Semester abroad in the USA

„If someone’s going on a trip, he can tell us something.“ What Matthias Claudius discovered more than 200 years ago has not lost its relevance to this day. The USA has always lured people from all over the world to seek their fortune here. Today, 320 million people live in this vast country between the Atlantic and the Pacific.

The USA – a study country with many facets

People of all cultures are at home in the metropolises of the USA such as New York City, Boston or Chicago.

Moreover, no two cities are alike: pulsating cities like New York City or Chicago impress with high skyscrapers and a wide range of cultural and culinary offerings. In Los Angeles, San Diego or San Francisco, on the other hand, West Coast feeling prevails. Sun, dreamlike beaches and the blue Pacific Ocean determine the attitude to life.

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

Reasons for a semester abroad in the USA

In addition, the „land of unlimited possibilities“ has been a dream destination for many students for decades, making the USA one of the top destinations for a semester abroad.

Semester abroad USA – unlimited study opportunities

The US higher education landscape is incredibly diverse and therefore an important reason for a semester abroad in the United States. No wonder, there’s no such thing in the U. S. A.

  • over 4,500 universities and colleges
  • all possible subjects and courses of study
  • Universities that see themselves as service providers for students and offer attractive courses

As a result, no other country in the world boasts as many excellent universities as the USA.

Living on campus during the semester abroad USA

If you spend a semester at an American university, you will experience campus life that others only know from movies. Life at a US university takes place on campus. This often resembles a small town. From libraries and fitness studios to popular café and fast food chains – there is nothing that doesn’t exist.

The leisure and service facilities on campus are also extensive. In addition to countless sports courses, there are theatre groups and a wide range of leisure activities to choose from.

Community Spirit and American Culture Experience

There is a great sense of belonging among the students. Community spirit and campus atmosphere make a significant contribution to making it easier for international students to find their way into university life and establish contacts. In the course of their semester abroad in the USA, students also gain deep insights into American culture and have the opportunity to acquire better language skills.

The easiest way is to have special semester programs for Free Mover, which are offered at many US universities.

Flexible course choice 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 one or two semesters at a US university of their choice.

These semester programs in the United States have a decisive advantage over the programs offered in other countries: International students attend seminars and lectures together with fellow students from their native country without being placed in a particular semester or program. So you are spoilt for choice in the extensive range of universities. In this way, the timetable can be put together according to one’s own interests and can be more easily adapted to the curriculum of the home university.

After prior consultation with the German Examination Office, the academic achievements made in the USA during the semester abroad can be recognised there. With good planning, it is therefore possible that the study period will not be extended despite the semester stay in the USA.

Applications for a semester abroad in the USA

In contrast to the extensive application procedure required for a complete course of study in the USA, the application procedure for the special semester programmes in the USA is straightforward.

One of the reasons for this is that no formal degree is obtained during a semester abroad.

Instead, participants will receive a Transcript of Records at the end of the course, which will allow them to have their academic performance credited to their home institution of higher education.

Therefore, the following documents are often sufficient for the application:

  • A-levels or university entrance qualifications
  • proof of sufficient language skills.

As a rule, language skills are verified by means of a standardised language test such as 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 financing of a US semester

U. S. universities are financed mainly by tuition fees. Admittedly, the study-related costs in the USA are relatively high compared to other countries. However, semester programs in the USA are usually cheaper than a complete course of study. At our partner universities the fees are between US$ 3,500 and US$ 10,500 for a semester or quarter.

In addition, the cost of living. In some major cities such as New York City or Boston these can be higher, in smaller cities such as Camarillo, Cedar City or East Lansing lower.

Financing possibilities for a semester abroad USA

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

  • Foreign scholarships
  • Part-time scholarships of the DAAD, for example PROMOS
  • Full and partial scholarships of the Fulbright Commission
  • Scholarships from other foundations and institutions for the promotion of gifted students
  • student or educational loans

Especially the foreign BAföG is not to be underestimated. This provides monthly support for the cost of living and covers a proportionate share of tuition fees up to an amount of EUR 4,600, plus allowances for air travel and health insurance.

Students who are not eligible for BAföG funding in Germany also have a chance of receiving BAföG funding abroad. This is due to the different assessment limits.

Organizational: Visa and Health Insurance

International students who are going to the USA for one or two semesters abroad require a student visa for the USA. This is usually the so-called F-1 visa for academic students. In some cases, it may be necessary to apply for a J-1 visa for exchange students.

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