Do you know that you want to go abroad, but you don't know whether an internship or one or two semesters at a foreign university would be best? Usually you can assume that the supervision and support in a study abroad program - especially in an exchange program - will be excellent. Foreign universities usually help out a lot with finding accommodation, they have buddy programs and also set up events like orientation days and excursions. Outside of exchange programs, though, it can be difficult to find a scholarship.
An internship abroad has to be organized much more independently; you typically have to find your own accommodation, and besides your introduction to the company there are usually no other events to help you get to know the region and the culture. The IAESTE program and volunteer service programs, however, are exceptions. Due to the level of independent planning that is necessary, an internship abroad is normally well suited to the end of your studies when you can also work more independently. There are several internship scholarships for which you can apply on relatively short notice, making an internship a good choice for last-minute planners.
The video "Auslandsstudium oder lieber Praktikum mit Erasmus+?" from the campaign #kurzerklärt can help you make a decision (in German).
The German semester dates are very different from those at freign universities!
Please note that the German semester dates do not apply to the whole world. Before you apply you should double check the semester dates at the desired university and speak with your faculty about the possibility of taking exams at a later/different date. In order to be more flexible regarding the semester dates you may also want to consider completing an internship before the study program would start.
It is usually not possible to miss the orientation phase at the host university. In exchange programs the participation in the orientation is mandatory.
The same goes for internships. The times at which companies expect students to start may not fit well with the German semesters. Find out before you apply what exactly the expectations are.
What is the best time to go abroad in my particular studies?
Study abroad normally fits well into most studies in the fifth semester, since many programs have electives in this semester that can easily be transferred from a foreign university. Generally, though, you can decide on your own when you would like to go. Participation in an exchange program is possible from the third semester. Speak with the advisors in your faculty to find out when would be best.
Internships are usually better somewhat later in your studies. However, some scholarships are available from the first semester on, so you can decide yourself when you would rather go.
Two stays abroad in one semester
Since the semester dates at foreign universities normally differ from the German semesters it can actually be possible to complete a study program and an internship abroad in one semester. The study program would generally start in August/September and end in December; the internship could take place from January through March in the same or a different country.
The whole world is open - that can make it more difficult to decide where to go. The International Office can help you during the advising hours.
Read testimonials: The testimonials (most in German) from other TU students can help to better understand everyday life in various countries.
Find out what the language requirements are: In case you do not have any (or much) knowledge of the country's language, you need to be sure that you can follow classes or carry out your work in the host country in English. In study abroad programs in non-English-speaking countries there may be a very limited selection of courses in English. Research exactly what you would be able to do and which courses are available in which language. For an internship you should make sure that enough employees in the company can speak English.
Be open for new things: Look beyond the tourist destinations. Students often say that they were able to get to know the local culture and local people even better in places that are not overrun by tourists.
Calculate a budget: For a study abroad program it is a good idea to consider TU Dortmund University's partners abroad, since students nominated for the exchange program receive a full tuition waiver. In the Erasmus program students also receive a monthly stipend for a study or internship abroad program. Moreover, you typically do not have such high travel costs in the Erasmus countries. Read through the DAAD's country-specific information (in German) to find, among other things, information about the cost of living in various countries.
Even though some study and internship programs only require English, you should not go abroad without having at least rudimentary skills in the host country's language. In some countries English will not get you very far when communicating with the locals.
Learning Languages in Dortmund
Foreign Languages Department at TU Dortmund University
Foreign Language Courses
The Department of Foreign Languages' website lists all courses for TU Dortmund University's students. Note that you have to register for classes before the start of the semester!
Tandem Language Learning
If you want to practice your language skills in another setting, then you can work together with native speakers of your desired language; they also want to learn your native language. The communication is bilingual and both partners have enough time in each language. Further information is available here.
Learning Languages Online
DUO Fremdsprachen is the interactive foreign language portal from Deutsch-Uni Online, a cooperative project from the German as a foreign language lab at Ludwig Maximilians University Munich and the Gesellschaft für Akademische Studienvorbereitung und Testentwicklung e. V.. DUO Fremdsprachen is for anyone who wants to learn a foreign language online and prepare themselves for a stay abroad.
