Semester Abroad as a Free Mover

Semester Abroad as a Free Mover

To smell the scent of the big, wide world during your studies – semesters abroad are still the most popular option. In many courses, especially in language or regional studies or international business studies, stays abroad are often required. Students from other disciplines also benefit from one or two semesters at a foreign university.

Semester abroad worldwide

If you already know where to go, you can view our regional and country-specific information on semesters abroad:
Africa, Argentina, Asia, Australia, Chile, China, Europe, Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, Malaysia, New Zealand, North America, Oceania, Peru, Singapore, Spain, South America, USA, Vietnam

Study abroad programs

Not all students can or want to go abroad as part of university exchange programs. For these students, the so-called Open Semester or Study Abroad programs represent an ideal opportunity to spend a semester or two abroad on their own. These are special semester programs for international applicants from foreign universities. They are primarily offered in English-speaking countries such as the USA, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand. In the meantime, universities in other countries are increasingly offering these programs, for example in Thailand, Malaysia, Spain, Chile or Argentina.

These programs enable German applicants to study at a foreign university of their choice for one to two semesters. The students are not placed in a specific semester or course of study. Instead, they can choose their courses according to their individual interests. As a rule, they study together with the local students and take the same exams at the end of the semester.

At some universities, for example in China or Spain, there are also special course offers only for international students. These are then at least “among themselves” in the courses


The advantage of the Open Semester and Study Abroad programs is their flexibility. The choice of courses across disciplines and semesters enables students to choose specific courses that will be credited to them at the university at home. You do not have to interrupt your studies for the semester abroad and ideally it is not extended either.

A semester program is also recommended for students who want to look beyond the academic horizon of their subject. Because they can take courses that are not included in their studies at home. How about courses like Aboriginal Literature in Australia or History of the Maritimes in Eastern Canada, for example? The flexible choice of courses offers the unique opportunity to expand your knowledge in new areas.

Recognition of semesters abroad in Germany

A semester program does not lead to a formal degree. After completing the program, however, students will receive a transcript of records. All grades and the credit points earned are listed there. The course achievements can thus be recognized at the home university – after prior agreement with the responsible examination office or the course coordinator.

Application for a semester abroad

The application for an open semester or study abroad program is quite easy in contrast to an application for a complete bachelor’s or master’s degree abroad. Since you are not aiming for a degree, you do not compete with other applicants for the sometimes scarce places for a complete degree.

Application requirements

The only prerequisites for the application are a high school diploma and sufficient foreign language skills. Some universities also require that the applicant has already studied two semesters in Germany. Grades rarely play a role in the application process.

Standardized language tests such as the IELTS or TOEFL are provided for language skills. Many universities also accept alternative language certificates such as the DAAD language certificate or good English grades in the Abitur.

Plan enough time!

If the requirements are met, applications at very short notice are sometimes still possible, sometimes up to three months before the planned start of the course. Normally, however, students should plan a period of at least three quarters of a year in order to prepare adequately for the “adventure semester abroad”.

Funding and possible funding

A semester abroad is associated with costs, but there are various ways of funding and / or funding. For example, there is the possibility of receiving a scholarship for a semester abroad. Various organizations, such as the DAAD, or various foundations and organizations for the promotion of talented students, award scholarships.

Another option for financing your stay abroad is the Auslands-BAföG. Particularly interesting: Even students who are not entitled to BAföG in Germany can partially receive BAföG abroad. In any case, it is worthwhile to get information from the responsible BAföG office.

Anyone who does not receive a scholarship or BAföG abroad can consider financing the semester abroad with a low-interest student or education loan.

What are the benefits of a semester abroad?

The students benefit in many ways from their semester abroad: On a personal level, it offers them the chance to have a unique experience. You can get to know another country and culture and make friends from all over the world.

A semester abroad can also be helpful for further studies and especially for your later career. New teaching methods and content can open up a completely new perspective on the subject and provide valuable suggestions for final theses.

A completed semester abroad can also mean advantages for later applications: Most HR managers prefer applicants with international experience. Ultimately, they prove flexibility, independence and commitment. They can also convince with good language skills, intercultural skills and country-specific know-how.

Semester Abroad as a Free Mover

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