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Berlin - Language & Area Studies

Why Berlin?

The minute you step off the plane in Berlin, you’ll feel its energy. It’s a place of new ideas, where sustainable technology and modern design are a way of life, and art galleries can be found on nearly every corner. But don’t forget, this dynamic city is also a center of modern European history—it has no equal for leaving its imprint on the political, social, and cultural history of the 20th century. We invite you to study in Berlin and to explore one of the world’s most vibrant cities.

What You'll Study

Specially designed to improve your German language skills, this program draws upon Berlin’s rich culture and traditions to connect your coursework with the living history of the city. IES Abroad courses are taught in German by local faculty, and a variety of academic options are available at local universities.

You can also add international work experience to your résumé while earning credit by taking an academic internship seminar during the semester and staying on after the semester to work at your internship placement.

Berlin will be your classroom. Imagine learning about German politics and policy making in class and then taking a quick walk to visit the German Parliament. Or discussing multiculturalism in Berlin and then touring one of the city’s bustling Turkish neighborhoods. Wherever possible, our courses take advantage of the city’s many historical, artistic, and cultural sites, and several courses include course-related trips.

To enrich your academic experience, you can participate in field trips to destinations like Dresden & Elbe Valley, Hamburg, Leipzig, and Potsdam.

Daily Life

We want you to feel at home in Berlin, so we do everything we can to help you integrate into life in the city. From housing to cultural events, our job is to make sure you have the most authentic study abroad experience possible.

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$5 Million in Scholarships & Aid

We firmly believe that financial limitations should not prevent a qualified student from participating in an IES Abroad Program. This is why we commit $5 million to our scholarship and aid programs.


Our mission is simple: to provide you with the best study abroad program possible—which includes the highest quality academic and cultural experiences. We offer a variety of courses that explore German History, Culture, Art, and Society through an in-depth and hands-on approach. Our experienced faculty, as well as course options at the prestigious Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, will facilitate a unique academic experience and provide you with new perspectives both in and out of class.

You take 16–19 credits per semester— all courses are worth 3 credits, excluding the required 4-credit German Language courses. All courses in this program are taught in German. You can combine your IES courses with courses at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin.* In addition, you have the option to participate in a part-time internship after the end of your IES courses.* For internship students, the German Social Market Economy course is required. 

These are your options in the program:

  • Language & Area Studies Program courses (3 credits) 
  • IES Abroad German language course (required, 4 credits)
  • German-taught courses at a local university (credits vary)
  • IES Abroad Internship (includes internship and IES course on The German Model of Social Market Economy, 4 credits)

*Please note: Students who choose to take courses at a local university will need to remain in Berlin for the duration of the standard German university semester, which runs through mid-to-late-February (Fall semester) and mid-to-late-July (Spring semester). 

Students participating in a post-program internship must also remain in Berlin during this additional period of time, respective to the semester of participation. 

Enrollment in German-taught partner university courses requires a German language level of B2.1 (Common European Reference Framework CERF), equivalent to GR401.


Below is a list of planned course offerings. After you are accepted, you will see a list of final course offerings in your MyIESabroad account.

On request and with permission from your home institution, you may take up to two English-taught courses from our Metropolitan & Urban Studies or Security Studies & International Affairs programs; or English-taught courses at a local university as part of your course-load. 

To learn more about IES Abroad’s innovative theoretical and pedagogical approaches to teaching language abroad, refer to the IES Abroad MAP for Language & Intercultural Communication.

