Frequently Asked Questions

Wondering what it's like to spend a semester living, working and studying in the world's sixth-ranked global city? You've come to the right place.

How long has the Wheaton in Chicago program existed?

Wheaton in Chicago was founded in 1998. Since then, over 300 students have participated in the program.

What year should I do Wheaton in Chicago?

Most students are juniors, with others between sophomores and seniors. Contact our office, and we will help you decide on the best time to participate, depending on your degree plan. Regardless of your standing, it’s not too early (or likely not too late) for you to join us.

Is Wheaton in Chicago offered every year?

Yes! Wheaton in Chicago is offered every fall and spring semester. There are also limited opportunities for other programs if one of the semester programs is impossible for your degree plan.

What are the dates?

The program dates correspond closely to Wheaton's academic calendar for each semester. The program begins with orientation 2-3 days before classes start and ends during finals week.

Does Wheaton in Chicago cost more than a normal semester on campus?

No! In fact, many students pay less for Wheaton in Chicago than they do for a normal semester on campus. Your Wheaton in Chicago semester will include the same tuition charge as a semester on campus. It will also include a room charge at the same rate as an on-campus apartment. Wheaton in Chicago does not charge board. Instead, students shop for their own food and prepare their meals in the apartment kitchens. Most Wheaton in Chicago students find that they spend less on food than they would during a semester on campus. Another great benefit is that your Wheaton in Chicago semester includes a U-Pass, which allows you access to all of the CTA buses and “L” lines throughout your time in the program at no additional cost to you.

Can I use my financial aid during Wheaton in Chicago?

Yes! For Wheaton College students, financial aid will apply in just the same way that it does during a normal semester on campus.

How does the Wheaton in Chicago experience relate to the Urban Studies major and minor?

While Wheaton in Chicago is open to all Wheaton students of any major, it is required of students pursuing the Urban Studies major or minor. In fact, students who complete the Wheaton in Chicago program need only one additional two credit course after returning to campus in order to complete the Urban Studies minor.

I’m not an Urban Studies major. Is this program for me?

Yes! Wheaton in Chicago has enrolled students from over 20 different majors in all academic divisions of the school. Students with diverse interests find that Wheaton in Chicago is an excellent way to gain real-world experience and exercise vocational discernment. Our alumni often find that this experience is invaluable after graduation as they search for jobs or apply to graduate schools.

Are there prerequisites to Wheaton in Chicago?

Wheaton in Chicago students must take URBN 114 The Social Life of Cities, which is offered both fall and spring semesters.

Can I get general education credit?
Both URBN 114 The Social Life of Cities and URBN 233 Chicago are approved social science general education courses. Students who complete these courses fulfill half of their social science requirement. Additionally, BITH 376 Theologies of Transformation counts as BITH 315 Christian Thought credit. Wheaton in Chicago also fulfills several Christ at the Core requirements. For more details on specific classes being offered each semester, contact the Urban Studies Department Office Coordinator at 630.752.5730.

How do students prepare for their field experience?

In addition to the prerequisite courses specified above, all Wheaton in Chicago students will complete URBN 399 Pre-Field Preparation during the months immediately preceding their Wheaton in Chicago experience. This zero-credit course costs no additional tuition fees and can be taken from home or any other location where students will be staying during the summer or winter break. In preparation for the experience in Chicago, students complete a minimal amount of reading and writing intended to prepare them to cultivate cross-cultural competencies, take advantage of their internship experience, and engage in vocational discernment. During this period, students will also continue their internship search under the guidance of Urban Studies and Wheaton in Chicago faculty and can work with the Wheaton in Network program to identify a mentor for the semester.

How many credits can I get during the program?

Students must be considered full-time (meaning they register for between 12 and 18 credit hours) during their Wheaton in Chicago semester. This usually equates to 4-8 hours of internship/practicum credit and 8-12 hours of coursework, depending on a student’s degree plan.

What courses are offered in the program?

Course offerings may vary slightly from year to year.

For fall semesters, the following courses are offered:

  • BITH 376 Theologies of Transformation: Public & Political Theologies in Urban Context
  • URBN 233 Chicago
  • URBN 371 Race, Class & Justice
  • BEC/URBN 381 Community Economic Development & Enterprise
  • URBN 296/496 Practicum/Internship (students may also register for some of their internship hours in their major)
  • URBN/XXX 495 Independent Study

 For spring semesters, the following courses are offered:

  • BITH 376 Theologies of Transformation: Public & Political Theologies in Urban Context
  • URBN 233 Chicago
  • CORE 308 Engaging Arts in the City
  • ENGW 233 Writing Chicago (every other year)
  • URBN 296/496 Practicum/Internship (students may also register for some of their internship hours in their major)
  • URBN/XXX 495 Independent Study

Can I get credit in my major?

Almost all of our students get some credit in their major, either through their internship or coursework. Some students are also able to complete an independent study with faculty in their major department. We encourage independent studies related to the student’s major and to the student’s urban experience. Please contact the Urban Studies office to set up an advising appointment during which we can discuss the ways in which the program fits with your major.

Where do classes happen?

Some classes meet in the classroom of one of the Sunshine Gospel Ministry buildings (across the street from some of the WIC apartments), but because WIC is an experiential learning program, many classes occur offsite at locations throughout the city, pursuant to the course and program goals.

Can I take courses at other institutions during the Wheaton in Chicago semester?

