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Courses & Credits

The Chicago Program curriculum includes four required components: an internship, an independent study project, and a choice of two seminars. Students in the quarter/trimester program do not complete the independent study project.

Recommended credit is 16 semester credits, which includes four semester credits for each component. There are no prerequisites.

Note: There is a fall semester 12-credit option available to students from colleges on the quarter/trimester schedule, pending home campus approval. Contact Emily Gaul, Assistant Director of Off-Campus Study Programs, for more information.

  More information about credit distribution and grades


Instructor: Dorothy I. Burge
Required course, 4 semester credits

The internship is one of four academic credit-bearing components of the Chicago Program. Students will have the opportunity to examine and gain insight into the personal value of this work experience as well as how it relates to their career goals and broader themes of work within society. This is accomplished through a variety of activities that include workshops, readings, writing, and other reflective assignments structured and guided by the internship faculty.

Students will work for a total of at least 150 hours (typically 12–14 hours weekly), gaining exposure to and experience working in a career where they will learn specific industry and professional skills. They will sharpen their knowledge of and ability to navigate various organizational settings. They will gain insight into their own professional/career preferences, applying the academic experience to professional practice, with particular focus on work within an urban/city context, while adding value to their host site. See examples of recent internship placements.

More about the internship »

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Independent Study Project

Instructor: Mary Scott-Boria
Required course (semester students only), 4 semester credits

Under close mentoring, each student will develop a substantial project of his or her own design due at the end of the semester and presented professionally as part of the program’s Independent Study Project Festival. The ISP is expected to be a rigorous project, both personally informed and engaging work for the student, which takes advantage of the unique opportunities and resources in Chicago. Considerable support will be afforded each student in the form of ISP group sessions at the beginning of the semester and one-on-one meetings with a faculty advisor throughout the term. (Note: The ISP is available to full semester students only.)

More about the independent study project »

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Students choose two among the seminars offered. Options typically include the following, depending on program enrollment.

Arts Seminar: Art and Experience in the City

Instructor: Susannah Papish
Elective course, 4 semester credits

This course will explore the art community in Chicago; visual art, performance, theatre, music, literature and more. Designed for experiential learning, in this course students will visit the city’s arts venues, attend events, performances, and presentations from guest artists, and also explore a few selected neighborhoods. Our exploration will include academic readings, interviews, podcasts, exercises, individual and collaborative creative projects, as well as group critiques. Assignments will require of the students an inter- and cross-disciplinary stretch of creativity and intellect. Mediums and techniques employed to complete the assignments will frequently be the student’s choice, from creative or research-based writing to traditional studio art (painting, drawing, sculpture, photography) and newer or multi-media such as combinations of video, sound and performance.

Through intensive reading, field visits to various neighborhoods and venues, research, discussion, collaboration and production, students will begin to discover and explore the arts and it’s interactions with the community in Chicago. In relation to individual works, students will develop a keen awareness of how the city and its art engage the senses. This sensory information will be documented, analyzed, filtered and used to inform each project. Students will become immersed in Chicago's art community. The goal of each student should be to grow as a critical thinker, to express oneself effectively through individual projects and communicate with others constructively, and to engage the class with generosity and rigor.

Entrepreneurship Seminar: Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Instructors: Parissa Behnia and Dima Elissa
Elective course, 4 semester credits

Entrepreneurship is about passion, innovation, creativity, problem-solving and adapting to change. Every successful organization needs to possess these components in order to remain competitive and sustainable. Entrepreneurship takes many forms and does not only exist in the “traditional” business realm. There are countless examples of a bold entrepreneurial spirit in establishing new forms of organization, exploring new markets, creating new approaches to processes and, of course, developing new products. Innovation is a tool utilized by entrepreneurs to create these new ways of looking at similar criteria. Creativity enables individuals to think differently about any situation by continuously challenging the status quo. Therefore, successful organizations need creative individuals that are obsessed with finding innovative approaches to current and future business dilemmas. This seminar is intended to provide a foundation for understanding the field of entrepreneurship and innovation. During this seminar, innovative approaches will be assessed, explored and critiqued in order to develop an appreciation for their entrepreneurial application to virtually any organizational setting.

This course is designed to utilize the city of Chicago as a laboratory where the activities of real world innovative entrepreneurs can be observed. Chicago is a hot bed for startups and a city where creative resources are both bountiful and accessible in assisting entrepreneurs in launching their businesses. This course will utilize experiences in the field to bridge theory and practice. Both traditional and “live” case discussions will feature stories of Chicago-based entrepreneurs and startup businesses. Students will develop the ability to recognize the many opportunities that exist in everyday life. Exposure to diverse startups as well as non-traditional exercises in the course will serve as a catalyst for creative entrepreneurial inspiration. Students will engage in experiences that are intentionally designed to force him/her to seek ideas from non-traditional business sources such as art and nature.

Human Rights and Social Justice Seminar

Instructor: Dorothy I. Burge
Elective course, 4 semester credits

Chicago has a long and rich history that includes protests and campaigns for social justice. These campaigns have addressed a number of issues, including labor, civil rights, military actions, immigration, education and policing. Many social reformers, such as, Jane Addams, Ida B. Wells Barnett, and Carter G. Woodson called Chicago their home. Chicago is known as the birthplace of the school of sociology; the place where community organizing emerged as a practice and profession and where social reform led to children’s rights. This seminar will look at contemporary social and human rights issues, with a special focus on restorative justice and race.

We will focus on a series of current Chicago case studies that will allow us to examine the intersections of race, class and culture. These case studies will also illustrate how institutional practices shape the quality of life for Chicago residents. In addition, we will examine the creative processes that communities may employ to achieve justice and self-determination.

The seminar will incorporate a variety of guest speakers, field visits, video, selected readings, and simulations to engage students and assist them in their development of an understanding of these issues. The seminar is also designed to encourage students to see themselves as vital agents of social change. We will gather as many perspectives as possible in order to determine where we stand and what actions can be taken to impact the system in a positive way.

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Credit Distribution & Grades

The course credit you receive for the Chicago Program is determined according to policies at your college. Check with your advisor and college registrar in advance to find out how much credit you will receive and how it will be distributed, especially if you plan to use your courses in Chicago to fulfill college or departmental requirements.

Most students participating in the semester program receive 16 semester hours, or the equivalent, distributed variously as general education, independent, or departmental work. Students participating in the spring quarter/trimester option should typically receive credits equivalent to a quarter/trimester of academic work. However, the specific terms for receiving and distributing credits are determined by the home institution.

ACM and Chicago Program faculty and staff are happy to work with students and advisors to provide the appropriate information for facilitating the crediting process. It is important that credit transfer be approved by your home campus before you enter the program.

Grade reports

All students who complete an ACM off-campus study program receive a grade report which lists their courses, credits, and grades. Most colleges accept this grade report as an official academic document. If a college requires an official academic transcript, ACM can arrange to have an official transcript issued through Beloit College for a $350 processing fee. To request an official transcript, students must make a formal request through ACM at the time of acceptance.