Art History
Course Name Term Language Credits
AH 325 - History of Photography Fall, Spring German 3
CU/AH 335 - Art and Society: Berlin Since the 1930's Fall, Spring German 3
Course Name Term Language Credits
AN/GE 313B - Bio-Politics and Migration in the 21st Century Fall German 3
Cultural Studies
Course Name Term Language Credits
CU/AH 335 - Art and Society: Berlin Since the 1930's Fall, Spring German 3
CU/SO 360 - Multicultural Berlin Spring German 3
SO/CU 350B - German Popular Culture Fall, Spring German 3
Course Name Term Language Credits
DR 444 - Theater in Berlin Fall, Spring German 3
Film Studies
Course Name Term Language Credits
HS/FS 342 - Contemporary German Film Spring German 3
Course Name Term Language Credits
AN/GE 313B - Bio-Politics and Migration in the 21st Century Fall German 3
German Language
Course Name Term Language Credits
GR 401 - German Language In Context: Emerging Competent Abroad I Fall, Spring German 4
GR 451 - German Language In Context: Competent Abroad Fall, Spring German 4
IB/GR 333 - Let's Talk Business (Wirtschaftsdeutsch) Fall, Spring German 3
Gender Studies
Course Name Term Language Credits
SO/HS/GS 335B - The Politics of Gender: Berlin Past and Present Fall, Spring German 3
Course Name Term Language Credits
HS/FS 342 - Contemporary German Film Spring German 3
HS/PO 395 - The German Model of Social Market Economy Fall, Spring German 3
HS/US 320 - Berlin Memory Politics Fall, Spring German 3
SO/HS/GS 335B - The Politics of Gender: Berlin Past and Present Fall, Spring German 3
International Business
Course Name Term Language Credits
IB/GR 333 - Let's Talk Business (Wirtschaftsdeutsch) Fall, Spring German 3
International Relations
Course Name Term Language Credits
IR/PO 361 - Germany and European Unification Fall, Spring German 3
Course Name Term Language Credits
LT 460 - Modern German Literature Fall, Spring German 3
Political Science
Course Name Term Language Credits
HS/PO 395 - The German Model of Social Market Economy Fall, Spring German 3
IR/PO 361 - Germany and European Unification Fall, Spring German 3
Course Name Term Language Credits
CU/SO 360 - Multicultural Berlin Spring German 3
SO/CU 350B - German Popular Culture Fall, Spring German 3
SO/HS/GS 335B - The Politics of Gender: Berlin Past and Present Fall, Spring German 3
Urban Studies
Course Name Term Language Credits
HS/US 320 - Berlin Memory Politics Fall, Spring German 3

Partner Institution(s)

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU)
With a size of approximately 35,000 students, Humboldt University offers a wide variety of courses in the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Natural Sciences. The university has 9 departments (Fakultäten) and offers 189 degree programs, 57 of which are undergraduate programs. Founded in 1810, the university established the concept of the modern university that unites teaching and research. HU’s main campus is located within walking distance of the IES Berlin Center. Most science courses, however, are held at the university’s second campus in the district of Adlershof, about 50 minutes commute by train from the Center.

For specific course offerings, visit the HU course directory and browse options.*

If you take courses at Humboldt University, you will be directly enrolled as a student and have full access to all university facilities. This may also enable you to take courses at one of various other local universities— course opportunities at other local universities can be explored on a case-by-case basis with the Academics Team in Berlin.

*Please note: Local universities' course directories are typically updated end-of August for the Fall semester, and end-of February for the Spring— course offerings vary from semester to semester, and some course options may not be available for non-degree-seeking students. 

Volunteer Abroad

When you volunteer in Berlin, you have the chance to make a difference in the local community while meeting new people and gaining a new perspective on the world. If you are passionate about volunteering abroad, just let the on-site staff know at the beginning of your term. Past volunteer opportunities in Berlin include:

  • Not-for-profit organizations
  • Schools
  • Social institutions


Interning while you study in Berlin gives you a rewarding job experience with a wealth of long-lasting career benefits. You will:

  • Gain a better understanding of the real-life, everyday culture of your host country
  • Add global work experience and skills to your résumé or your application for graduate school
  • Improve your confidence

All of our internships are supervised and earn IES Abroad credit. Interns participate in a course on the social market economy that includes a special seminar linked to the internship, for an additional credit. In both fall and spring semesters, internships begin after the IES Abroad courses end. Spring internships end in August, and fall internships end in February. There is no extra cost for this optional, post-program internship.

