A Christian College of the Liberal Arts & Sciences

City Semester Program

Since the 12th century, cities have been the focal points for artistic, commercial, political, religious and intellectual activity. Understanding the dynamics of interpersonal city life, grasping the mechanisms that make a city work, becoming comfortable with the city’s diversity, and learning to enjoy city life are important skills for making a difference in America in the 21st century. Houghton College’s City Semester in Buffalo, NY provides a curriculum that enriches and deepens liberal arts learning by studying important historical, literary, political and cultural texts through the lens of involved city life. Around a core course focused on the city itself as a text, students will participate in a variety of internship opportunities and other relevant coursework, while living and learning communally in Buffalo. In addition to the newfound diversity brought by recent refugee immigration, Buffalo’s rich history and strategic location in an area that encompasses one of the biggest economic markets in the world places it between the past and the future; this makes it an ideal classroom for students to experience and participate in an urban environment in the midst of these exciting transitions.

What students are saying: 

  • "City Semester is fantastic.  I would highly recommend this program to all students and majors." 

  • "City semester is amazing, the community, the involvement in the city, the opportunity for internships were incredible!" 

  • "Teaches one how to interact with city inhabitants that are dizzyingly diverse.  Demands we be authentic with our faith and in our interactions with those of different backgrounds."

Required Courses

  • HIS/POLS 341 Conceptualizing the City (4-6 hours – History/Political Science)
    Explores the history of cities and ideas that have shaped both their objective development and our subjective experience of them. Reading ranges over works of history, philosophy, literary fiction and social science.

  • BURMN/BPSY/BSOC 325 Life in the City (3 hours – Urban Ministry/Psychology/Sociology)
    The theme of urban life and mission as related to the sociology and psychology of the city is developed, focusing on life and ministry in the complexity and diversity of New York State’s second largest city.

  • BINTS 275 Engaging Urban Culture (1 hour – Integrative Studies)
    This course is an exploration in multiple aspects of urban culture, and will provide academic structure that will help students to experience, explore and understand the complex diversity of Buffalo.

Optional Courses

Students make take additional hours, not to exceed 18 total hours of credit.

  • Internship Experience (4-6 hours – Chosen field of study)
    Students will have the opportunity to participate in an internship with a local organization in their chosen field of interest.

  • Additional Course (2-4 hours – Chosen field of study)
    Options include cross-registration at area colleges, an independent study, an online course, or a main campus course using teleconference connections.


The purpose of City Semester is to afford students the opportunity to experience urban life as a form of learning. It combines a structured introduction to the patterns and dynamics of an urban environment with experiential learning by internships and service opportunities. Courses qualify for major or minor credits, integrative studies or electives. A minimum of 12 hours is required.


Example based on Fall 2014 costs
Tuition:     $14,203
Program: $4, 404 (Room, Board, and Fees)
Total:         $18,607

Non-Houghton students are responsible to check with their school about financial aid and billing.

Apply Now For Fall 2015

Program Director and Instructors

Charles Massey (M.A., Ed.D. UNC-Greensboro) has made Buffalo his home for the past 21 years, where he has been involved in education, community development and refugee resettlement.

Cameron Airhart (M.A., Ph.D. UC-Santa Barbara) has enjoyed the dynamism and diversity of urban life since he was a boy growing up in a working class and immigrant neighborhood in the industrial city of Hamilton, Ontario. He sees the city as an intricate web of human cultural, social, political, religious and economic activities, and any understanding of the urban environment must take all of these factors into account.

Fall Semester

Apply now for Fall 2015!

To apply online or for further information about the Houghton College City Semester, please contact:

Office of Off-Campus Programs
Houghton College
Houghton, NY 14744
Tel: 585.567.9634
E-mail: OCP@houghton.edu