Vienna: Jewish Civilization

Stadttempel façade and front entrance

Program Term:


Language Requirement:



 Eric Benjaminson

Application Deadline:


Please note: Offered in alternating years. Following the Spring 2024 program, the next program will run in Spring 2026.

The College is pleased to announce a new offering in Vienna during the Spring quarter. Vienna: Jewish Civilization is devoted to the various histories of the Jewish communities of Central Europe with an emphasis on Vienna.

    Grounded in the city of Vienna this English-language three-course sequence introduces students to the social, political, intellectual, and cultural history of the Jews of Central Europe, with a focus on the upheavals and transformations of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Students can use the sequence to fulfill the College’s Civilization requirement, or towards the major/minor requirements in Jewish Studies. In addition to the Jewish Civilization Core courses, students will take a German language course, which is offered at beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels.

    Complementing our classroom work, we will visit historical sites, memorials, museums, libraries, and archives, which illuminate Jewish history in Vienna, in Central Europe, and beyond. In addition to these shorter visits, the program will include a longer excursion to another Central European capital. Vienna and Central Europe offer a fascinating, complex vantage point through which to approach modern Jewish history, enabling us to think about the imbrication of Jewish history and the political transformations of modern Europe, about empires and nationalism, about war and persecution, and about literary and artistic modernism, among other topics.

    Program participants typically live in the Residenz Molkereistrasse, a modern student residence hall designed according to environmentally responsible, energy-efficient principles. It is located in the Leopoldstadt section of Vienna near the Prater Park (with its famous Ferris wheel). Like their Austrian peers, students will make their way to the University using public transportation, which is ample and user-friendly.

    Students usually reside in single rooms arranged into apartments. Each apartment includes a common area, kitchen, bathroom, television, and internet access. The building also includes bike and laundry rooms.

    It is important to recognize the cultural context of student housing in Austria and understand that the amenities of the student apartments may vary. Although some of these differences may take some getting used to, remember that cultural differences extend to all aspects of your experience abroad. Having realistic expectations for your term in Vienna will help you approach the study abroad experience with a positive attitude.

    Participants in the Vienna program remain registered as full-time students in the College. They take and receive credit for four courses: the three courses in the civilization sequence and the German language course. The civilization sequence meets the College’s civilization requirement. Students who have already met this requirement may use these courses as electives. Their use, partial or total, in a program of study (major) must be approved by the undergraduate chair of the student’s respective major. The language course will normally count as an elective. This course is neither keyed to Chicago’s German language sequences nor equivalent to any specific on-campus course. Course titles, units of credit, and grades are placed on the College transcript.

    Study abroad students pay regular College tuition, a program fee, and a nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee. The tuition and program fee are 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. Precise figures for the Vienna program during the 2024–2025 year are listed below:

    Spring tuition: as set by the Bursar’s Office

    Study abroad administrative fee: $675

    Vienna: Jewish Civilization program fee: $5,960

    Program fee includes:

    Out-of-pocket expenses include:

    • round-trip airfare to and from the program site
    • passport/visa fees
    • transportation on site
    • meals
    • course materials
    • personal entertainment and travel
    • communications (including cell phone usage)
    • health insurance and upfront payments for care
    • other miscellaneous expenses 

    Previous program participants report spending in the range of $200 to $275 per week on meals and incidentals while on the program, though frugal students may spend less, and others could spend much more. Bear in mind that the cost of living in Vienna is relatively high and that, while it is possible to live frugally, it is also possible to run short of money if you are unwary. It is therefore essential that you budget your funds prudently, apportioning your resources so that they last for the duration of the program. If you are planning to travel before or after the program or on weekends, you should budget accordingly.

    Study abroad students retain their financial aid eligibility. For more information about financial aid resources, please see our Tuition, Fees, and Funding section.

    The Vienna program is open to University of Chicago undergraduate students only. Applications from outside the University are not accepted.

    The program is designed for undergraduates in good academic and disciplinary standing who are beyond their first year in the College. While 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. Because the civilization sequence is taught in English, there is no language prerequisite, although students are encouraged to take German on campus before the program begins.

    Because of the considerable demand for the Chicago civilization programs abroad, no student may participate in more than one of these programs. Each application is examined on the basis of the student’s scholastic record and personal statement. If you are interested in applying for this program, please fill out the online application.

    To discuss the Vienna: Jewish Civilization program and the possibility of participating, please contact Eric Benjaminson.