Personalized Placements
Once you indicate your interest in an internship, we work with you to find the ideal internship placement that fulfills your academic and career goals. We’ve placed students with a wide variety of organizations and businesses. If we don’t currently work with a business or organization in your field of interest, we will search for a placement that’s right for you.

Placement Examples

Past students have interned in the following fields. Don’t see your field listed here? Just talk to your IES Abroad Program Advisor—new internships are always being added.

  • Architecture
  • Business
  • Computer Science
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Government
  • Medicine
  • Mass Media
  • Social Organizations

In addition, internships may be available in Architecture, Computer Science, Engineering, Mass Media, and Medicine.

Field Trips & Events

Even though your adventure starts in Berlin, our field trips take you beyond the city to discover the culture and traditions of your host country. Field trips are offered at an extra cost. Here are a few possible destinations:

Dresden & Elbe Valley
3 days | fall & spring
Visit Dresden, the ‘Florence of the North‘, and view its rich cultural and architectural heritage; and the scenic views of the Elbe valley, its natural river banks and slopes.

2 days | fall & spring
Explore Germany’s second largest city on this weekend trip to Hamburg, an economic and cultural hub with Europe’s third largest harbor, stunning modern architecture, and trendy shopping areas.

1 day | fall & spring
The original location of the Bauhaus, a famed school of design founded by Walter Gropius in 1919, Dessau hosts some of the most iconic buildings of this era of architectural design, as well as the brand-new Bauhaus Museum. Join us on this day trip to Dessau to celebrate the Bauhaus Centenary.

1 day | fall & spring
Tour Potsdam, the former residence of Prussian kings, and its stunningly beautiful castles, parks, gardens, and scenic waterfront views.

IES Abroad field trip destinations, activities, and lengths of stay may vary according to term and availability.

Course-Related Trips

IES Abroad Berlin organizes course-related trips that complement IES Abroad courses, and contribute to your general knowledge of German culture and society. Past activities have included:

  • Architectural tours of various city districts
  • Visits to museums and art galleries
  • Tours of Berlin's markets and multicultural neighborhoods
  • Attendance at theater performances

Daily Life

Part of making you feel at home in Berlin is doing our best to help you feel safe and cared for. Whether it’s the orientation program that prepares you for what’s ahead, your housing that is well-located and comfortable, or the field trips and walking tours that take you to places off the beaten path—we’re all about our student services.


The program begins with an orientation that introduces you to the IES Abroad Berlin staff, your fellow students, and the city of Berlin.

Our Comprehensive Orientation & Re-Entry Experience (CORE™) begins right when you arrive and continues through the semester with activities focusing on academic and cultural adjustment. Detailed information about housing, public transportation, culture, health and safety, and other important topics are also covered.

Following orientation, you divide your time between intensive German language instruction and a series of lectures, tours, and trips related to the history, art, and culture of Berlin.


We want to make sure that your greatest challenge is deciding which landmarks to see first or discovering the best café—not finding a place to live where you feel comfortable. We do our best to locate housing that is reflective of how the local students are living. Our goal is that when you leave Berlin, it will feel like home.

IES Abroad Berlin housing gives you the unique experience of living with local residents throughout the city. Hosts may be single adults, single parents or families. Most housing is in apartments.

Students typically prepare their own meals in their housing or dine in Mensas (affordable student cafeterias) or restaurants. Meals are not included in the program cost.

Extracurricular Activities & Cultural Events

Redefine the way you live and learn in Berlin through our cultural events, which may include visits to:

  • Concert halls and opera houses
  • German history museum
  • Jewish Museum
  • German Parliament

Get to Know Your New City

Relax in Parks & Green Space

Although the city is known for its vibrant arts and culture, Berlin has more than 2,500 parks and gardens to stroll, cycle, swim, picnic, or just unwind in.

Visit Neighborhoods

From the fantastic art and fabulous nightlight of Kreuzberg to the trendy shopping of Charlottenberg to the hub of sites, attractions, and cafes that make up Mitte, the city's neighborhoods give Berlin its unique character.

