The Berlin Consortium for German Studies is an academic-year or spring semester program dedicated to helping students improve their German language skills by providing intensive language training, encouraging them to function independently in the German university system, and offering a program that allows them to fully experience German life, customs, and culture.
The academic year program runs from September to July, while the spring semester program runs February to July. There is no fall semester option.
High-level German language program
Enroll in an intensive German Language and Culture course
Live with a German host family for one month
Directly enroll in German university courses in a broad range of subject areas
Explore the rich historical and cultural resources of Berlin and other German cities
Intern with local companies and organizations during the semester break (for academic year students)
Welcome from the Director
Welcome to the Berlin Consortium for German Studies. You have chosen one of the best schools in the U.S., receiving not only an excellent education but also taking advantage of extracurricular activities and enjoying the personal and academic exchange with congenial fellow students. Why should you leave that inspiring and comfortable American home campus for a semester or even a full academic year?
Let me tell you why. One of the leading universities in Germany, in one of the most exciting and vibrant places, a true cultural hotspot at the crossroads of Eastern and Western Europe, is waiting for you in order to give you the opportunity of enriching your undergraduate career through the experience of studying abroad.
The Berlin Consortium for German Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin is a once in a lifetime chance to fully immerse yourself in another culture and academic world, and to see life through an entirely different lens. Enroll directly in a German university, live with German hosts for the first month and then move in with other German students or young professionals. You can even consider an internship. Just dive into a life that you would otherwise never have had the opportunity to experience.
No doubt, cultural transitions may also include stressful moments, but you are not alone, there is an extremely well-functioning support system you can always fall back on. The BCGS directors, language instructors, program assistant, and tutors will guide you through the ups and downs of becoming a bi- or even multilingual undergrad with first-rate academic and professional opportunities.
Must be currently enrolled as an undergraduate student in good standing
Must have completed at least two years of college-level German or the equivalent. It is highly recommended that students applying for the spring semester have at least one additional course beyond the required two years.
Minimum 3.0 average language GPA
Minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA Back To Top
The Berlin Consortium for German Studies (BCGS) was founded in 1995 by a group of U.S. universities to help students improve their German and to give students the opportunity to enroll in a broad range of German university courses with the support of a structured program. Members of the consortium are:
University of Chicago
Columbia University and Barnard College
The Johns Hopkins University
University of Pennsylvania
In association with the University of Notre Dame and Vassar College
The BCGS welcomes qualified students from other institutions to apply.
During their first semester (fall or spring) students enroll in the following for a minimum of 18 points:
German Discourse and Culture, 6 points
Taken during the orientation period prior to the start of the German semester, this mandatory six-week course combines extensive language study with an introduction to the discourse of German academic culture, both spoken and written, in preparation for successful study in the German university system. Special attention is paid to practical vocabulary for both academic and daily living applications. Satisfactory completion is required as a condition of enrollment in courses at the FU.
Selected topics in German studies, 4 points
The Academic Director determines the topic of this course every year, based on his or her own academic interests and background. The course takes advantage of Berlin and its resources to inform the coursework. Past topics have covered history, art history, literature, theater, and cinema. During the spring term, a course on German-American relations is offered by the Resident Administrative Director.
Supervised study in the German university system, minimum of 8 points
Direct enrollment into at least two courses in the German university system. Based on the results of a placement exam taken at the end of the practicum, BCGS staff assist students in finding appropriate courses for their language level and academic interests.
For a second semester in Berlin, students continuing from the fall enroll in the following:
Four courses for a total of 16 points, minimum of 3 Supervised study in the German university system courses (4 points each)
Your course schedule is subject to the approval of the BCGS Academic Director.
The University reserves the right to withdraw or modify the courses of instruction or to change the instructors as may become necessary.
