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Courses & Credits

The Chicago Program curriculum has several components: an internship, an independent study project, and a choice of seminars. Students take the internship, the independent study project, and two seminars. 

Course offerings are subject to change based on the number of students enrolled in each course.

Recommended credit

For semester students: Recommended credit is 16 semester credits, which includes four semester credits for each course.

  More information about credit distribution and grades


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

See a course syllabus

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 a 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

Instructors: Mary Scott-Boria and Jason Pallas
Required course , 4 semester credits

See a course syllabus

The independent study project (ISP) is designed to give students the opportunity to delve more deeply into a topic, a field, or discipline of their choosing. Students practice using the resources of a major metropolitan area to propose, complete, and present a phase or phases of a substantial, self-generated professional, scholarly or creative project.

The goal of the class is to expose you to many aspects of Chicago in anticipation and preparation for your individual project. We will explore Chicago neighborhoods and the many dynamic ways in which Chicago provides you with a landscape for understanding how cities work (or not). As an experiential program, developing skills of observation, nurturing your curiosity, making new discoveries through research and/ or engagement will align you with the dynamics of the city. Your text will be the city, as we explore several neighborhoods through our field visits, relevant readings, videos, and compelling discussions. You will be encouraged to build on your past experiences and knowledge to uncover how Chicago works, or doesn’t, and what models of change positively impact the quality of life for Chicagoans.

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.

Museum and Cultural Equity Seminar

Instructor: Jason Pallas
Elective course, 4 semester credits

See a course syllabus

In this course, we will collaboratively explore the multifaceted world of the cultural institution known as the Museum. Through a series of direct experiences with exhibitions and cultural workers, we will participate in a semester-long conversation about the benefits of museums across the disciplines, the barriers that might prevent full participation on the part of the public, and the opportunities moving forward for museums to more authentically engage their diverse audiences.

Our work will be grounded in our collective examination of these issues with the added expertise and perspective of practitioners in the field. To this end, our class sessions will involve visiting various museums throughout Chicago to experience the range of museum practices. During these visits, our time together will be split among robust dialogues with each other and our host, explorations of the exhibitions on view, and facilitated creative activities. Between sessions, students are expected to prepare themselves by completing readings and assignments.

We will be a community of learners in this seminar, with the full expectation that we each engage fully and to the best of our abilities.

Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Chicago

Instructor: Parissa Behnia
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 hotbed 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, Social Justice, and Race in the Chicago Context

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

See a course syllabus

Chicago has a long and rich history that includes protests and campaigns for social justice. These campaigns have addressed many 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 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. 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.