First established in 1867, the College of DuPage (COD) is a two year community college serving Illinois Community College District 502, which encompasses most of DuPage County, rural sections of Cook County, and Will County. The main campus is located in Glen Ellyn. There are also facilities in Carol Stream, Naperville, West Chicago, Addison, Bloomingdale, and Westmont.
With over 30,000 students, COD is the largest American community college outside of California and the second-largest institution of higher learning in Illinois. The library contains roughly a quarter-million books, 30,000 video recordings, over 20,000 sound recordings, and more than 500 periodical subscriptions. The main campus covers 275 acres with 11 buildings and ambitious plans to continue expansion.
More than 25 percent of all high school graduates in District 502 attend the college at least part-time at some point after high school. It is a popular place for continuing education; nearly 20% of students enrolled already possess at least a bachelor’s degree. Overall, there are more than 90 certificate and degree programs in 59 occupational programs and 45 programs for students intending to transfer to a four-year institution. In addition to the main campus and the six regional centers, classes are conducted at over 90 off-site locations.
All nine associate degrees require completing a general education core in communication, physical and life sciences, mathematics, humanities and the fine arts, and social and behavioural sciences. The main academic divisions are: Business and Technology; Continuing Education/Extended Learning; Health and Sciences; Learning Resources; and Liberal Arts.
The architecture department is one of their strongest programs, and many graduates go on to transfer to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of Illinois Chicago Circle, and other four year institutions with strong architecture departments. Students in architecture learn about new green design materials in the field, the intricacies of qualifying for LEED certification, and how to use computer design programs such as AutoCAD and Revit. Degrees in architecture include Architecture Certification, Pre-Architecture, and Construction Management. In recent years, the college has developed certificate programs for renewable energy, sustainable landscapes, and sustainable interiors.
The college has a highly unique and notable meteorology department—it isn’t often that a student can get credit for storm chasing! Meteorology students have a high rate of transfer to four year institutions, and many alumni work for the National Weather Service, National Severe Storms Laboratory, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and as television weather forecasters. Students in the department participate in community skywarn programs as advance spotters.
One of the newest initiatives is a Homeland Security Degree. The college had previously offered a one-year certificate in Homeland Security. With the addition of courses such as Multiculturalism and Diversity in Criminal Justice, Critical Incident Management, and Introduction to Bio-Security and Bio-Terrorism.
Most Popular Fields of Study
Unique programs include:
Adult Fast Track, an accelerated program for adults over 21 who work or have dependents or both and need to expedite their educations while accommodating their schedules.
COD Online, a distance education program with over 200 classes in 42 fields of study. One of the advantages to online education is that students pay in-district tuition rate regardless of residency, unlike classroom-based courses.
Cooperative Education and Internships match students with workplace opportunities for credit. Among other employers, the school partners with Disney Theme Parks & Resorts to provide paid internships in many fields of study.
Field and Experiential Learning gets students out of the classroom and into real-world activities in their field of study Field and Experiential Learning courses are grouped into four categories: Weekend and Outdoor, Natural Science, Social Science and Cultural, and International. Students can get credit for spending five days in New York exploring Broadway theater, visiting an intentional living community over the weekends while studying simple living, completing a service project in Zanzibar, cooking with master chefs in Tuscany, or watching (and analyzing) unaired episodes of I Love Lucy.
Flexible Learning (known on campus as “Flex”) is a series of more than a hundred self-directed courses across the curriculum. Students work on their classroom materials at their own pace, checking in with their professor about their progress at regular intervals. Flex courses contain the same academic material as many classroom courses and count for credit.
Honors Program is designed for students who plan to transfer to competitive four-year institutions after their studies. Classes in the Honors Program focus on creative thinking, a close reading of primary texts, and the Socratic method in classroom discussions.
Learning Communities is a program that connects courses with a common theme across the disciplines. For instance, the theme Exploring Families in a Global Classroom pairs the course Sexual Relationships, Marriage, and Family with the course Civilization and Culture of Japan. A group of students engage in Learning Communities together, bringing their discussions from each class into an integrated whole.
Program 8 is an intensive course of study that condenses classes normally taught during a 16 week semester into 8 weeks. This program is designed for highly motivated students who wish to either graduate more quickly or create flexibility in their schedules.
Study Abroad options take students all around the world through field studies in various disciplines, summer language immersion sessions, and semester-long programs in partnership with other schools. Specialized scholarships are available to students who pursue studies abroad.
Vocational Skills offers courses to students in their catchment area who live with the challenges of mild to moderate cognitive impairment. Classes include Basic Employment Skills, Keyboard Skills, Automotive Skills, Horticultural Skills, and more.
For all student applicants, the fall application deadline is at the beginning of June. For priority students, financial aid applications are normally due no later than early April—check the website for the exact dates for your year of application.
In addition to the usual range of grants and loans available to college students in the United States, College of Dupage offers over a hundred targeted scholarships for their students. Unique and notable scholarships include several John Belushi scholarships for theater and music students (continuing the Blues Brothers tradition), scholarships for single parents, a number of scholarships for future professional gardeners, scholarships for studying abroad, and a whopping 40 half-tuition scholarships for adult students.
Student Financial Aid Details
Clubs and Organizations
There are several dozen student clubs on campus, including many academic and pre-professional clubs, culture and ethnic clubs, faith-based clubs, honors societies, literary and performing arts clubs, political clubs, and service oriented clubs. The main campus houses National Public Radio affiliate WDCB 90.9 and the widely acclaimed literary magazine Prairie Light Review. In addition to the biannual Prairie Light Review, Publications include the Courier, a weekly student newspaper, and the Chaparral, a monthly themed magazine.
Facilities for Students with Disabilities
In order to make college education accessible to everyone in their catchment area who wishes to take advantage of it, the school offers reading pens, oversized computer monitors, mobility assistance, preferential seating, sign language interpreters, an FM system, TTY, voice-activated assistive technology, large print and Braille texts, barrier-free parking, and both manual and electric wheelchairs.
Student Enrollment Demographics
The Chaparral (known more commonly as a roadrunner) is the college’s mascot, allegedly because students had to run quickly from building to building in order to get to classes on time back in the late 1960’s. The Chaparrals belong to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). Competitive sports include football, baseball, softball, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, men’s soccer, women’s soccer, cross-country, track and field, swimming, diving, tennis, golf, and volleyball. The men’s and women’s basketball teams, tennis teams, and outdoor track and field have strong winning records with several division III championships to their names.
Well known alumni include:
- Brothers Jim and John Belushi
- Animal rights activist, author, talk show host, and philosophy professor Steven Best
- Fulbright Scholar and professor Werner Krieglstein
- Actress Marisol Nichols
- Writer and actor Bob Odenkirk
- Olympic athlete Tom Pukstys
- NFL football player Paul Spicer
Elisabeth Bailey is a freelance writer and editor with particular interests in academics, food,and sustainability . She is also the author of A Taste of the Maritimes: Local, Seasonal Recipes the Whole Year Round and writes regularly for Canadian Farmers’ Almanac and the National Wildlife Federation. Elisabeth and her family live and enjoy great local food in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.