Frequently asked questions

On this page:

If you are unable to find specific information in the questions below, please feel free to email us.

DPSS On-Campus and Virtual Differences

What is the difference between DPSS On-Campus and DPSS Virtual?

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, DPSS was a four-week summer program held on the University of Chicago campus. During each week of the program, students spent full days with other students in the classroom and enjoy on- and off-campus extracurricular activities. 
DPSS, as a virtual summer program, is a seven-week, part-time, program that boasts the same level of access to UChicago faculty and staff and same global cohort as DPSS does. The program’s virtual setup allows you to take part from anywhere in the world and to devote time to other summer activities, such as a job or internship, while reaping the benefits of a University of Chicago educational experience.  

Why was DPSS Virtual Created?

In light of the challenges presented by COVID-19 around the globe, the University of Chicago has taken unprecedented steps to ensure the health and safety of our community members. 

DPSS Virtual was created to allow us to continue our mission of providing world-class education resources and connections for our students. We are excited that the online program allows more students to join the program and gain these rich skills without leaving their home. 

When is DPSS Virtual offered?

See the Program Schedule page for program dates and an example of the weekly schedule. 

Is the virtual program considered part-time or full-time? Can I have a job during DPSS?

Students can anticipate a commitment of approximately 15-20 hours per week. This weekly estimate is based on 8-10 hours of lecture (watched at your own pace), three-five hours for assignments and projects, one-two hours of live office hours with faculty and teaching assistants, and two hours of live sessions of community resources. Previous students completed DPSS while maintaining employment, internships and other academic coursework.  

See the Program Schedule page for program dates and an example of the weekly schedule. 

How will the virtual classes be delivered?

DPSS in the virtual format leverages several platforms:

  • Canvas, where you can access lecture videos, materials and assignments 
  • Zoom, where you can attend live office hours with instructors and teaching fellows 
  • Piazza, where you pose academic questions to instructors, teaching fellows and peers 
  • Slack, where you can connect socially with classmates 
What will the remote learning classes be like? When are the live sessions?

When you enroll in DPSS Virtual, you will receive the same quality of instruction and support as you would have in one of our onsite courses. The difference is that you’ll interact with them in a virtual classroom rather than a physical one.  

Each week, pre-recorded lecture videos will be posted to Canvas. You can watch these at your own pace. There will be designated office hours during which you can connect with faculty or graduate teaching assistants, and there will be set deadlines for when assignments are due. 

The live office hours and sessions will be held at various times throughout the week to accommodate the different time zones of our students. Many will take place during evenings in Central Daylight Time, which is Chicago’s time zone. 

Click here to read our blog post on the benefits of the virtual format.  

Will staff be available to help?

Yes! The DPSS Administration team will be virtually available during the entirety of the program. You can connect with members of the DPSS Administration team through multiple platforms such as Canvas, email, Slack and Zoom meetings.  

How will I get the UChicago experience virtually?

The virtual program offers you the same academic experience with the same faculty and staff team. You will receive the same rigorous academics and hands-on capstone research project, connecting weekly with faculty and graduate teaching assistants through live virtual office hours. 

We are committed to providing you a robust and diverse student experience, including access to UChicago’s various career and community resources. For example, the Career Exploration activities will connect you with UChicago alumni and graduate students, admissions advisers, career coaches, and more.

Click here to read our blog post on the benefits of the virtual format. 


How do I apply for Data and Policy Summer Scholar Program?

Applicants will create an online account here to fill out the application. We encourage you to start your application as early as possible, and you can always log into your account to edit your application before submitting it.

What is the deadline of the application?

Application deadlines can be found here. We encourage students to apply early.

Is there an application fee?

There is no application fee for this program. However, if you need to take the Academic English Proficiency Assessment (AEPA), there is a non-refundable $70 fee charged by the University of Chicago Office of Language Assessment.

Will you tell me if you have successfully received my application material?

After you submit your materials electronically, you will be able to check the status of your application online. Please do not send inquiries requesting status of your application. If your application is incomplete, you will be notified directly via email.

When can I expect to receive an admission decision?

Admission decisions are issued on a rolling basis. It is approximately two-three weeks after application submission. You will receive an email notification. We encourage you to apply early. Date of the final application deadline can be found here.

Should my grades (GPA) be converted on a scale of 4.0?

Please enter the GPA score in its original format as shown on the transcript uploaded in the application. In the comments section of the application, please note the original grading scale (5.0, 10.0, etc.)

Must my transcript be translated to English?

Yes. If your academic institution does not provide transcripts in English, then an English translation must be submitted for all foreign language transcripts. 

Transcripts detail the courses, dates, grades and grading scales for each year of postsecondary (college or university) education as well as degrees awarded.

Should transcripts be sent directly to Harris from an institution, or can they come by way of the applicant?

DPSS accepts unofficial transcripts. Applicants can upload a PDF copy of their transcript in the online application. Transcripts detail the courses, dates, grades and grading scales for each year of postsecondary (college or university) education as well as degrees awarded.

Why was my application denied? Can I be reconsidered?

