin Scalia and John Paul Stevens, and Nobel laureate in Economics Ronald Coase have served on the faculty. Other distinguished scholars who have served on the faculty include Karl Llewellyn, Edward Levi and Cass Sunstein.

Philosophers John Dewey who founded functional psychology, George H. Mead who is considered to be one of the founders of social psychology and the American sociological tradition in general, Leo Strauss, prominent philosopher and the founder of the Straussian School in philosophy, noted analyzer of power Hannah Arendt, and Nobel Prize in Literature winning thinker Bertrand Russell, as well as writers T.S. Eliot, Ralph Ellison and J.M. Coetzee have all served on the faculty.

Past faculty have also included egyptologist James Henry Breasted, biochemist and National Women's Hall of Fame member Florence B. Seibert, mathematician Alberto Calderón, one of the leading figures of the Austrian School of Economics and Nobel prize winner Friedrich Hayek, meteorologist Ted Fujita, chemists Glenn T. Seaborg, the developer of the actinide concept and Nobel Prize winner Yuan T. Lee, Nobel Prize winning novelist Saul Bellow, political philosopher and author Allan Bloom, conservative political philosopher and historian Richard M. Weaver, cancer researchers Charles Brenton Huggins and Janet Rowley, biologist Susan Lindquist, astronomer Gerard Kuiper, one of the most important figures in the early development of the discipline of linguistics Edward Sapir, and the founder of McKinsey & Co., James O. McKinsey.

Current faculty include the philosophers Jean-Luc Marion, James F. Conant, and Robert Pippin, anthropologist Marshall Sahlins, historians Dipesh Chakrabarty, David Nirenberg and Kenneth Pomeranz, linguistic anthropology Michael Silverstein, paleontologists Neil Shubin and Paul Sereno, evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne, Nobel prize winning physicist James Cronin, Nobel Prize winning economists Eugene Fama, James Heckman, Lars Peter Hansen, Roger Myerson, Richard Thaler, and Robert Lucas, Jr., Freakonomics author and noted economist Steven Levitt, erstwhile governor of India's central bank Raghuram Rajan, former Chairman of President Barack Obama's Council of Economic Advisors Austan Goolsbee, Kyoto Prize winner Martha Nussbaum, Shakespeare scholar David Bevington, and political scientists John Mearsheimer and Robert Pape.


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