Specialized Studies


In the specialized studies department, students learn to investigate human experience, venture into science, applied mathematics, technology, and business fields, and solve problems from a range of perspectives and disciplines. Each student is required to take at least ½ credit course from the specialized studies department, and may focus on earning even more credits, as there will be opportunities for year-long (1-credit) courses. 

The specialized studies department faculty knows that learning is not compartmentalized but intersects across fields of knowledge and areas of study. Knowing how to collaborate, how to engage diverse perspectives, and how to bridge information and experience is exactly what our 21st century global society requires. 

Go beyond the boundaries: immerse yourself in DSHA's Specialized Studies Department and engage in a broader view of learning and student experience. Specialized studies courses pull from applied mathematics, computer science, business, philosophy, engineering, and other academic fields. Specialized learning in one of these fields advances critical thinking, addresses complex issues, and engages students in broad themes and applied problem-solving. 



List of 12 items.


    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, the internet, 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 2024-2025. 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. A laptop using Windows of MacOS is required. A Chromebook is NOT sufficient for this course. 
  • 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 Computer Science. AP Computer Science A will run in 2023-2024. Intro to Computer Science will be offered 2024-2025. 

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

    "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, DSHA '20 
  • 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 

    Statistics will NOT be offered in 2023-2024. 
  • 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, advanced placement, or both 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; TI-84 + CE or any TI-84 graphing calculator required. 

    Credit card or debit card? Buy a car or lease one? Cash value insurance, term insurance, renter's insurance or none at all? Which mutual fund for a 401(k)…what is a mutual fund? Tax liability, risk management, fraud, online 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
    Prerequisite: TI-84 + CE or any TI-84 graphing calculator required. 

    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 AND U.S. History or AP US History or AP Government and Politics. 

    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 process as they consider the distinct phases of engineering and problem solving. Projects involve structural design, data analysis computer programming, reverse engineering, and more. Students will meet female engineers from a variety of disciplines. Course fee covers consumables used for project work.

    Offered every other academic year; is running in 2024-2025. 

    10-12th grades
    1 semester
    $30 fee

    This course will introduce students to the philosophical study of ethical reasoning and how it affects our ability to make decisions about whether an act is morally right or wrong. This is done through an investigative study of various philosophical theories advanced by philosophers from Plato to the present day, with a particular emphasis on ethics and the fields of business, medicine, the environment, and other industries all in the context of our Catholic Christian worldview. The course introduces students to several areas of philosophy and helps to develop students' analytic skills and the ability to express their views and throughs clearly. Readings may include historical, well-known philosophers and some current day articles or resources to help engage students and further perspective-taking. Students will demonstrate their understanding of the course outcomes through various learning activities which may include essays, personal reflections, presentations, tests, or other assessments.  

    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
  • JOURNALISM – 4175

    This course introduces students to the principles of journalism through the publication of our student newspaper: The Word. Participants will learn how to write for a variety of purposes and for our DSHA community as they engage in the exciting world of online media. In addition to learning about the laws and ethics of journalistic writing, students will engage in reporting, writing, editing, photography, advertising, management, and teamwork. This course encompasses both traditional, individualized learning and project-based learning. Not only can participants hone their writing skills, but they can also empower their voices as distinctive members of our community with a designated platform for expression. Skills developed in this course support careers in journalism, marketing, project management, and business.

    10-12th 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. The number of credits earned will be based on the number of contact hours with a Marian Scholar. 

    10th-12th grades
    1 semester

    Prerequisite: Participation in DSHA’s Best Buddies co-curricular 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:

List of 5 items.

  • Marian Scholars Program

  • Robotics Club


  • STEM Scholars

  • The Word: Student Edition

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