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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the direct exchange?

Via the direct exchange, student of the free university can spend a year or semester abroad at one of the ca. 90 partner universities world wide. Students will receive a full tuition waiver; some universities additionally offer scholarships to cover living expenses.

When should I begin planning and preparing my stay abroad?

Every program has slightly different requirements and deadlines. In most cases, the application deadline is already 8 - 11 months before the beginning of your stay, so we recommend that Bachelor students start informing themselves in their second semester the latest. Master students should already begin preparing before their first semester.

How do I prepare for the TOEFL?

First of all, it is important that you register for the test fairly early. Especially in the beginning of the winter semester exam dates can be completely booked already. We therefore recommend an early registration on the ets website. Further information on how to prepare for the test can be found here.

Which additional financial aid options are there besides the direct exchange?

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) supports individually organized exchange years. Stays up to six months can further be financed via the PROMOS program. Another option is applying for BAföG. There are several private and public foundations that also financially support a study abroad stay. You'll find more detailed information here.

Can students who are not German citizens apply for the direct exchange program?

Yes, a German citizenship is of no relevance. This is also applies to the PROMOS application.

Important notice for regular, degree-seeking students from abroad who do not have German citizenship and hold a visa/residency permit for a limited, fixed period of time to study at Freie Universität: 

If you are planning to undertake a stay outside of Germany related to your studies and wish to leave the country for over six months, you are obliged to immediately get in contact with the Berlin Immigration Office (Landesamt für Einwanderung – LEA) before commencing your stay abroad.

You will need to request written confirmation from us regarding your planned stay abroad and submit this statement to the LEA with your approval request. 

Please attend to this matter without delay, as otherwise you may lose your visa and/or residency status when you return to Germany after your stay abroad.

Can I apply for several direct exchange programs?

An application for up to three different programs per academic year is possible. For further information consult the individual program websites or come talk to us at office hours.

Can the direct exchange be combined with other scholarhsips?

Yes. This is not only possible but highly recommended.

Do I have to take a leave of absence from the Free University during my time abroad?

This decision is up to you. Either way you will not lose your place at Free University. Leave semesters do not count as study semesters "Fachsemester" and therefore do not count towards the standard study period in a degree program "Regelstudienzeit" (which is partly relevant for examination deadlines). Further information can be found here.

Will the credits I earn abroad be counted towards my degree at Free University?

The recognition of credit points and grades earned during your time abroad is solely up to your department (Fachbereich) and depends on your study and examination regulations. We recommend to talk to your professors about credit recognition before starting your stay at the partner university. Further information can be found here.

Can I enroll in all courses at the partner universities?

The partner university decides about course admission. Attending a course at a different level -- e.g. enrolling in a graduate class as an undergraduate students -- is sometimes possible. It is usually helpful to contact the lecturers of your preferred courses directly and ask them for admittance.

Can I finish my studies abroad and get a degree from the partner university?

No. You are not allowed to graduate from the partner university and will only be able to stay for the agreed period of time.

Can I do research for my thesis abroad?

Yes, you can research for your final thesis during your time abroad and use all their resources, e.g. the library. However, your thesis must eventually be handed in at your home department and can not be graded abroad.

Can I travel or do an internship before or after my semester/year abroad?

Yes, you can organize your time before and after your stay independently. It is important to adhere to your specific visa and scholarship regulations though -- in some cases you might have to return home within a certain period of time after your semester ends.