Semester abroad outside of existing cooperation agreements
What many students do not know is that they have a free choice to apply for a place as a guest student at any university worldwide. However, there are usually tuition fees and other costs. These, though, can be partially financed via Auslandsbafög or scholarships.
The tuition fees at foreign host universities are determined according to whether you study in the frame of a bachelor's or master's program as well as by subject. Science subjects are more expensive than study programs in the humanities because of the high equipment and infrastructure overhead. Moreover, international applicants may also be subject to higher tuition than nationals of the host country. Universities within the EU can charge different tuition from “EU students” and so-called “overseas students”.
Overview of academic years and tuition fees outside Germany:
Choosing from the manifold possibilities for a suitable host university is no easy matter. However, many questions can nowadays be clarified by looking at the homepages of the universities you are interested in. Unfortunately, the homepages are not structured uniformly, so you have to work through the information to find what you are looking for.
In addition, admission requirements are not uniformly regulated – not only from country to country but also from university to university. This means you sometimes have to get into direct contact with the university to clarify any open questions.
If you want to finish studying at your home university after your stay abroad, you apply for a place as a visiting student (= occasional student / = non-degree student) for one or two semesters.
If you want to acquire a degree (Bachelor's or Master's Degree) at the foreign host university, you apply as a degree seeking student. Bear in mind that the admission requirements for visiting students are often more simplified.
If you are applying for a study place abroad, you should at the same time already apply for funding from a foundation, the DAAD or other institutions in order not to miss their application deadlines. These are usually long before the date you want to start, which means you cannot first wait until you receive acceptance from the proposed host university.
An application usually includes:
- Letter of Motivation (LOM) or essay. On one or two pages you introduce yourself and your academic motives for the proposed stay at the respective institution and possibly also your career goal, so that the host university can get an idea of what type of person you are. You should not only explain your university career to date, but also your hobbies, inclinations, special abilities or experiences that have shaped you in life.
- Your CV (curriculum vitae = CV), summarized in tabular and chronological order. Depending on the destination country, the requirements are different. For example, in the United States, for reasons of political correctness, you should submit your CV without date of birth and photo.
- Grades – You must include a grade sheet (Academic Transcript / Transcript of Academic Records) with explanation (see download area for template), as well as
- Evidence of language competence in the language of instruction, which should not be more than two years old at the start of your stay abroad. The host university always decides what kind of proof has to be submitted. In North America, the TOEFL is often required; in the British-English speaking world IELTS; in the French-speaking area DELF. For a small fee, the Foreign Language Center (SZHB) will issue a DAAD language certificate. Sometimes this is accepted by the host institutions, so students can save the high costs of TOEFL or IELTS.
- Proof of financing – Some countries, like the US for example, require proof of funding before issuing a visa (see example in the download area)
- Letter of Recommendation – In English-speaking countries, a letter of recommendation is often required, signed by a member of the teaching staff of your home university. At best, this should be at the professorial level, otherwise at the doctoral or mid-faculty level.
If officially certified translations are required, they must be prepared by a state-certified translation bureau. Frequently, however, also online generated English-language printouts of your grades certificate will be accepted. All originals should be stamped for presentation to examination offices, departments or the International Office of the host university.
You should only embark on your journey abroad if there is no travel warning in place for the country or region in question (www.auswaertiges-amt.de). If a travel warning is issued after the beginning of the stay, visiting students should leave immediately. Any funding you may have been granted will not be continued thereafter. Once abroad, all visiting students should register with the German authorities on the spot – especially when traveling in regions with a critical security situation (Electronic Registration of German Nationals Abroad).
A stay abroad usually entails additional costs. These may be (partially) absorbed via scholarships and funding opportunities,. Please inform yourself in good time about the application deadlines, which could often be as long as a year before your departure. Further information can be found on the page Scholarships and funding opportunities.
Office hours in the advisory and counseling office of the International Office:
VWG Building, Room 0580
In physical presence and online
Monday: 9:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Wednesday: 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Thursday: 9:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Our consulting and service office in the VWG is open again for you. However, you can still reach us in the online consultation (via Zoom).
Dipl.-Geogr. Silke Prangemeier