Erasmus Online Language Support (OLS)
Students who are chosen for the Erasmus Program will receive a link for an online language test. After this test students have the opportunity to participate in an OLS online language course. This language course is free of charge and especially helpful for everyday language in a foreign country. Language tests and courses (at least level A1) are available for all 24 languages of the European Union.
Learning Languages Abroad
DAAD Catalog: Language Courses Abroad
This page from the DAAD has information about language courses at universities throughout the world.
"Intensive English Program (IEP) at Western Washington University, USA
The Intensive English Program (IEP) at TU Dortmund University's partner school Western Washington University offers non-credit English language courses in 6 levels. The courses are meant to prepare students for studying completely in English and improving one's general level. Students spend one trimester (approximately 3 months) on the campus. Scholarships are available. Further information about the IEP and the scholarships is available here.
Language Program Scholarship for Globetrotters
Sprachreisen.org and Sprachreisen-Ratgeber.de award scholarships of 1,000 EUR twice a year for language programs abroad. Further information is available here.
Many universities abroad require a language certificate in the application. Sometimes the DAAD Language Certificate is accepted; this is offered free of charge at TU Dortmund University.
DAAD Language Certificate
The Language Certificate can be used for any DAAD programs, but also many universities and employers accept the certificate as proof of your language level. The test is done through an appointment (register online) in TU Dortmund University's Department of Foreign Languages.
Language Tests Outside of the University
Students of TU Dortmund University have the possibility to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) in Dortmund or in any other test center. Information about the next test dates (2-3x/month) and registration are available here. Information about a prep course for the test, offered by the Chamber of Commerce, is availablehere.
Since scholarship application deadlines can be very early, you should start planning a study abroad about 1.5-2 years in advance and an internship abroad about one year in advance.
If you are involved in international activities and hone your intercultural skills, for example by taking language courses, going abroad or volunteering in a buddy program, you can receive the Certificate "Studium International" .
Especially by getting involved in a buddy program or in an international club you'll be able to not only help other students at TU Dortmund University but also build your own intercultural and soft skills.
Usually when applying to a foreign institution you will need to turn in an English transcript of records. Please use the following template (please pay attention to this sample document)
Students from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering (with a full degree from TU Dortmund University) or the Faculty of Biochemical and Chemical Engineering can get their English transcript directly from the Central Examinations Office.
Students from the Faculty of Spatial Planning can get a list of the English course names from the Dean's Office.
Process: Please read the information in the sample document and below very carefully.
The transcript will be signed in the International Office. Send us (in an e-mail) the template completely filled out and translated along with your Certificate of Enrollment and your German grade sheet (from the Student Registration Office or the PDF from BOSS). Please also give us the following information:
- Which university/company are you applying to?
- City and country?
- Expected dates for the stay abroad?
- If the stay abroad has been organized through a placement agency, which one?
We will let you know as soon as you can pick up the signed document. Please note that processing may take up to 4 weeks.
It is possible for some students to apply for Bafög to help finance not just studies in Germany, but also for studies abroad.
Funding in the form of a stipend (not a loan):
- For study abroad: the necessary tuition fees (up to 4,600 EUR)
Funding for which 50% is a loan:
- Travel costs (round trip)
- in many cases the health insurance in the host country
- Living expenses (up to 744 EUR per month)
Further information about Auslandsbafög is available here (in German).
For study abroad it is a good idea to apply for TU Dortmund University's partner institutions, since the exchange program includes a full tuition waiver. In the Erasmus Program for an internship or study abroad, you will also receive a monthly stipend for the cost of living.
You may and should apply for several scholarships at once to increase your chances. However, you are only able to keep one scholarship. Auslandsbafög can be combined with scholarships. The responsible person in the International Office can assist you if you are not sure what can be combined with your scholarship.
You can find more information online about scholarships for the following stays abroad:
It is a good idea to also read the country-specific information from the DAAD (in German): These pages give an overvew of the expected costs in all countries across the world as well as a comprehensive overview of scholarships for each country.
In general it is very important - and for some programs even mandatory - to be insured for various situations while abroad. Compare offers from several companies before you make a decision. Note that a travel health insurance may not be sufficient or applicable to longer stays abroad.
