Get the Best of Both Worlds with Chicago Field Studies

Graduation season is fast approaching, and seniors aren’t the only ones planning for the future. Many Northwestern students want to begin developing their careers, but balancing academic and professional goals can be difficult. One great way to achieve this is through Chicago Field Studies, a program which allows students to gain academic credit along with meaningful internship experience. Due to a recent deadline extension, students now have until May 31 to submit their application. Interested students must attend an information session either online or in-person. While rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors are all eligible to apply, usually about half of the students who participate are juniors.

There are two primary parts of the Chicago Field Studies (CFS) program: the internship itself, as well as a class offered through the University. The class meets for three hours once a week, with potential additional field trips. Students work at their internship throughout the rest of the week, with the internship and number of credits being received determining the exact number of hours.

While CFS does not guarantee internships for students, over 95 percent of those accepted to the program are able to secure an internship. This is in part due to the special resources offered to participants, including one-on-one meetings with a CFS advisor to discuss resumes, practice for interviews, and more. Students applying for the fall 2018 program will have until September 22 to find an internship.


CFS participants can choose from ten different class options based on the field of their internship and what is most applicable to their interests. While participants are not required to choose an internship related to their major, it is important for them to find an internships they are passionate about. For example, a student looking for an internship in education may want to take Field Studies in Civic Engagement, while someone with an internship in consulting and banking may choose Business Field Studies. Additionally, some classes are considered “variable course classes,” meaning that they can be taken for one, two, three, or four credits. This allows the option for students to participate in CFS while also taking other classes at Northwestern. Although the internship is an important part of the CFS program, it is the class alone that will ultimately determine student grades for the quarter.

Participants still pay their regular tuition, and financial aid will follow students throughout their quarter in the program. Students that end up with unpaid internships may not have time to work another job in addition to their internship and coursework. Instead, these students are eligible to apply for the CFS Scholarship, which can subsidize the cost of transportation and the potential financial loss of work-study funds. For more information about financial planning for food and transportation costs, visit the CFS webpage.

With 500 students a year participating in the program, Chicago Field Studies has been very popular with Northwestern students, and it’s easy to see why. The opportunity to gain experience in the workplace while simultaneously receiving college credit enables students to “do it all” while staying on track academically. Gaining real-world experience is invaluable in preparing for success post-graduation, so consider applying to the Chicago Field Studies program at some point in your Northwestern career. With a 99.5 percent satisfaction rate, you definitely won’t regret your choice.