The Chicago Urban Semester, offered in cooperation with the Associated Colleges of the Midwest, is a residential program that teaches students how to apply liberal-arts scholarship in an urban setting, with the cosmopolitan city of Chicago as a setting, subject and teacher. A core course provides students with an interdisciplinary conceptual framework for integrating their academic, work, and personal experiences while living in the city. An internship, a seminar, and an independent study round out the curriculum.

The Chicago Urban Semester is offered every year during both the spring and fall semesters.

 Read More on the ACM website

  • All sophomores, juniors and seniors at Valparaiso University are eligible to participate in this program.
  • An application with two recommendations must be submitted to the Urban Studies Advisory Committee.

  • Valparaiso University students register at Valparaiso for the Chicago Urban Semester and pay to Valparaiso University the general fee charged of all full-time students.
  • The cost of lodging and transportation within Chicago are covered by a program fee paid by the student.
  • The costs of transportation to and from Chicago, meals, materials, and miscellaneous expenses are paid by the students. The ACM website offers estimates of these expenses.

  • Housing costs are included in the program fee.
  • Costs are based on double occupancy in a furnished apartment in Chicago. Apartments include cooking facilities.
  • Apartment locations, which vary by semester, are close to public transportation, the cost of which is included in the program fee.
  • Rent, gas, electricity, and wireless internet are included in the program fee.

  • Go to the “Apply Now” page on the Associated Colleges of the Midwest website and download a PDF version of the application.
  • Complete the application, indicating that you plan to select the urban-studies track of the Chicago Program.
  • Ask two faculty members for recommendations; give them recommendation forms and ask that they send the completed forms to Professor Michael Longan.
  • Ask the registrar to send your transcript to Professor Longan.
  • Submit the completed application to Professor Longan in Kallay-Christopher Hall. You may deliver the application in person, leave it in his mailbox, or leave it with Administrative Assistant Rusta Ault in the Department of Geography and Meteorology office.

  • The on-campus deadline is generally one week before the deadline listed on the ACM application, to give the Urban Studies Committee time to review the application and make its recommendation.
  • The ACM deadline is typically in mid-March for the following fall semester and in early November for the following spring semester.

Academic credits (a total of 16 credit hours) are awarded by Valparaiso University to Valparaiso University students who complete the program.


GS 338 Core Course: Chicago: A City of Many Dimensions
Exploration into Chicago’s history, its unique identity, its illustrative diversity grounded in its neighborhoods, its unscrupulous characters, its struggles for power, and the inventiveness of its people and institutions. By questioning their assumptions about Chicago, students will discover themselves as transformed agents of change in the arts, as innovators, and in reshaping their communities. This course takes an interdisciplinary approach in viewing Chicago and allows students to examine the city from multiple perspectives. S/U grade only.
4 credits
GS 348 The Seminar
Each student chooses one urban issue to examine in depth in a seminar involving readings, class discussions, and field visits. Topics represent a range of academic disciplines, usually making it possible to select a seminar relating to a major. Recent seminar titles included City Politics, Urban Planning, Arts in the Black Community, Sexism and Racism, The Helping Professions, Dynamics of Urban Housing. Graded A-F.
4 credits
GS 386 The Internship
Each student devotes 15 hours per week to an agency which can provide direct involvement in city life and exposure to a particular career environment. The placement is determined jointly by the student and staff during the first week of the semester. A wide range of placements is available. Graded either A-F or S/U at the student’s choice upon entry into the program.
4 credits
GS 395 Independent Study Project
Each student pursues one topic from the Chicago experience under the supervision of a faculty member. Some projects grow out of the Internship whereas others are based on another component of the program. The student may elect to write a research paper or a creative piece, or to use photographic or other visual media. Graded A-F.
4 credits