IES Abroad Vienna - European Society & Culture
94% Rating
(35 Reviews)

IES Abroad Vienna - European Society & Culture

Open to students at all language levels, our program brings more than 60 years of experience to a variety of unique courses taught by faculty from top European institutions. Courses are clustered into the following topics: German Language, European Business, Economics, and Politics, Society and Self, The Arts.

Can you imagine learning about Freud’s theories of psychoanalysis and then touring his home and the office where he practiced? Or studying politics and international organizations and visiting the UN, the OSCE, or OPEC? How about exploring art history in Vienna’s world-famous galleries and museums? Wherever possible our courses take advantage of the city’s historical, artistic, and cultural sites and include a hands-on, practical component.

With sufficient background in German, you can also enroll in courses at the prestigious Universität Wien, where you experience the Austrian education system and have the option to participate in student activities.

Interested in seeing our Center through a Virtual Tour? Check out to learn more!

Subject Areas
Art History
Cultural Studies
European Studies
International Business
Theater, Drama and Dance
Women's Studies
Degree Level
Academic Year
Online Application
Official Transcripts
Age Requirement
GPA Requirement
Health Requirement
Price Details
Contact IES Abroad or see website for details:
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Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

based on 35 reviews
  • Academics 7.3
  • Support 9.4
  • Fun 9.2
  • Housing 9
  • Safety 9.6
Showing 1 - 15 of 35
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Studying Abroad in Vienna as an International Student in the US

As an international student studying in the US, I had a different approach to "studying abroad". I was already abroad so why would I go? Well, I'm glad I did! For me, it wasn't my first time traveling or staying at a different country for more than a month. For me, it was a great opportunity to be back at a culture that is relatively similar to mine and be back in a city where I can explore every single day and be surprised each time.
With IES Abroad, I got to feel at home in this new city right from the start! Everything was organized so well and a sense of community was already built! I initially thought that having an orientation in a different city than Vienna was a bit unusual and unnecessary --I was so wrong! Being in the same resort for a few days right from the start was the best thing possible to form close friendships right from the beginning. We had nothing to do but sight seeing in Mariazell, play endless volleyball games, hike around and chat for hours, all as a group! I made so many good friends right there and then.
To talk more about the program itself and life in Vienna, I can start by saying that it was great to live in a city with great public transportation, take classes in a magnificent old building -a palace-, and attend great events. As one of the cultural capitals in the world, Vienna had so much to offer. And IES made it much easier and much more accessible. We could get Opera tickets, attend rehearsals, have a Heuriger trip and Thanksgiving celebration and much more. Every month there were at least 2 or 3 events that the IES Staff and RA's (Resident Austrians who were living with some of the students and were in charge of technical things like talking to the landlady/landlord etc. --they were pretty cool and great way to learn more about the Austrian culture and make Austrian friends!) were organizing. These events were great to immerse us into the culture and into the city life without being stressed about organization and other details. There were also a few weekend trips organized by IES that were simply amazing! We had wine-tasting in Wachau (one-day trip), skiing in Salzburg and weekend in Graz! We had a really cool and friendly staff who would organize dodgeball trips, tell us cool places to go for a weekend, give advice on restaurants and always send information on events happening all around.
I really enjoyed my time in Vienna as well as all across Europe --I went to many trips with my friends from the program! I definitely recommend going to Vienna for a semester, learning German with amazing professors, get immersed into the culture with organized trips, travel to many countries that are only 2 hours away and just enjoy the cafes of Vienna!

How can this program be improved?

The academics can definitely improve! The classes all sounded very interesting and I was looking forward to them but it wasn't reaching my expectations and I felt like I wasn't challenged or -in one of my classes- was learning at all. German was amazing, 10/10 for sure! However, the social sciences and visual arts need to improve a lot. I think it was much better for the Music kids since the music program was very well-developed over the years and Vienna is a great place for musicians. They had great private tutoring for singers especially.

