Stays Abroad – Information for Students
A short-term stay abroad as part of your studies at the FernUniversität can be a rewarding personal and academic experience. It can help you with the acquisition of the kinds of professional, linguistic, and intercultural competencies and qualifications that are increasingly in demand in the context of progressive global networking and the internationalization of science, academia, and the business world. In terms of duration, your stay abroad can last for just a few days or even several months. The possibilities available to students for a stay abroad are manifold. The form your stay takes depends not only on your own personal requirements and interests but also on the intended benefit for your ongoing (academic) career.
If your personal or professional situation prevents you from embarking on a physical stay abroad, you can still broaden your international experience through virtual mobility. As an alternative or supplement to physical mobility, FernUniversität offers its students the opportunity to experience international university life and collaborate with students from other countries within a virtual environment.
You can find out more about virtual mobility on our website at:
A stay at a university abroad can have a length of one trimester, a semester, or one academic year. One of the most important prerequisites for success is careful preparation. We recommend starting your preparation as early as one to one and a half years in advance, since you need to allow time for the application to the foreign university to be processed and, if necessary, also time to make any separate application(s) for funding. Funding for study abroad is possible through schemes such as Erasmus+ and PROMOS Study.
The easiest way to study abroad is via the Erasmus+ program. This involves you choosing one of our existing partner universities and applying for a place via the FernUniversität. To prepare for a study program abroad that is not funded by Erasmus+, we have compiled a list of important steps for you:
Steps for Studying Abroad (PDF 121 KB)
In countries outside the Erasmus+ program countries, you have a free choice of host institution. In addition to applying directly to the host university for a study place, you can apply for PROMOS funding via the FernUniversität.
An academic stay abroad should not disadvantage you in your studies or necessarily prolong your studies. Credits earned abroad can be credited as a substitute for courses that you need to take at the FernUni (if they are equivalent).
Specialist courses include summer or winter schools offered by foreign universities, usually two-week intensive seminars on a wide variety of topics. You will find overviews of summer/winter schools offered in Europe and the USA on the Internet, but specialist courses are often (only) publicized on the website of the respective university. Funding for stays abroad to attend specialist courses is possible via the option PROMOS Specialist Course.
A study-related internship is a useful addition to your studies, and work experience abroad can provide especially interesting insights into the working world. From commercial companies to EU institutions and non-governmental organizations – the choice of possible host institutions is wide. The length and payment of an internship can also vary greatly. Funding for an internship abroad is possible through Erasmus+ and PROMOS Internship.
Researching internships and applying to potential host institutions can often be very time-consuming. We recommend that you start your preparation between one and one and a half years in advance. For some internships, especially in France, an internship agreement (Convention de stage) is required, which is also signed by the FernUniversität.
Internship opportunities are published on the ErasmusIntern platform designed by the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) in collaboration with the European Commission; digital skills internships can be found on the EURES database. Many organizations arrange paid and unpaid internships for free or for a fee, including the student organizations AIESEC and IASTE and the German Chambers of Commerce Abroad. Bachelor students of mathematics or similar can apply for a research internship worldwide through RISE.
AIESEC (in German only)
You can find a lot more information about internships abroad in the brochure “Dein Weg ins Auslandspraktikum” and on the DAAD website. Useful background information is also provided by the Zentrale Auslands- und Fachvermittlung (Central International and Professional Placement Office).
Brochure “Dein Weg ins Auslandspraktikum” (PDF, German only)
DAAD (in German only)
Central International and Professional Placement Office (in German only)
Foreign language skills are becoming increasingly indispensable – both in distance learning and in professional life. Taking a language course in a country where the language is spoken promotes rapid and immersive learning. In addition to a large number of private organizers, many universities also offer language courses. The length can vary from a single week to several months. It is a good idea to stay with a host family or in a student dormitory. This will allow you to quickly establish contacts on site and use the language in everyday life. Funding for stays abroad to attend language courses is possible via “PROMOS Language Courses.”
PROMOS Language Courses
You can find a lot of information about language courses abroad on the DAAD website.
The EU Erasmus+ program promotes student mobility for study and internships abroad.
Funding for study visits, study-related internships, intensive language courses, and specialist courses abroad.
AStA Internationalization Loan (in German only)
AStA, the Student Council of the FernUniversität, promotes the internationalization of distance learning through interest-free loans.
