IES Abroad Berlin – Language & Area Studies

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Specially-designed to improve your German language skills, the IES Abroad Berlin Language & Area Studies Program draws upon Berlin’s rich culture and tradition to connect your coursework with the living history of the city. IES Abroad courses are taught in German by local faculty, and a variety of academic options are available at local universities.

Berlin will be your classroom. Can you imagine learning about German politics and policymaking in class and then taking a quick walk to visit the German Parliament? Or discussing multiculturalism in Berlin and then touring one of the city’s bustling Turkish neighborhoods? This is study abroad. Wherever possible, our courses take advantage of the city’s many historical, artistic, and cultural sites, and several courses also include a hands-on, practical component.


IES Abroad Scholarships and Financial Aid

As far as we're concerned, financial limitations shouldn't prevent you from studying abroad with us. That's why we offer more than $5 million in scholarships and aid.

$500 - $5,000

Questions & Answers

No, the general requirement is three prior semesters of German, though I think they may sometimes make exceptions for two semesters of study. All classes and coursework are in German, so you would definitely struggle with no prior knowledge. HOWEVER, IES have a number of other programmes in Berlin for which German is not a pre-requisite, but you take German courses while there-- for example, the...


9.36 Rating
based on 22 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 77.27%
  • 7-8 rating 22.73%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Academics 7.3
  • Support 8.9
  • Fun 8.6
  • Housing 9.1
  • Safety 9.5
Showing 1 - 8 of 22
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Yes, I recommend this program

A supportive environment for achieving my goals

Berlin is a fantastic city, and with the proper courage and support, most anyone can have an amazing experience there. IES Berlin did a great job providing this support and helping us students step out of their comfort zone to have the best experience that we could. IES made sure we had the basic familiarity with Berlin and German culture so that we could safely and productively explore. Regular trips and activities around the city and the country encouraging me to see important parts of the culture and history that I might have missed out on otherwise. (Mostly) excellent professors pushed our German language abilities so that I was able to interact more effectively with our surroundings and get the most value out of our time. The classes encouraged me to engage with Berlin, taking me on walking tours and making me interview Berliners. I had plenty of time to explore the things that attracted me once class got out too. Tinder, Facebook, and the like are alive and well for getting to know locals and finding out about events. The student assistants employed by the program were incredibly friendly and had tons of great recommendations and advice as we went out to find our own favorite bars, sports teams, and activities. Whenever I was in Berlin, I felt supported. Staff members were accessible around the clock, and we regularly received emails with notifications about events that might interest students feeling lost or isolated. The program also fostered a friendly environment around the center, so even if we were having trouble, there was someplace comfortable to go. I had to seek out the things I wanted to get out of my time abroad, but IES was there to help and support me the entire way.

What would you improve about this program?
I wish IES had been more clear about what a homestay meant - I was not living with a family, I essentially had an elderly roommate who kept mostly to himself and wanted someone to pay rent.
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Yes, I recommend this program

The Year of a Lifetime

My year abroad in Berlin has been one of the best experiences of my life. Studying abroad provided me with a chance to truly experience the German culture and language firsthand while also getting to learn a different side of myself. This experience has shaped me into a person who is willing to be adventurous, chase understanding, and explore new sides of myself and my surroundings. But not only have I gotten to know myself, but I have become a part of the language and culture around me. Being able to take classes both through IES and Humboldt University, I have been able to learn about the German educational culture while furthering my German language skills immensely. But while these aspects of my education have given me a greater understanding and appreciation of studying in Germany, they almost do not compare to the amount I have learned outside of the classroom. Living in Berlin has taught me more about Germany - in the past and the future - than I could have ever hoped to learn from afar. I have been able to live and be part of the history of Germany. My home-stay taught me about the German culture and past from the point of view of someone who lives it everyday. It is truly amazing to be able to discuss things like the Berlin Wall with someone who lived in Berlin from the time of the Wall's creation until the time of its destruction. There is nothing better than learning from those who saw it happen. These are the moments that made my experience abroad something that I will remember forever. Things like that can only happen on a study abroad like this, and this is just one small example of the amazing things I have been able to experience through this study abroad experience. Studying abroad was the best decision I have ever made. No matter what I do in the future, I know that this experience has helped shaped me into an independent, open, and ever-learning individual. I could not be more satisfied with my IES Abroad Berlin experience, and I highly recommend the opportunity to anyone and everyone.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Language and Cultural Exploration

