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Fields of Study: Humanities, Social Sciences, Science

Located in the heart of Europe, Germany's capital offers you unrivaled educational, intellectual, and cultural opportunities. In this program you can enroll in university courses that align with many UC academic majors. In addition to German language study, you’ll be learning alongside German and international students in an academic environment that encourages self-motivation, awareness, and reflection. 

Unique study opportunities

  • Learn about German culture, history, and society from a distinctively German perspective.
  • Take courses in German or English specifically designed for international students.
  • Study the United States and Canada at the interdisciplinary John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies, which encompasses the fields of literature, political science, and economics as well as culture, history, and sociology.
  • Focus on area studies, international relations, environmental research, gender studies, and other fields at one of Germany's premier institutes of Political Science.


Language of Instruction: German, English

German Language Study: Required

Pre-Intensive Language Program

If you have at least one year of university-level German and you would like to take courses taught in German on this program, you can enroll in the pre-intensive language program (pre-ILP) that takes place in the summer prior to the start of the intensive language program. The language instruction and cultural education take full advantage of the local surroundings and put you in direct contact with German society. See Eligibility information. 

Intensive Language Program

All packages, except for the Spring without ILP package, include an intensive language program (ILP) that takes place prior to the start of your semester at Free University. The ILP covers German writing, grammar, and conversation skills, and prepares you for a transition into German academic culture. If you participate in the Spring without ILP package, you will not enroll in the ILP. 

Fall and Spring Semester

If you have less than two years of university-level German, language study is required during the term. If you have two or more years of university-level German, language study is optional during the term.

Courses and credit

Requirements While Abroad

To successfully complete this program:

  • Take a full-time course of study:
    • During the academic term: Four to five courses for a minimum of 18 quarter/12 semester UC units
    • Summer Pre-Intensive Language Program: One course for 10 quarter/8.6 semester units
    • Intensive Language Program: One course for 8 quarter/5.3 semester units
  • You may take one course during the semester for pass/no pass credit.

Current Program Courses

Most courses on this program are at the upper-division level. Access to courses depends on your German language skills.

Courses taught in English are available in political science, North American studies, English language & literature (includes linguistics), communication, and philosophy. Students interested in attending law school will find unique opportunities to take courses on international legal studies.

If you have studied German for at least two years in college, or one year plus the pre-ILP, you can access courses in all areas of study at Free University. 

In addition to regular university courses, Free University offers a selection of courses focusing on German culture and history that are designed specifically for international students. Alumni have enjoyed these courses and have appreciated taking a course with a distinctively German perspective. Some of these courses are taught in English. You’ll finalize your course schedule in Berlin.

As an exchange student at Free University, you are allowed to take 1 course at the UCEAP-affiliated universities in Berlin other than the one you are attending: Humboldt University or Technical University. However, you should take the majority of your courses at Free University.

Catalogs and resources

Academic Culture

You'll register for your courses after you arrive in Berlin. You'll use the first few weeks of the semester to attend the first lecture of any courses you may want to take.

There are four types of courses in German universities:

  • Vorlesungen are similar to American lecture courses, although discussion sections are often optional.
  • Übungen and Proseminare are similar to discussion sessions or seminars in which professors lead lectures or discussions.
  • In Proseminare, students are encouraged to participate in discussions and are often required to present material to the group.
  • Hauptseminare are more advanced and comparable to graduate-level seminars in America. UCEAP undergraduate students normally do not enroll in Hauptseminare.

Classes typically meet once a week. If a class has different components, such as a lecture plus a section/tutorial or a lecture plus a lab, these might occur on different days of the week. There is a type of course called a Blockseminar, which meets for one or more “blocks” of class throughout the term instead of on a weekly basis.

For students in the Humanities and Social Sciences, final term papers in Germany are usually extensive papers requiring research and citation. The Study Center conducts a mandatory tutorial on how to properly write a term paper in Germany.

The German university system requires a lot of independent study. Alumni often note that self-discipline is a key to success in the German academic system, but it can be a challenge to adapt. There are little to no assignments during the semester and few hours in class per week. This gives the initial appearance that studying in Germany is easy. However, if you’re not thoroughly prepared for the final exam, or if you do not start your research paper early enough, it will affect your final grade drastically. If you have a high degree of self-motivation you will do well in the German university system.


You will earn direct UC credit and grades for all coursework. Assessment is usually done through one final exam or paper at the end of the semester.

Fall semester grades are typically available in May and spring semester grade are typically available in October or November. 

Tip: If you intend to put yourself on your campus degree list for graduation while on UCEAP, consult your campus advisors before departure about possible delays in the degree verification process.