Die größte Sehenswürdigkeit, die es gibt, ist die Welt – sieh sie dir an.
– Kurt Tucholsky
St. Olaf College offers students three unique study abroad opportunities in German-speaking countries, for either a semester or a full year: the Universität Mainz in central Germany, the Universität Konstanz in southern Germany, and Webster University in Vienna. The two university exchange programs in Germany offer an extensive array of courses across all disciplines. Webster University in Vienna offers the unique opportunity for music students to take applied lessons. Students need not be German majors or German Studies concentrators to take part in these programs.
Founded in 1966 and located on the shore of the beautiful Bodensee (Lake Constance) near the borders of Switzerland and Austria, the Universität Konstanz is based in the tradition of interdisciplinary collaboration with top-level research, excellence in teaching and studies, and an architecturally unique campus reflecting its reform spirit (www.uni-konstanz.de). It has been successful in the Excellence Initiative and Strategy since 2007, making it one of the most outstanding universities in Germany. Students can enroll in regular university classes offered in German and English, and in classes for learners of German through the university’s language institute.
Originally founded in 1477 and re-established in its current form in 1946, the Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz (www.uni-mainz.de) is a comprehensive university know especially for its outstanding laboratory science institutes, including the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and the Max Planck Institut for Polymer Research. Students enroll directly in regular university courses in German, and qualified St. Olaf students can arrange an internship at one of the laboratories on campus. The program is organized through Middlebury College, which offers extensive on-site advising and provides an intensive 1-credit German course in academic writing.
Webster University in Vienna
The study abroad program at Webster Vienna Private University is designed with music students in mind, who can take applied lessons on site. Classes in a variety of other disciplines are also available. Established in 1981, the program is located in the beautiful Palais Wenkheim, just a few steps away from the city center. Unlike the study abroad programs in Konstanz and Mainz, the Webster University in Vienna program has English as its primary language of instruction and therefore has no requirement of prior German knowledge. A limited number of introductory, intermediate and advanced German courses are available.
Curriculum and Credit Transfer
The following information pertains only to the programs at the Universität Konstanz and the Universität Mainz. For information about studying at Webster University in Vienna, please see the program description on the St. Olaf Smith Center for Global Engagement or contact Prof. Alison Feldt (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the St. Olaf Music Department.
Students may attend the Universität Konstanz for interim plus spring semester or for an entire academic year. Students may attend the Universität Mainz for fall semester, interim plus spring semester, or for an entire academic year. Both the Universität Konstanz and the Universität Mainz offer an intensive pre-semester language and orientation course to St. Olaf students. During this time, students choose university courses in consultation with the St. Olaf Germany programs advisor.
Upon successful completion of an approved semester-long program of study in Germany, a student normally receives 4-5 credits on the St. Olaf transcript. Upon successful completion of an approved full-year program of study in Germany, a student normally receives 8-9 credits on the St. Olaf transcript. Up to 2 credits per semester can count toward the St. Olaf German major, excluding the 370-level course requirement. For a course to count toward the German major, the language of instruction must be German. Up to 2 credits total may count toward a German Studies concentration, one of which must be a course in English in German.
With approval from the St. Olaf German program advisor and/or the chair of the student’s major department(s), course credits also may apply to another major, general education requirements, or electives. Credits toward other majors across the sciences and humanities must be pre-arranged with department chairs. Students should know that specific courses might not be offered during their time at their chosen university and discuss this possibility with their advisors and chairs. Grades earned for all courses taken are recorded on the St. Olaf transcript but not calculated into the St. Olaf grade point average.
Eligibility and Admission
Students who have completed German 232 (4th-semester level) are eligible to participate in either program. Students must earn a grade of at least B- in the last German course taken at St. Olaf before departure.
At the Universität Konstanz, students can take courses in German at the university-affiliated language institute and regular university courses in English or German (with minimum CEFR B2-level German language proficiency). Students should prepare well for the grammar-based language placement exam they will take upon arriving in Konstanz. At the Universität Mainz, students take an intensive German course through the Middlebury in Mainz program and regular university courses of their choosing in German, with guidance and support from the Middlebury in Mainz staff. Students must complete an oral interview in German with a Middlebury College program administrator prior to acceptance.
Applications for both programs, regardless of duration or semester, are due in February of the preceding academic year to the St. Olaf Office of International and Off-Campus Studies. After acceptance to the exchange program, students complete international student application forms, housing forms and pre-semester course registration forms for the German university.
The host university arranges housing (dormitory or student shared apartment) with kitchen facilities. Students also may eat in the university Mensa. Students receive a Semesterticket that allows them to use all local and some regional public transportation during the semester. Student organizations and the university’s international office offer many affordable co-curricular activities, such as club sports and group travel. Typically, students have 1-2 weeks of free time between the completion of their pre-semester intensive language course and the beginning of the regular university semester. Classes are also canceled for numerous national and religious holidays during the semester. During those breaks, students often take advantage of discounted student travel options to see more of Germany and nearby countries.
Costs and Financial Resources
Please visit the Smith Center for Global Engagement study abroad portal to find complete information about program costs. A number of study abroad scholarships are available, and a student’s regular financial aid typically may be applied toward study abroad programs. For further information about financial planning for study abroad, visit https://wp.stolaf.edu/international/financial-planning/.
St. Olaf German Exchange Program Advisor
Professor Amanda Randall (507) 786-3464
St. Olaf Smith Center for Global Engagement
Die beste Bildung findet ein gescheiter Mensch auf Reisen.
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe