• Germany
    • Berlin
Academic Year, Spring
Subject Areas
American Studies Archaeology Art History Asian Studies Biology Business Chemistry Communications Computer Science Cultural Studies Earth Sciences Economics Education English Film Gender Studies Health Sciences History International Relations Jewish Studies Latin American Studies Liberal Arts Life Sciences Linguistics Literature Mathematics Medieval Studies Middle Eastern Studies Peace Studies Philosophy Physics Political Science Psychology Religious Studies Russian and Eastern European Studies +25

Program Details

Program Type
Direct Enrollment
Free University of Berlin
Degree Level
Apartment Dormitory Host Family


Starting Price
Price Details
BCGS member students (U Chicago, Columbia U, Cornell U, Johns Hopkins U, U Pennsylvania, Princeton U, U Notre Dame, Vassar College) 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: $19,905 per semester (Fall 2021/Spring 2022)
What's Included
Some Activities Classes Transportation
What's Not Included
Accommodation Meals SIM cards Travel Insurance Visa
Feb 10, 2021
Feb 26, 2021
11 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

The Berlin Consortium for German Studies (U Chicago, Columbia U, Cornell U, Johns Hopkins U, U Pennsylvania, Princeton U) 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.

Students enroll at the Freie Universität Berlin, which hosts a broad variety of departments. Students may also consider taking select courses at other universities in Berlin. Studying in Berlin for the full year opens the possibility of arranging full-time internships during the semester break in February and March.

The equivalent of at least two years of college-level German is required to apply to the program. The academic year program runs from September to July, while the spring semester program runs February to July.

Video and Photos

Program Highlights

  • full immersion in German university culture and Berlin life
  • customizable to varying German proficiency levels and fields of study
  • elaborate academic and personal support system on site
  • internship and volunteer work opportunities

Related Programs

Program Reviews

5.00 Rating
based on 24 reviews
  • 5 rating 100%
  • 4 rating 0%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Academics 4.95
  • Support 5
  • Fun 4.85
  • Housing 4.95
  • Safety 5
Showing 1 - 8 of 24 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Outstanding Academics, Life-changing Growth, Fun City to Live in!

What makes this program stand out so much is it's commitment to cultural and language immersion. The BCGS staff is committed to helping you adapt to Germany's unique academic climate through their six-week pre-semester language courses which mirror some of the aspects of a typical university course (you prepare a "Referat" - presentation, and have a small final paper). At the same time the entire exchange program (outside of some very important information) is run completely in German. Everything from preparing for the (somewhat notorious) trip to the foreigner's office to directions for the language course's weekly excursions becomes an opportunity to dive deeper into German and Berlin culture, while of course learning new vocabulary every step of the way!

With this program being so immersive, it would be wrong of me to say that the experience isn't difficult at times. However, the BCGS hire writing tutors which you meet with every week during the semester to help make sure you're on track by discussing readings, commenting on mock presentations in preparation ones you'll do in the , and planing a work schedule for the various final research papers. The program's directors, Carmen and Niko, are also incredibly approachable and are excited to help you with any problems you will encounter while in the program. The visiting professor is also a great resource to discuss and reflect on differences between the US and German education systems, and they offer wonderful classes that are stylistically somewhere between these two systems, which is great if you're a little nervous about jumping right into the German system.

In terms of academics, there's really nothing you can't do; courses at all of the 4 major universities in Berlin (expect studio courses at the UdK) are available for you to take, and the visiting professor and directors are there to help you with your course selection. The difficulty lies more in learning how to adjust to the life of German academia and doing it all in a foreign language, and less in the rigor of individual courses. The unique challenges I faced in Berlin helped me grow in ways that I could have done had I not chosen to study abroad with this program.

Berlin is also one of the most fun places to live! There is an endless selection of museums, neighborhoods, cafés, bars, parks, restaurants, and shops to explore, all usually less than 40 minutes away by public transit. Berlin is also well connected to the rest Europe, both by long distance train and through its (now unfortunately only 1) airport. Taking a long weekend to go explore a new city on the continent is definitely possible!

