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Berlin: Global City in the Center of Europe

Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany

Program sponsor: Northwestern

Aviv Delgadillo holding up the Northwestern flag in front of the Alte Nationalgalerie in Museum Island.
Aviv Delgadillo holding up the Northwestern flag in front of the Alte Nationalgalerie in Museum Island.
Northwestern students in front of the German Reichstag, as part of the 'Berlin: Global City in the Center of Europe' program.
Northwestern students in front of the German Reichstag, as part of the 'Berlin: Global City in the Center of Europe' program.
Jacob Swan and Vickie Li order Currywurst from an S-Bahn station stand in Berlin.
Jacob Swan and Vickie Li order Currywurst from an S-Bahn station stand in Berlin.

The Berlin: Global City in the Center of Europe program introduces students to contemporary German and European affairs with a particular focus on the city of Berlin, its history, culture, music, economics, and politics. The program is geared toward students who either have no background in the German language or have completed the German Department’s first-year sequence, but students with greater knowledge of German are also encouraged to participate.

The program is divided into two sections:

  • Session I: Students are introduced to contemporary German though an exploration of Berlin. Students take courses on German language, history, and culture, taught by faculty in the Department of German at Northwestern.
  • Session II: Students have access to a wide variety of courses on German and European affairs offered by the Humboldt Summer University.

In addition to classes taught by Northwestern and Humboldt University faculty, students take organized excursions to major historical and cultural sites in Berlin and other cities, including a three-day stay in Weimar during the intersession.

Begin Application Process


Session I

During Session I, students must enroll in a German language course plus German 222-SA: Introduction to German Culture, Politics and Economics. Courses and grades appear on students' Northwestern transcripts and are figured into their Northwestern GPA. Session I courses are taught by faculty and graduate students in the Department of German at Northwestern University.

German Language

While there is no language prerequisite, students are required to take German language courses as a part of the program. Students will select one language course depending on language skill levels.

  • GERMAN 101-SA-1: Beginning German
  • GERMAN 102-SA-1: Intermediate German
  • GERMAN 205-SA: Focus Writing

GERMAN 222-SA: Introduction to German Culture, Politics and Economics

Few cities have been so thoroughly transformed in the 20th century as Berlin. In the 21st century, Berlin has emerged as a vibrant city that reveals many layers of historical complexity throughout its urban spaces. In this course, students will be exposed to the history and culture that define Berlin as well as the political and economic transformations that characterize Berlin as both an historical and modern city. Readings will be accompanied by excursions, thus combining textual analyses with hands-on experiences of spaces with historical and cultural significance.

Session II

During Session II, students must enroll in a German language course plus one content course offered by the Humboldt Summer University. Students will receive a Humboldt University transcript, and course credit will be eligible for transfer back to Northwestern as long as students earn grades of C or better. Visit the Study Abroad Guide for more information about credit transfer and grades, GPA, and transcripts.

German Language: "Berlin in the Summer"

Beginning, intermediate, advanced levels are offered. Students will take a placement test administered by Humboldt to determine their course enrollment.

One content course from a wide selection offered.

Visit the Humboldt Summer University website for full Session II course listings. Some example include:

  • The European Union between Supranational Integration and National Sovereignty
  • Introduction to International Economic Law
  • German "Social Market Economy" - A Better Capitalism?
  • What do Germans laugh about? A Performative History of German Comedy from 1945 until Today
  • Land in the City: Green in the City
  • The Contested City - Intercultural Tensions in Germany
  • The Transatlantic Relationship in the Age of Trump: Politics, Law and Culture

Program Requirements


Open to NU and non-NU students from all majors meeting Northwestern's minimum application requirements. Eligibility for this program includes:

  • Students with no German language experience (who would enroll in GERMAN 101-SA-1: Beginning German abroad)
  • Students who have fulfilled the 101-sequence or equivalent by Spring (who would enroll in GERMAN 102-SA-1: Intermediate German abroad)
  • Students who have fulfilled the 102-sequence or equivalent by Spring (who would enroll in GERMAN 205-SA: Focus Writing abroad)
  • Students who have taken German courses on the 200-level or above may not be eligible. They should consult with the program director directly.


Preference is given to students who have previously taken German courses at Northwestern, have otherwise acquired some knowledge of German, or enroll in German 115 in the spring quarter.


Apply for permission to study abroad
All students are required to apply for permission to study abroad. Learn more about the process, deadlines, and access the application on the apply to study abroad page.

This Northwestern Program has a maximum enrollment capacity. If there are more applicants than spaces available, then admission to this program will be competitive. It is highly recommended that you include a second choice program in your Northwestern Study Abroad Application, in case you are not offered admission to this program. Listing a second choice program in your Northwestern Study Abroad Application does not affect your chances of getting admitted to this program. Review the admissions criteria and selection process for Northwestern Programs on the application review process page.