German Discourse and Culture (required of all incoming fall and spring students)
German I3335: German Discourse and Culture I
German I3405: German Discourse and Culture II
German I4335: German Discourse and Culture III
Fall semester 2016
The Berlin Wall Divided Stories in Literature and Film
Spring semester 2017
What is Enlightenment
German Discourse and Culture (required of all incoming fall and spring students)
German I3335: German Discourse and Culture I
German I3405: German Discourse and Culture II
German I4335: German Discourse and Culture III
Fall 2015 Semester Courses (required of all incoming students)
BCGS: German Studies I3993: Too Much to See? Literary Culture and the New Vision in Weimar Germany, 1918-1933
German Studies I3991: Studies in the German university system
Spring 2016 Semester Courses (German l3600 or l3994 required of all incoming spring students)
German Studies I3600: U.S. Perceptions of Germany and the Germans from Bismarck to Hitler
BCGS: German Studies I3994: Berlin Stories: History, Storytelling, and Urban Life
German Studies I3992: Studies in the German university system
To download complete course descriptions, please click on: BCGS: Courses 2015-16
For a complete listing of courses for the 2013-14 year, please click on: BCGS: Courses 2014-15
The Freie Universität Berlin offers courses in the following subject areas:
Anthropology and Archaeology of the Americas Indian Art History
Ancient Near Eastern Studies Indian Languages and Literature
Social Anthropology Iranian Studies
Arabic Studies Islamic Studies
Archaeology Japanese Studies
Art History Jewish Studies
Biology Latin American Languages and Literature
Byzantine Studies Law
Chinese Studies Media and Communication Studies
Comparative Religions Meteorology
Computer Science Mineralogy
Dutch Language and Literature North American Studies
Eastern European Studies Pharmacy
Educational Science Physics
Egyptology Political Science
English Language and Literature Primary School Education
French Studies Psychology
General and Comparative Literature Romance Languages and Literature
Geography Semitic Studies
Geology-Paleontology Slavic Languages and Literature
German Language and Literature Theater Studies
Historical and Comp. Indo-European Linguistics Turkic Studies
Last day to arrive in Berlin September 3
Required orientation September 3 to September 5
Guest stay begins September 4
Language placement test September 6
German Discourse and Culture begins September 7
Guest stay ends September 30
German Discourse and Culture ends October 14
Freie Universitaet Berlin classes begin October 17
Final selection of classes November 14
Holiday (no classes) December 19 to January 2, 2017
Classes resume January 3, 2017
Freie Universitaet Berlin classes end February 18, 2017
Final papers and coursework due March 2, 2017
Last day to arrive in Berlin March 4
Required orientation March 4 to 6
Guest stay begins March 5
Language placement test March 7
German Discourse and Culture begins March 8
Guest stay ends March 31
German Discourse and Culture ends April 13
Holiday (no classes) April 14 to 17
Freie Universitaet Berlin classes begin April 18
Holiday (no classes) May 1
Final selection of classes May 9
Holiday (no classes) May 25
Freie Universitaet Berlin classes end July 22
Final papers and coursework due July 28
Berlin's largest university, the Freie Universität Berlin was established in 1948 under its founding motto, "Truth, Justice, Freedom." Some 33,000 students including more than 6,000 international students make up its student body. This traditional university offers over 150 different programs of study
Primarily located in Dahlem, the campus includes offices and classrooms housed in villas, some large lecture halls, parks, and wooded areas. In addition to many research institutes, the FU Berlin also has a large library system, computer facilities, a center for recreational sports, and a wide array of student organizations. Like most European universities, it is not a residential university, and its student body commutes to the campus from all over greater Berlin.
The FU Berlin has cultivated over 105 university-level international partnerships plus a variety of cooperative agreements at the departmental and institute levels and its faculty regularly participate in overseas conferences and teaching and research visits.
The BCGS facility is located on the main FU campus in Dahlem and functions as a home base for program participants. The building houses administrative offices for the BCGS staff; a small library of books, magazines, and newspapers; classroom space where students convene for the Selected Topics courses; and limited computer facilities where students may check e-mail and W-LAN access for their own laptops.
