Special Areas of Study and Concentrations

Oakton Community College offers students the opportunity to tailor their educational experience. A special area of study or concentration supports students interested in selecting courses in the liberal arts and sciences that focus on a specific subject. This benefits students by making interdisciplinary connections among various general education courses, by creating a community of learners with similar interests who take classes together, and by permitting students to engage in more in-depth study in their area of interest, while completing general education requirements.

A student who successfully completes work in an Oakton special area of study or concentration will have an annotation on his or her official Oakton transcript noting this achievement. Upon request, the college will also provide a letter to transfer institutions affirming completion. These special areas of study and concentrations comply with Oakton prerequisite and degree requirements, including general education, course placements, and admission requirements for the Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degree. See STEM Transfer Recommendations for information about Oakton courses recommended for students wishing to pursue bachelor’s degrees in science, computer science, or mathematics.

Environmental Studies Concentration

The 19-semester-hour Environmental Studies Concentration (ESC) provides an interdisciplinary framework that promotes understanding of humanity’s impact on the natural environment and how the natural environment impacts human development; a critical appreciation of the importance of sustainability; and the central importance of integrating the work of the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities for a holistic and meaningful understanding of any environmental issue or problem. The disciplinary approaches of the natural and social sciences, as well as the humanities, are all essential to a full appreciation of the relationships between human systems and natural systems and any attempt to think critically and productively about how to best meet current environmental challenges.

The Environmental Studies Concentration prepares students for transfer into a variety of majors dealing with the environment, such as sustainability; environmental philosophy, law, and policy; environmental art and literature; environmental engineering and chemistry; conservation biology and natural resource management; and environmental journalism.

Most courses in the concentration meet the general education requirements and have IAI transfer codes. However, students should consult with the Environmental Studies coordinator to ensure that they are taking the necessary courses in each general education area.

Students meeting the requirements for the Environmental Studies Concentration will have a notation added to their transcript indicating successful completion. In order to receive this designation, students must complete an Environmental Studies Concentration completion form and meet with the Environmental Studies coordinator.

Environmental Studies Concentration Requirements

  1. Required courses – 7 credit hours
    • BIO 106 Introduction to Environmental Science, 4 credit hours
    • PHL 204 Environmental Ethics, 3 credit hours
  2. Elective options – 12 credit hours
    • at least three credit hours from a social science course with an ESC designation
    • at least three credit hours from a humanities course with an ESC designation (other than PHL 204)
    • at least three credit hours from a science course (other than BIO 106)
    • the last three credit hours from any course with an ESC designation.

For more information, contact ESC co-coordinators Paul Gulezian, Associate Professor of Biology, at 847-376-712 or pgulezia@oakton.edu, or Marian Staats, Professor of English, at 847-376-7103 or mstaats@oakton.edu.

Global Studies Concentration

The Global Studies Concentration is a fifteen (15-16) semester-credit-hour program designed to aid students in understanding the complex interrelationships among nations and peoples within the global society. The program presents a cross-disciplinary approach that allows students to explore the impact of forces such as culture/ethnicity/race, imperialism, globalization, industrialization, environmental sustainability, resistance movements, peace movements, and access to natural and human resources, including water, food, healthcare and education. It establishes a unique foundation for the pursuit of varied majors and careers, from liberal arts to social sciences to business.

Students meeting the requirements for the concentration will have a notation added to their transcript indicating successful completion. In order to receive this notation, students must complete a Global Studies Concentration Completion Form and meet with the Global Studies Coordinator.

Global Studies Concentration Requirements

  • SSC 201 Introduction to Global Studies, 3 credit hours.
  • One semester of a Modern Language.
    • Students may test out of this requirement if they already have a working knowledge of a second language or if their first language is not English.
    • Students are reminded that only a Modern Language course of 202 or higher counts for transfer as a general education course to a four-year institution.
  • Choose three (3) additional courses that are designated as Global Studies courses or sections. Courses are designated as Global Studies in the Class Schedule each semester.
    • Choose at least one course from Area D and one from Area E.
    • At least two of the courses must be focused on non-European/ non-Western topics.
    • If testing out of Modern Language requirement, students need to choose four (4) additional courses.

Global Scholars

Students can choose to meet higher requirements in order to be recognized as Global Scholars on their transcripts.

  • Complete all requirements above.
  • Maintain 3.0 GPA.
  • Complete at least two semesters of a Modern Language with and/or participate in a study abroad experience (either short-term or long-term).

