Liberal Studies Program > First-Year Program > CHICAGO QUARTER 2020

Chicago Quarter 2020

Every January here at DePaul, 300+ faculty, staff professionals and student mentors start the process of planning and preparing to deliver DePaul’s signature “Chicago Quarter” for the incoming freshman class. We’re glad you’re going to be part of that class. We look forward to meeting you because our biggest reward is seeing what happens when more than 2500 students, ready for their college adventure, get together and get to know 100+ different teaching teams and 100+ different perspectives on one great city.

Every year Chicago Quarter is different. This year it’s going to be really different! Just like you, back in January we didn’t expect the global health challenges that have changed all our lives.

We’ve had to make some big changes, and that’s what we’re explaining here. Before we go into the details, let us assure you about one thing that is not going to change:

We are 100% committed to delivering the kind of Chicago Quarter experience that has made our program nationally recognized — a unique team-taught combination of academic course content, experiential learning and the “Common Hour” that builds community and prepares students for academic success.  We want you to emerge from your class, thinking:

  • I’m glad I chose DePaul;
  • I’m glad I chose Chicago (or: I grew up in Chicago and I didn’t know half of this cool stuff!)
  • I’m glad I’ve got a great new bunch of friends;
  • I’m glad I’ve got a professor, a staff professional and a student mentor who know me and whom I know I can turn to during the next four years; and
  • Yeah, I can do this college thing!

So, the changes … two big ones. These have been difficult decisions, but we hope you’ll understand our reasons for making them.

First, due to changes necessitated by the current Covid-19 situation, all Discover Chicago classes will begin on Wednesday, September 9, and run through the full ten weeks of Autumn Quarter.  Excursions that would have taken place all during one week prior to Labor Day ("Immersion Week") will instead take place throughout Autumn Quarter.  This fall will see a new hybrid Discover Chicago experience featuring in-person class meetings supplemented by online resources, “remote” visits via Zoom and asynchronous activity (e.g., online modules, group work).

We care about your safety and the safety of the community you are joining.  When 3 million college freshmen across the nation start school in September, we will all have to take care. Immediately fanning out across the city in large groups may not be a great first step, and could quite possibly be ruled out by social-distancing guidelines that remain in place in Illinois. Having the full ten weeks at our disposal allows us to make judgments and adjustments, rather than finding ourselves having to cancel many Immersion Week outings at the last minute.

Explore Chicago, which has all along been scheduled to start on Sept. 9 and to run during the ten weeks of Autumn Quarter, is unaffected by the Immersion Week change.  A second change affects both Explore and Discover:  Some sections of Explore and Discover Chicago are being offered online.  Before we go on to explain our rationale, let’s answer one question you probably have:  What is an online class at DePaul like?

While DePaul is committed to in-person education, we are fortunate at this time to have the university’s award-winning online training and support available. All DePaul courses designated as “online” are taught by faculty who have received extensive training in the use of digital tools and the construction of online curricula. And remember, even though online Chicago Quarter courses will not require your physical presence on campus, you will still experience Chicago, via virtual visits with artists and performers, politicians and librarians, activists and scientists, people engaged in the private sector or the non-profit world, folks who live and work in Chicago’s neighborhoods and communities and proudly represent the city’s languages and cultures.

Our answer is threefold: social distancing, inclusion and safety. The university is adopting a strategy to preserve social distancing. If a significant number of students take just one online class this fall, we can lessen the density of traffic on campus.  With the Governor’s extension of shelter-in-place, and many concerns remaining about health risks in high-density urban areas on campus and around it, we chose to put the safety of students, staff, and faculty first. We could not be sure that all students would be able and willing to participate equally in classes on campus and excursions in the city. We believe fundamentally that no student should be excluded from our curriculum. We want to be sure that our students with medical or other concerns still have a unique Chicago Quarter experience with its own integrity.  Our online faculty, all of whom by the way also teach regular in-person classes, are working on that right now.

See you in September!

Meanwhile, if you have any questions (we’re guessing there could be a few), please contact us at and we will do our best to give you real, honest, accurate answers.

The best questions will wind up in our CQ2020 FAQ! (Coming​ soon!)