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Direct Exchange

Freie Universität maintains partnerships with many universities and research institituions worldwide. Originally most of these partnerships were with leading North American and Western European universities. More recently, they have been established with universities in Asia, Australia, Eastern Europe, and Africa. Currently there are over 120 such partnerships.

Students wishing to participate in our Direct Exchange Program cannot apply to us directly. You must first be officially nominated by your home university, and you may be required to fulfill additional selection criteria. Please check with the international office at your home university whether they can nominate you for an exchange program at FU Berlin.

Following receipt of the official nomination from your home university, we will ask you to complete an application form and upload the following documents through the online application process.

The documents should be in German or English, or accompanied by an English translation:

-Photocopy of your passport (page with photograph)

-Photocopy(ies) of your transcript of records

-Photocopy(ies) of your bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or any other degree from a higher education institution.


Once the application period ends, we will send you a confirmation of admission (at the beginning of June for applications for the winter semester or at the beginning of December for applications for the summer semester).

Please read up on the visa entry requirements that apply to students coming to Germany from your home country in good time. The visa application process usually takes several weeks. Therefore, you should check the latest information published by the German Embassy as early as possible regarding the current entry requirements. Please apply for a “visa for study purposes” as soon as possible. After entering Germany, all students with a non-EU and non-EFTA citizenship are required to apply for a Residence Permit. The university’s Pass Service provides more information on this topic.

The academic year at FU Berlin consists of two semesters that are each divided into the period during which classes are in session (Vorlesungszeit) and the period during which classes are not in session (Vorlesungsfreie Zeit). Exams usually take place during the last two weeks of class or the first week of the Vorlesungsfreie Zeit. The dates of the academic year are as follows:

  Winter semester Summer semester
Semester duration October 1 - March 31 April 1 - September 30
Vorlesungszeit Mid-October - End of February Mid-April - End of July
Vorlesungsfreie Zeit End of February - End of March End of July - End of September

Please consult the Academic Calendar for more information on current semester dates, public holidays, etc.

The language of instruction for almost all bachelor’s degree programs at FU Berlin is German. Outside the English Language and Literature and North American Studies institutes, the choice of English-taught courses is quite limited. Although more English-language courses are available at the master’s degree level, please keep in mind that students wishing to enroll in a master’s degree program require prior approval to do so from the respective department. They must also provide proof that they have completed a bachelor’s degree. We do not require a proof of your German language skills, but we recommend students to be proficient in German at level B1 of CEFR for natural sciences and B2 of CEFR for humanities and social sciences.

We strongly recommend taking the time to prepare for your study abroad at FU Berlin before arriving. Putting together your application materials and the paperwork for enrolment is only part of the process.

As a Direct Exchange Student, you have the opportunity to enroll in more than one subject. You can find an overview of all bachelor’s degree programs at FU Berlin here. You can find further information on mono and combination bachelor’s degree programs here.

Please check the subjects in the interactive combination table for bachelor’s degree programs, as not all subjects can be combined interchangeably.

Please also keep in mind the different subjects and the information provided by each department when choosing the subject(s) you are interested in.

The departments of Human Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, and Pharmacy are NOT open to exchange students. Enrollment in biochemistry, bioinformatics, and biology courses is subject to availability of lab classes and prior approval by the institute/department. Restrictions also apply in the Department of Law and the School of Business and Economics.

You can browse the courses offered in the current semester online in the course catalogue. The course catalogue is published online approximately six weeks before the start of the respective semester. It is sectioned into departments, degree programs, and modules. You can search for courses that are taught in English by using the “advanced search” option.

For a more detailed overview of the content and workload for each module, please refer to the archived degree program and examination regulations (Studien- und Prüfungsordnungen). The current degree program and examination regulations for specific subjects are available on the website of the respective institute (often only in German).

Each semester, FU Berlin offers special courses in German (level B1) and English specifically for exchange students on topics such as German-European history, politics, and culture. These courses will be automatically available to you once the course registration period starts. More information about the courses and a list of courses currently on offer can be found here.

FU Berlin uses the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS), an evaluation system based on workload and not just student attendance. Students are awarded a certain number of ECTS points for each course they complete. Please find further information on ECTS points here.

FU Berlin offers a range of free German language courses during the Vorlesungszeit (period when classes are in session). Those wishing to participate in a German language course must first take a placement test to determine their language level. This test takes place during the orientation period, shortly before the semester starts. Without this test, exchange students are not eligible to take language classes. More information is available here.

Every semester, direct exchange students may decide to take a preparatory six-week German course at the Language Center of the FU Berlin. This German course takes place before classes are in session (starting in March for the summer semester and in September for the winter semester). In addition to registration and payment, participation in a placement test is a prerequisite. You can find more information on dates and fees here.

You will be officially enrolled at FU Berlin once the necessary documents for enrollment (enrollment form, confirmation of health insurance, confirmation of the payment of the semester ticket and social fees) have been received.

Upon enrollment, you will receive your student number (Matrikelnummer) and the ZEDAT access data required to set up your FU online account. You can use this account to download your certificate of enrollment, set up your university email, and issue your Campuscard, which will serve as your student ID, semester ticket, cafeteria card, and library card during your time here.

If you wish to prolong your stay at Freie Universität Berlin, your home university must nominate you again. As such, please first contact your home university should you have any questions on extending your stay.

Online registration for courses begins at the start of October for the winter semester and at the start of April for the summer semester. Please keep in mind that you can only register for classes in the subject for which you are enrolled. It’s best if you decide which courses you would like to attend before the course registration period begins. During this time, you have two weeks to sign up for classes that have limited capacity and four weeks to register for classes with unlimited capacity. Students are randomly allocated to classes with limited capacity two weeks after the start of the registration period; classes at FU Berlin are not assigned on a “first come, first served” basis.

We highly recommend organizing your accommodation in Berlin in good time, as demand for housing is very high. Exchange students who have been officially accepted to study at FU Berlin are entitled to apply for student accommodation via the university’s Accommodation Service. Please keep in mind the registration period and the duration of the different rental contracts.

Orientation Days are held at the beginning of each semester for students. During these introductory events, you have the opportunity to get to know the university, the structure of the individual degree programs, and other students. Our team will answer any questions you may have regarding your studies and offer a range of activities. These events also include an introduction to other organizations at FU Berlin that may be of interest to you, such as the International Club and the University Sports Center (UniSport).


Ms. Carmen Gleisenstein
Student Mobility Unit
Student Service Center
Iltisstr. 4
(subway station: Dahlem Dorf)
14195 Berlin

Tel: +49 (0)30 838-70000
Email: incoming@fu-berlin.de 

Office Hours:
Tuesday: 9.30 a.m. - 12.30 p.m. und 2.00 - 5.00 p.m.
Thursday: 9.30 a.m. - 12.30 p.m. und 2.00 - 5.00 p.m.