Duke in Berlin


Program Alert

The Duke in Berlin program is accepting applications for Fall 2021. Please review GEO’s COVID-19 response page to understand how Duke’s study away programs might be affected: https://globaled.duke.edu/covid-19-response

Study a mix of subjects at German universities

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No prior knowledge of German required

Duke in Berlin was founded at the Free University of West Berlin in 1988 before the fall of the Berlin Wall. All Duke in Berlin sessions—Fall, Spring, and Academic Year—are designed to accommodate all students, regardless of their prior study or knowledge of German. No prior knowledge of German is required to attend.

The fall and spring-summer semesters are based at the Free University. Students attend Duke University courses taught by German faculty and by the program’s resident director. Students with sufficient German may take courses at the Berlin universities. Qualified engineering students may take courses at the Technical University in Berlin. The program helps students advance their language skills, deepens their understanding of German culture, and broadens their grasp of the social sciences, humanities, and technology in a German and European context.

The City

Berlin is the capital of Germany. One of the major metropolitan centers of the world, Berlin offers a wealth of opportunities for the student. The biggest city in the biggest country in Western Europe, Berlin boasts three opera houses, two symphonies, scores of theaters and music venues, and virtually innumerable museums. Berlin is also a city of learning with four universities and nearly 150,000 students. Student life is extraordinary, diverse, and diffuse. The possibilities waiting to be explored are unlimited.

The Universities

The program offers courses at two universities: the fall and spring-summer program is based at the Free University in former West Berlin. Engineering courses may be taken at the Technical University in the spring. The Free University is today regarded as one of the premier institutions of higher learning in the world. It has a student body of 45,000. More than 30,000 students are now enrolled there. The Technical University traces its origin back to the late 18th century and is today the largest technical university of Germany with a very high percentage of foreign students. It has a student body of 28,000.


Location: Berlin, Germany

Term: Fall, Spring, or Academic Year

Dates: TBD

Application Deadline: March 1st (Fall and Academic Year); October 1 (Spring)

Academic Theme(s): German Language and Culture

Credit Type: Duke Credit or Hybrid Credit

Eligibility: Applicants must be in good academic standing with a B average. Non-Duke students are welcome to apply.

Duke Affiliation: Duke Department of Germanic Languages & Literature

Housing: Host families

GEO Advising: Request an appointment 

  • Students at the Berlin Wall

  • The Berlin Cathedral

  • Students at the Berlin Cathedral

  • Potsdamer Platz

  • Students at Reichstag

  • Duke in Berlin

Duke in Berlin Video by Rory Bradley



German Major and Minor: Most students who participate in a Duke in Berlin semester program are eligible to pursue a German major or minor. The German major requires 10 courses in German at or above the 200-level. The German minor requires five courses at or above the 200-level. All courses offered through Duke in Berlin count toward the major and minor.

  • FALL


The fall program for students with beginning through advanced German offers a two-credit language and culture class taught in German (GERMAN 111A, GERMAN 212A, or GERMAN 312AS). Additionally, students choose two courses from among an art history class, an economics class, or an environmental policy class. Instruction in these courses begins in English and switches gradually to German. Students earn a full semester of Duke University academic credit.


Applicants must be in good academic standing with a B average. A letter of recommendation from a professor of German (if applicant has taken German) and a second recommendation from any faculty member, a transcript, and a statement of purpose are required.

Special note to students with no prior German: For those students applying to the Fall program without any prior German (or without any German courses at Duke), the required letters of recommendation may come from any instructors.

Courses & Credits

Intensive First-Year German
(FL) 2.0 credits

Students will be exposed to the fields of reading, writing, listening, and speaking and will be trained so that they can take full advantage of being in the target country. After a short period, students will be able to communicate with native German speakers on a basic level. 

Intensive Intermediate German
(CZ, FL) 2.0 credits

Intensive grammar review and practice of spoken and written German. The course covers the work of second-year college German. Taught by the resident director and program faculty. 

Advanced Intensive German Language and Culture
(ALP, CCI, CZ, FL, W) 2.0 credits

Development of advanced proficiency with particular emphasis on speaking and writing. Analysis of literary and non-literary texts, excursions, museums, films, theater performances. Advanced grammar review, vocabulary building, oral presentation, written assignments. The course covers the work of third and/or fourth year college German. Taught by the Resident Director. 

Berlin: Architecture, Art, and the City, 1871 to the Present
(ALP, CCI, CZ) 1.0 credit

Development of urban Berlin, from the Gründerzeit (the Boom Years) of the 1870s to the present. Architecture of Imperial Berlin, the Weimar and Nazi periods, post-World War II and the reconstruction as a unified city, from late Historicism to Postmodernism. Taught by German faculty. 

