To all Prospective DePaul students

Yogesh Singh
Mar 15, 2018 · 9 min read

Since the end of 2017, I’m getting a lot of requests from upcoming students to DePaul about the courses taught here, specifically HCI. That’s exciting and I’m glad to answer all their queries but why should I write the same thing over and over? So I thought, why not make a blog post that anybody can read and refer to! So, without a further ado, let’s look have an overview of the DePaul University. For the purpose of reference, I’ll use the course which I’m doing: MS in Human-Computer Interaction. And, most of the information applies to International Students, specifically to F1 (in most cases).


The Course

  • It is a 52-credit hour degree and it excludes the Introductory courses from it which are 4 in total and are not counted towards your degree and these are: IT 411: Scripting for Interactive Systems, HCI 406: Web Site Design for HCI, HCI 402: Foundations of Digital Design, IT 403: Statistics and Data Analysis.
  • Introductory courses are mandatory courses too but you can get waiver if you show relevant experience. For example, I got waiver for IT 411, HCI 402 and HCI 406 because I had experience in designing websites and graphics from the Freelance work I did in India. However, I could not get IT 403 waived and I had to take that course.
  • See if you can waive these courses if you already have an experience or have studied previously. To do that, you need to submit a course waiver or take a Graduate Assessment Exam (GAE).
  • Introductory courses are not counted towards your degree progress but are counted towards your GPA and if you’re taking you have to pay for them additionally than the regular courses.
  • You need at least B- (about 80%) in all introductory courses and C- (about 70%) in rest of the courses. And, you need to maintain at least 2.5 GPA.
  • Most of the HCI courses have either Projects or Assignments, just a handful of them have final exams. Some courses have mid-terms and finals but some would just have final projects. There would also be Quizzes (depending on the course requirement).
  • The white boards are digital so whatever the professor writes is digital. Courses are taught via presentations or in-class activities or combination of both and there may or may not be an in-class activity.
  • All the assignments and projects are submitted in digital format online on the D2L portal which houses all information about the courses you are taking such as Assignment deadlines, class list, discussion boards, recorded lectures.

The Degree

  • DePaul works on quarter system and we have 4 quarters (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter) and 2 intersessions (Summer and Winter) to complete 1 year of study.
  • Each quarter is completed in 10 weeks, about 2.5 months and you’d meet just 10 times (1 day every week). This means that you’ll complete a quarter in just 10 classes.
  • Summer quarter and December Intersession quarters are exceptions where Summer is taught in two formats: Summer 1 and Summer 2 (5 weeks each) and 10-week Summer (full quarter), and you would complete a course in 5 weeks if you are enrolled in either of summer intersession quarters.
  • Almost all of the courses have classes in the evening typically from 05:45 PM to 09:00 PM. So for example you’ve taken HCI 402 and the class is on Monday, you’ll meet every Monday until you finals and at the specified time.
  • Most of the courses are 4 credit hours and some, like internship or portfolio courses have variable credit hours.
  • Almost all the courses are offered both online and in-class but as an International student you have to take at least 1 course in-class or 4 credits in-class (whichever is higher).
  • Almost all of the lectures are recorded so you can view them anytime after about 2 hours of your class.
  • The duration of the degree is variable and depends on how many courses you take each quarter. This means that you can complete your degree in 1 year even though this is not recommended.

Course Waiver/GAE

  • DePaul offers it’s students to get waiver from some or all of their Introductory courses. To to that you can either submit a Waiver Form or take a GAE Exam.
  • Both course waiver and GAE exams are free to apply.
  • Where, on one hand, you can take GAE at any point of time, even during your quarters. One the other hand, you can only apply for course waiver before the respective course is started (if you’re taking it unless you can do the same for course waiver).
  • To apply for course waiver, you need to submit some supportive documents or links which can demonstrate your past experience with the course.
  • Waivers are completely dependent on the Advisor and the Committee. They can deny you a waiver even if you have experience but you’ll be provided with proper reason why you cannot be given a waiver.
  • However, you do not need any approval for GAE exam. If you pass the exam with B- (about 80%) or higher, you’ll get the waiver.

Fee structure

  • Per credit hour fee for College of Computing and Digital Media, basically the college which as HCI degree, is $830 for academic year of 2018–19.
  • This means that the total cost is $830 x 52 credit hours = $43,160. This cost excludes your living expenses. Add about $10,000 per year for housing and food (if you are planning to live on or around campus).
  • The fee also includes a health insurance which is about $270 per quarter and Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) pass (for L-train and CTA pass) (added to your quarterly fee and total cost).
  • There are a few Scholarships for Graduate Students but much more for Undergraduate Students. These can help you lower your burden.
  • There are also Undergraduate Teaching Assistantships and Graduate Assistantship positions available for students. These require recommendations and references from your professors and are generally compensated through a stipend by waiving-off your fee for the quarter you’re Teaching/Graduate Assistant.

Advisors

  • You’ll be assigned an advisor for you academics, career and others so you can simply make an appointment and meet whenever you want except Summer and probably Winter intersession.
  • If you face any difficulties in studies or if want help in your studies, you can make an appointment with a Tutor based on your course but remember not all courses have tutors, only a few of them have.
  • Appointments are just 30 minutes long whether they are with any kind of advisor.
  • There are advisors for almost every type of problem during your degree such as emotional advisor and even sexual health advisor but they’re not directly assigned to you but you can simply do the walk-in if you have something to discuss about.

