Participants in this program will reside with a local family during the initial orientation session. With the beginning of the regular German university calendar students have the option of staying in a student residence hall or finding alternative accommodation in the city. Most students avail themselves of the latter option, living in an apartment with local students.
Berlin: Freie Universität Berlin
The University of Chicago Berlin program provides students in the College with an opportunity to live and study in the exciting capital of Germany.
The program is operated by the Berlin Consortium for German Studies (BCGS), an association of six American universities: Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, Pennsylvania, and Princeton. It is based at the Freie Universität Berlin, a pre-eminent German university located in Dahlem, a villa district in southwest Berlin. Program participants also have access to courses at other major Berlin institutions including Humboldt University and the Technical University. Chicago students are encouraged to participate in the Berlin program for the full academic year, though a two-quarter option is possible (Autumn and Winter OR Winter and Spring), or an Autumn semester option for students who will take courses in English.
The program begins in late August with a six-week orientation session featuring a concentrated German review course. The German university calendar begins in early October and concludes in mid-July. It is divided into two semesters, separated by a break from mid-February to mid-April. Usually BCGS students take three courses in the first semester and four in the second. In the first semester, one of these courses will normally be a BCGS course taught (in German) exclusively to program participants by the BCGS Academic Director. Students in need of further language work may also be asked to take an advanced language course in the first semester. In the second semester, with the Academic Director’s approval, students have the option of pursuing an independent study project.
Students who do not have advanced German language may enroll in the Autumn semester option, coordinated by BCGS and the FU-BEST program.
Credits and Registration
Participants in the Berlin program remain registered as full-time students in the College. Course titles, units of credit, and grades are placed on the College transcript, though participants should be aware that final grades from German academics can be slow to arrive. Since the use of these credits in a specific degree program is variable, students should consult with their academic adviser and program chair to determine the exact distribution of credits.
Berlin program participants pay regular College tuition and a nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee. The tuition is paid in conformity with the home campus payment schedule, and the nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee is submitted when accepting a place in a program. Students pay living expenses, including housing, food, books, travel, and incidentals while in Berlin. Precise figures for the Berlin program for the 2021–2022 year are listed below:
Academic year tuition: as set by the Bursar’s Office
Study abroad administrative fee: $675
|Out-of-pocket expenses include:|
|round-trip airfare to and from the program site|
|transportation on site|
|personal entertainment and travel|
|communications (cell phone, etc.)|
|health insurance and upfront payments for care|
|other miscellaneous expenses|
Study abroad students retain their financial aid eligibility. For more information about financial aid resources, please see our Tuition, Fees, and Funding section.
Eligibility and Application
The Berlin program is open to University of Chicago undergraduate students only. Students at one of the other BCGS universities should apply through their home institution.
The program is designed for undergraduates in good academic standing. While it is most appropriate for students in their third year, qualified students with compelling reasons for participating in their second year will be considered. Because of Germany’s late-ending academic year (mid-July) and the slowness of grade transfers from Berlin, fourth-year students should participate only if they are not concerned about a delayed graduation. In order to take classes in German, students must have at least two years of German language in the College or demonstrate by examination a comparable competence to participate in this program. Language study beyond the second-year (intermediate) level is highly desirable. Students who have fewer than two years of German language may participate in the Autumn semester option in which courses are taught in English and German. Though the program stipulates no minimum grade-point average, an applicant’s transcript should demonstrate that they are a serious student who will make the most of this opportunity.
The application process includes a German language examination (for those with prior German language) to be administered in Winter quarter.
To discuss the Berlin: Freie Universität Berlin program and the possibility of participating, please contact Elana Kranz.