Yes, I recommend
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Studying and Living in Vienna

Vienna is an amazing place to spend a semester abroad and the city has perfected mixing history with modern day. The academics are manageable and the professors are very understanding and are willing to work with you should you need it. The apartments are nice, but are definitely smaller and different from what American students are accustomed. The public transportation is affordable and very easy to figure out and is also very convenient. The city is safe and a lot of fun. It was so cool being able to walk by St. Stephen's cathedral every day or see a palace on the way into the city. I highly recommend Vienna to anyone thinking about studying abroad.

How can this program be improved?

I think it would be helpful for the program to try and have the American students interact more with the viennese students.

Yes, I recommend
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Great for Diverse Learning and Language Immersion!

IES Abroad’s Vienna program, focusing on European Society and Culture, was an absolutely amazing experience. Not only did I get to learn about new subjects that aren’t offered at my home university, but I got to actually go out and see manifest examples of the material I was studying. For example, after learning about the Hapsburg royal family of Vienna in my Vienna Past and Present course, the next class period was spent visiting their national treasury in the city hosting all of the family jewels, crowns, and royal robes. Another thing, that was immensely helpful at IES Vienna, was their language instruction. I arrived in Vienna with mildly good German, but the skill and care of the professors there helped bring my language proficiency to the next level. Our professors also helped push us into immersion situations in a very encouraging way. One example, was the provision of German buddies. The program had set up a list of locals willing to meet with IES students weekly to try speaking German in conversation. Aspects of the program, like these, were inexplicably helpful in learning the language. Outside of the studying aspect of the program, IES offered many extracurricular trips such as day trips to Austria’s stunning Wachau Valley, or a weekend trip to partake in a traditional apple festival and tour the beautiful city of Graz. Both of these trips that I partook in (among the many more that IES Vienna offers) were amazing and provided insights into Austria and its people and culture. These are experiences that were so real and unique, that I definitely would not have been able to participate without the help of IES’ planning. Overall, IES Vienna is an amazing program in one of Europe’s most stunning cities.

Yes, I recommend
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Immerse in Learning!

IES offered so many ways to weave Viennese culture into the already-excellent academic experience. Field trips to the most amazing cities in Central Europe (Prague, Budapest), world-renowned professors from all over Europe, and a wide range of language courses were the most obvious examples. But IES did more than teach us about European culture and history. They taught us how to bite into Krapfen, delicious Viennese filled doughnuts. They taught us how be independent and curious, and encouraged us to fill our weekends with adventures around the continent. I saw 15 countries during my time at IES, and many of my favorite moments from the semester were spent with the incredible friends I made through my IES classes. I still correspond with three of my professors, as well as my internship supervisor. The adventures, friends, and memories I made through IES will be with me for my entire life!

How can this program be improved?

Greater transparency during the application process with respect to courses offered. On the first day of orientation, this is all available, though, and the selection of courses is impressive.

Yes, I recommend
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IES Abroad Vienna Review

I had such a positive experience. I learned so much about my host culture and about myself. I faced many new challenges that pushed me out of my comfort zone and promoted me to grow. I found all the IES Abroad Staff to be welcoming, supportive, and open for any questions. Abroad gave me the opportunity to travel to new places I never expected to be able to travel to. I found Vienna to be safe and relatively affordable. There are lots of great food options and fun places to go out at night. It has even encouraged me to consider living abroad in the future.

How can this program be improved?

I wish there were more class offerings.

Yes, I recommend
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Best Decision!

One of the best decisions I have ever made was to study abroad in Vienna, Austria during my fall semester. Vienna is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and I constantly found myself discovering new things to do and places to see each day I was there. IES was so helpful and knowledgeable about the city, and I knew I was in good hands. Can't wait for other students to experience this amazing city!

How can this program be improved?

Although my housing situation was great, some students were not pleased with their original housing placement. IES could check to make sure the housing conditions are better before students move in.