What was your funniest moment?
I personally find it funny when having a conversation I meant to say one thing in German but actually said something completely different! Rather than getting scared or embarrassed in situations like this, I usually just try to laugh and remember both the meaning of what I actually said and how to say what I wanted to say. It's learning extra vocabulary without even asking for it! German's a very fun language to speak, and if you don't laugh at it every once in a while it's easy to get frustrated that you don't speak it like a native! I guess just remember, universities are international communities, no one there (or even in a multicultural city like Berlin) really expects you to speak perfect German. Don't be scared to mess up, and just insist to keep speaking the language and you'll do great!
84 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Perfect Balance of Independence and Support for Study Abroad

The semester I spent studying with BCGS was a wonderful experience. Carmen and Niko were well-organized and really oriented the program to help us to get the most out of Berlin. Although we did have many program activities, especially in the beginning, what I liked most was the freedom afforded to participants. We had the option to live on campus or find a sublet elsewhere (admittedly very difficult), and could spend our time outside of class immersing however we chose.

In my individual pursuits, I felt supported along every step of the way -- Carmen especially took time to check in about these things. The academics were top-notch, and some of the students I spent the semester with have gone on to pursue graduate degrees in German Studies (or other fields) in fantastic programs. In general, the people I joined in BCGS were very brainy and a real pleasure to spend time with. The German instruction was great and the program's explicit focus on cultivating the ability to speak and write academic-level german was a huge benefit, even for those of us who never intend to use it.

I have actually found myself back in Berlin as I began a job here recently, and I must say, I constantly think about how thankful I am to the program for holding my hand (but not too tightly) when dealing with German bureaucracy for the first time. I now feel much more confident and capable, and have navigated all of my visa processes, health insurance, registrations, etc etc alone and without issue -- and I am incredibly thankful to BCGS for making these processes less intimidating for me the first time.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Be prepared for a lot of work! Even though the primary product of a German semester is only the term papers at the end of the course, these are no joke. It takes significant time and research to create something decent, especially as a nonnative speaker.
83 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

BCGS was an unforgettable experience!

I really loved my time with BCGS. The program directors are so supportive, and I made lifelong friends not only through my cohort, but also in Berlin through my classes. My German language skill improved dramatically over my year abroad, as well as my confidence in speaking, reading, and writing the language. I was challenged academically, socially, and pushed to be more independent than I had ever been. It was definitely a challenging program, but I learned so much about myself, about German culture, and about Berlin through it all!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Don't be afraid to make mistakes! Whether that's in your language-learning process or just in general. I learned the most from the mistakes I made during my year abroad.
79 people found this review helpful.
Yes, I recommend this program

Life-changing experience studying abroad

Originally from China, studying in the US is already study abroad for me. But halfway through college, I realized my worldview was limited by what I could see in front of me. Having studied German for four years back then, I wanted to come to Germany through a program that provides a fully immersive environment for me to improve my languages skills and learn about the culture. BCGS did exactly that. I enjoyed a high degree of autonomy during my time in Berlin, while BCGS gave me a home away from home that I could always fall back on. Being able to live with a host family at the beginning of my stay allowed me to adapt faster, and even till this day I’m still in touch with my host parents. And then, apartment hunting, learning to speak up in a classroom full of German students, surviving the long Berlin winter and then enjoying the best summer one could have – every day taught me to grow, to be more independent and disciplined, to find confidence and my inner self at an age of uncertainty.

Time in Europe significantly shaped my worldview and gave me the confidence to embark on an international career in the future. Although I’m not sure if I will come back to Germany immediately, Berlin will always hold a special place in my heart and remain a home for me oceans away. If you are reading this and are considering BCGS, be convinced it is one of the best study abroad programs out there. Just be prepared to grow, know what you want to get out of this experience, seek out opportunities and resources, and keep an open mind toward every person you meet. BCGS was the most transformative year of my college experience, and I’m very thankful I did that.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would simply relax and cherish every opportunity to meet new people!
90 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Well-run program with top-notch academics

It's not easy to fit a year abroad into an academic schedule, especially in a STEM field. However, the payoff is fully worth the challenge. Not only is grading and credit transfer from the Freie Universität favorable, but the semester break (only available if you do the full year!) affords you the opportunity of doing an internship abroad. Don't make the same mistake I did by passing up this chance!

I can only assume that Dr. Carmen Mueller is the same model of organizational efficiency and dry humor that she was when I studied in Berlin in 2014-15. BCGS does most of the heavy lifting, administratively, for the study abroad process, leaving you free to study at the three offered universities in Berlin, explore Europe, widen your horizons, push your comfort zone, and all the other things commonly associated with studying abroad (hint: aforementioned cliches lose their luster but they exist for a reason). Also, your German-speaking abilities will be miles better when you come home.