Please note that even during a stay abroad, you still have to have valid health insurnace for Germany; if not, you would lose your student status at TU Dortmund University. This could mean, espcecially for an overseas stay abroad, that you are actually insured twice - in Germany and abroad. Discuss your possibilities with your health insurance provider.
DAAD Insurance Policy for Scholarship Recipients
Students who receive a DAAD scholarship or are placed abroad through one of the DAAD programs (e.g. Erasmus, PROMOS, Go East, IAESTE, AIESEC, etc.) may choose to take out a policy through the DAAD insurance offer.
Looking for a Subtenant? - Housing Anywhere Can Help!
TU Dortmund University is a member of the network HousingAnywhere.com, an international accommodation platform for students. You may offer your room or apartment up for a sublease for exchange students coming to Dortmund. By offering your room through this platform you can be sure not to have to pay double rent, and you know that your room will be available again at the end of the semester when you return to Dortmund. Register online with your university e-mail address to use the platform for free. Do not forget to inform your landlord about your plans.
We cannot guarantee that you will find a subtenant! You will increase the chances of finding a subtenant if the months of your offer match TU Dortmund University's semester dates (e.g. September/October until February for the winter semester and March/April until July for the summer semester).
Questions and feedback can be sent to Miriam Gothe in the International Office.
Looking for a Room Abroad?
You can also use the Housing Anywhere platform for your own stay abroad in over 400 cities across the world. Registered students from Housing Anywhere's partner universities receive special service and tips.
Here you will find tips from other students on finding accommodation, however, please use your own best judgment when using these services.
Chile: Chile Central
China: FIC FlatinChina UG
Leave of Absence (Beurlaubung)
Students who go abroad for their studies or an internship can apply for a leave of absence from the university in that semester. The advantage is that your program semester (Fachsemester) does not increase during that semester and you do not lose your spot in your degree program at TU Dortmund University.
If you take a leave of absence and return to NRW before the end of the semester, you may not participate in exams at TU Dortmund University (only exception: repeat exams). You are not allowed to take a leave of absence during stays abroad that count as credit toward your degree program (if you receive ECTS for that stay abroad).
In the Bachelor's degree it is possible to take a leave of absence from the second program semester on.
Please note: Students in an exchange program will not automatically be registered for a leave of absence by the International Office.
The Steps to Apply for a Leave of Absence:
- Download the Application for a Leave of Absence from the Student Registration Office (in German).
- When you turn in your application you will also need to turn in a certificate from the International Office confirming the duration of your stay abroad. If you are not participating in an exchange program, please contact Laura Hope in order to receive a certificate and send her an e-mail with your letter of acceptance from the host institution as well as your current certificate of enrollment from TU Dortmund University.
- Transfer the social contribution (Semesterbeitrag) amount listed on the application for your specific leave of absence reason. If you transfer the amount after the re-registration deadline ("Rückmeldefrist"), please note the late fee on the application.
- For study abroad: Select the reason "Studium an einer ausländischen Hochschule" and also turn in a certficate about the duration from the International Office.
- For an internship abroad: Select the reason "Praktika" and turn in a copy of your work contract (in German or English) as well as a certificate from your faculty confirming the duration and the necessity of the internship.
No matter what, the stay abroad has to coincide with at least 50% of the lecture period (approximately 8 weeks of the lecture period).
- Turn in all complete documents within the deadline to the Student Registration Office.
Please Note: The application for a leave of absence is only valid for one semester. If you are requesting a leave of absence for two semesters, you will need to turn in a new application with all complete documents during the re-registration period for the corresponding semester. This can be done through mail or in person (you may officially authorize someone else to do this for you - please note the special instructions for this on the application).
Leave of Absence and Transfer of Credit from Abroad
Usually credits earned abroad can be transferred to your degree program in Dortmund, even during a leave of absence. Discuss this option with the lecturers and examinations board in your faculty. Further information about this can be found below ("After Your Stay Abroad").
Refund for the Student Ticket for Public Transportation
Even if you do not apply for a leave of absence, you may apply to have the unused months of the student ticket for public transportation refunded. All necessary information can be found on the AStA website.
Studying abroad should give you new insights into your subject and related disciplines in another country. Of course there can be huge differences between the courses offered abroad and those that you have to take for your program in Dortmund. But don't let that discourage you! This coud be a great opportunity to set a specific concentration in your studies that could be attractive for a future employer.
