Specialized Studies


In Specialized Studies, we know that learning is not compartmentalized, but spans across fields of knowledge and areas of study.  Additionally, to be successful in today’s technology-based, global society, students must be able to collaborate, engage diverse perspectives, and approach problems with a positive mindset.  To address this, the Specialized Studies Dept. offers courses in applied mathematics, computer science, business, philosophy, engineering, and other academic fields.  We offer students the opportunity to advance their critical thinking skills, immerse themselves in complex issues, and engage in broader themes and applied problem-solving.
As a graduation requirement, each student must earn at least ½ credits in Specialized Studies.



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    Credit card or debit card? Buy a car or lease one? Cash value insurance, term insurance, renters insurance or none at all? Which mutual fund for a 401(k)…what is a mutual fund? Tax liability, risk management, fraud, on-line banking, student loans, cost-benefit analysis, time value of money? Overwhelmed? Personal Finance can help you learn the skills that will lead you to financial success. You can manage your own money using a budget and checkbook; make smart decisions about credit, investing, filing taxes, insurance, and much more. Learn how to be financially independent. Financial success – is it in your future? Work time will be given in class to complete course assignments/projects. Work outside of class may be needed for small homework assignments, research and/or if extra time is needed beyond that given in class.  

    10-12th grades, 1 semester, $15 fee

    This course offers a lively, interesting, and important investigation into one aspect of American life studied in U.S. History—the American market system. The course is an introduction to the foundation of economics and the economic way of thinking. The focus will be on the concepts, principles and models of micro-economics and the application to real world events. Microeconomics is concerned with the analysis of economic phenomena from the perspective of the individual. This course covers the concepts and tools needed to undertake the analysis of such problems that are created by the law of scarcity. Emphasis will be placed on the characteristics of a free market system, supply and demand, competition, and markets. The students will be expected to apply these concepts, principles, and models in problem-solving activities. Activities include lectures, discussion, and problem-solving real-world events and challenges. If time permits, macro-economic topics will also be explored.

    11th-12th grades, 1 semester
    Prerequisites: Cultures & Civilizations, U.S. History or AP US History or AP Government
  • AP STATISTICS – 4021 and 4022

    AP Statistics is intended for students who wish to complete studies equivalent to a one semester, introductory, non-Calculus based, college course in statistics. This course will introduce students to the major concepts and tools for collecting, analyzing, and drawing conclusions from data. Broad conceptual themes treated in this course include exploring data by describing patterns and departures from patterns, sampling and experimentation, anticipating patterns using probability and simulation, and statistical inference. Students who successfully complete this course and the AP exam may receive credit for a one-semester introductory college statistics course. All students are expected to take the AP Statistics exam. 

    10-12th grades, 2 semesters, AP preparation material and exam fees
    Prerequisite: Concurrent enrollment in or successful completion of any Algebra 2 course. 
  • STATISTICS – 4030

    This course gives students an overview of the fundamentals for collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data. Topics covered include data representation, probability, probability distributions, sampling, and statistical inference. Statistics is important in understanding current events and media analysis and is applicable to a wide variety of careers and college majors.

    1 semester
    Prerequisite: TI-84 + Silver Edition or TI-84 + CE calculator required 

    This course is designed for students interested in problem solving and real-world applications of engineering principles and serves as a basis for students that may be considering engineering as a career. In this project-based course, students will become familiar with the engineering design process as they create solutions to problems involving manufacturing, computer-aided design, robotics, reverse engineering, and more. Students will appreciate the role of the various fields of engineering and the impact of engineering decisions on public-safety and the environment. Course fee covers consumables used for project work.

    Offered every other academic year; is running in 2022-2023. This course is run opposite years of AP Computer Science which will be next offered in 2023-2024 

    10-12th grades, 1 semester, $30 fee
  • AP COMPUTER SCIENCE A – 4151 and 4152

    This course will teach computer programming using JAVA, an object-oriented programming language. It is equivalent to a first-semester college level course and will cover programming methodology, algorithm design, testing methods, logical reasoning, and problem solving. Topics include data structures, conditional statements, iteration, arrays, inheritance, recursion, and object-oriented design. The course follows the syllabus recommended by the College Board. Students who successfully complete the AP Computer Science A exam may receive credit for a one-semester introductory college computing course. 

    A laptop using Windows or MacOS is required. A Chromebook is not sufficient for this course. 