90 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

An outstanding program and an invaluable experience abroad

My full year abroad in Berlin, Germany with the BCGS program was beyond a doubt the most formative year of my college career. Having the opportunity to immerse myself in another culture—to live, study, and thrive there, and have the resources and support to do so—has not only influenced the course of my studies in general, but it has also strongly shaped who I am as a person. Studying abroad opened up a space for a certain reflexivity in me—about my nationality, my culture, and my place in the world—that could only be made possible through an extended stay in a foreign country. Finding my own way in this place, adapting to an environment and customs that were different from my own, studying and living in a language that was not mine, and facing the challenges attendant to that situation both allowed me to mature as a person and provided me with invaluable life experience. To me, having the opportunity to live in and adapt to another culture is a vital aspect of any education, in the true sense of the word. In my mind, education is about more than ideas--it’s about becoming a citizen of the world and, in so doing, recognizing that your fate is deeply and beautifully entangled with the fate of others.
The BCGS program itself provided me with the support and resources to do so and accomplished what I think any exceptional study-abroad program should: it guided students through the transition into a new culture and provided us both with the resources and support network we needed to do so, while at the same time giving students the responsibility and independence to make their own life choices and have unique experiences of their own. The BCGS staff and faculty are also exceptionally wonderful people and it was a joy to participate in this program with them.

93 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

A Great Choice for Academic, Cultural and Professional Growth

I chose the Berlin Consortium for German Studies because I was attracted to the unique rigor of the academic offerings. I expected that the BCGS cohort would be comprised of intellectually driven, culturally curious students who expected more from their semesters abroad than just a foreign holiday. Indeed, this is precisely what I found. During the program, the combination of intensive language training and demanding classes at the Freie Universität Berlin—where the readings, lectures, assignments and exams were entirely in German—allowed me to develop my language abilities much more extensively than I could have in the United States or through a less ambitious program. Beyond the language component, the classes I took through BCGS exposed me to topics and intellectual discussions that fascinate and engage me to this day.

That is not to say, however, that my experience abroad was entirely defined by schoolwork. In fact, one of my favorite aspects of the BCGS program was the high premium placed on cultural exploration. Through planned excursions as well as informal events, I developed deep friendships and experienced Berlin, not just as a backdrop for my studies, but as a dynamic and exciting city with a thrilling energy.

My semester abroad has already proven extremely applicable to my career. In the fall after graduating, I began an internship at the Bundestag through the Émigré Memorial German Internship Program, an opportunity I learned about as a BCGS participant. Thanks to my experience abroad, I have had the confidence to forge connections across cultural divides and the language skills to thrive in a German-language workplace (plus, my prior experience living in Berlin has made the bureaucratic formalities associated with moving to Germany significantly less intimidating). Beyond this current internship, my career goals have been deeply influenced by my semester abroad, which affirmed to me the importance of "Weltoffenheit" and exposed me to the wide range of career paths available in today’s interconnected world.

I would highly recommend BCGS to any student who wants to get the maximum value out of their study abroad experience.

95 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Highly recommended!

In selecting a study abroad program, I was most intrigued by the possibility of immersion in a foreign culture. Many of my friends who studied abroad in college participated in programs that essentially seemed to consist of the experience an American campus transplanted somewhere else in the world: Their language competence did not seem to improve very dramatically, and they spent most of their time in what seemed like an insular community of fellow American exchange students. While many of those experiences were clearly fun and educational, I was looking for a deeper exposure to culture and more personal responsibility, which is why I chose the BCGS. I could not be more happy that I did so! The time that I spent in Berlin with the BCGS, as well as the two months of language classes I took in Germany beforehand, were among the most enjoyable, engaging, and educational in my life thus far. The program demands a high level of personal responsibility and self-motivation, but Carmen and Niko and the rest of the BCGS staff were always willing to offer help and advice and provide all the resources necessary to accomplish a very ambitious program. As a student directly enrolled at the Freie Universitaet, I sat in seminars with German students and experienced an educational culture distinct from its American equivalent. I made several good friends, and during the semester was able to find time to explore both in Berlin and on trips to other cities. I am planning to pursue a Masters degree in Germany shortly, and the decision to do so was driven in large part by the significant and positive impression that my time with the BCGS left on me. My only regret is that did not stay for both semesters. I highly recommend that anyone considering it apply, and stay for both semesters to get the most out of your time in Berlin!

93 people found this review helpful.

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