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Chicago Program: Arts, Entrepreneurship, & Urban Studies

Chicago, Illinois

New for Fall 2015!  Spend the last 2 weeks of the program in a Career Boot Camp or in London, EnglandFind out more about these new modules.

Though it’s called the “Second City,” those from Chicago will insist that it’s second to none.  Chicago is a city with both a pioneer spirit and an eye to the future, boasting a vibrant arts scene, a remarkable array of start-up companies and non-profits, and a diverse mix of cultures and ethnicities.  From its phenomenal rebirth after the Great Chicago Fire, to the massive social reforms resulting from Jane Addams’ Settlement House movement, to the election of Barack Obama as the first black President of the United States, the people of Chicago have always been actively engaged in the important civic and social issues of the day.  With a bustling downtown business district that showcases everything from Fortune 500 companies to ground-breaking startups, both catalog business pioneers like Montgomery Ward and modern-day internet successes like Groupon have taken advantage of the inventive thinking and creative problem-solving that has always been rooted in the fertile soil of Chicago.  As the birthplace of gospel music, improv acting, and slam poetry, and home to world-renowned arts organizations like the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Art Institute of Chicago, and Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago may be the best urban environment in America today for young artists to discover themselves, their careers, and their artistic voices.  There’s no better place for students to spend part of their college career living, learning, and interning.

The ACM Chicago Program engages students academically, professionally, and personally with this dynamic city.  The primary areas of emphasis in the program are Arts, Entrepreneurship, and Urban Studies – students have the opportunity to explore one of these topics in depth, or participate in classwork and projects across these disciplines.  The program offers an innovative mix of academic work, including an internship, independent study project, common core course about the city of Chicago, and a variety of seminars focused on the arts and creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship, and urban studies and social justice.  Students are able to explore the vital issues facing cities and the people who live and work in them, while digging deeper to relate these issues to their personal lives, education, and career aspirations.

Each fall and spring, students participate in four key academic components.

  • Internship – Students spend two days each week working with a local organization or business, gaining hands-on experience in a field of interest.
  • Seminar – Students choose from a variety of courses focused on arts and creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship, and urban studies and social justice, which provide an opportunity for in-depth academic immersion in a particular subject area related to the city.
  • Core Course - This interdisciplinary course examines the city of Chicago by exploring how arts, business, and socio-political issues intertwine.
  • Independent Study Project (ISP) – This project gives students the opportunity to draw on Chicago’s vast resources to create an original project related to their academic interests. (Note: The fall and spring trimester options do not include an independent study project.)

Students live with other Chicago Program participants in furnished, shared apartments in various neighborhoods throughout the city of Chicago.  Classes are held at the ACM office on State Street, in the heart of downtown Chicago.  Students will also spend a significant portion of their time outside the traditional classroom as they explore the city – attending cultural events, interacting with community organizations, meeting with business leaders, and engaging in all that Chicago has to offer.

This video about the Chicago Program was created by a group of students as part of an Entrepreneurship independent study project in Fall 2013.

For more detailed information, please use the links located on the left-hand side of this page.

Quick Facts

  • Terms: Fall semester, fall quarter/trimester, spring semester, & spring quarter/trimester (March-May)
  • Language prerequisite: None
  • Language of instruction: English
  • Living arrangements: Apartment
  • Who can apply? Students from any college or university

Application deadlines

Application deadline extended! Please contact the ACM Office for more information.

Spring semester 2015

Early deadline: March 15, 2014
Do I need to apply early?
The early application date is available for students whose college requires that all off-campus study applications for the entire upcoming academic year must be completed the prior spring semester. If your college does not require a spring decision for programs the following spring, you may apply by either the early or final application deadline.

Final deadline: October 31, 2014

Spring quarter/trimester 2015

Early deadline: March 15, 2014
Do I need to apply early?
The early application date is available for students whose college requires that all off-campus study applications for the entire upcoming academic year must be completed the prior spring semester. If your college does not require a spring decision for programs the following spring, you may apply by either the early or final application deadline.

Final deadline: November 15, 2014

Fall 2015

Final deadline: March 15, 2015

Spring semester 2016

Early deadline: March 15, 2015
Do I need to apply early?
The early application date is available for students whose college requires that all off-campus study applications for the entire upcoming academic year must be completed the prior spring semester. If your college does not require a spring decision for programs the following spring, you may apply by either the early or final application deadline.

Final deadline: October 31, 2015

Spring quarter/trimester 2016

Early deadline: March 15, 2015
Do I need to apply early?
The early application date is available for students whose college requires that all off-campus study applications for the entire upcoming academic year must be completed the prior spring semester. If your college does not require a spring decision for programs the following spring, you may apply by either the early or final application deadline.

Final deadline: November 15, 2015

Fall 2016

Final deadline: March 15, 2016

If the deadline has passed and you are interested in applying, contact the ACM Office immediately. Late applications may be accepted on a space-available basis.

Program contacts

Emily Gaul
Assistant Program Manager

11 E. Adams Street, Suite 800
Chicago, IL 60603
Phone: 312.561.5919
egaul@acm.edu

More program contacts »

Publications & Resources

Chicago Program brochure

Chicago Program internship list

Student Handbook 2014-15

Chicago Program: Arts, Entrepreneurship, & Urban Studies

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Katie Derrah The ACM Urban Studies program was instrumental in taking my interest in social justice and putting it into action. The program allows for a lot of flexibility for students to tailor it to their needs and interests. I’ve never come in contact with so many amazing people in such a short period of time. I learned to think critically about the institutions that surrounded me and to seek out resources and connections throughout the city. It was the most relevant, applicable, and important academic experience I’ve had.

—Katie Derrah, Chicago Program (Urban Studies), Fall 2009

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