I was enrolled in the Language and Area Studies in Berlin and all my classes gave me different perspectives of the city. Students in this program will take 5-6 classes (all conducted in German) including one German intensive class. This made me nervous but all the professors understand that we are learning the class as well as the language itself. All my classes have excursions to different places in the city such as the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, Berlin's State Parliament (Abgeordnetenhaus) and many more. The center itself is supportive in helping students and they put together different events for the students. IES also hosts weekend trips to other cities like Dresden and Hamburg, so we learn more about the different cities in Germany.

In this program, students are most likely to live with a host-family and I love my host! They are a family of four and really care about my experience and always there to help me. Coming from a school of 1,500 students in a small city makes me a little bit worried about being in a big city like Berlin, but I love every moment of my experience there!

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Yes, I recommend this program


Although I was looking forward to studying in Berlin, I didn't know how much I would love my time abroad. On the first day of the program, IES student assistants took us all to get SD cards, take residency permit photos, and gave a tour of the area around the IES center. When I expressed concerns about being trans, a staff member invited me into her office to check in with me and make sure I was doing okay, as well as offer any support I needed. Furthermore, the academics and professors were great. Although only about 40 students were enrolled in my program, there were a variety of classes offered for all different interests. Through classes, being in Berlin, speaking German with my host family, and making local friends with whom I also spoke German, my understanding and ability in the language significantly increased. I had so much fun in Berlin going to museums, exploring the city's night life, and meeting people. Additionally, I traveled to Hamburg and Luebeck through IES and it was great to see different parts of Germany in a pre-planned trip.

What would you improve about this program?
We did not receive the semester schedule until about a week before the program started, so I didn't know that I had a week break in September. It would have been great to find that out earlier so I could plan a trip, along with just wanting to know how the semester was set up.
Yes, I recommend this program

Definitely exceeded expectations!

After four months in Berlin with IES, I can confidently say that I have found a new home in Berlin! Not only was the city itself a lively place to live as a student with countless concerts, exhibitions, parties, and other events going on every week, but my homestay was cozy and comfortable and my host family super kind, generous, and excited to chat and help me improve my German. In the case of any concerns or problems, the staff at IES was always available and willing to help, super approachable and friendly.

From an academic standpoint IES also exceeded expectations. I took only classes with IES (I wish I could have taken classes at Humboldt or Freie Universitat, but due to the German university schedule (fall/winter semester classes end in February) I could not), which worked well for me, as I prefer small seminar-style classes and being able to speak with and get to know my professors. The course load was manageable, and all of my professors were so friendly, funny, and smart. I actually wanted to go to class and learn from them. Above all, they were sympathetic to the fact that all of us were German students, not native speakers, and it was clear that they cared about our success. The student assistants at IES, all students at Humboldt, were available for tutoring sessions to help proofread assignments or simply to provide general advice and recommendations in Berlin. They were a great resource!

All of my classes also put an emphasis on using Berlin as a classroom, which meant lots of "field trips" and excursions to relevant museums and monuments, libraries and archives, or to theater performances. That was definitely a huge plus to being in Berlin, and one of the academic highlights for me.

On the whole, I would definitely recommend IES Berlin for anyone looking to improve their German and interested in really learning and getting to know this beautiful city. I will definitely be back!