BAföG Student Aid for Abroad (in German only)
Under certain conditions, students can apply for BAföG student aid for studies or an internship abroad.
Institut Ranke-Heinemann (in German only)
If you are interested in studying in Australia, New Zealand, or Canada, IRH offers full scholarships, study grants, and travel grants.
The ZEIT Foundation provides scholarships for study visits by Bachelor students in the humanities at American universities.
Fulbright (in German only)
Programs for German students and graduates who wish to study at an American university for a short or longer period and who wish to engage in German-American cultural exchange.
The DAAD and the German Academic Scholarship Foundation (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes) support internships for students in international organizations and EU institutions.
Further funding opportunities can be found, for example, in the database of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) (in German only).
Whether you plan to study abroad for a semester, work on your thesis, take a language or other specialist course abroad, or make the most of one of the possibilities on offer to take part in virtual mobility programs or an on-site study trip, let yourself be inspired by the reports posted by other FernUni students about their experiences.
Currently, these testimonials are available in German only.
Important Steps When Preparing for a Semester Abroad
General country information is available from the German Foreign Office. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) also offers extensive information on the higher education and educational system as well as on the study conditions in the potential host country.
Country information provided by the DAAD (in German)
Country information provided by the EU (European Union countries only)
Criteria for choosing a host university may comprise several factors including the size of the university, course size, courses offered, course language, language level, examination forms, semester times, on-site support for foreign students, and creditability of the courses offered in relation to your distance-learning program. Rankings can provide a helpful overview of academically highly rated universities. A look at the testimonials provided by other students is also often helpful. Researching the relevant cultural institutes, such as the British Council or the Institut français, can also be informative.
Academic requirements and conditions vary greatly from university to university. It is best to make your inquiries directly on the website of the respective university.
Testimonials from other FernUni students (in German)
Institut français (available in French and German)
In addition to possible tuition fees, accommodation and travel costs during your semester abroad will also come into play. There are various funding programs available to finance the additional costs incurred abroad. The most important are Erasmus+ (within the EU) and PROMOS (outside the EU).
If you want to study abroad, you will need to have a good knowledge of the language of the host country and/or the language used for teaching. Many universities already require proof of language competence when applying for a study place, e.g., IELTS in Great Britain or TOEFL in the USA, Australia, and New Zealand. Sometimes a language certificate from the DAAD or your high school diploma (Abitur) is sufficient. Please check the website of your host university.
TOEFL (English website, also available in Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Turkish, French, German and Chinese)
Information on admission regulations, required application/enrollment materials, and deadlines can be found on the host university’s website. With the exception of foreign study programs funded through Erasmus+, you always apply directly to the host university.
Applying for a visa or a residence permit can sometimes be a long and drawn-out process. Find out which kind of visa you require and make sure you start the visa application process in plenty of time.
Depending on your destination, you should also start looking for accommodation at an early stage. The International Office of the host university may be able to help you with this. Often, places are made available for visiting students in the student dormitories.
Make sure that you have health insurance coverage while you are studying abroad. It may also be useful to have other types of insurance; for example, travel cancelation or legal insurance.
Before your stay abroad, you should clarify whether the courses you study in your host university can be credited to your FernUni studies. Check with the examination office of your faculty and conclude a Learning Agreement signed by both you and the examination office/the study program coordinator. This is the only way to ensure that you will be credited later.
You should also consider whether you would like to continue your studies at the FernUniversität in parallel with your studies abroad or, if necessary, apply for a semester off.
Completed Your Distance Learning Studies? – Continue Abroad!
All the degrees offered by the FernUniversität are accredited by AQAS (Agency for Quality Assurance through Accreditation in Study Programs). As a full member of ENQA (the European umbrella organization of quality assurance and accreditation agencies), AQAS provides an assessment based on the “European Standards and Guidelines” and which fulfills the Bologna criteria. In countries outside the European Higher Education Area, some universities and employers may nevertheless expect further certification from local organizations confirming the equivalence of your European degree (this may involve a fee).
Testimonials – Learning from Others
Whether you plan to spend a semester at a foreign university, make use of the virtual mobility program, or gain valuable practical experience by working in an internship abroad, let yourself be inspired by the reports that other students have posted about their experiences.
Testimonials (in German)