Selecting a Program

Some things to keep in mind...

If you are just starting out in a foreign language, you will find many opportunities to take intensive German language classes in Germany or Austria. There is no substitute for learning a language in the place where it is spoken. When you leave the classroom, you can immediately practice what you have learned that day because you will still be surrounded by the language. A good example of this type of program is USAC Lüneburg, where it is possible to fulfill the 4-semester CLAS General Education Program foreign language requirement in one semester overseas. Iowa is a member of the USAC consortium.

If you are already proficient in German (for example, you have taken third-year language, literature, or culture courses), you are ready to participate on an exchange program or on a direct-enrollment program at a German university. The UI operates several programs in Germany that may be suitable for you.

Full curriculum, direct enrollment programs include Academic Year in Freiburg, the Dortmund Exchange, and several universities available through the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP).

Three exchange programs that focus on business and related disciplines are the Frankfurt Exchange, the European Business School Exchange, and the Vienna Exchange. Several of the ISEP sites mentioned above also offer business coursework in German.

The Giessen-Friedburg Exchange is designed for engineering students. Several ISEP exchange options also feature engineering coursework.

As you consider the program that is best for you, be sure to look through the Steps to Study Abroad section of this web site. It outlines the process and describes how study abroad works.

Also check the section on Major Advising Pages to see if one has been created for your major already. If so, you’ll find some good tips on what kinds of classes can easily transfer from abroad and also view a list of suggested programs that offer relevant course work for your major.

Be sure to select a site that offers the classes you need to continue to make progress toward your UI degree. That can be relatively easy if you are a German major, for example, or if you want to study intensive German language. If you are a business student, the three UI options in Germany and Austria present a range of choices depending on your level of German proficiency. All offer some courses taught in English, Vienna being the program with the largest English option. If you are an engineering student, Giessen-Friedburg is a great destination and features some courses in English. The ISEP exchanges generally require a high level of German proficiency.

If you are studying other subjects in the humanities, social sciences, or sciences, expect to need to be quite proficient in German in order to be accepted to a study abroad program and to take classes at a German or Austrian university.

Selecting a site can be challenging if you need to get very specific classes during the semester you are abroad, for example, if you are a senior in the health or biological sciences. Sometimes a short-term summer program or internship is worth considering in these cases.

Also consider what level of cultural immersion you are comfortable with. The section on Program Models discusses this, since the amount of contact you will have with German people will depend a great deal on the program model you choose for study abroad.

The University of Iowa does not require its students to go on programs offered by the UI. You can study on other U.S. university programs, or enroll independently in a German or Austrian university. Thus, if there is a compelling personal or academic reason to study in a location where the UI does not have a program, by all means explore that possibility with the help of a study abroad advisor. We want to help you find the best “fit” for your needs, be they academic, personal, or financial. The Study Abroad Resource Room is a great place to start looking.

Further reading:
Cultural Immersion Worksheet

Cost Comparison Worksheet