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Click the (+) on each of the drop-down menus below for answers to frequently asked questions.

Don't see your question on here? Email us at and we'll get back to you within one week day!

Application Process

  • How many letters of recommendation do I need?
    Only 1 letter of recommendation is required, though we are happy to take 2 if you'd like to submit them. 

  • Is it okay if my letter of rec hasn't come in before the application deadline?
    Yes, we interview students even if their letter of rec hasn't come in yet. However, we cannot make a final decision about whether you are accepted into the program until your letter of rec is submitted. 

  • How important is my GPA?
    We understand that students' knowledge, thoughtfulness, and intelligence is often not reflected within the traditional academic guidelines of a grade point average. Thus, we take students with all GPA levels, though you will be asked to explain your GPA number if it is below 2.5. 

  • What happens after I submit my application?
    After you submit your application on MCompass, you will be contacted by SiD Associate Director Craig Regester or Program Coordinator Marion Van Dam to schedule an in-person interview. All students who apply are granted interviews, wherein we ask you a bit about your application, your relationship to Detroit, and anything else that may come up. Interviews are casual and usually last anywhere from 30 minutes - 1 hour. After the interview, we will let send you an email letting you know your status in the program. If accepted, you will have 2 weeks to confirm your spot in the program.

  • How many students do you accept each semester?
    We accept up to 20 students per semester; we generally have a waitlist for spring/summer and recommend applying as early as possible. In the fall, this number includes students from Grand Valley State University, so our cap on UM-Ann Arbor students is closer to 15. 

Costs & Financial Aid

  • How much will Semester in Detroit cost?
    There is no program fee for participating in Semester in Detroit. As a UM student, you will pay normal UM tuition rates, just as you would to take classes on Ann Arbor's campus. If you are a Grand Valley student participating in our fall program, you will pay normal Grand Valley tuition rates. Please visit our Cost & Financial Aid page for a more detailed budget.

  • Will I be able to get a paying job in addition to the internship placement?
    Maybe, but most students will not have the extra time to work for pay in addition to taking classes and doing the internship. In the spring/summer program, it is much more difficult to fit in time for an extra job due to intensity of the class and internship schedule. In the fall, however, there is more flexibilty in students' schedules, which may allow time for an extra job. This being said, we do our best to help cover students costs so that they don't need to work a job and can fully engage with the city and their classes and internships. 

  • Does Semester in Detroit have fellowship funds to help students with expenses?
    Semester in Detroit has limited scholarship funds available to students with particular circumstances of financial need. Our application process includes opportunities for prospective students to articulate their specific economic circumstances and how they might impact their ability to participate in our program.  SiD is committed to enabling as many qualified students as possible to participate in our program regardless of their financial limitations. There are also many departmental scholarships you can apply for to help cover costs. You can find a list of these on our Cost & Financial Aid pages.  

  • How will participating in Semester in Detroit affect financial aid that I have been awarded?
    In general, participation in SID does not change your financial aid award.  Of course, the specific circumstances regarding financial aid are unique to each UM student. If this is a concern, please contact us at

Housing & Getting Around

  • What are the arrangements for housing?
    Semester in Detroit helps coordinate housing for students participating in our program. There are generally two housing options, the Cass Corridor Commons, or Wayne State University's student apartments. You can read more about both options on our "Living in Detroit" pages for spring/summer and fall semesters.
  • Can I live at home or find a different place to live, not a provided SiD campus or community option?
    No - living in Detroit and becoming a temporary resident is a pivotal aspect of Semester in Detroit. Even if you are from the city, you will have a very different experience living as an independent adult in the city as opposed to living at home with your family. By putting down roots for a semester, students from outside the city become more deeply invested in ways that don’t happen when they commute in and out of the city. Additionally, we find that living with your peers in the cohort provides opportunities for learning and growth that wouldn't be possible otherwise. 