    This course is run opposite years of Intro to Engineering and Intro to Computer Science which is running in 2022-2023, so it will run again in 2023-2024

    10-12th grades, 2 semesters, AP preparation materials and exam fees
    Prerequisite: Concurrent enrollment in or successful completion of any Algebra 2 course. 

    *** From the students *** AP Computer Science is not just for the math genius or the aspiring engineer. AP Computer Science is for the student who wants to be challenged in their thought process and wants to better understand the world around them. I can confidently say taking AP Computer Science was one of the smartest decisions I have ever made at DSHA because it ignited a passion for coding that I did not know I had. Additionally, I was able to apply the skills I learned in the class, such as problem-solving, into real life situations and other academic classes. - Mary Kaupp, Class of 2020

    This course provides an opportunity to explore the field of computer science, understand the impact of computers on our global society, and build a foundation in the basics of computer programming. Topics will include computer hardware, network architecture, cloud-based computing, cyber-security, web page design, and an introduction to programming. Software used in this course is free and can be downloaded onto any Windows or iOS computer. A laptop using Windows or MacOS is required. A Chromebook is not sufficient for this course. 

    Offered every other academic year; will run next in 2022-2023. This course is run opposite years of AP Computer Science which will be offered in 2023-2024

    10th-12th grade, 1 semester
    Prerequisite: Internet access is highly recommended. 

    In this course, students will seek answers to various ethical questions and will learn to appreciate the complexity of ethics. Questions like these will be examined: What constitutes a good life? What is the relationship between individual and communal goods? How can we become better people through our examination of ethical issues? This course will introduce students to the philosophical study of morality. Morality is our human concern about the rightness or wrongness of actions which involve the rights of all humans to fair and just treatment. We will begin by establishing a common or shared understanding of the philosophical terms and distinctions needed for comprehending and deciding ethical issues. This vocabulary will then be used to examine and critique the various philosophical views (more conservative, less conservative, and moderating) about ethical or moral behavior.

    11th-12th grades, 1 semester

    In this course focused on developing leadership, students will learn how to lead so they can step forward into the future with vitality, hope, and courage. Character-Driven Leadership is deliberately and intentionally focused on helping each student grow and develop into an articulate, confident, and capable leader. Based on the most current and relevant learnings on leadership, the course will allow students to graduate with the confidence to lead themselves and others. The course will explore four principal areas of leadership: leading yourself, identifying your leadership mindset, allowing yourself to be led, and leading by example. Furthermore, this course is purposefully designed to develop the “Leader” Quality of the DSHA Graduate.

    10th-12th grades, 1 semester

    Speech Communications is designed to prepare students for the speaking tasks they will face in future academic coursework and in professional experiences beyond high school and college. The course will primarily focus on developing and enhancing students’ public speaking skills and individual speaking style. Students will learn to organize, research, and select language for effective speech writing, and will work with a variety of technologies including various visual and audio presentation software. To this end, students will write and deliver a variety of formal and impromptu speeches. Students will also evaluate professional public speakers and in doing so will gain an understanding of speech communication theory and rhetorical analysis. Students will demonstrate this analysis and evaluation through formal written analyses.

    10th-12th grade, 1 semester

    The Marian Scholar Program is a student-centered, inclusive education program for students with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. This is an elective class which will prepare you to successfully support a DSHA Marian Scholar and counts towards your Specialized Studies requirement. The Marian Scholar Peer Mentor course is designed to provide the skills necessary to be an effective learning facilitator and guide to a Marian Scholar in an inclusive class setting. Focus on exceptional needs students in a K-12 environment. Exploration of historical perspectives, societal expectations, state and federal laws pertaining to exceptionality; examination of the causes and classification of various types of exceptionality, and characteristics and needs of learners with particular exceptionalities; consideration of procedures used for identifying, assessing and providing educational programming for children with disabilities, including the roles and responsibilities of regular and special education providers and curriculum modifications. Includes study of effective strategies for inclusion, least restrictive environment, and the use of assistive technology.

    11th-12th grades, 1 semester
    PREREQUISITE: None, though participation in DSHA’s Best Buddies Club and Topics in Psychology if considering the dual-credit program is encouraged.
    ADDITIONAL TIME COMMITMENT (dual-credit program participants only): This class will meet at Mount Mary University during a DSHA school day as part of the course to collaborate with Art Therapy, Occupational Therapy and/or the Education Department to develop additional strategies for supporting Exceptional Learners/Marian Scholars.
    ** Students will be eligible to receive 3 transferable college credits from Mount Mary University by enrolling in the Concurrent Enrollment dual-credit program.

Department Related Opportunities:

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  • Robotics Club


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