For an introduction to the FU in English, as well as links to topics like "Studies and Teaching" and "Academia and Practice", please click on the following link: www.fu-berlin.de/en/universitaet/profil/index.html
Resident Administrative Director:
Program operations are managed by the Resident Administrative Director who conducts orientation, organizes program activities, and is available to assist students with academic and cultural adjustments.
Carmen Müller has been the Resident Administrative Director since the program's inception. A native of the Southwest of Germany, she moved to Berlin in 1988 and experienced the fall of the wall and its aftermath first-hand. Dr. Müller received her Doctor of Philosophy from the John F. Kennedy Institute at the Freie Universität Berlin and is a historian specializing in 19th- and 20th- century European and German history, German-American relations, and methodology. Dr. Müller also teaches a course during the spring semester and loves the vibrant life of Berlin.
On a rotating basis each academic year, the BCGS member institutions send a faculty member to Berlin as Academic Director to oversee the academic program and teach courses on selected topics in German Studies.
The Academic Director for 2016-2017 is Andrea Krauss (Johns Hopkins University). Professor Krauss received her PhD from the Free University of Berlin in 2001 and her venia legendi (habilitation) from the University of Zurich in 2010. Before joining the faculty at Johns Hopkins, she taught German literature at the Free University of Berlin, the University of Erfurt, and the University of Zurich. Professor Krauss's research and teaching focus on the intersection of literature, philosophy and aesthetics. In addition, she has been working extensively on literary theory and methodology.
Her books include Zerbrechende Tradierung. Zu Kontexten des Schauspiels "IchundIch" von Else Lasker-Schüler (Passagen 2002) and Lenz unter anderem. Aspekte einer Theorie der Konstellation (diaphanes 2011). She edited the special issue Constellations of the MLN (2011) and has published numerous articles on literature of the 18th and 20th centuries (e.g., on Lessing, Lenz, Goethe, Eichendorff, Nelly Sachs, Celan, and Sebald). Her current book project explores the relation between literature and hermeneutics around 1800.
The Academic Director for 2015-16 was Patrizia McBride (Cornell University). Professor McBride’s teaching and research lie primarily in twentieth-century German literature and culture and aesthetic theory since the eighteenth century. Her interests include the relationship between literature, philosophy, and political theory, modernism and avant-garde studies, visual culture, and Austrian literature and culture, especially turn-of-the-century Vienna. She has completed a book on Robert Musil's contribution to modern ethics and aesthetics in which she recovers his debt to the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, and is the author of articles on Bertolt Brecht, Kurt Schwitters, Walther Rathenau, Hermann Broch, Adolf Loos, Jörg Haider, and J.M.R. Lenz. Her current book project focuses on the impact of montage practices on the visual and literary media of Weimar Germany.
The Academic Director for 2014-15 was Mark Anderson (Columbia University). The author of several books on Kafka (Kafka's Clothes, Reading Kafka), and the editor and translator of contemporary Austrian writers Ingeborg Bachmann and Thomas Bernhard, Prof. Anderson specializes in German modernism, contemporary Austrian literature and the theory and practice of translation. In addition, he regularly offers courses on modern German-Jewish culture from 1750 to the present, on opera and the idea of music in German culture, and on German exile during the Nazi period. In comparative literature he has taught courses on "Problems of the Gothic," "The Materiality of the Book in Western Culture," and "Jewish Identity in Modern European Culture." Professor Anderson is the founder and first director of the Berlin Consortium for German Studies.
Previous academic directors have included:
2013-2014: Marc Domingo Gygax, Princeton University
2012-2013: Jonathan Lyon, University of Chicago
2011-12: Simon Richter, University of Pennsylvania
2010-11: Arthur Groos, Cornell University
2009-10: Katrin Pahl, The Johns Hopkins University
2008-09: Warren Breckman, University of Pennsylvania
2007-08: Volker Berghahn, Columbia University
2006-07: Tom Leisten, Princeton University
2005-06: David Levin, University of Chicago
Director of the Language Program:
Detlef Otto studied Philosophy, Comparative Literature, and Social Sciences in Darmstadt and at the Freie Universität Berlin; he holds a Ph. D. in Philosophy. He has taught German as a Foreign Language since 1988. After having worked as a lecturer of the DAAD at the Università degli studi di Bologna / Italy from 1994-97, he went through an intensive training course at the Goethe Institut Berlin for language instructors. Since 1999, he is teaching intensive courses at the Goethe Institute. Since 2003, he has also worked in the field of teacher training. In the fall 1999, he started his work as Language Director for the BCGS.
