Chicago Semester

Chicago Semester

Living in Chicago offers an incredible opportunity to immerse yourself in art, theater, dance, music, food, sports and more. No doubt you’ll discover your own favorite places, restaurants and activities within the Windy City. Students will join others from around the USA as they navigate classroom instruction, practical internships, and the hustle and bustle of the city.  This program is through Trinity Christian College and is for Social Work and Education majors!

Find out more

  • Students will complete all of the Experiential Learning Initiative (ELI) requirements that are a part of this program.
  • Junior and Seniors - will accept some Sophomores
  • 2.75 GPA or higher

Since studying off-campus for a semester is a privilege, please note the following implications of being place on probation at Messiah University:

  • Chapel Probation: A student currently on chapel probation for the first time (or with an impending chapel probation for the upcoming semester) will be required to communicate or meet with the Director of the Intercultural Office to determine the potential impact on the student’s upcoming semester off-campus.  If a student has been placed on chapel probation more than once during their time at Messiah, they will not be eligible to study off-campus for a semester.
  • Academic Probation or Low GPA: A student on academic probation or whose GPA drops below 2.75 will be not be eligible to study off-campus.

  • Disciplinary Probation: A student who has been placed on disciplinary probation at any time during the off-campus study application / acceptance process will be required to meet with the Director of the Intercultural Office to determine the potential impact on the student’s upcoming semester off-campus.

Courses may meet general education or major requirements.

Courses will come back on your transcript with a letter grade.

Participation in this program does not meet cross-cultural requirements.

Pass/Fail Option

During their university careers, students may take a maximum of four courses on a pass/fail (P/F) basis with these conditions: 

  • Such a course must be from a discipline other than those required for the student's major or minor.
  • Courses fulfilling requirements for a major, minor, or general education may not be used.
  • Students may declare their intention to take a course under the Pass/Fail option when they register or through the first calendar week of classes at the beginning of the new term. Students may also select to return to the letter grade system during this same time period. The selection cannot be changed after the first calendar week of classes.
  • The cut-off point to obtain a P is C–.
  • The instructor will submit only conventional letter grades to the Registrar's Office. This office will then convert the grade to P or F. (An instructor does not know which students are taking a course on a pass/fail basis.

The first FIVE DAYS of your classes are critical:

Recognizing that courses change while abroad, a student is required to communicate to the Registrar’s Office within the first FIVE DAYS of classes if their Off-Campus Course Approval Form in Terra Dotta has changed since the original submission/approval. Specifically, if a student desires to change a course to a pass/fail instead of a letter grade, this must be approved by Messiah University Registrar’s Office within the first FIVE DAYS of classes at the host partner program.


Students are required to take no fewer than 12 credits towards their overall degree requirements and no more than 18 credits. These 12-18 credits include courses taken as pass/fail and letter grades. However, in addition to those 12-18 degree credits, students who would like to audit an academic course for no credit are permitted to do so for up to one 4 credit hour course for the sake of learning, cultural immersion or personal interest at no additional charge. This audited course will not appear on the Messiah University student’s transcript.

What do you pay?

TOTAL COSTS = Messiah tuition + Student services fee

These Costs Include:

  • tuition - meals and housing are not included
  • custom internship or field experience site placement
  • Unlimited UPass for use on public transportation
  • Weekly fine arts event ticket
  • pre-departure and re-entry orientation
  • student services fee
    • Student Services fee includes access to various services available to all students through, including internet access to, the Learning & Writing Centers, Career Services, Academic Accessibility Office, Library, Department of Safety, Agapé Center for Local and Global Engagement, and other campus offices that provide services to students both on and off campus.

Note: additional fees students may encounter include housing and meals. Students are responsible for their own transportation to and from Chicago, IL.  Estimated total semester living expenses of $3,200 (including rent, meals, miscellaneous).

Credit Limit Policy for Semester-Long, Off-Campus Program

Typically when students study off-campus in Messiah-approved, semester-long programs, students earn between 13 and 18 credits. All students must be enrolled in at least 12 credits.

The tuition/fees charged for Messiah’s approved study abroad programs permits a student to complete 12-18 credits.  Messiah University will process up to 18 credits.  If a student completes more than 18 credits and would like the additional credits applied to their transcript, additional tuition will be charged for credits over 18 and would be assessed after the official transcript is received/processed by Messiah.

Updated 03 March 2023

Messiah Pre-Approval Deadlines

  • Fall - December 1
  • Spring - April 1

Chicago Semester Application Deadlines

  • Fall: March 1
  • Spring: May 1

All Messiah approved semester-long, off-campus programs are approved and designed to meet the requirements for the Experiential Learning Initiative (ELI). To learn more about the process, please explore the ELI Off-Campus Study Information Page.

Off-Campus study is a time of challenge and change. The following are some things you should understand about this program before you participate. Students at Chicago Semester should anticipate:

  • Living in regular, close-quarters community in a two-bedroom apartment with 3-5 other students, with shared bathrooms and bunk beds, kitchens, and communal spaces. All dependent of the apartment you find.
  • Living in an autonomous setting where a student is in charge of decisions such as meal planning/prep, budgeting, religious activity, etc. without the previously accustomed resources of their home campus (i.e. there is no cafeteria, housekeeping, required chapel, or free on-campus counseling services).
  • Sustaining a weekly schedule that requires evening studies after a full day of work at an internship
  • Walking an average of two miles a day during the work week when commuting to internships and in-city class sessions.
  • Spending time daily in the urban, culturally pluralistic context of Chicago, IL, engaging local midwesterners, taking public transportation (buses,the "el" (elevated trains), taxis), and exploring neighborhoods where stark imbalances between power and poverty often reside in the same space
  • Experiencing potentially challenging personal, political, religious, and cultural learning, lectures, field trips and assignments.