Explore Museums

Whether you are into art and design, ancient or modern history, or even currywurst, Berlin is a city full of excellent museums.

Observe the Architecture

Though it was nearly destroyed during World War II, Berlin has rebuilt, with restored historic buildings juxtaposed with some of the world's most breathtaking modern structures.

Check Out the East Side Gallery

The longest remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall is now an outdoor art exhibition, featuring the work of more than 100 artists.

Program Cost

Consider these prices as a starting point. We encourage you to contact your study abroad office to determine the actual cost to you when factoring in financial aid, scholarships, your home school policies, and other factors.

Term: Fall 2019
Term Tuition Housing Insurance Total
Fall 2019
Academic Year
Term: Spring 2019
Term Tuition Housing Insurance Total
Spring 2019 $14,995 $2,920 $230 $18,145

Scholarships & Aid

Program-Specific Scholarships

Robert McNeill Need-Based International Business Scholarship
Ranges up to $3,000

This scholarship is named in honor of Robert McNeill, member of the IES Abroad Board of Directors for 25 years (6 years as Chairman). Open to students who have an interest in international business. Majors might include management, marketing, economics, finance, international relations, and social and behavioral sciences.

Dr. William Louis Gaines Need-Based History or International Relations Scholarship
Ranges up to $1,875

This scholarship is named in honor of Dr. William Louis Gaines, President of IES Abroad from 1974-1992. Dr. Gaines was dedicated to strengthening IES Abroad's academic framework, broadening the scope of IES Abroad locations, and securing the financial foundation of the organization.

Open to students majoring in History or International Relations.

Kathleen Kervin Diamond Endowed Scholarship
Up to $2,000

Kathleen Diamond is a consultant, entrepreneur, and business leader in the language services industry. In 1979, she founded Language Learning Enterprises, Inc. (LLE®), a full-service language company based in Washington, D.C. She is recognized as an early pioneer in Telephone Interpreting, launching LLE-LINK in the early 1990s. Over the next 20 years, under her leadership, the company grew into a dynamic, multimillion dollar corporation, serving a wide range of clients, in both the private and public sectors, across the United States, and worldwide. In 2009, Ms.

Study Abroad Scholarship for Future Engineers
Up to $5,000

The Study Abroad Scholarship for Future Engineers was established by an anonymous donor to encourage more engineering students to have the enriching, life changing experience of study abroad.

Use our budget worksheet to calculate your costs

$5 Million in Scholarships & Aid

We firmly believe that financial limitations should not prevent a qualified student from participating in an IES Abroad Program. This is why we commit $5 million to our scholarship and aid programs.

Our Center

The IES Abroad Berlin Center is located in Mitte, the historical center of Berlin with its vibrant cafés, restaurants, and galleries. It is within short walking distance from Humboldt University, the world-famous Museum Island, the Brandenburg Gate, and the governmental district.
Features at the Center include:

  • Classrooms, student lounges, and study spaces
  • Small library
  • Outdoor terrace
  • WiFi and printer access

Our Staff

Barbara Finke

Center Director

Barbara holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. degree in political science from the University of Mannheim in Germany. She also studied for a year at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore with a fellowship from the German Academic Exchange Service DAAD. Barbara conducted her Ph.D. research on the legitimacy of non-governmental organizations in global governance with a case study on women’s NGOs in the United Nations system. She has taught and published on civil society in global and European politics and on international relations theory. From 2007 to 2017, Barbara was Program Head at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, a distinguished international graduate school that focuses on public policy and international affairs.

IES Abroad Staff

Dr. Barbara Finke Center Director

Dr. Sabine Berking

Academic Program Coordinator
Nadine Birner Internship and Core Coordinator
Gosia Piechowiak

Student Affairs Coordinator

John Schulze Assistant Director
Rolf Staudt Head of Administration
Britta Tonak Head of Customized Programs and Student Affairs
Ella Winter Student Affairs Coordinator