For more information, contact Global Studies coordinator Katherine Schuster, Distinguished Professor of Education, at 847-376-7118 or schuster@oakton.edu.

Great Books

Great Books at Oakton encourages faculty and students to explore fundamental cultural themes through discussion of readings from both Western and non-Western traditions. Great Books courses are particular sections of standard courses offered in English, history, humanities, philosophy, and political science. Their titles and content are as described in the general course catalog with two variations: at least half of the readings in all Great Books courses are classic texts, and each course includes a significant theme, such as “democracy,” “beauty,” “the good life,” “morality,” or “citizenship.” Other benefits of Great Books courses are smaller classes that are student centered and discussion based. Great Books classes also help students enhance their reading, writing, and critical thinking skills, which can lead to greater success in advanced college courses and professional work.

To see the complete list of Great Books courses offered in a given semester, simply select “Great Books” from the “Category” menu in the online class listings. The designation of Great Books Scholar will appear on the transcripts of all Oakton students who earn credit for three or more Great Books courses.

For more information, contact Great Books coordinator Michael Mauritzen, Associate Professor of English, at 847-376-7292 or mmauritz@oakton.edu, or visit www.oakton.edu/greatbooks.

Honors at Oakton

Oakton offers Honors courses for students with strong achievement records in high school and for students who have excelled at Oakton. Honors at Oakton includes Core Seminars, small, challenging honors sections of regular courses taught by outstanding faculty, as well as an active co-curricular and social program. Honors courses transfer either as general education or elective credits. All Honors courses are specially marked on the transcript. There are two ways to participate in Honors at Oakton. Students admitted to Honors may:

  • take one or several Honors classes and Honors contracts in areas of their interest, or
  • pursue the Honors Scholar degree designation, which requires 18 credit hours of Honors course work including one Honors Core Seminar, a 6-credit-hour interdisciplinary learning experience comprised of two courses taught as a learning community.

Honors students have transferred to many colleges and universities including Northwestern University, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, Oberlin, and Grinnell. Students enrolled in career programs at Oakton may fulfill general education requirements in appropriate Honors courses.

Requirements

A new student must have one of the following to be admitted to Honors at Oakton:

  • a 3.5 GPA at any accredited college
  • an ACT score of 25 or an SAT score of 1200.

A currently enrolled student may be eligible for Honors at Oakton by maintaining a GPA of 3.5 or above for at least 12 credit hours of college course work, or a 3.25 GPA with at least one instructor recommendation. Students with slightly lower GPA may request an interview to determine eligibility. Students with associate’s degrees or bachelor’s degrees may also be admitted.

For more information, contact the Honors co-coordinators, Kristin McCartney, Professor of Philosophy, or Bradley Young, Associate Professor of Mathematics, at honors@oakton.edu, or visit www.oakton.edu/honors for a list of Honors courses offered each semester.

Jewish Studies Concentration

The 18-semester-hour Jewish Studies Concentration provides an interdisciplinary study of Jews and Judaism. The concentration is constructed to provide students and the wider community with a forum that encourages dialogue across different academic disciplines. Central values are dedicated to the support of academic research, civic and community outreach, coordination with Jewish organizations, public lecture series, and symposia that both educate and challenge all members of our community of learners to be informed, responsible and capable global citizens.

To satisfy the core requirements for the concentration, students will take HIS 136 and HIS 228, along with four approved courses, as detailed below. Students meeting the requirements for the concentration will have a notation added to their transcript. In order to receive this notation, students must complete a Jewish Studies Concentration Completion Form and meet with the Jewish Studies coordinator.

Jewish Studies Concentration Requirements

  • HIS 136 Introduction to Jewish Studies, 3 credit hours
  • HIS 228 History of the Holocaust, 3 credit hours
  • Choose four (4) additional courses that are designated as Jewish Studies courses or sections. A list of approved sections each semester is available at www.oakton.edu/jewish_studies

For more information, contact Jewish Studies coordinator Wendy Adele-Marie, Professor of History, at jewishstudies@oakton.edu or 847-635-1458, or visit www.oakton.edu/jewish_studies.

Peace and Social Justice Studies Concentration

The 15-semester-hour Peace and Social Justice Studies Concentration is designed for students concerned about contemporary conflicts, racial injustice, environmental destruction and violence around the world. The courses in this program will help students learn about such issues of social justice and to explore creative solutions and alternatives through the study of actual struggles for and theories of justice, peace and non-violence.