  • Do I need a car to participate?
    No, you do not need a car. As a program, we do our best to help alleviate transporation issues, including encouraging the use of buses and other public transit. When absolutely necessary, we will provide a UM vehicle for students to get to and from internships. However, many of the internships are located in or near the Cass Corridor/Midtown area and reachable by bike, bus or foot. If you own a car, you are welcome to bring it, but you will be responsible for paying for parking. Note: if you choose an internship site that requires you to bring a car, the program cannot reimburse you for mileage.

Curriculum and Distribution

  • What are the main elements of the SiD curriculum?
    Complete descriptions of the SiD curriculums for spring/summer and fall programs are online. The key components are: History of 20th Century Detroit, a community-based internship internship , a weekly reflective seminar, and 1-2 elective courses. All classes are taught at the UM Detroit Center (3663 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI), or the Cass Corridor Commons (4605 Cass Ave., Detroit, MI).

  • What are the elective course options?
    These can vary from one year to the next; however, the past several years have steadily offered Grassroots Community Organizing for Environmental Justice and Creative Writing courses.  See the Detroit-Based Electives page for more information.

  • How will the Semester in Detroit curriculum contribute to what I need to do to graduate on time?
    Most SiD courses can be used to meet distribution requirements for the social sciences and the humanities. In some cases, SiD courses can be used to meet concentration requirements (but this is ultimately determined by your concentration advisor).

  • How will the curriculum help me to complete the LSA minor in Urban Studies?
    Successful completion of the fall term of the Semester in Detroit program will fulfill all but one course requirement for an LSA minor in Urban Studies. The additional requirement (not a prerequisite) is a core course in urban studies offered on the Ann Arbor campus through the Residential College. The spring term of Semester in Detroit will count for 9 credits towards the minor, and will require most students to take two additional classes on main campus.

Spring/Summer Term vs. Fall Term

  • What's the difference between the spring and fall programs?
    The spring/summer program is open only to U-M Ann Arbor students. It begins in early May and runs through July.  The first two months can be quite intensive: students participate in accelerated classes about 15 hours per week while also interning for 16 hours per week. Also, students only have room in their schedule to choose one of two elective course options. In July, after spring classes have ended, the rhythm and pacing of the program change significantly: students intern for 32 hours per week and meet one day a week with their cohort.  Students who complete the spring program need to take two additional course to earn a Minor in Urban Studies.  

    The fall program is open to students from UM-Ann Arbor, UM-Dearborn, Grand Valley State University and Henry Ford College. It begins in late August (required program orientation is the week before Labor Day), and runs through mid-December.  The rhythm and pacing are much steadier compared to the spring program: students are in classes for 8-11 hours per week (fall students can choose between one or both SiD electives) and intern for 16 hours per week.  UM-Ann Arbor students who complete the fall program need to take only one additional required course to earn a Minor in Urban Studies.


  • Do I need to find my own internship?
    No, the Semester in Detroit program has developed strong partnerships with over 50 Detroit-based organizations, including: big/small non-profits, arts/culture organizations, elected officials, and groups involved in small business development, education, public policy, media, and much more. Click here to see a full list of our partner organizations.

  • Will I get to choose my internship?
    Yes, ultimately you will get to choose the internship that best fits with your interests. Please keep in mind, however, that this is a mutual process with our community partners, and that they have the final decision on whether or not to accept you as an intern. 

  • What kinds of work will I do?
    There is a broad range of possibilities for internship sites as well as projects. All will depend on which Detroit organizations successfully apply and are accepted into the program. SID staff and faculty are committed to pairing students with the internship that best meets their academic and career interests.

  • Are the internships paid?
    No - in lieu of payment, you receive academic credit for your internship (2 credits in the spring/summer semester and 4 credits in fall). That said, there are many opportunities for scholarships in addition to the academic credit you will receive. Read more in our "Costs & Financial Aid" sections for spring/summer and fall.