Yes, I recommend
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A Semester at the Opera

Halfway through my semester in Vienna, I got the strong sense that every music student should have this opportunity. Vienna is not only a city with a rich musical history but also a city today with huge community support for the Classical arts. There are three different opera houses and each fill up; it is not unusual for the State Opera to sell out! This kind of mass communal support and enthusiasm, as far as I have observed, is absent from American culture. As an aspiring opera singer, Austria’s commitment to the arts was truly inspiring. I attended operas (at all three opera houses!) as much as possible and attended many concerts. Hearing so much great music performed by many fantastic musicians, I was eager to work on my own technique. I took voice lessons and received one-on-one coachings. I collaborated with other singers and instrumentalists during a performance workshop class. I took a class a specialized music theory class, studying Fidelio and Die Winterreise, both by composers who lived in Vienna. It was an ideal study abroad for me, and I feel lucky to have received the musical education and experience that I did.

How can this program be improved?

I would've liked the opportunity to interact with other music students from Vienna and learn more about what an academic Viennese music education entails. The IES library had limited hours and accessing some class materials was difficult. Some of the instructors commitment to teaching was not as strong as that of my professors at home. It was disappointing to have interesting course topics go poorly taught.

Yes, I recommend
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The Perfect Study Abroad Experience

Vienna was the perfect location for study abroad. It immerses you in Europe's current political situation, being so centrally located, and it's easy to frame that experience in a historical context. The city itself is ranked the best place to live every year for good reasons—clean, safe, and cheap public transit, beautiful architecture, the excitement of a city surrounded by the escape of the countryside... But one of the greatest parts about my experience in Vienna was the IES staff. The people in charge of IES Vienna feel more like a family than anything else, and that made it so much easier to grow accustomed to a new city and see it as a home. The teaching faculty was also enthusiastic, and the European professors seemed to love the chance to work closely with American college students in small, discussion-based environments. My teaching internship at a Viennese high school also connected me with a tutoring job for a young Austrian family, which was a great way to earn extra money while feeling immersed in domestic Austrian life. My time in Vienna inspired me to apply to a Fulbright and some other teaching assistantships in Germany and Austria for after graduation, an opportunity I would not have pursued otherwise.

How can this program be improved?

Fewer students, maybe like 30 fewer.

Yes, I recommend
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Different than expected, but still WUNDERBAR!

Before I studied away, I had this vague idea of a semester abroad as an easy, fun, exciting experience where I'd get to see some amazing art, eat awesome food, and learn a new language. However, homesickness hit me hard during orientation. Additionally, not speaking German well made previously mundane experiences like food shopping difficult. Fortunately, the IES abroad staff are awesome- they are extremely caring about their students and offers all sorts of tips, advice, and events that make living in Vienna not overwhelming. On the other hand, they also give you a lot of freedom to do what you want, meet cool people, and travel. The classes weren't too difficult (except for German!). Most of my teachers really made an effort at immersing us in Austrian culture too- my art history classes half the time at various places around Vienna, and my German class would sometimes go to cafes or other places to get better at speaking in specific situations. Definitely recommend, especially for a beginner German speaker.

Yes, I recommend
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Vienna Spring 2015

The classes are not demanding allowing students to travel often or go out and explore the city. Classes did not take up all of my time with homework or frequent exams/papers, so there was always still more than enough time to explore the city and beyond. I appreciated that many of my classes made an effort to take us on field trips around the city to make real world connections relevant to the course. Each class works to intertwine the history and culture of Vienna and Austria into the subject matter and we often compared our own cultures to Austrian culture. There is a library, computer lab, and printers on site that students are able to use.

The staff was always available for us and willing to offer cafe suggestions, travel tips, local advice, etc.

The location of my apartment was incredible! I was placed in the 6th district central to the U4 line (main subway line), the Naschmarkt (outdoor market), Mariahilferstrasse (main shopping area), and so much more. The location is extremely important when you study abroad because I was always able to drop my stuff off after class and continue my day walking around the city. My apartment houses six of us- a single room for our Viennese RA, a double room, and a triple room.

There were options of living in large houses with spacious accommodations in the suburbs. However, the commute was extremely long and many of those students weren't able to participate in many social events after classes because their commute could be over an hour and a half.

Austrian cuisine is extremely heavy and meaty. However, there are many options for other types of food. There was a wonderful sushi restaurant next to my apartment I would go to often with friends. The cafe culture is integral to Austrian history, so that is where you'll find great coffee and Apfelstrudels. Many people cooked for themselves and brought lunch to the IES Center because Vienna is pretty expensive.