The concentration presents a broad, interdisciplinary approach to the study of peace and social justice, and includes courses in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. It establishes a unique foundation for the pursuit of various majors upon transfer, including peace and justice studies, teaching, social work, law, international relations, sociology, psychology, philosophy. It can help students pursuing degrees in the sciences, health sciences or mathematics connect their fields and work to the goals of social justice and non-violence.

Courses usually meet the general education requirements and have IAI transfer codes. Students should work closely with the Peace and Social Justice Studies coordinator to ensure that they are taking the needed courses in each general education area. Students meeting the requirements for the concentration will have a notation added to their transcript. In order to receive this notation, students must complete a Peace and Social Justice Studies Concentration Completion Form and meet with the Peace and Social Justice Studies coordinator.

Peace and Social Justice Studies Concentration Requirements

  • SSC 201 Introduction to Global Studies, 3 credit hours
  • PHL 106 Ethics, 3 credit hours
  • Choose three (3) additional courses that are designated as Peace and Social Justice Studies courses or sections. A comprehensive list of approved sections each semester is available in the Class Schedule under Peace and Social Justice Studies.

For more information, contact Peace and Social Justice Studies coordinator Madhuri Deshmukh, Distinguished Professor of English, at 847-376-7032 or mdeshmuk@oakton.edu, or visit www.oakton.edu/peacestudies.

Theater Concentration

The 18-semester-hour theater concentration is designed for students with an interest in theater. Students will experience different learning pedagogies within a common theme as they complete their general education requirements and prepare for transfer with a solid knowledge base and concentrated portfolio in the performing arts. The curriculum includes a core of fundamental courses in acting and stagecraft, along with multiple options for courses in speech, humanities, and literature, many of which have IAI transfer codes.

Students meeting the requirements for the theater concentration will have a notation added to their transcript. In order to receive the notation, students must meet with the Chair of Performing Arts and submit a Theater Concentration Completion Form.

Theater Concentration Requirements

Required Courses:

  • HUM 131 Introduction To Theater, 3 credit hours
  • THE 103 Fundamentals Of Acting, 3 credit hours
  • THE 135 Stagecraft I, 3 credit hours
  • THE 202 Intermediate Acting, 3 credit hours

Elective Options:

  • EGL 113 Introduction To Drama, 3 credit hours
  • EGL 234 Introduction To Shakespeare, 3 credit hours
  • SPE 103 Effective Speech, 3 credit hours
  • SPE 104 Oral Interpretation, 3 credit hours
  • SPE 105 Training Of The Speaking Voice, 3 credit hours
  • THE 115 Stage Lighting, 3 credit hours
  • THE 130 Directing, 3 credit hours
  • THE 136 Stagecraft II, 3 credit hours
  • THE 140 Stage Movement, 3 credit hours
  • THE 156 Acting for the Camera, 3 credit hours

For more information, contact Theater Concentration coordinator John Frisco, Professor of Speech and Theater, at 847-635-1958 or jfrisco@oakton.edu, or visit www.oakton.edu/theater.

Women’s and Gender Studies

Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS) encourages students to think creatively about how gender and sexuality shape our experiences. Using interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary approaches, and drawing on feminist principles that encourage cooperative methods of learning and research, WGS fosters critical thinking that links gender to other categories of our shared social experience, such as class, race, ethnicity, nationality, and sexual orientation. The curriculum highlights the often overlooked contributions of women to diverse histories of people around the globe, as well as to the humanities and the social and natural sciences.

Students may take individual Women’s and Gender Studies courses and special sections to fulfill transfer requirements in a number of areas. Non-degree seeking students are also welcome to take classes for personal enrichment. In addition, a concentration is available to students who wish to transfer to Women’s and Gender Studies at four-year institutions or to explore the discipline in a more comprehensive way.

Women’s and Gender Studies Requirements

  • Successful completion of 15 semester credit hours of Women’s and Gender Studies courses or special sections
  • Successful completion (C or better) of HUM 140 Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies
  • Completion of an “Action Project” that fosters community outreach and personal development. Acceptable sample projects include service learning projects, organizing for student clubs, community organizations or political campaigns, or facilitating student excursions to museums, concerts or speakers series. Project must have the approval of the Women’s and Gender Studies coordinator.

For more information, contact WGS coordinator Lindsey Hewitt, Professor of Anthropology and Humanities, at 847-376-7044 or lhewitt@oakton.edu, or visit www.oakton.edu/wgs.