Program Contacts

Estimated Credit

4 Northwestern units.


Accommodations and a few group meals are provided as part of the program package, but students are responsible for most of their own meals. Students are housed in shared rooms.

Host Institution

The Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, founded in 1810, is one of Berlin’s oldest universities. Located in the center of Berlin, Humboldt offers over 240 degree programs spanning from the humanities to the social and natural sciences, many of which offer courses taught in English. Named after one of the great Enlightenment reformers in the field of higher education, Wilhelm von Humboldt, it is often considered the first modern research university, founded on the idea that advances in knowledge are the premise of effective teaching. The university is home to many of Germany’s greatest scholars, scientists, and thinkers, past and present, including the philosopher G.W.F. Hegel, the mathematician Karl Weierstrass, and the physicist Max Planck. Fifteen percent of the student body of Humboldt-Universität comes from abroad, with the university hosting about 1,500 international students each year.



Students will have the opportunity to visit several of Berlin’s most famous sites. Possible visits include: Checkpoint Charlie, the Bundestag, the Reichstag, the Berliner Philharmonic, the Jewish museum, and Kreuzberg.


Located southwest of Berlin, Weimar is a city with a rich cultural heritage. It was the focal point of German Classicism, home of leading writers, philosophers, and musicians. It is recognized as the birthplace of Germany’s Weimar Republic as well as the internationally known movement and school for art and design, the Bauhaus.


Located in northern Germany and situated on the river Elbe, Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany and is also a designated sister city of Chicago, Illinois. Hamburg is known for having one of the largest international harbor and its historic warehouse district. Students will stroll through the city center, take a boat tour of the harbor and have time to explore the Schanzenviertel, Hamburg’s hip student district, or discover its art museums.

Program Resources

Browse the program handbook for more detailed information about excursions, courses, and identity-based considerations. Note: This is the previous year's handbook and should be used for informational purposes only. Do not make any travel plans based off of the dates or information provided here.

Review identity-specific information about Berlin:

Program Cost

Summer program costs vary, but summer study abroad tends to be much less expensive overall than a regular quarter at Northwestern. Review the comparison.

Summer 2020: $11,950

Billed by Northwestern
  • Tuition: $5,300
  • Housing: $3,200
  • GeoBlue: $100

Total program fee: $8,600

Estimated Additional Costs
  • Airfare: $1,600
  • Meals: $1,000
  • Local transportation: $100
  • Books & supplies: $50
  • Personal expenses: $600

Total: $3,350

Financial Aid & Scholarships

  • Students applying to this program are eligible to apply for GLO scholarships and are also encouraged to apply for other funding opportunities.
  • Northwestern students receiving financial aid during the academic year may be eligible to apply for summer aid for this program. Visit the summer aid & scholarships page for additional information.
  • Students applying to this program are eligible for the Max Kade Travel Scholarship from the German Department. Students can apply for this award using the GLO scholarship application.

Program Financial Details

This section outlines some of the billing and financial arrangements for Northwestern Programs, and is intended as a guide to help you navigate the financial aspects of your study abroad process. You should always refer to your program materials for the most current information and instructions. Contact your study abroad adviser (listed above) if you have any questions.

Program Confirmation

Once you are approved to attend a Northwestern study abroad program, you will need to complete a Program Confirmation form to confirm your participation. Northwestern students admitted to Northwestern programs are not required to pay a confirmation deposit, but will be charged a cancellation fee for withdrawing from the program after confirming.

Northwestern Invoice

Your Northwestern invoice will be issued through CAESAR on the regular quarterly schedule, and will include your program fee, which includes tuition, accommodations abroad, all related program activities, and international health insurance. Your program's billable costs and estimated budget are outlined above.

If you receive financial aid and/or loans, these funds will continue to apply directly to your CAESAR account. If you were awarded a ULA scholarship, it will also disburse to your CAESAR account.

If you use the Northwestern 9PAY plan, you may continue to use 9PAY for your NU-billed study abroad expenses, but you should request a study abroad 9PAY estimate to have your plan set up appropriately. The 9PAY plan is not available for summer programs.

Student Visa Financial Certification

If you are required to obtain a student visa, you may need to provide documentation that you will be supported financially for the duration of your time abroad. This may require bank statements from your parents and/or a financial aid award letter; review your visa application instructions carefully to be sure you are providing the appropriate documentation, and contact ULA for assistance.

If you primarily fund your education through financial aid and/or loans, you may also contact Krista Bethel in the financial aid office to request a letter of financial support.

Withdrawal & Refund Policies

If you withdraw or are dismissed from a Northwestern Program after submitting your program confirmation form, you are subject to the withdrawal & refund policies for Northwestern Programs.

Life in Berlin