Graduate and Professional Schools

The first work of the University, President Harper believed, was graduate work. Exactly what that work entailed fueled the debate over the requirements of the master's and doctorate degrees. Harper favored an AM that was preparatory to a PhD, while others supported a less specialized and independent master's degree. The faculty Senate decided to permit both a terminal and preparatory AM, but it stressed that "the degree of the Doctor of Philosophy is given, not on the basis of the completion of a certain amount of time spent upon a specified program, but as the recognition and the mark of high attainments and ability in the candidate's chosen province . . ."

In the beginning, the student's "chosen province" was either in the Graduate Schools of Arts and Literature or in the Ogden Graduate School of Science. Students were apparently attracted by the graduate program, for 218 graduate students enrolled in the first year, almost triple that number three years later, and 1,120 by the end of Harper's presidency.

The earliest professional program was in divinity. The Baptist Union Theological Seminary, founded in 1865, was moved to Hyde Park in 1892 to become the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. Liberal in outlook and modern in its use of research methodologies, the Divinity School welcomed ministerial students as well as scholars pursuing investigations in a growing array of religious fields.

Harper expanded professional training at Chicago in 1898 by securing Rush Medical College's affiliation with the University. The merger was controversial. In all other aspects the University had forged ahead on its own, and benefactors were skeptical about Rush's academic standards. Harper was less concerned, for he believed the affiliation would raise Rush's standards, while providing the University with an established faculty and valuable medical facilities. In addition the affiliation would help defray the costs of creating a medical program, which he had estimated at $4.5 million out of a total development budget of $7.05 million. By 1927 the University had created its own medical school, which was renamed the Pritzker School of Medicine in 1968. The University and Rush medical programs existed side by side until 1941, when the final ties between the two institutions were severed. For a time, from 1934 to 1959, a University Committee on Nursing Education also offered bachelor's and master's degrees in nursing.

The School of Education was launched in 1901 with the University's incorporation of two elementary schools, a high school, and a teachers' training school, all working in concert with the Department of Philosophy headed by John Dewey and later with the Department of Education. Dissolved in 1934, the professional teachers' training program was revived in a different form in 1958 as the Graduate School of Education, which existed until 1976.

The creation of a law school was no less essential to Harper's conception of a complete university. Opened in 1902, the Law School was inspired by Harper, who wanted law to be an intellectual and not a strictly technical pursuit. He noted that "a scientific study of law involves the related sciences of history, economics, philosophy - the whole field of man as a social being," a conviction that has remained a hallmark of legal education at Chicago.

Graduate students in business were also encouraged to take a comprehensive approach toward their specialization. To promote a broader study of business, the University's business program, founded in 1898, was the first to offer a PhD. It was also a pioneer in the 1940s when it developed a part-time MBA program for those who already occupied positions in management.

Edward Kirby Putnam (MA 1896), course notes for "Social Organizations for Promoting Social Welfare," 1894


Charles R. Henderson's course on social organizations was one step in Edward Putnam's progress toward a master's degree in English and social science. While President Harper opposed terminal master's degrees like Putnam's, he accepted the University Senate's decision that the AM could be either preparatory to a PhD or conclusive.

Graduating class, School of Social Service Administration, undated


The affiliation with Rush Medical College and the formation of a separate medical school in 1927 made the University an important center for the training of physicians.


The professional schools expanded again in 1920 with the addition of the School of Social Service Administration. SSA was founded in order to provide social work a firm intellectual base. SSA's work on the status of women and children laid the foundation for child-related social security provisions in the 1930s. From 1926 until its closing in 1990, the Graduate Library School pursued the goal of integrating training in library service with research in the fundamental problems of modern libraries.

The most recently founded professional program, the Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies, was added in 1987. Like all professional curricula at the University of Chicago, the public policy program was organized around the union of intellectual pursuit with policy analysis. Not surprisingly, public policy students were encouraged to adopt a broad approach by incorporating work in law, business, social service, and graduate division courses into their studies.

Graduating class, School of Social Service Administration, undated


The launching of SSA in 1920 attracted bright students eager to enter social work, a new profession in the process of being shaped by the school's faculty.

Eiji Asada (PhD 1893)


A student of President Harper in the Semitic Languages and Literatures Department, Asada received the first doctoral degree awarded by the new University.