Social Integration:
I lived with an Viennese RA, I had a language buddy, and I attended many local events. However, I still did not feel integrated with the locals. IES classes are strictly with American students in the IES center away from the University. There is an opportunity to take sports classes through the University and also classes in the University, but they are taught in German.

Culturally, I felt that I sought spots in the city and events only locals would go to and I was able to find some pretty unique spots/events by googling and asking the staff and my RA.

I was sick twice during the program and I was able to easily access medicine in the pharmacy.

Vienna is absolutely one of the safest cities I have ever been to. There was honestly never a moment I felt unsafe or scared to be alone.

School Preparedness:
My home university prepared me with meetings with my study abroad advisor and a larger meeting with everyone going abroad in the spring that included any and all topics that would be relevant to being abroad.

Vienna is a very expensive city and it's hard to live on a student's budget.
Money was mainly a concern towards the beginning of the program because I constantly wanted to explore new cafes and museums with friends. After about a month of constant spending, I began cooking my own meals and taking lunch to the IES center and budgeting my expenses. I made a list of priorities that I was comfortable spending money on and lessening how often I ate out at cafes.
At the beginning of your program, begin listing what you spend your money on and noticing what you should expect to spend more on and what you should expect to spend less on.

We were required to take German class three times a week for about an hour and a half each class. We had activities where we were required to go out into the Naschmarkt and use German to order our groceries. The class had an oral, reading, and writing focus. We had a test every two weeks and a quiz almost every class. My German teacher was very kind and willing to help us truly learn the language.

Everyday really does go by so quickly so make the best of everyday. Go out and explore a new street or cafe every single day. In the long run you'll be glad you made the most of your time abroad.

How can this program be improved?

Diversity of schools represented- IES tends to attract students from Penn State

Yes, I recommend
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An Amazing Experience

I chose my study abroad program based on the classes I needed to take to graduate on time. Though my original reasons for coming to Vienna were academic in nature, the program and the city itself made the experience truly fantastic.

The IES Vienna program provides many opportunities to experience the local culture and meet the local people, and the staff is filed with friendly people who are always happy to recommend new places to go. As residents of Vienna, the IES students are able to register in the Sports University, which offers almost any sport you can imagine with local students. Students are also encouraged to sign up for language buddies. This allows us to break out of the"American Bubble" American students at a program like this might find themselves in. Of course, you are still required to attend classes, but these are not overwhelmingly difficult. The professors tend to be passionate about their respective subjects, and many classes offer regular field trips to explore the city. Each class works to intertwine the history and culture of Vienna and Austria into the subject matter.

It did not take me long to fall in love with Vienna. Though a decently large city, constant community events make her feel like a much smaller town. At any given moment there could be a festival in front of the Rathaus, a market in front of Schönbrunn, or even a ball in the Hofberg. The city is a center for culture and history, but also has plenty of choice regarding bars and nightlife, combining the old with the new. The city is full of interesting museums, but you don't need to enter one to fully experience the history of the city: all the buildings speak of the influence of the Habsburg empire. Friends meet up to lounge in one of the many parks, or drink coffee in one of the many coffee houses. Since the city is located in the middle of the Vienna Woods, it's easy to leave the city to hike or enjoy the view from on top of Kahlenberg.

Vienna is ideally located in the center of Europe, making it a perfect home base for visiting the surrounding countries.

I never expected to love Vienna as much as I did, but it's hard not to fall in love with this beautiful city. Spending a semester there was a great choice, and one I'd happily make again!

Yes, I recommend
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All about Wien.

My time in Vienna did a lot of good for me. I'd like to first talk about the IES staff. The group was rather silly at times, but they do their jobs extremely well and gave me some great advice over the course of the semester. The housing was pretty nice and provided for my needs. Everything in Vienna is easy to get to, so that's awesome. As for Vienna, it's still the imperial city, and there's nowhere in Europe or possibly the world that does it better. The grandiose architecture is beautiful, the giant palaces are breathtaking, and there are enough museums to keep even a giant history nerd like me satisfied. Not to mention that cities like Bratislava, Salzburg, Budapest, Prague, and Munich are an easy train ride away. Being in so many foreign environments really gave me an opportunity to learn about myself, who I truly am and what I care about, and that's the most important thing I'll take away from this (along with several kilograms of souvenirs).

