You will never be excellent at German, unless you study abroad.
— James Pusack, former Departmental Chair

It is safe to say that a degree in German would not be complete without a journey to a country where German can be experienced as a living, breathing language and culture. Whether you are majoring or minoring in German, fulfilling the General Education Program foreign language requirement, taking German as part of another degree program (e.g., International Studies), or simply learning the language for personal enjoyment, studying abroad in a German-speaking country will enrich and expand your experience in a way that isn’t possible within the confines of the United States.

German is the most commonly spoken language in the European Union. In addition to Germany, German is classified as a first language in Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg. Visiting a country in which you can immerse yourself in the German language, history, and culture will help cement your education, polish your language skills, and put you face to face with the many wonders and opportunities that German culture has to offer!

First-year Students

For new German majors without a background in the study of German, or students who need to complete the General Education program foreign language requirement, study abroad offers the opportunity to fulfill all your introductory German courses in just one semester. If second semester of your first year in college sounds a little early to be abroad, consider a summer program between your first year and sophomore year.


Sophomore year is an excellent time to go abroad to complete General Education Program/lower-level German major requirements, or—if you studied German in high school or have AP credit in German—upper-level requirements.


Junior year is probably the best time for the German major to spend a semester or year abroad completing upper-level coursework. The University of Iowa offers several destinations, including Freiburg, Dortmund, and Vienna. Many programs offer pre-sessional language classes that can provide a great foundation for continued study in German. See the Programs section for further details on these and other opportunities.


Senior year can be another great time for a study abroad experience. Consider taking courses not offered at the University of Iowa that will enrich your understanding of German, or taking advantage of an internship for credit while abroad; it is a wonderful way to help ease the transition into post-academic life.

General Education and Electives

Many study abroad locations will offer coursework that will count towards the General Education Program requirements of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. In addition to the language requirement, it is relatively common for students to complete the following Gen Eds abroad: Humanities, Social Sciences, Historical Perspectives, Foreign Civilization & Culture, and Fine Arts.

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences requires that all majors acquire either fourth-semester competency or the departmental equivalent in a foreign language. If you need to complete your foreign language requirement, you could consider studying abroad to immerse yourself in a language and complete this requirement in as little as one semester. Study Abroad approves GEP courses, so please talk to an advisor.

And don't forget about electives. Taking elective courses abroad is exciting because you have the chance to explore a topic you could never study in the U.S.

Major Requirements and Electives

The B.A. in German requires a minimum of 30 semester hours. You must fulfill at least five upper-level German classes at the University of Iowa. For exceptions, please see the special considerations section of this MAP.

The German Department at the University of Iowa encourages their majors to study abroad, and is generally quite flexible in regards to transfer credit applying toward major requirements. Consult with an advisor in the Study Abroad office for help selecting an appropriate program, and visit with the Undergraduate Advisor in the German Department to plan your summer, semester, or year overseas.

Generally speaking, the longer you are able to study abroad, the more your German language skills will improve, and the more you will understand and appreciate German culture and society. Exchange programs allow UI students to pay regular tuition and fees to the University of Iowa and pay for their living expenses overseas directly to their host university. This represents an excellent value for students who pay resident tuition at the UI. Non-residents will discover that many study abroad programs in Germany & Austria are comparably priced with the cost of attending classes in Iowa City. Staying abroad longer does not necessarily mean that it will be that much more expensive.

The Department of German requires that at least five upper-level classes be completed at the University of Iowa.

An exception to this policy is the Academic Year in Freiburg program. The Department of German will accept seven upper-level classes from AYF. These courses are also considered to be resident, not transfer, credit.

The Department of German discourages its majors from attempting to complete the German linguistics requirement abroad by taking regular university-based linguistics classes. (A linguistics course is required for students in the "Applied" and the "Comprehensive" tracks.) Linguistics courses taught at German universities are often very difficult and U.S. students do not perform well in them. Some study abroad programs may offer special classes in linguistics for study abroad students, which is a good way to complete the requirement abroad.

The German academic calendar differs from the U.S. Winter Semester runs from October through February with a break for the winter holidays. Sommer Semester runs from April through July. Thus, students who directly enroll in classes at a German university will need to enroll for an academic year or for the Sommer Semester. It is not possible to enroll for Winter Semester only and return to the University of Iowa in time for spring semester classes here.

You can start your search with the recommended programs below, but feel free to browse our program database for other possibilities. The specific programs recommended below may change, so check with your major advisor and Study Abroad for the latest updates.

All students who study abroad must be in good academic and disciplinary standing. Each program listed has coursework taught in English unless otherwise stated. In addition, each program has specific eligibility requirements that may include GPA, prerequisites, and/or class standing. For more information about the program, click on the button below the program description.


Academic Year in Freiburg

This consortial program with the Universities of Wisconsin-Madison, Michigan, and Michigan State offers students the opportunity to improve fluency in the German language while taking a blend of program classes and regular German university classes. One of the many benefits to this program is that the University of Iowa German Department will accept credit for seven upper-level courses, instead of the typical five. Additionally, courses taken through the Freiburg program count as resident credit, making it an especially appealing option. For more information, visit the AYF Consortium web site and talk to a study abroad advisor.

University of Dortmund Exchange

Take a semester or year abroad in Germany’s metropolitan heartland! The University of Dortmund exchange offers UI students a unique blend of courses that combine language and culture lessons with academic work in their major and minor subjects. For more information, visit The University of Dortmund's website and talk to a study abroad advisor.

USAC Lüneburg

This program runs on the U.S. academic calendar, so it is possible to go for a fall or spring term. They also have a summer program, making the Lüneburg program ideal for those students working with time constraints. For more information, visit USAC's website and talk to a study abroad advisor.

IES European Union Program

The IES EU program is located in Freiburg, Germany and follows the regular U.S. academic calendar, making it possible to go for either in the fall or spring semester. English is the language of instruction, but the program also offers an intensive German class at the appropriate level of German language proficiency. The IES EU program is well-suited for students majoring in Political Science, Economics, and International Studies, among other majors. For more information, visit IES Abroad's website and talk to a study abroad advisor.


Vienna Exchange Program

Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien offers more than 2,000 courses taught in German, and also features a business track of classes taught in English. Students with intermediate-level German proficiency can take intensive German language courses while pursuing business classes taught in English. The exchange program is particularly suitable for business majors and for German majors pursuing a Certificate in International Business.


International Student Exchange Program (ISEP)

ISEP is a multilateral exchange program involving hundreds of universities around the world, several of which are in Germany and Switzerland. The University of Iowa is a member of ISEP. Participating on an ISEP exchange program requires a high level of language proficiency and an independent, confident attitude. For more information, schedule an appointment with a study abroad advisor.