What would you improve about this program?
My only complaints would be an occasional lack of organization and communication, especially at the beginning of and prior to the program about scheduling.
Yes, I recommend this program

Greatest Experience of My Life

This program gave me the time of my life. I was able to live in the formal East side of Berlin with a former East German. I learned so much and the professors were great to work with, in fact my GPA went up while I was abroad and I was traveling around Europe. There is even an option of taking courses at Humboldt, which is one of the coolest things that this program offers. Plus I was able to make some really great friends in the program and outside of program. All and all this program is awesome and it was a great step for me to improve my German.

What would you improve about this program?
This program is very back end heavy, so there isn't a lot of work in the beginning but at the end it seems as though the professors waited till the last minute to do all of the assignments that they planned for the entire semester. So it would be nice if the work load was more evenly spaced out.
Yes, I recommend this program

A wonderful year in Berlin!

I spent the entirety of the 2016/17 academic year in Berlin with the IES Language and Area Studies programme, and at the end of it my only complaint was that it wasn't longer! The classes offered by IES were all wonderful, taught by a great faculty, and I also really enjoyed the courses I took directly through the the local universities. The IES courses especially really made being in Berlin even more worthwhile. Learning about German literature and politics (to name just two examples) while actually being in the country made IES a complete experience.

One of the best things about IES for me was having the student centre right in the middle of Berlin. It was great having a place to meet up with other students and hang out between classes, and the location couldn't have been more conveniently located. I loved nothing more than getting out of class and walking a few blocks to the nearby park to have lunch. The staff at the centre were all wonderful. The few issues that did come up over the year were all easily handled and I never had a concern that should something go wrong, I would be on my own dealing with it.

I can't stress enough how amazing Berlin is as a city, and experiencing it through IES was one of the best years I've ever spent. I learned loads and greatly improved my German, worked an internship, and made many new friends. It was everything I hoped and more!

What would you improve about this program?
Perhaps a wider range of courses could be offered through the IES centre- for me all the courses fit really well with my major (international relations) but some of the other students whose majors weren't so politically inclined could have used some more variety.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Berlin great, IES great

Let me start by saying: I became convinced over the course of my semester in Berlin that it's basically the best place in the world. It's a capital city, but without many of the things that ruin a capital city and make it boring and unlivable. It's cheap, young, political, and there's so much going on! It has amazing music coming through, really cool bars, beautiful and huge parks (so many for a large city!), and even multiple lakes not too far away to swim (some have real beaches). But in addition, the city also has so much history, including incredible museums, monuments, and memorials. All of this is not to say that Berlin is without problems, but you'll learn about those in your courses and become more attuned over time. None of it persuaded me to revise my opinion.

The IES Programme itself was also great. The people that work there were always available and helpful, whether with course questions or health insurance queries. I took half of my courses within the programme. I would especially recommend Multicultural Berlin with Sabine Berking-- I learned a lot about Berlin and Germany, and we took some awesome field trips to places around the city. (I also heard about many other trips from my friends in other courses.)
I would say that I did not feel hugely academically stretched by my IES courses, but they catered well to a wide range of German abilities, and if you are feeling more confident, there is an opportunity to take classes with ~real~ German students at Humboldt. This is something I would absolutely recommend. Though it was a little effort to make it work, it was definitely worth it to meet people outside the programme and feel like a real Berlin student. For this reason, if you are only going for one semester and it is an option for you, I would definitely recommend going in the spring, as the Humboldt semester doesn't line up particularly well with our semesters, and in the spring the extra couple months run into summer rather than your spring semester back in the US (I was in Berlin until the end of July). Plus it means that the weather only gets nicer and nicer while you are there!

Most of my friends in the programme lived in home-stays in the city, and it did seem that there was a real range in outcomes with that. I, personally, had an amazing experience and will probably meet up with my host mum whenever I return (hopefully soon). Others had more difficulties, which is tough for IES to solve, though they will talk things through with you. A couple other of my friends organised living arrangements outside of IES, and so lived alone or with other students, which is an option to consider if you're feeling very motivated.

What would you improve about this program?
I would say that organising taking classes at Humboldt was a little more complicated than I thought was necessary; however, part of that seemed to be disorder at the Humboldt end too. We all made it work in the end.