The BCGS has several writing consultants who will be available to assist the students during the German Discourse and Culture course and throughout the regular university semester until the BCGS's final deadline for turning in all assignments. The consultants support the students in their academic work, especially in the preparation of oral presentations and written assignments.
Students who are motivated to apply their German in a professional setting and gain experience in a particular field can apply for an internship. The BCGS staff provides assistance in finding internships, but students must be proactive in pursuing and securing placement with their chosen organization. Past internships have included:
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik (DGAP) (foreign policy think tank)
Rotes Kreuz (Red Cross, accounting division)
Deutscher Bundestag (German parliament)
Mayor's office (Division for Protocol and International Affairs)
Plan B Communication (public relations and marketing firm)
Senatsverwaltung für Stadtentwicklung (Berlin government office for urban planning)
Komische Oper (Opera House)Benjamin Franklin Krankenhaus (FU hospital)
Trips & Excursions
The program organizes a series of excursions and cultural activities in and around Berlin, which is integrated into the academic program. These trips are intended to provide an insider's look into Berlin and Germany, and they often provide access to people and places students might not otherwise have.
Cultural Programs and Field Trips
During the first six weeks of the program, a trip is organized on a weekly basis. Examples of past activities include:
Guided tours through Berlin districts such as Kreuzberg, Mitte, and Prenzlauer Berg and museums such as Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlinische Galerie, Gemäldegalerie, Deutsches Historisches Museum, and Jüdisches Museum
Performances at Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin, Deutsche Oper Berlin as well as at theatres and off-theatres such as Berliner Ensemble, Volksbühne Berlin, and Heimathafen Neukölln
Visits at Berlin and federal institutions such as Bundeskanzleramt and Deutscher Bundestag, including a political discussion with a politician or administrative representative, attendance at a plenary session, and a tour of the dome
Day trips to Dessau (Bauhaus), Potsdam (castles such as Sanssouci and Cecilienhof), and Lutherstadt Wittenberg
Each semester, students participate in three- or four-day study trips. Past destinations have included Bonn, Cologne, Dresden, Hamburg, Leipzig, Nuremberg, Munich, and Weimar. During these trips, students participate in guided visits to places of historical or cultural interest, listen to program-exclusive lectures, and usually have an afternoon free to explore on their own.
Grades are frequently not received from your FU professor(s) until mid-April if you studied in Berlin for the fall semester and mid-October for the spring semester. Once BCGS has received all of your grades, a grade report or transcript will be forwarded to your home school. If you need to have grades posted earlier, please talk to your university professors about submitting grades to the BCGS office as early as possible. If complete grades have not been received by October 15th, an incomplete grade report or transcript will be forwarded to your home school. As soon as the final grades are reported we will forward an updated grade report/transcript.
Columbia/Barnard students: Your grades will appear on your transcript in the same way that your grades appear for courses taken at Columbia/Barnard. Your grades from BCGS are calculated into your GPA.
BCGS member students (except Princeton): Your grades will be forwarded to your home school study abroad office once they are received by Columbia. Your home school is then responsible for entering your grades directly into your home school record. Your home school registrar will be able to provide you with official transcripts. For a list of BCGS member school contacts, please click here (link to apply page).
Visiting and Princeton students: A Columbia transcript will be sent to the address(es) you provided on your Transcript Request Form. If you would like additional copies of your Columbia transcript after you and your home school have received the initial ones, please see the Columbia Registrar’s instructions: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/registrar/docs/alumni/transcripts.html
Upon arrival in Berlin, BCGS students stay together in a youth hostel for orientation weekend.
