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Study abroad

There are many ways to go abroad

So, the plan is to study abroad and to leave Bielefeld University for a while. Generally it is advised to plan one year in advance of your planned trip abroad in order to leave enough time for all the necessary formalities.

In the following list you can find out what possibilities there are and the advantages of the various alternatives:

Semester abroad at a partner university

The advantage of planning a stay abroad through a university partnership or within the ERASMUS programme is that the universities have agreements on the study programme as well as the credits for work abroad awarded at the home university. There are already contacts in place to the particular university and to the teaching staff in the relevant subject, which the students greatly profit from. The organisation side, such as enrolment, accommodation etc. is also easier in most cases than organising a study abroad independently. The mentor programme at the partner university abroad also offers a distinct advantage over self-initiated stays abroad. The choice of university is restricted, however, compared to the free choice available when organising a stay abroad independently. In most cases, there are time restrictions for stays abroad as well.

A list of partners relevant to your subjects can be found here.

Within Europe:
  • for the ERASMUS+ programme here
Outside Europe:
  • to the USA: Information regarding the ISEP exchange programme here [in German]
  • to Japan and China: Receive further information from our team or information for Chinese Language Courses in Shanghai and studying in Japan as exchange students can be found here.
Application Documents:

It is not possible to list all necessary documents needed for all countries. It is recommended, however, to prepare for the following requirements:

  • Letter of motivation
  • CV
  • Transcript of Records
  • Copy of certifications
  • Proof of language skills
  • Proof of health insurance
  • Proof of sufficient financial means (in national language)
  • passport photos

The International Office advises and offers support in preparation of application documents: Verification of certificates and Transcripts of Records translated into English.

Applying independently to a university

If you already have a university in mind with no partnership arrangement, it is possible to apply independently as a so-called Free Mover. Necessary information can be found here.
The advantage of a self-organised study abroad is that you can choose the university you wish to study at yourself. You can choose for how long, at what time and where you wish to study abroad. The difficulty lies in the administrative effort involved because the formalities, such as admission, enrolment, recognition, accommodation, funding etc. have to be organised by you.

For individual advice, practical tips and suggestions please contact the advice team at the International Office.

Necessary documents for independent application:

It is not possible to list all necessary documents needed for all countries. It is recommended, however, to prepare for the following requirements:

  • Letter of motivation
  • CV
  • Transcript of Records
  • Copy of certifications
  • Proof of language skills
  • Proof of health insurance
  • Proof of sufficient financial means (in national language)
  • Attested translation of birth certificate (or international birth certificate)
  • Abitur certificate (in national language), forms in English or French are available at IO
  • passport photos
(Application documents should be requested directly from the foreign university.)

Detailed information, in depth advice and other assistance is available from the advice team at the International Office.


Financing

Expenses

A stay abroad is often more expensive than studying or participating in an internship at the home university. This is due to the following factors:

  • travel costs
  • possible enrolment and tuition fees
  • higher costs of living
  • foreign health insurance, Visa

Nevertheless, there are many funding opportunities available to enable you to study abroad.

International Office grants

Application deadlines:

  • 15.01.: Practical courses, research visits, theses between 01.02. and 31.07.
  • 31.05.: Study courses, practical courses, research visits, theses, language courses between 01.07. and 28.02.
  • 31.10.: Study courses, practical courses, research visits, theses, language courses between 01.01. and 31.07.

Grant options:

PROMOS partial grants
  • DAAD; not for ERASMUS funding!
  • Periods of study between 1 and 6 months
  • Short-term grants for thesis and research visits (not for doctoral candidates)
  • Short-term grants for practical courses outside of the ERASMUS area (from 6 weeks to a max. of 6 months; not for doctoral candidates)
  • Special courses (e.g. Summer Schools) worldwide
  • Minimum average Transcript grade: 2.5
Please apply here (in German).

Partial grant by the rectorate (Rektoratsstipendium)
  • Short-term grants for thesis and research visits worldwide
  • Short-term grants for language courses (3 weeks to 6 months) and special courses (5 days to 6 weeks) worldwide
  • Short-term grants for practical courses outside of the ERASMUS area (from 6 weeks)
Please apply here (in German).
 