We assess a number of factors when evaluating applications to the summer scholar program. Academic background, work/internship experience, test scores, motivations for participating the summer program and essays all play an equal role in consideration. For international students, English language skills are also assessed. There is no one factor that determines admission. At this time, we are unable to provide specific feedback on your application and all admission decisions are final. If you would like to re-apply in the next application cycle, we would be happy to transfer any materials to a new application.

Is the program open to undergraduate or graduate students? Can working professionals attend?

This program welcomes undergraduate and graduate students, recent graduates and young professionals. This program is open for domestic and international applicants from all around the world. There are no prerequisites as this program is available for all academic backgrounds. To enroll in the program, you must be at least 18 years old and have finished at least one year full-time study in an undergraduate institution one month prior to the start of the program.

How many students will be joining this program this summer?

Class size varies by year and session, but the average class size for the virtual program is 60-80 students per session. Throughout the virtual program, students will be put in smaller breakout groups of five to ten for office hours, group discussions, and projects. 

English Requirements

Is a language test required?

The English language requirement may be waived in the following circumstance only.

The applicant is a native of or has studied in full-time status for at least one academic year within the last five years in one of the following countries:

  • U.S.

  • United Kingdom

  • Ireland

  • Australia

  • New Zealand, or

  • English medium universities in Canada or South Africa*

  • *NOTE: This applies only to English medium universities in Canada or South Africa. Study in English medium universities and in other countries does not qualify for a waiver

Waivers apply to students from the countries listed above only. Waivers only apply to those who have studied full time in one of the countries listed on the waiver list above. Employment in an English-speaking country does not make you eligible for a waiver. If you believe you qualify for a waiver, then contact the admissions office to have your case reviewed.

What is the language requirement for applying the program? If I do not have TOEFL/ IELTS score, will I be able to apply for the program?

International applicants may submit either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) to meet the English language requirement. If you are not able to provide a TOEFL or IELTS score report, you have to take the Academic English Proficiency Assessment (AEPA). Details about the English language requirement can be found here.

Can I submit SAT, AP or A-Level results instead of TOEFL/IELTS to prove my English proficiency?

No. Applicants are required to submit a TOEFL or IELTS score report. If you are not able to provide a TOEFL or IELTS score report, you have to take the Academic English Proficiency Assessment (AEPA). Details about the English language requirement can be found here.

What is the Minimum Score Requirement?

There is no minimum TOEFL or IELTS score requirement for DPSS. You may be subject to taking an Academic English Language Workshop. More information can be found here

What is the AEPA?

The Academic English Proficiency Assessment (AEPA) is an authentic, highly structured English conversation between a prospective University of Chicago student and an English language specialist at the University of Chicago. An AEPA typically lasts 15 to 30 minutes and includes an academic role play. You can get access to more information relating to AEPA here. There is a $70 non-refundable assessment fee.

How should I prepare for the AEPA?

Due to the spontaneous and customized nature of the AEPA, there is no official way to study for an AEPA. The language specialist’s goal is to elicit the test taker’s best possible sample of spoken English in academic context. The language specialist is interested in overall, functional speaking ability rather than only accuracy and grammar.

Can I retake the AEPA if I am not satisfied with my performance during the test?

Unfortunately, no. Since this test measures the overall academic English oral proficiency, it is not expected that a candidate has a significantly higher rating unless the first rating was impacted by some external non-language factors on the test taker’s side. If any technical problems occur during the test, then the AEPA is not scored and will be rescheduled by the Office of Language Assessment.

Program Fee and Financial Aid

What is the cost of attendance?

The program fee for 2021 is $4,500. 

How can I let the admission team know that I will attend the program?

Admitted students will be provided with instructions on how to confirm their attendance and how to submit the enrollment deposit. The deposit will apply to your total program cost and reflected in the bill later. Students who fail to submit the deposit in time will be viewed as voluntarily giving up the seat to attend the program.

What is the process to pay for the program fees?

Admitted students will submit an enrollment deposit of $1,000 through their application portal. The application portal accepts payment by credit card. Please contact the DPSS Office if you plan to pay with a third-party sponsor, because additional steps are required. 

You will receive an electronic bill from the University’s Bursar Office with the remaining balance in late June 2021. The Bursar Office has Payment Method information for Self Payment and Third-Party Sponsor. The Bursar Office recommends international students to use flywire to make payments. We encourage you to think through this process as early as possible.

What is the refund policy if I decide not to come or quit during the program period?

If you cannot attend the program due to personal reasons, you are asked to inform the admissions team as soon as possible. We will evaluate your case on an individual basis.

Is financial aid available? If so, when will you issue the financial aid decision?

Modest, merit-based scholarships are available from UChicago Harris for top applicants based on the quality of their application. Fully funded scholarships are not available. Scholarship are not guaranteed for all applicants. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to explore funding resources as soon as possible. 

Student have been able to receive support from their current academic institution or employer. Other students have found external scholarships based on their academic study, career goal, citizenship or other affiliations. You may consider pursuing those options as well.

If you are admitted with a UChicago scholarship, you will receive a letter of scholarship electronically at the same time together with your program admission letter. This letter will be separate from the admission letter, but will be released at the same time.