Frequently Asked Questions

So you are interested in spending a semester living, working and studying in the world's sixth-ranked global city, but you have a few questions. 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, more than 250 students have participated in the program.

What year should I do Wheaton in Chicago?

Most of our students are juniors and seniors. Some sophomores are also eligible for the program. Contact our office and we will help you decide on the best time to participate.

Is Wheaton in Chicago offered every year?

Yes! Wheaton in Chicago is offered every fall semester.

What are the dates?

The program dates correspond closely to Wheaton's academic calendar for the fall semester. The program begins with an orientation the weekend before classes start. The program 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. Students shop for their own food and prepare their meals in fully equipped kitchens. Most Wheaton in Chicago students find that they spend less on food than they would during a semester on campus.

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 three academic divisions of the school. Most of our students report that Wheaton in Chicago was the most important part of their Wheaton experience. Students with diverse interests find that Wheaton in Chicago is an excellent way to gain real-world experience and exercise vocational discernment. Our alumni find that this experience is invaluable after graduation, as they search for jobs or apply to graduate schools. For many of our students, their Wheaton in Chicago experience is the centerpiece of an attractive resume. Aside from completing your degree, the program may be the most important thing you do to make yourself employable upon graduation.

Are there prerequisites to Wheaton in Chicago?

Wheaton in Chicago students must take URBN 114: The Social Life of Cities, which is typically offered in the fall semester.

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. So 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. However, the College is in process of implementing major revisions to the general education program. We hope that the Wheaton in Chicago program will fulfill some of the new requirements and that we might be able to teach general education courses in Chicago. Check back for more information in the coming years.

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 summer before their Wheaton in Chicago experience. This zero-credit course costs no tuition (it requires only a minimal processing fee) and can be taken from home or any other location where students will be staying during the summer. In preparation for the fall 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 the summer, students will also continue their internship search under the guidance of Urban Studies and Wheaton in Chicago faculty and work with the Wheaton-in-Network program to identify a mentor for the fall semester.

How many credits can I get during the program?

Students register for between 14 and 18 credit hours during their Wheaton in Chicago semester.

What courses are offered in the program?

Course offerings may vary slightly from year to year. For Fall 2017, the following courses will be offered:

  • BITH 376: Theologies of Transformation: Public & Political Theologies in Urban Context (Dr. Vincent Bacote)
  • URBN 233: Chicago
  • URBN 371: Race, Poverty, & Reconciliation (Dr. Arloa Sutter)
  • CORE 308: Engaging Arts in the City (Advanced Integrative Seminar, Visual & Performing Arts requirement)
  • URBN 496: Internship (Dr. Christa Tooley) [students may also register for some of their internship hours in their major]
  • URBN/XXXX 495: Independent Study

Can I get credit in my major?

Almost all of our students get some credit in their major. Most students can apply some of their internship credit to their major. Some students are also able to complete Independent Studies 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?

Most classes meet in the classroom of the Wheaton in Chicago building (see “Where do students live?” below). Some classes also include field trips or occasional off-site meetings appropriate to Wheaton in Chicago as a program of experiential learning.

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 – 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 Dr. Christa Tooley 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 1.5 to 2.5 courses (one of the courses is a “Quad” course that meets for half of the semester), enjoy community dinners, participate in a mentoring 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 a Federal Work-Study (FWS) position available to one eligible student.

What’s this mentoring program?

All Wheaton in Chicago students will 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 a Wheaton College building in Uptown , one of Chicago’s most diverse neighborhoods on Chicago’s north side. Our facility is just blocks from two train (“el”) stations, making the whole city easily accessible to our students. Every fall, a small number of Wheaton College Teacher Education Program student teachers (seniors education students completing their student teaching requirement in Chicago) also live in the Wheaton in Chicago facility.

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

The apartments are fully furnished. Each has its own laundry room. Each also has a full kitchen equipped for cooking and stocked with plates, bowls, utensils, etc.

What about computing?

Most of our students bring their own laptop computers to Wheaton in Chicago. The building has a 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?

In the fall semesters, we have enrolled between eight and twenty-one Wheaton in Chicago students and housed an additional three to five student teachers.

Is there a residential staff member?

Yes. Wheaton in Chicago employs a Learning Community Coordinator who lives in the building year-round. During the fall semester, the Learning Community Coordinator works to establish an environment conducive to student growth and fitting to an immersive, off-campus experience for mature students.

Is it safe?

Yes. Our students receive a “street-smarts” orientation at the beginning of the program. Since 1998, more than 250 Wheaton in Chicago students have lived in Uptown and worked in almost every Chicago neighborhood. None have been harmed.

What about spiritual formation?

Beginning in 2013, Wheaton in Chicago will begin partnering with Chicago city pastors and spiritual leaders to provide a program of spiritual formation tailored to the challenges and opportunities that our students face during the semester.

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 Learning Coomunity Coordinator 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 bring my car to Wheaton in Chicago?

We discourage students from bringing their cars. Our facility has excellent access to public transit. For the vast majority of students, cars are simply not necessary. In fact, most of our students find cars to be a hassle. We have only one parking space available for Wheaton in Chicago students. Others must find street parking. Those students who have brought cars in the past have used them very little and typically come to regret having to care for them (e.g., to move the car when its snows).

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. If you are interested in Wheaton in Chicago but know that you may have to return to campus regularly during the semester, please contact our office to discuss whether it might still be possible to participate in the program.

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 reentry 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.

If I’m away in Chicago for the semester, how do I register for spring courses?

When Wheaton in Chicago students register for their fall semester courses in Chicago, they also complete a form pre-registering for spring semester courses. This form will be used to register them automatically for the spring when their assigned registration time comes up. Students may make changes to the form if necessary.

How does my housing application work?

Wheaton in Chicago housing is considered “on-campus” housing for the fall semester. Students apply for their spring 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 in December or studying off-campus in the spring 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 students.

We are also currently in the process of developing tailored overseas experiences that can be paired with Wheaton in Chicago. This is a priority for our program. Check back for more information in the coming semesters.

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

Yes! Please contact our office for more information.

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