Semester Abroad in the USA

“If someone goes on a trip, he can tell something”. What Matthias Claudius discovered over 200 years ago has not lost its relevance to this day. The USA has always attracted people from all over the world to seek their happiness here. Today 320 million people live in the vast country between the Atlantic and Pacific.

The USA – a study country with many facets

In the metropolises of the USA like New York City, Boston or Chicago people of all cultures are at home.

In addition, no two cities are alike: vibrant cities such as New York City or Chicago impress with tall skyscrapers and an extensive range of cultural and culinary options. In Los Angeles, San Diego or San Francisco, on the other hand, there is a West Coast feeling. Sun, beautiful beaches and the blue Pacific determine the lifestyle.

The unique natural landscapes also give the country its unmistakable charm: red deserts, spectacular waterfalls, ancient sequoias and extensive river and swamp landscapes – the possibilities to enjoy nature are endless. All of this can be experienced during a semester abroad in the USA.

Reasons for a semester abroad in the USA

In addition, the following applies: For decades, the “land of unlimited opportunities” has been a dream destination for many students to study abroad, making the USA one of the top destinations for a semester abroad.

Semester abroad in the USA – almost unlimited study opportunities

The US higher education landscape is incredibly diverse, making it an important reason to spend a semester abroad in the United States. No wonder, it does exist in the USA

  • over 4,500 universities and colleges
  • all conceivable subjects and courses
  • Universities that see themselves as service providers for students and provide attractive courses

The result: In no other country in the world can you find so many excellent universities as in the USA.

Life on campus during the semester abroad USA

When you spend a semester at a US university, you experience campus life that others only know from films. The life on a US university will take place on campus. This often resembles a small town. From libraries to gyms to popular café and fast food chains – there’s nothing that doesn’t exist.

The range of leisure activities and services on campus is also extensive. In addition to countless sports courses, there are theater groups and a wide variety of leisure activities to choose from.

Experience community spirit and American culture

The feeling of togetherness among the students is great. Community spirit and the campus atmosphere make a significant contribution to the fact that international students find it easier to find their way into university life and make contacts. In the course of their semester abroad in the USA, the students also gain deep insights into American culture and have the chance to acquire better language skills.

The easiest way is through special semester programs for free movers that are offered at many US universities.

Flexible choice of courses and easier recognition in the semester abroad

Study Abroad programs such as Semester at SDSU, Abroad @ BU or American Semester Program enable international students to study for one or two semesters at a US university of their choice.

These semester programs in the USA have a decisive advantage compared to the offers in other countries: International students attend seminars and lectures together with local fellow students without being classified in a specific semester or a specific course of study. So you are spoiled for choice in the wide range of universities on offer. This means that the timetable can be put together according to your own interests and more easily adapted to the curriculum of the home university.

After prior agreement with the German examination office, the study achievements made in the USA during the semester abroad can be recognized there. With good planning, it is possible that the study time will not be extended despite the semester stay in the USA.

Apply for a semester abroad in the USA

In contrast to the extensive application that is required for a complete degree in the USA, the application for the special semester programs in the USA is uncomplicated.

One of the reasons for this is that a semester abroad does not require a formal degree.

Instead, the participants receive a transcript of records at the end, which they can use to have their academic performance credited to their home university after consultation.

The following documents are often sufficient for the application:

  • the Abitur or the advanced technical college entrance qualification
  • proof of sufficient language skills.

Language skills are usually proven via a standardized language test such as the IELTS or TOEFL. Many of our partner universities also accept the DAAD language certificate that German students can take at their home university.

Costs and funding of a US semester

US universities are mostly financed through tuition fees. It is true that the study-related costs in the USA are relatively high compared to other countries. However, semester programs in the US are usually cheaper than a full course of study. At our partner universities, fees range between US $ 3,500 and US $ 10,500 for a semester or quarter.

Then there is the cost of living. In some large cities like New York City or Boston these can be higher, in smaller cities like Camarillo, Cedar City or East Lansing lower.

Financing options for a semester abroad in the USA

There are various financing options that can make the dream of a semester abroad in the USA come true. These include:

  • Foreign BAföG
  • Part-time scholarships from the DAAD, for example PROMOS
  • Full and partial scholarships from the Fulbright Commission
  • Scholarships from other foundations and organizations promoting the gifted
  • Student or education loans

Especially the BAföG abroad should not be underestimated. This offers monthly support for the cost of living and covers the tuition fees up to a proportion of EUR 4,600. Flight and health insurance grants can also be added.

Students who are not entitled to BAföG funding in Germany also have a chance of receiving BAföG abroad. The reason is the different assessment limits.

Organizational matters: Visa and health insurance

International students there for one or two semesters in the US verschlägt, need a student visa for the United States. Usually this is the so-called F-1 visa for academic students. In some cases it is necessary to apply for a J-1 exchange student visa.

After all, international students need international health insurance for the USA for the duration of their semester abroad. Many US universities offer insurance packages with enrollment. In most cases, however, foreign health insurance policies taken out in Germany are cheaper.

Semester Abroad in the USA

About the author