Wheaton in Chicago students are free to take courses at other institutions (e.g., University of Chicago, Loyola University, University of Illinois at Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, DePaul University, Northwestern University), just as a student on campus at Wheaton College might take a course at another institution. However, the course must not interfere with programmatic commitments to Wheaton in Chicago. Students must also be admitted to the institution in question, pay the required tuition and fees of that institution, and work out all matters of credit transfer with Wheaton College (the Registrar’s Office and appropriate academic departments). The Urban Studies and Wheaton in Chicago programs are not equipped to assist students in these matters.

Can I intern wherever I want? Will you assign me to an internship site? Will you help me find an internship?  

We will provide you with the tools that you need in order to secure an internship. See our Internship Handbook for our guidelines and a list of recommended internship sites. Internships must be approved by the faculty overseer from Urban Studies and the department in which you register (either Urban Studies or your major department).

In addition to my internship, can I hold a paying job during the semester?

Wheaton in Chicago is a very full experience. In addition to interning approximately 24 hours per week, students will take 2 to 3 courses, enjoy community dinners, participate in a mentoring program and a vocational discernment program, and may take advantage of student leadership opportunities. For these reasons, we discourage students from seeking additional work during the semester. Wheaton in Chicago does usually have two Federal Work-Study (FWS) positions available to FWS-eligible students.

What’s this mentoring program?

All Wheaton in Chicago students can be trained on the Wheaton in Network program and use it to identify a mentor in Chicago. Students will meet with their mentor two to four times during the semester. This is a terrific opportunity to think through “life after Wheaton” and to engage in vocational discernment.

Where do students live?

Students live in apartments in one of two Wheaton College-managed buildings in Woodlawn, a neighborhood just south of Hyde Park and the University of Chicago. Our facilities are just blocks from the green line “L” station, making the entire city easily accessible to our students.

Are the apartments furnished? Do they include laundry rooms? Are the kitchens equipped?

The apartments are fully furnished, and there is a washing machine and dryer in each building. Each apartment also has a full kitchen stocked with basic cooking supplies (pots and pans, utensils, bakeware, etc.), flatware, and serveware.

What about computing?

Most of our students bring their own laptop computers to Wheaton in Chicago. The building has wireless internet access.

What about library access?

Students have access to Chicago Public Libraries. Many also find the libraries of local universities conducive to studying and completing course assignments.

How many students will the program accept?

We have room for up to 32 students for each of our semester programs.

Is there a residential staff member?

Yes. The Assistant Director for Wheaton in Chicago lives in a private apartment in the building year-round. During the semester, the Assistant Director works to establish an environment conducive to student growth and fitting to an immersive, off-campus experience for mature students. Wheaton in Chicago also has a Graduate Assistant that lives on-site. Another faculty member, the Director of Wheaton in Chicago, lives nearby, as well.

What about spiritual formation?

There are several opportunities for spiritual formation during your Wheaton in Chicago semester. Students in the program complete the Civitas workbook with a small group led by and comprised of their peers, which is a vocational discernment program that functions much as a small group. Most students also get involved with a church in the area during the semester, and the Wheaton in Chicago group gathers weekly for food and worship and prayer at the WIC Community Dinners.

What about church?

We encourage our students to worship with local congregations during their Wheaton in Chicago semester.

Is there support from Student Care & Services?

Wheaton in Chicago can be a challenging experience. It is meant to stretch students so that they grow. It is important that we provide the right types of support during this experience. Our Assistant Director is the primary point of student care, but we also partner with Student Care Services to make sure that all Wheaton in Chicago students receive the support they need either in Chicago or on campus.

Can I return to campus during the semester?

As much as possible, Wheaton in Chicago is meant to be an immersive experience. In order to get the most out of the program, we encourage students to use discretion and return to campus only when necessary.

Can friends and family visit me during Wheaton in Chicago?

Absolutely! We encourage you to invite friends and family to visit.

Is there a debriefing and post-field experience?

Yes. Wheaton in Chicago students will participate in a debriefing at the end of the semester. In the spring semester following the Wheaton in Chicago program, students register for the Advanced Urban Studies Seminar, which is the capstone for the major and the minor, and also serves as an academically rigorous opportunity for debriefing and re-entry discussions.

Is this an urban ministry program?

Wheaton in Chicago is a broadly interdisciplinary program suitable to students with a wide range of vocational interests and experiences. Some of our students are interested in ministry and complete ministry-related internships, but Wheaton in Chicago is not a ministry program itself.

How does my housing application work?

Wheaton in Chicago housing is considered “on-campus” housing for Wheaton, so students apply for their next semester housing in the same way that other students do. Students applying for off-campus housing are encouraged to apply with a group of other students and should find another student who will be graduating or studying off-campus in the following semester and can thus “complete their application.” Please contact the Residence Life office for further information.

I would love to spend a semester in Chicago, but I would also like to spend time overseas if possible. Is it possible to do Wheaton in Chicago and study abroad?

Yes! Many of our students have completed Wheaton in Chicago and have spent an additional semester or summer in a study abroad program. A few of our students have participated in both Wheaton in Chicago and the HNGR program. While these paths require careful planning, they are available to interested students.

There is also the possibility of participating in the Urban Leadership Studio (ULS) program, which pairs another urban experience (either overseas or domestic) with the student's Wheaton in Chicago experience.

I’m not a Wheaton College student, but I really want to do Wheaton in Chicago! Can I?

Yes! Please contact our office (630.752.5770) for more information.