Economics of a United Europe
(CCI, SS) 1.0 credit

Implications of a common monetary policy, common welfare standards, unemployment, and migration in the European Union. Taught by a German economist. 

Environmental Policy in Europe
(CCI, SS) 1.0 credit

Economic concepts and environmental policies with their application to selected environmental issues in Western and Eastern Europe, transboundary pollution problems, and the role of the European Community. Taught by a leading German expert. 

Special Winter Course
Mid October - Mid February

Students who have completed two years of college-level German and plan to attend the full academic year, may enroll in a fifth course at the Technical University (T.U.B.) from mid-October to mid-February with a short Christmas break. They will earn transfer credit for this course and pay an additional fee for accommodations. For T.U.B. courses check www.tu-berlin.de.


The Spring semester offers students at all levels of German language (beginners to advanced) the opportunity to study in Berlin.

Spring students are required to take 4 courses but may take up to 6 courses, combining Duke courses with direct enrollment courses/transfer credit courses at the German universities. This is possible because of the extended length of the German university semester.

Students with no previous knowledge of German attend the Spring semester program and take intensive introductory language courses from January to March and follow those with language and culture courses at the intermediate level based at the Free University from April to July.

Those students who already have knowledge of German before starting the program take GERMAN 319AS and GERMAN 352AS and they choose another course from the Duke in Berlin program offerings. They must select a fourth course from the offerings of the Free University (FU) or the Technical University (TU) and may, in addition, take an elective fifth course at one of the two universities.

For Free University courses, check www.fu-berlin.de/.

For Technical University courses, check www.tu-berlin.de/.

Students enroll in four, five, or even six courses and earn a full semester of academic credit.

To secure transfer credits for the FU or TU courses (mid-April to July), Duke students will have to observe transfer credit policies.

Many courses at the FU or TU have also been pre-approved by Duke University and recorded in the GEO Approved Course Database. Courses listed in the database do not have to be re-approved by a departmental DUS.

Application Materials

The selection of students for the program is based on a transcript review, a letter of recommendation from a professor of German (if applicant has studied German), a second letter of recommendation from any faculty member, and a statement of purpose. Students with no previous German language instruction can provide recommendation letters from any two faculty members. A review of the student's application and consultation with the Academic Director and Resident Director will determine language course placement in Berlin.

Courses & Credits

Introduction to the German Language
(FL) 1.0 credit

Students will be exposed to the fields of reading, writing, listening, and speaking and will be trained so that they can take full advantage of being in the target country. After a short period, students will be able to communicate with native German speakers on a basic level. 

Advanced Intensive German
(CCI, CZ, FL) 1.0 credit

Advanced language work in comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing. Includes discussion of current events from various media. Prepares students for the German language exam required of all foreign students enrolling in German universities. Taught by program faculty from February until March or early April when the university administers the language exam. 

Berlin in Literature and Culture
(ALP, CCI, FL) 1.0 credit

Looks at the works of modern German writers with special focus on Berlin and the political-cultural heritage of its divided years. Emphasis on the art and architecture of the city. Part 1 prepares participants for the excursion to classical Weimar and environs by reading relevant texts. Part II has a strong emphasis on theater productions in Berlin, corresponding literature and its “Zeitgeist”. Taught by the resident director, from February to mid-July

Contemporary Art in Berlin 
(ALP, CCI, FL) 1.0 credit

Overview of the main locations, events, and protagonists of the contemporary Berlin art scene. Examination of art in its omnipresence in the urban environment; includes explorations of street art, art in public spaces, museums, private collections, galleries, studios, and art academies. Taught only in the Duke-in-Berlin study abroad program. Instructor: TBA 


Spring/Summer Engineering Track

Only one semester of college level German is required to participate in the Spring/Summer Engineering Track.

This special spring/summer track is designed to give students in all engineering majors (biomedical, civil and environmental, electrical, and mechanical) an opportunity to develop advanced proficiency in German through intensive language study in January through March and to take engineering courses in their major at the Technical University in Berlin (TU) from April through July.

STEM students may also be interested in researching options on the Duke in Berlin program. They should consult the German Department and/or GEO about this opportunity.

The January course is a 4-week, 1 credit course, entitled GERMAN 213A (CZ, FL)  Intensive Intermediate German for Engineers. It is taught in Berlin by faculty from the Technical University. (Students with advanced language preparation are encouraged to join the January cohort and may take a level-appropriate tutorial that will acquaint them with engineering terminology.) Students live with German families, attend cultural outings, and participate in excursions to technical museums, power plants, automobile design and manufacturing sites, and environmental institutions.

Following this course, students will feed into the advanced language course (GERMAN 319AS Advanced Intensive German, see 'Spring' tab) that begins the regular Duke in Berlin spring semester program. This course, which runs until the beginning of the regular German university semester in mid-April, enables students to develop advanced proficiency in German. Engineering students who have had Intensive Intermediate German for Engineers, as well as the Advanced Intensive German course, will be well qualified to take up to two engineering courses in their field at the Technical University.

Courses at the Technical University run from mid-April until late July, so students who begin in January will have had three months of intensive language study plus total immersion in the German language and culture before beginning the content courses. Students who participate in the January course and continue on through July can, as a result of the extended semester, earn up to 6 course credits.

To secure transfer credits for the FU or TU courses (mid-April to July), Duke students will have to observe transfer credit policies.

Some courses at the TU have also been pre-approved by Duke University and recorded in the GEO Approved Course Database. Courses listed in the database do not have to be re-approved by a departmental DUS.

Students participating in the program would also be eligible for the International Honors Program in Engineering.


Cultural Events

During the fall and spring-summer programs, students are invited to attend a series of cultural events such as concerts, theaters, and operas at no additional charge. Usually the group attends up to six such events, including one or two operas per semester.


One of the most popular aspects of Duke in Berlin is the series of excursions arranged each semester. These trips combine sightseeing and recreation with observations for program courses. In the fall, students travel to Dresden and Prague, with their rich architectural heritages and art museums, and discuss political and economic issues with government officials. In spring-summer, students travel to visit  a selection of beautiful, historic locations, which may include Erfurt, various sites from the Classical Period in Weimar, the University of Jena, and also the Buchenwald concentration camp. They then have three days for individual sightseeing. Included at no extra cost on the excursions are transportation by bus or train, guided tours, concert or opera visits, accommodation, and a meal stipend to cover related expenses.

Extracurricular Activities

Access to a wide array of activities such as athletics, music, choir, orchestra, swimming, dance courses, basketball, volleyball, soccer, etc. is guaranteed to participating students at little or no extra cost. Also, students are invited to several social events such as receptions at universities or dinners as well as informal gatherings like “Stammtisch” to promote cultural understanding.

Language Partner Program

“Tandem,” a German language partner program, assists students in finding one or more people with whom they can meet and practice their conversational German at no additional cost. Students find that such activities have a positive and influential impact on their language acquisition skills and provide a venue for meeting and getting to know Germans.


Berlin is quickly becoming a commercial and cultural hub of western Europe. A number of non-academic internship opportunities are available for those students with greater German proficiency and an interest in augmenting their academic work with practical professional experience. With the permission of the program administration, some positions exist for students with limited German exposure, but in good academic standing. 

Housing and Meals

Students participating in the fall/winter and spring/summer programs live with families during their stay in Berlin. The homestay experience is frequently cited as the absolute highlight of students’ Berlin experience. Over the past twenty years, the Resident Director, Jochen Wohlfeil, has worked to carefully select families and place students such that the interests and needs of both are well-aligned.

In the application, students are asked to specify the degree to which they would like to be integrated into a host family. The Resident Director works with this information to find each student an accommodating living situation. If, for any reason, a student feels uncomfortable or finds that the match is not quite right, the director will work to facilitate communication, mediate, and, if necessary, re-locate the student.

Duke in Berlin students are encouraged to think of themselves not as tourists, but as residents. To improve both their cultural and linguistic fluency, students are asked to immerse themselves in city life. Host families are not only an instance of this immersion, they also help students to navigate and appreciate Berlin’s changing physical and human geography.

Students with further questions or concerns should contact the Resident Director, Professor Jochen Wohlfeil, who can provide more detail regarding the home stays or put students in contact with program alumni.


Note about the German Academic Calendar: The calendars for the two Duke in Berlin semesters are distinctly different due to the German academic calendar. Please note the start and end dates carefully, and make sure you are particularly aware of the length of the Spring semester when considering this program.


  • SPRING 2022
  • FALL 2021


Spring 2022: Engineering Program / Erasmus for Beginners

Dates forthcoming.


Spring 2022 Schedule

Dates forthcoming.



Dates subject to change. City excursions, art cluster, concerts, opera visits, lectures, and special events, etc. will be announced at the beginning and during the program. 


FU/TU Exams are not likely to be scheduled until late July – when making travel arrangements, do not schedule return flight before July 31.

*Upon arrival to Berlin check-in to:

Hotel Augusta
Fasanenstrasse 22
10719 Berlin 
Phone: 49 30 883 50 28
Fax: 49 30 882 47 79
Email: info@hotel-augusta.de
Website: www.hotel-augusta.de/en/

FALL 2021

Fall 2021 Schedule

TBD Arrival and Check-In at the Hotel Augusta*
6PM welcome dinner
TBD Orientation, all-day
TBD Orientation / Bicycle Tour / Reception at 6 PM / Transfer to Host Families
TBD Classes begin
TBD German Unity Day - Holiday
TBD Mid-terms
TBD Excursion
TBD Fall Break
TBD Classes Resume
TBD Thanksgiving Break
TBD Reading Period
TBD Finals Week
TBD Farewell Reception
TBD Last Day of Residence

*Upon arrival to Berlin check-in to:

Hotel Augusta
Fasanenstrasse 22
10719 Berlin

Phone: 49 30 883 50 28
Fax: 49 30 882 47 79
Email: info@hotel-augusta.de
Website: http://www.hotel-augusta.de/hotel/


Fall 2021 or Spring 2022

Estimates are based on previous years’ programs and the current exchange rate. All costs are subject to change. Spring Engineering/Erasmus Beginner program costs are in parenthesis.

  Duke Students Non-Duke Students
Tuition $29,042.50 ($33,942.50) $29,042.50 ($33,942.50)
Program Fee $1,300 $1,300
Transcript Fee N/A $120
Other Costs

Other costs (Fall)

Other costs (Spring)

Other costs Engineering/Erasmus

Other costs (Fall)

Other costs (Spring)

Other costs Engineering/Erasmus

TOTAL (Estimated) $37,4572.50 – $38,822.50 ($45,172.50) $37,692.50 – $38,942.50 ($45,292.50)

Explanation of Costs

Financial Aid

Duke students receiving institutional need-based grant aid are eligible for aid for this program; work-study funds are converted to grants. Students are individually responsible for making the necessary arrangements with the Karsh Office of Undergraduate Financial Support and the Duke Bursar’s Office.

Non-Duke students are not eligible to receive financial aid at Duke and should contact their home institutions for financial aid information.



No visa is required of U.S. citizens to participate in this program. Non-U.S. citizens should pay special attention to the visa requirements for their specific citizenship by contacting the country embassy to find out if any visa restrictions are in effect.


All participants must have a valid passport. Make sure your passport has at least six months of validity beyond the program end date to avoid unintended disruptions. For instructions on obtaining or renewing your U.S. passport, visit passports.state.gov.


An International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is optional. ISIC is the only internationally recognized form of student ID, endorsed by UNESCO. If purchased in the U.S., the card also carries with it a supplemental insurance policy, which can prove to be very helpful in the event of serious injury. You may purchase this card through www.myisic.com. Processing of the card takes between 4-15 days. 


In Berlin

The resident director, Jochen Wohlfeil, has been with the program since 1988. He is a native German and a German studies specialist who studied in the United States. He and his Berlin based staff assist participants in all academic and personal matters and place students in homestays.

Jochen Wohlfeil

Resident Director, Duke in Berlin

At Duke

Sarah Pourciau

Assistant Professor

Susan Pratt

GEO Asst. Director


Deadline: March 1 (Fall semester); October 1 (Spring semester)

Priority: Priority will be given to juniors and seniors having an overall GPA of 3.0. Priority is also given to applicants who apply early.

Minimum GPA: The minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) required for Duke students wishing to study away during the semester is 2.7 (3.0 for Pratt students) on a scale of 4.0. 

Non-Duke students: Non-Duke students are welcome to apply for this program. You must be a degree-seeking student in good standing at an accredited college or university. Consult your university’s registrar and/or study away advisor for assistance with transfer credit. Students who are not matriculated at a college or university are not eligible to participate in Duke’s study away programs.


Start your application early to ensure that it is complete by the deadline! Incomplete applications will not be forwarded to the program directors for consideration.

Submit the following items using MyGlobalEd

  1. Online application
  2. Official transcript(s) from all colleges and universities attended. First-year students should wait for fall semester grades to be posted before submitting their transcript.
  3. Personal statement, one page minimum, explaining why you would like to participate on this program
  4. Two academic letters of recommendation (one from German instructor)*
  5. Home university approval form (non-Duke students)
  6. Passport copy

*For those students applying to the Fall or Spring programs without any prior German (or without any German courses at Duke), the required letters of recommendation may come from any instructors.


The best way to learn about our program is to hear what former Duke-in-Berlin participants have to say about it. Their stories give us a taste of the variety of cultural, academic, and social experiences that are open to students who participate in our programs.

Devyn Gortner (Trinity '16)

"One the biggest reasons I came to Duke for my undergraduate education was due to the wonderful reputation of the Duke in Berlin program. Berlin was where I found my niche—the people I met and the other students I shared the experience with became some of my greatest friends. However cliched it may sound, there is truly something for everyone in Berlin. The city has a pulse—an indescribable energy unlike anywhere else I have ever traveled. There is ALWAYS something to do, and every interest is accounted for (even if you don't like to drink, although the beer there is pretty wonderful). There is incredible art, history, music, nature, and food right at your fingertips. As someone who has never wanted to live in a city, I still would firmly support the notion that Berlin is for everyone.  

Duke in Berlin changed my life in many ways; but, most importantly, it allowed me to step back from my life at Duke and back home in the States and see the bigger picture of where I was in life and where I want to go. If you're on the fence about going abroad, I urge you to do it. Discover for yourself what it means to step outside of your bubble. And if you're not sure if Berlin is the right place for you, all I can say is: Yes it is. Go. Go and take me back with you."

Eileen Lin (Trinity '16)

"I was part of the Duke in Berlin Fall semester program last year. It was one of the best decisions I made during my Duke career. Berlin is a vibrant city that has a rich culinary culture as well as a hipster art and music scene. My footsteps across the city accumulated moments of fond and precious memories, from Warschauer Straße to Prenzlauer Allee, from Zehlendorf to Stadt Mitte. I was most fascinated by the city's tangible history, given that we can still witness the transition between destruction and renovation. I loved it so much that I went back to Berlin for a summer museum research project. If you are thinking about doing the program, I sincerely recommend it!"

Liaowang (Zoey) Zou (Trinity '17)

"I did Duke in Berlin Spring program in my sophomore spring. Berlin is an amazing city. It is not like any other city in Germany. It's a blend of the old and the young, of politic and art, of profundity and vibrancy. I am so glad that I could spend 7 months in Berlin. Every bit of it was absolutely amazing. As a language beginner, I never expected myself to pick up German so fast. I stayed with a host family and had German bread and cheese for breakfast with the 7-year-old and 12-year-old "Gastgeschwister" (guest siblings) at home every morning. The program took us to numerous concerts, football games, and theater performances and even parliamentary session in German Bundestag. People in our program were really close as a group. At the same time, we also mingled with local students. We attended classes with German students at local university. I also joined a Pop and Jazz choir group. Sometimes we just need a change of perspective, to interact with people with different culture, different backgrounds and different ways of thinking."

Read Q+A interview with Zoey Zou

Andrew Rohm (Pratt '12)

"I'm an Electrical and Computer Engineering and German double-major. I thoroughly enjoyed the Spring semester engineering program in Berlin. As part of the semester, we enjoyed the continued hospitality of host families and numerous opportunities for cultural immersion. Between the experience of watching alongside millions of Germans as Germany advanced further and further into the World Cup and exploring the thriving metropolis that is Berlin, the Duke-in-Berlin program presents the chance for all this enjoyment and more, not to mention the challenge and reward of learning alongside German classmates."


Anya Parks

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"I was reminded yet again how rich the cultural history of Germany is and how different it is from that of the United States."

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Sally on Berlin: The City is the Classroom

“To really learn about what's going on in this world, both past and present. I now know that I have to step beyond books and talk to people to get a real understanding.”

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The Best of Times, Not the Wurst

"Being exposed to another culture has sparked my interest in learning more as well as makes me want to continue sharing my Native American culture with others."

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Duke in Berlin — Riley Hiers

"It was the picnics in Berlin’s massive Tiergarten, the casual Sunday swims in the Wannsee, and the €5 Döners (which never disappointed) that made my six-week stay in Berlin more than I could have ever hoped for."

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Stephanie on Duke in Berlin: Fitting Right in!

“One thing that really surprised me about the spring program, even after completing the summer program, is how independent I became in Berlin. By the spring I felt much more like a resident of Berlin, instead of a Duke student on study abroad."

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Spring in Berlin: On classes, host family, and friends

"I am a Chinese national, and I went to high school in Singapore. I knew coming into Duke that I wanted to study abroad somewhere and I wanted to learn a new language. Duke in Berlin allowed beginners and, compared to other programs, that was unique."

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