During the first month of the program, students live with German hosts. The guest stay is an invaluable opportunity for students, providing a window into the daily rhythms and customs of Berliners.
Shared Apartments or Dorms
After the homestay, students move into FU-arranged dorms or they will have independently found an apartment share for the rest of their stay in Berlin. While apartment hunting can be challenging, most BCGS students choose to find their own shares because doing so provides another opportunity to improve their language skills, benefit from cultural exchange with their German roommates, and explore a different neighborhood.
Since the city's reunification in 1990, Berlin has been characterized by change and invention. The dichotomy between old and new found throughout the city provides a constant reminder of Berlin's complex history. After the fall of the Berlin wall, Berlin emerged as the cultural and economic capital city of Germany, alive with a sense of transformation and progress. A vibrant nightlife, exciting art scene, and myriad cultural venues contribute to Berlin's status as one of Europe's most cosmopolitan and sophisticated urban centers.
For students, Berlin offers countless opportunities to absorb the lessons of the city and its inhabitants. Visits to museums, galleries, cultural and political institutions, and historic sites and landmarks all contribute to providing a deeper understanding of Germany's past and its current role in the European Union and global affairs.
Tuition and fees are subject to Board of Trustees approval and may change. Tuition: Fall 2016 or Spring 2017
BCGS member students pay tuition and fees to their home institutions. Financial aid, with the exception of federal work study, may be applied to study overseas.
Visiting students pay tuition to Columbia University. Visiting students should consult with their home institutions to see whether their financial aid is transferable to the BCGS program.
BCGS member students Home-school tuition rate
Visiting students $17,400
Transcript fee for students receiving a Columbia transcript* $105
* One time fee for Visiting Students only
Fees: Fall 2016 or Spring 2017
The list below is intended to summarize possible charges that could be incurred against a student's account. Certain charges depend upon specific circumstances, as noted. Fees that are not billed to the student account, such as application fees, may be required but are not listed here.
Program Fee* $550
Withdrawal Fee** $75* Estimated. Fee varies each term based on exchange rate and cost of living in Berlin. This fee covers orientation and living with a host family for one month. Students participating in the yearlong program only pay the fee their first semester.
** Required of any student who withdraws from the program once registered.
The estimated expenses below are NOT paid to the program. The estimated figures below are provided as a basis for students to determine their individual budgets.
Round trip airfare NYC-Berlin $1100
* Please note that all students must have health insurance which covers them overseas.
Miscellaneous (including phone, local transportation, personal expenses) $550
Financial Aid and Other Funding
If you are on financial aid, check to see if it can be applied to your study abroad.
DAAD Undergraduate Scholarship Program
Highly qualified undergraduate students are invited to apply for scholarships funding study, senior thesis research and/or internships in Germany. The goal of this program is to support study abroad in Germany and at German universities. Preference will be given to students whose projects or programs are based at and organized by a German university. Scholarships are available either as part of an organized study abroad program or as part of an individual, student-designed study abroad semester or year.
Terms of award: Scholarships may be granted for a minimum of 4 (one semester) and a maximum of 10 months (one academic year). Recipients will be awarded a monthly stipend of approximately € 615, plus additional funds to help defray travel and research expenses as well as health insurance.
Application Deadline: January for following year
Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship
This program is offered through the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, and is administered by the Institute of International Education. These grants to study abroad provide assistance to undergraduates who are current recipients of federal student financial aid and Pell grant eligible.
David L. Boren Undergraduate Scholarship
The National Security Education Program (NSEP) awards scholarships to American undergraduates for study in regions and languages deemed critical to U.S. national security. The scholarships provides a maximum of $10,000 per semester or $20,000 per academic year.
Withdrawal & Refund Policy
A student in good academic standing who is not subject to discipline may be permitted to withdraw at any time. Withdrawal is defined as the dropping of one's entire program in a given term as opposed to dropping a portion of one's program.
Any student withdrawing must notify the Resident Director in Berlin in writing; failure to attend classes or notification to instructors does not constitute formal withdrawal and will result in failing grades in all courses. Any adjustment of the tuition that the student has paid is calculated from the date on which the Resident Director receives the student's written notification.