The classes you take abroad may be able to be transferred back to your studies at TU Dortmund University. Regardless of whether you are participating in an exchange program or carrying out an independently planned stay abroad, you will need to discuss the possibility of credit transfer with your lecturers before you go abroad.
Many universities do not publish their course catalogs until shortly before the start of the semester, so you will need to have a look at past course catalogs in order to see what types of courses may be offered when you are there.
Even if the course catalog has been published, you always need a back-up plan in case changes are made to the course schedule or certain courses are cancelled. Be sure to pick out several possible courses that you could take (not just the minimum) and discuss all of these with the responsible person in your faculty.
- Erasmus Learning Agreement for Study Abroad (mandatory template from the EU Commission)
- Erasmus Learning Agreement for Internships Abroad (mandatory template from the EU Commission)
- Learning Agreement for Overseas/Other Study Programs (non-binding! This template may be altered.)
You are going abroad for one or two semesters and are not sure which contracts need to be cancelled and what else needs to be done? Answers to these and other questions can be found in the brochure "Umzug ins EU Ausland: Verträge kündigen oder behalten?" from the Zentrum für Europäischen Verbraucherschutz e. V. (in German).
Typically for all countries outside of the EU you will need a visa in order to study or intern there. Gather all the information you need directly from the embassy or consulate for the host country. This process can take several months, so start early. For an internship abroad, please also read this additional information.
International students who would like to go abroad for studies or an internship may even have to apply for a visa for EU or Schengen countries. Please check with the country's official offices. Please note that you will also need to inform the Ausländerbehörde of any longer stay outside of Germany. Failure to report a stay abroad could lead to an annullment of your visa for Germany!
Going Abroad with Your Children
In some programs you can apply for an additional funding, but you'll need to start preparing for your stay and the application very early on.
Going Abroad with Special Needs
In some programs you can apply for an additional funding, but you'll need to start preparing for your stay and the application very early on.
Help other students who are just starting their planning or are not sure what to do and where to go. You can submit the report through e-mail.
In case the file size is too large please use the TU Dortmund Depot to send the report.
For Erasmus Study Abroad:
For the Overseas Exchange Program:
For Internship Programs:
Approximately one to four months after completing classes at the host university, you will be issued a transcript of records. Start discussing the credit transfer right away with your faculty.
- Information from the Examinations Office on credit transfer and on final documents (such as the Diploma Supplement) at the end of your studies (in German)
- Flyer from the Hochschulrektorenkonferenz (HRK) (in German)
Calculating Foreign Grades for the German System
In many cases, the faculty's institute responsible for the class will calculate the grade for you. Otherwise your grades can be calculated in the International Office.
The International Office's Admissions Department is responsible for calculating the grades if your faculty will not do it. Please fill out the Grade Calculation Form and send it along with a PDF of your foreign transcript (all sides!) to zulassungsbereich.referat4tu-dortmundde. You will be informed by e-mail as soon as the grade calculation is ready to be picked up. Finally take this grade calcultaion to the person or office in your faculty responsible for credit transfer.
Calculating Credits for the "European Credit Transfer System" (ECTS)
Foreign universities give "credit points" for your classes; these credit points are not comparable with ECTS, which is based on workload. The workload comparability must be discussed with the lecturer (or the responsible person or office in your faculty).
Please note: The International Office is only able to calculate your grades, not the credit points. This has to be done in your faculty.
If you received a scholarship from TU Dortmund University for your stay abroad, you will need to turn in certain documents in a timely manner in order to retain the scholarship. You will find the mandatory documents in your scholarship acceptance form (Annahmeerklärung/Grant Agreement) or in the corresponding scholarship description:
You profitted from an excellent support system during your stay abroad and now you want to help out students in a similar situation here in Dortmund? You want to work on your intercultural skills and also get to know people from other cultures? Volunteer to help out in the international programs and activities on campus - many of the activities also count towards the Certificate "Studium International".
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Location & approach
The facilities of TU Dortmund University are spread over two campuses, the larger Campus North and the smaller Campus South. Additionally, some areas of the university are located in the adjacent "Technologiepark".Zum Lageplan