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  • Study abroad


    Campus der Universität Bielefeld
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Study abroad

So now you have decided to study abroad and are determined to turn your back on Bielefeld University for a while. As a general rule, you should start your preparations about a year before you plan to go abroad, so that you have enough time to complete all the necessary formalities.

You can see which options are available and which advantages the different variants have in the following list.

If you are planning a stay abroad via a university partnership or within the framework of the Erasmus+ program, this offers the great advantage that the universities involved have made arrangements about the study program as well as about the crediting of study requirements / credits at the home university. Contacts have already been established with the foreign university and with the lecturers in the respective departments, from which the students benefit greatly. Organizational difficulties such as enrolment, accommodation, etc. are also usually less problematic than with self-organized stays abroad. Likewise, the support program at the foreign partner university offers a decisive advantage over that of self-organized stays abroad. However, the choice of foreign university locations is naturally more limited than in the case of self-organization with free choice. In most cases, there are also time constraints for the stay.

You can see which partnerships exist within your subjects here.

Within Europe:

  • For the Erasmus+ program, see here.


Outside Europe:

  • USA: Information on the ISEP exchange program can be found here.


Application materials:

It is not possible to provide a complete list of all papers required anywhere. However, it is recommended to prepare for the following requirements:

  • Letter of motivation for the stay abroad
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Overview of the courses attended so far (Transcript of Records)
  • Copies of certificates
  • Proof of language proficiency
  • Proof of existing health insurance
  • Confirmation of financing from parents (in the local language)
  • several passport photos

The IO offers assistance in the preparation of application documents: Review of certificates and transcripts of records translated into English.

Information for the procedure and a template is available under Downloads.

If you already have an university in mind with which there is no partnership, you can apply independently - as a so-called free mover.
You can get the necessary information here.
The advantage of a self-organized stay abroad is that you can choose the university at which you want to study. You choose yourself for what period, when and where you want to go abroad. The challenge lies in a high administrative effort, since all formalities such as admission, enrolment, recognition, accommodation, financing etc. have to be organized by yourself.

For individual advice and practical tips please contact the Infopoint International.

Application documents must be requested directly from the university abroad.

It is not possible to provide a complete list of all papers needed. However, it is recommended to prepare for the following requirements:

  • Letter of motivation for the stay abroad
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Overview of the courses attended so far (Transcript of Records)
  • Copies of certificates
  • Proof of language proficiency
  • Proof of existing health insurance
  • Confirmation of financing from a sponsor, e.g. parents (in the local language)
  • Certified translation of birth certificate (you can also apply for an "international birth certificate" instead)
  • high school diploma (may also be required in the local language), forms in English and French are available at the IO
  • several passport photos

Further information can be found in the publications of the DAAD [German Academic Exchange Service].


In addition to the costs incurred at your home university, the following costs are incurred during your stay abroad:

  • travelling expenses
  • costs for international health insurance, visa
  • tuition/enrolment fees, if applicable
  • possibly higher living costs

Study or internship abroad? The Erasmus+ programme offers two types of funding for students.

More information can be found here.

Students with children and students with disabilities can apply for extra funding through Erasmus+. Please contact the Erasmus+ coordinator in the International Office.

Before departure

If you are planning a stay outside the EU, you should obtain information about entry and residence regulations from the German Foreign Office. There you will also find further information about your host country.

Some universities require proof of sufficient language skills. For such proof, you should contact the Fachsprachenzentrum [Language Centre]. But even if you do not have to provide proof of language skills, you should take advantage of the services offered by the Fachsprachenzentrum [Language Centre] to prepare for your stay with the help of language courses or language tandems.

In cooperation with the Fachsprachenzentrum [Language Centre], the International Office regularly offers information events on various countries during the Summer semester. There you will get information about the study system, special features of the country and useful tips about life there.
In the electronic course catalogue (ekvv) you can find events of the IO here and events of the Fachsprachenzentrum [Language Centre] here.

Depending on the host university you will need different documents. Please find out well in advance whether you need expert opinions, translations of certificates and transcripts or even certified documents.

If your host university requires a transcript in English, the translation can be checked and stamped by the International Office.

Further information and help for translation as well as a transcript template as .doc is available under Downloads.

Information on the recognition of study requirements / credits can be found here.

You can take a leave of absence for the duration of your stay. To do so, you will need the "Application for Leave of Absence" from the Student Office and a confirmation that you will be completing a study-related stay abroad. Please note: A leave of absence is not possible if you intend to take an exam or complete your studies at Bielefeld University during the semester in which you are studying abroad. For more information, please contact the Student Office.

Whether and which health insurance you need in the host country varies from case to case. Please consult the information brochures and your health insurance company to find out how to proceed.

With the international student card you often get discounts abroad. The international student card can be applied for on the ISIC homepage.

Finding suitable accommodation is one of the bigger worries you have when planning a stay abroad. Therefore, you should inform yourself in good time at your host university, read testimonials and research on the Internet what accommodation options are available in your host country. Tips on Internet sites are available upon request from the International Office advisory team.

If you do not want to give up your shared room or apartment during your stay abroad, there is the possibility to rent your living space to international students who will be studying abroad in Bielefeld during your absence.

You can find a form under Downloads.

If you would like to get a taste of the international atmosphere, you can supervise international students studying at Bielefeld University in the International Mentoring Program. More information about the program and registration can be found here.

Browsing through the experience reports of former outgoing students can be a good preparation for your own stay abroad and often you will find useful tips and hints there. Here you can find experience reports from the last semesters.

After the return

Information on the recognition of study requirements / credits can be found here.

Country ambassadors are contact persons for students who are planning a stay abroad in the same country. For country- and university-specific questions, they provide useful tips about the host university, the city and the country of the stay abroad. They can also inspire students who have not yet decided to study abroad. If you are interested or have any questions, contact the World Office in D0-140 or send an email to

Would youlike to continue to have contact with international students?
How about volunteering in the International Mentoring Programme?

In this mentoring programme, Bielefeld students can personally look after international students, support them during their stay in Bielefeld and thus establish international contacts.

More information and the registration for the International Mentoring Programme can be found here: International Mentoring Programme

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