How can this program be improved?

Tell whoever made us have German class on Friday because parents were complaining we travel too much to shut up.

Yes, I recommend
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A Great Semester in Vienna

I spent this past fall in Vienna, Austria and had an amazing experience. Vienna is an amazingly beautiful city that offers a large variety of cultural experiences. While studying abroad in Vienna, I was able to go to ballets, operas, museums and experience many of the delicious cafes. Vienna is a city that is very easy to navigate as it has a great public transportation system. IES is incredibly helpful in getting you set up in the city and the staff is a great support system to help you adjust to your new surroundings. IES gives each student housing and I lived in a great apartment with five other American students. The staff was incredibly helpful and willing to assist me whenever I had a question. Academically, IES offers a large amount of classes covering many different academic areas. Specifically, I enjoyed taking classes that had weekly outings to different museums and historical locations throughout the city. I felt that these classes really helped me to learn a lot about the city and Vienna’s history. The professors at IES were very knowledgeable and understood the different aspects of a study abroad experience the students were looking for. Overall, I had an amazing semester abroad experience through IES in Vienna.

Yes, I recommend
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Do yourself a favor, and study abroad.

When I decided to study abroad I had 3 main goals:
1. Meet locals
2. Learn the host culture
3. Explore places less traveled
I accomplished all of these and more to the point where I have a life in Vienna that is calling me back.

I skateboard so naturally I wanted to find people to skate with. For the first few weeks, I'd set out on my longboard exploring the city, finding skate parks, meeting people and having them draw on my map of new places I should go (I highly recommend you doing this, the map thing).

This routine led me to meeting a few other female skaters who were my access to 'the other side'. I hung out with more Austrians than Americans in my 4 months abroad. All it took was the effort to get myself out there and be the kind of good, cool American they'd want around. Anyone can do this as long as they are willing to adapt to their surrounding environment and culture. There is #2.

Sitting back and quietly observing Europeans has made a huge impression on me. I love the simplicity and solidarity of Viennese manner. I have adopted this into my own manner, as I know how much I can learn by simply watching.

After living amongst European culture, American culture defines itself as much more stereotypical. I do see us as lazy, overindulgent, gluttonous when compared to the simple way Europe runs and has been running for years. Basically, now that I've stepped out and back in to the dome that is America, I've withdrawn from 'the juice' and see through it; America doesn't seem to be chalked up to what it always has been. This is a personal opinion so don't take too much heed to this...

What you need to know is that studying abroad will be the best thing you'll ever do for yourself. It doesn't matter where you go (although some places are cheaper than others (Budapest, Prague)). What matters is that you temporarily leave what you've always known to go off and experience something completely different, where you'll learn new things and see in a different, worldly view. Any apprehension should dissolve because if you choose a great program with IES there is an incredible team of locals who are there to make your experience the best it can be. They are super helpful and want to make sure you're safe and comfortable.

I hope this helps to get you excited about the journey you'll hopefully be making soon! You can try to prepare yourself as best as you can (pack light, keep track of expenses, DELETE FACEBOOK, DON'T BE SO CONNECTED TO HOME) but really there is no way you can expect what your abroad experience will be like. It will be better than you can ever imagine. Get out there and see the world!

How can this program be improved?

Class descriptions could be more clean-cut so students know exactly what they're getting in to. There really isn't much I can complain about now that I'm back in America and looking back on the best time of my life.

Yes, I recommend
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IES Vienna

THe IES program in Vienna was incredible. The staff is a wonderful community, all of whom are willing to help with anything and everything. The classes are interesting with professors from varied backgrounds. One of my professors was a curator at the Art History Museum, allowing us to have class there once a week. Vienna is a beautiful city full of culture.

Yes, I recommend

About IES Abroad

IES Abroad offers 140 programs worldwide for college students. We are a highly charged force of study abroad enthusiasts. Every day we have the privilege of witnessing how study abroad changes our students’ lives. We also believe that every student...