For further information please see the Scholarship Brochure issued by the International Office.

Further Financing Options

In addition to the grants awarded by the International Office there are possibilities outside the University to receive financial assistance for studying abroad.

Preparation for a stay abroad with children

Parents can also study abroad. The Internet portal, Auslandsstudium mit Kind [Studying abroad with children [in German]] offers information, reports from experience and useful information for families.


Application

It is not possible to list all necessary documents needed for all countries. It is recommended, however, to prepare for the following requirements:

Applying independently
  • Letter of motivation
  • CV
  • Transcript of Records
  • Copy of certifications
  • Proof of language skills
  • Proof of health insurance
  • Proof of sufficient financial means (in national language)
  • Attested translation of birth certificate (or international birth certificate)
  • Abitur certificate (in national language), forms in English or French are available at IO
  • passport photos

(Application documents should be requested directly from the foreign university.)

Applying at a partner university
  • Letter of motivation
  • CV
  • Transcript of Records
  • Copy of certifications
  • Proof of language skills
  • Proof of health insurance
  • Proof of sufficient financial means (in national language)
  • passport photos

The International Office advises and offers support in preparation of application documents: Verification of certificates and Transcripts of Records translated into English.


Before you travel

Regulations of entry and residence

If you are planning a stay outside the EU you should ask at the Federal Foreign Office about conditions of entry and residence. You can also get further information about your guest country there.

Language preparation

Some universities require certification of language proficiency. For relevant certification please contact the University´s Language Centre. Even if you do not have to prove language proficiency you are welcome to take up the offer of the Language Centre to help you prepare for your stay abroad with language courses or tandems.

Information events offered by the International Office on guest countries

In cooperation with the University's Language Centre, the International Office offers regular information events in the summer semester on various countries. Information is available on the study system, particularities of the countries, and other useful information on living there.
You can find a list of the IO events here and those offered by the Language Centre here.

Providing documents

Depending on the University, you will need various documents. Please inform yourself early on whether you require references, translations of certificates and transcripts or also need attested documents.

If your guest university requires a transcript in the English language then at the International Office your translation can be verified and stamped.

Recognition of academic achievements

Before you begin your studies abroad you must talk to your Programme Officer about the recognition of your academic achievements. Even when you are not going abroad as part of a Bielefeld University ERASMUS+ cooperation you can make use of the form Learning Agreement.

Further information can be found in the brochure Studying Abroad and the Recognition of Achievements [in German] and also here [in German].

Leave of absence/re-registration at Bielefeld University

You can also take a leave of absence for the period of your stay abroad. To this end you need the "Application for Leave of Absence" [in German] from the Registrars´office and confirmation that you will be completing a period of study abroad. Please note: A leave of absence is not possible if you take an examination at Bielefeld University or wish to end your studies during the semester when you are studying abroad. For more information please contact the Registrars´office.

Health Insurance

Whether health insurance is required or what kind of health insurance is necessary differs from country to country. Please refer to information brochures and contact your health insurance to find out how you should proceed.

International Student Identity Card

The International Student Identity Card provides discounts for different facilities abroad. To apply for the Student Identity Card please visit ISIC.

Accommodation in the guest country

Finding suitable accommodation is one of the biggest worries when planning a stay abroad. It is recommended then to inform yourself well in advance at your guest university, read about other people?s experiences and do some research on the Internet about possible accommodation in your guest country. Tips to Internet sites are available on request from the advisory team of the International Office.

Subletting a flat

If you do not want to give up your flat when you go abroad, you can rent it out to international students who are staying in Bielefeld during your absence.

You can find the form and contact details here as .pdf [in German].

International Mentoring Programme

If you would like to get a taste of a little international atmosphere you can be a mentor to international students studying at Bielefeld University on the International Mentoring Programme. More information about the programme and details on how to apply is available here.

Reports of experiences

To prepare yourself for your trip you can also read about the experiences of former students who have completed a stay abroad and find useful tips and suggestions. You can find some reports from previous semesters here [in German].