Only tuition is refunded. Fees (application, transcript, housing, etc.) are never refunded, either in full or in part. All students who withdraw will be charged a $75.00 withdrawal fee.
Withdrawal Adjustment Schedule
All students who withdraw will be charged a withdrawal fee. In addition, a percentage of the tuition will be refunded as follows.
BCGS member students should consult with their home schools regarding their policies.
Student Comments This is a fabulous program that allows you to be very independent yet provides a strong support network through BCGS. I would recommend this program to anyone who is interested in being immersed in the German language and German culture.
My host family exceeded my expectations; we became very close and stayed in touch throughout the year. I am grateful for their friendship and support. My apartment situation improved my language, my cooking, and I gained life long friends.
When I first came my German definitely felt rusty and frustrating. By the time I left I had written three research papers, given three in class presentations covering politics, economics and art. I understood everything that was said around me and although I'm still frustrated by the grammar at times, I feel comfortable in Berlin, and very comfortable speaking German.
It was a much more independent way of working which I really enjoyed and because for us we only took three classes you got to really focus on your readings and your work. Students were on average older than here and it was a much more relaxed atmosphere. Although everyone took their classes seriously, there wasn't the idea of the 'college experience' and in that sense it was an academic culture where students seemed more connected with the world around them and were connected to a 'life outside of college' which was really nice. I didn't have any problems adjusting. It wasn't always easy taking academic subjects in German, but the professors and other students were very friendly if you took the initiative and they are very used to international students on campus.
New York Office
Office of Global Programs
606 Kent Hall
1140 Amsterdam, Mail Code 3948
New York, NY 10027
In the event of an emergency after office hours, please contact Columbia University Emergency at 212-854-5555 or Columbia University Security at 212-854-2796.
If you are unsure about which office to call, contact the New York office first.
Berlin Consortium for German Studies
Freie Universität Berlin
Berlin Consortium Contact Information
Associate Dean Study Abroad Wendy Garay firstname.lastname@example.org
Language Director Irene Motyl email@example.com
Faculty Rep Mark Anderson firstname.lastname@example.org
Language Director Richard Korb email@example.com
Study Abroad Advisor Meg Booth firstname.lastname@example.org
Faculty Rep Anette Schwarz email@example.com
Language Director Gunhild Lischke firstname.lastname@example.org
Study Abroad Advisor Kristen Grace email@example.com
Johns Hopkins University
Faculty Rep Katrin Pahl firstname.lastname@example.org
Language Director Deborah McGee Mifflin email@example.com
Study Abroad Advisor Kristin Amos-Abanyie firstname.lastname@example.org
Faculty Rep Nikolaus Wegmann email@example.com
Language Director Jamie Rankin firstname.lastname@example.org
Study Abroad Advisor Nancy Kanach email@example.com
University of Chicago
Faculty Rep David Levin firstname.lastname@example.org
Language Director Catherine Baumann email@example.com
Study Abroad Advisor Lewis Fortner firstname.lastname@example.org
University of Pennsylvania
Faculty Rep Catriona MacLeod email@example.com
Language Director Christina Frei firstname.lastname@example.org
Study Abroad Advisor Joshua Pontrelli email@example.com
Faculty Rep Silke von der Emde firstname.lastname@example.org
Faculty Rep Jeffrey Schneider email@example.com
Study Abroad Advisor Tracey Holland firstname.lastname@example.org
University of Notre Dame
Faculty Rep Robert Norton email@example.com
Language Director Denise DellaRosa firstname.lastname@example.org
Study Abroad Advisor Hannelore Weber (German) email@example.com
Study Abroad Advisor David Younger (OIS) firstname.lastname@example.org
Applications for Spring are due in early October. Applications for the Academic Year are due in mid-March.
Please note that BCGS member schools may have additional application procedures as well as earlier application deadlines so remember to check wtih your home school study abroad office. See Contact Information for your home school contacts.