Tutors

  • Certain courses such as Statistics or Python or Java have designated tutors to help students find answers to the problems they are stuck on in their homework.
  • Tutoring appointments are FREE.
  • Be mindful that they will not sit with you for your entire homework. They neither are allowed to do it nor will they do it if you ask.
  • To meet a tutor you can either just walk-in or will have to book an appointment via the university portal.
  • Appointments are generally 30 minutes long but can be extended based on the availability of the tutor and the rules set by the department. Some departments do not allow more that 30 minutes with a tutor.
  • Tutoring services are not offered during the Summer quarter and during final exams week every quarter.
  • Tutoring services will also not help you for your take-home tests or exams or mid-term exams.
  • There is also a Writing center where you can book 30 minute or longer appointment to improve your writing skills if you are taking an English class or writing a research paper or blog or something like that.

On-campus or Off-Campus Job

  • You cannot do off-campus job until you complete your 3rd quarter (including 8 credit hours in each quarter). You can do on-campus job until then.
  • You can do an Internship only after your 3rd ‘study’ quarter. Study quarter means if you enroll for the degree in Spring and take Summer off, you can do internship after Autumn, if you took class in Summer, then you can do Internship in Summer.
  • If you want to do off-campus job you have to take CPT and you can do your CPT for 4 credit hours maximum.
  • You cannot do freelancing even until you’re eligible for off-campus job.
  • You can only do 20 hours per week of accumulated on-campus/off-campus job during regular quarters. However, during break quarters such as Summer quarter, you can do 40 hours per week.

Full-time job

  • Don’t ask me about what percentage of students get job each year or each quarter. I don’t do that math, sorry!
  • Chicago is a technology hub and there are hundreds of jobs for each major of student to apply, so there are plenty of jobs opening up every now and then.
  • There is no day when you will not find some company wanting to hire someone. So, don’t feel like Chicago is inferior to San Francisco. Well, it really is, in a way, but there is no shortage of jobs either.
  • Not just downtown but even suburban areas have lots of tech and business companies with big offices.
  • In downtown Chicago, there are plenty of big companies having their offices, so if you are someone who settles no less than, say, Google or Salesforce or Accenture, they are there for you, with new opportunities every quarter.
  • Since I mentioned International students, here are few things for International students related to full-time job. You need an OPT to do a full-time or part-time job after you graduate. Though, in certain cases you can also get OPT while you are studying.
  • International students get 1 year of OPT once you get a job, to apply for H1 visa and if you don’t get F1 visa in first round or the application deadline has passed, you can get 2 years of OPT extension if your degree is a STEM degree.
  • The above statement also means that International students would need a Sponsorship from the company hiring them. It is a sponsorship for your work visa. And, that’s where there is a little trouble happening right now because some companies are not sponsoring H1 visas. The only way to know is to ask them during the interview or find it written under job description.

Mentorship

  • You’ll get a chance to have an International Student Experience Exchange (ISEE) Mentor.
  • ISEE Mentor is just the same International Student as you but the difference is that the Mentor have completed significant amount of time in his/her degree and have most of the information about the University and the City.
  • Having a Mentor is both resourceful and fun! You’ll get to know much more about the University culture, attend fun events, hang-out and make new friends.
  • And, when you think you have enough experience, you can be a Mentor too! Although this is an unpaid position but it is very interesting, you build communication skills and this looks great on your Resume too!

The City

  • The city of Chicago is amazing! It a lively place and events are going on year round throughout the city.
  • Though the city is great to live in but beware of the crimes going-on. The crime rates are not as high but still, its advised to be aware of your surroundings.
  • DePaul is renowned throughout Illinois and the city is a kind-of tech hub, so if you study well, you wouldn’t have any problem in getting a job.
  • Many big companies like Apple, Microsoft, Motorola, etc. have their offices here.
  • The cost of living inside the downtown is very high. Expect about $1000–5000 per month for an apartment in the downtown area which we call “The Loop”. Though the cost of living outside of the Loop is lower by about $500–1000 per month, depending on where you are living.

Finding housing

  • There are plenty of way to find a place to live. DePaul has it’s own dorms in Lincoln Park and Loop campuses with shared housing pricing starting from $900. Though the price may change in future due to inflation. Here’s the website of Department of Housing: https://offices.depaul.edu/housing/Pages/default.aspx
  • DePaul also has a website for off-campus housing listings which you can visit here: https://offcampushousing.depaul.edu/
  • Apart from that you can visit websites like apartments.com, domu.com, zillow.com, trulia.com, chicago.craigslist.com and many others. There are lots of Facebook groups dedicated to campus-related housing and general rental postings.
  • You can even trade furniture from those facebook groups if you are interested in keeping your prices low.

More Questions?

If you have more questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to DePaul Admissions at admissions@depaul.edu for admission related questions if you haven’t get got into DePaul. If you get into DePaul, Congratulations first! For your questions there is a web directory where you can lookup a department and find their contact information here: https://directory.depaul.edu/


I hope this was more than enough information for you to begin with but still if you have doubts feel free to drop a comment below and if you appreciate my effort, you can hit the “Clap” button.

Thanks for reading!

Yogesh Singh

Written by

Interaction design, Photography and lots of experiments.

More From Medium

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade