Freie Universität


Founded in West Berlin during the early Cold War period, Freie Universität Berlin (FUB) was established when anti-communist students protested against having to attend Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, a university located in East Berlin and taught by the Soviet Military Administration in Germany. After many student protests, FUB was established as a university for the “Free World” in West Berlin. Just about 40 minutes outside of Berlin’s city center, students will study on the university’s Lankwitz campus. You can enjoy picking courses from a wide range of offerings instructed in English or German, and will take classes alongside US and other visiting international students.

Quick Facts

Partner Program Type – International Studies Abroad (ISA)

ISA by WorldStrides is an organization that UCSC has partnered with to provide students with this opportunity. ISA stands for International Studies Abroad which is an organization that was founded in 1987 to connect US college students to the world. ISA has staff in the United States and abroad in each location to support students with every step of their journey.

Minimum GPA – 3.0

Prerequisites – You are not required to have a background in the German language in order to participate in this program. You will be required to complete a language placement exam prior to departure if taking a German language course and have a background in the German language.

Eligibility – Good academic and disciplinary standing, Min Age: 18, Open to All Majors, Sophomore, Junior, or Senior Standing by the time of departure

Term Options

Fall Semester: late August – mid-December

Academic Year: late August – late May

Partner Program deadlines



City & University

Dynamic, multicultural and vibrant, Berlin is a city that boasts a rich and dramatic past which spans many centuries and reflects the ups-and-downs of German history. During your time in Berlin, you will enjoy a spectacular diversity of cultural offerings featuring countless museums, historic landmarks, galleries, orchestras, opera houses, theaters and more. Dive in to the art and music scene, indulge in the vast food offerings, explore using the first-class public transportation network, and take advantage of the city’s convenient access to various destinations throughout Europe.

Students have three choices for housing. No matter which option you choose it will be coordinated by ISA. 


The dorm is the best choice if you would like to be independent while living in a greener and quieter environment. The dorm offers private rooms with a shared bathroom, kitchen, and communal area. All rooms are furnished with a bed, desk, chair, bookshelf, and closet. There are shared bathrooms and fully equipped kitchens on each floor. The duvet, cushions, and bedding are provided. There is a communal room with a TV as well as credit card-operated laundry facilities on site. Free Wi-Fi is provided. The Student Village is located in the southwest of Berlin and is approximately 55 minutes from campus by public transportation.


Host families are the best option if you are seeking full linguistic and cultural immersion during your time abroad. Each host family has been carefully selected by the host university in Berlin in order to best accommodate your needs and to ensure a comfortable living situation. Homestays will provide daily breakfast and dinner. A typical homestay includes a private bedroom with linen, a desk, and a place for clothing and personal items.


Apartments are a great housing option if you are seeking independence during your time abroad. The apartments are located in the heart of Berlin and are about 50 minutes by public transportation from the university. This accommodation includes a private en-suite bathroom, bed, wardrobe, desk, and flat-screen satellite TV. There is access to an equipped, shared kitchen. Bed linens and towels are provided. High-speed Wi-Fi access is available and there is 24/7 security. There is a library and study room areas, game lounges with pool tables, an outdoor cinema, a gym, a restaurant and a chill-out area. Students will also have access to bicycles as well as an on-site laundry facility.


Included excursions for this program are: 

  • Dresden
  • Beelitz-Heilstatten
  • Leipzig
  • Prague

If you would like more detailed information about the excursions, please reach out to

Student Support

The ISA team works with you from start to finish through the study abroad process. ISA staff will help guide you through the final phases of the application process after you have been nominated by UCSC, then upon arrival in Germany, you will meet the ISA team who will provide assistance during your time in-country. Throughout your semester you will meet with the Berlin team for informal discussions and excursions. ISA staff is readily available and able to assist you with any academic, social, or cultural questions or issues that you may face during your time abroad.

Upon entry to Germany, our Resident Director will give you a brief Orientation that will include both cultural information and program-specific information. She will also assist in getting you checked in with your housing and your host University, Freie Univeristat Berlin.

Country Information Resources

Students with Disabilities

If you need support services abroad, notify your UCSC Disability Resource Center (DRC) Coordinator

Students can work with their ISA program manager or directly contact once they have narrowed down where they’d like to go.

Identities Abroad and Away

UC Santa Cruz Global Learning is committed to inclusion and equity in our various program options as well as striving to make everyone’s experiences abroad enriching, positive, and safe.

Learn more on our Identities Abroad and Away webpage.


Host University Courses

As a Freie Universitat exchange student, enroll full-time in courses alongside other local and international students.

  • Language of Instruction: English or German
  • All students are required to take 1 German language course, and at least 2-3 additional courses.
  • You can choose from two different course tracks:
    • 1. Experiential Beginning German Language course + 3 content courses (total of 4 courses) 
    • 2. Intensive German Language course (combined 2-level) + 2 subject courses (total of 3 courses)
  • You may only take the Experiential German Language course if you have had no previous experience taking a German language course, are an absolute beginner, and are not a German major or minor. If you have any experience with the German language you will enroll in an Intensive German Language course.
  • Enrollment in German language courses is determined by the results of a language placement exam administered online pre-program by Freie Universität Berlin. Please note that your performance on the placement exam may not reflect the number of semesters of language instruction you’ve already completed at your home university.  
  • The German Language & European Studies program at Freie Universität Berlin (FUB) offers a great variety of courses in German and European Studies. Popular subject areas include German Language, European Studies, History, Political Science, Sociology, and Art History. Courses are taught in English and German by local and visiting faculty at FUB.

Course Search

Satisfying Requirements
It may be possible to satisfy major, minor, GE, and/or electives on this program.

Learn more about:

Course Load Requirements

You are required to enroll in a full-time course load while abroad as defined by your host institution:

  • All students are required to take one German language course, and at least 2-3 additional courses. Students will earn 21-22 quarter credits.

As a UCSC student, you must also continue to meet UCSC Satisfactory Academic Progress, which requires students to enroll in a minimum of 12 UCSC quarter credits per quarter. At Freie, you are required to ensure you meet this requirement by enrolling in the equivalent of at least 12 UCSC quarter credits in fall semester and at least 24 UCSC quarter credits in spring semester after conversion (see below).

If you are not enrolled in the minimum number of quarter credits required, then you will fall out of Satisfactory Academic Progress. This could lead to financial aid and academic repercussions

If you are unable to enroll in the minimum number of quarter credits through courses at your host university, you may be able to fill in the gap by enrolling in one remote course through UCSC or UC online.

Credit Conversion

Freie uses ECTS credits. These will be converted to UCSC quarter credits when added to your UC transcript.

  • 5 ECTS credits = 4 quarter credits at UCSC
  • 10 ECTS credits = 8 quarter credits at UCSC
  • 15 ECTS credits = 12 quarter credits at UCSC
  • 20 ECTS credits = 15 quarter credits at UCSC

Academic Restrictions

Note that some courses may require prerequisites. In rare cases, some courses abroad may have enrollment limitations and/or restrictions, and there may also be courses that are not available for study abroad students. Your ISA program advisor will be able to help you determine whether any such restrictions apply.

If you are unsure about your eligibility to enroll, please contact UCSC Global Learning at before applying to this program.

Academic Differences

Please note that the academic system, such as assignments, exams, course structure, grading system, etc., at your host institution may be different from what you are used to at UCSC. We highly recommend researching the academic system at your host university in advance to best prepare for your experience abroad.

Academic Calendar

We recommend comparing the host university academic calendar to the UCSC academic calendar to see how the academic calendars, holidays, and breaks differ.