About Berlin

Located in northeastern Germany near the Polish border, Berlin is the capital of Germany and the country’s most populous city, with nearly 3.5 million people. As Germany itself was divided between East and West, Berlin was divided by the infamous “Wall” from 1961 until 1989. While the legacy of its unique history is ever-present, as seen in its architecture, monuments, and its people, Berlin has experienced a remarkable revival in the two decades since reunification. It is a vibrant, multicultural center, home to world-class museums (including those located on Museum Island in the Mitte District), major universities, and a multitude of parks, gardens, and recreational areas that make Berlin one of the most “livable” big cities in the world. It is an ideal location in which to learn about Germany’s history, culture and its future as a key player in the European Union.

The Program

Hobart and William Smith Colleges maintain an affiliation with IES Abroad (the Institute for the International Exchange of Students) to offer two program tracks in Berlin, based at the IES Abroad Berlin Center in collaboration with Humboldt University. Students will have the opportunity to enroll in the German Language and Area Studies track or the Metropolitan Studies track, both of which facilitate student integration through homestay accommodations and offer full access to facilities and academic coursework at Humboldt University.


Students in the Metropolitan Studies track will select from a variety of courses taught in English (including urban studies, sociology, political science, gender studies, literature and film, and art history) and will take a German language course at an appropriate level. See Metropolitan Studies courses here. Those in the German Language and Area Studies track will take courses in German offered by local faculty through IES alongside language coursework at Humboldt. Students with advanced German proficiency may pursue additional academic options through local universities. See German Language and Area Studies courses here.

Academic Focus

This program can accommodate a variety of students and is designed for those who are interested in learning more about Germany and in developing German language skills. The German Language and Area Studies track is intended for more advanced language students who will also be able to take courses in a range of fields (students with advanced language proficiency may choose to enroll in regular course offerings through Humboldt University, the Free University, or the Technical University). German Language and Area Studies track students may also apply to undertake a credit-bearing internship in the summer immediately following the spring semester for an additional fee; note that there are no internships during the program itself. The Metropolitan Studies track is designed for those with limited previous German language study and focuses on Berlin as a case study to explore issues relevant to major urban areas. This track will be of interest to students in a variety of fields in the humanities and social sciences.


This is a highly selective program and only those applying for and receiving a Julius G. Blocker ’53 Fellowship will be considered for admission. The program is open to juniors and seniors (sophomores may be considered in exceptional cases) in good academic and social standing with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Students enrolling in the Metropolitan Studies track must have completed at least one semester of college-level German prior to the program and must take a German language course in Berlin. Those enrolling in the German Language and Area Studies track must have completed a minimum of 4 semesters of college-level German with an average grade of B or better. Due to the challenging nature of study abroad, student academic and disciplinary records will be carefully screened.

Important note: students who enroll in the German Language and Area Studies track need to be aware that there are two types of courses available on this track - IES Abroad courses and German university courses - and the two course types have different finish dates. Fall students who choose IES Abroad courses only will start the program at the end of August and will finish in mid-December. Fall students do not have the option of choosing German university courses because these courses do not finish until mid-February, so they would not be back in time to start the spring semester at HWS. Spring students on the German Language track will start the program in late February and will finish in late June if they choose only IES study Abroad courses, while those who choose German university courses will finish in mid-July. Note that due to the German academic calendar, seniors who enroll in the German Language and Area Studies track in the spring semester would not be finished in time for graduation on the HWS campus.

Students in the fall Metropolitan Studies track will start around the end of August and will finish in mid-December, while students in the spring Metropolitan Studies track will start in early January and finish at the end of April, so there are no conflicts with graduation or with the HWS academic calendar in this track.


Students will reside in a homestay arranged by IES Abroad and will typically prepare their own meals at home or take meals in affordable student cafeterias.


Students in the German Language and Area Studies track will participate in a variety of field trips in and around Berlin as well as a weekend trip to a nearby German city such as Dresden and Hamburg. Those in the Metropolitan Studies track will participate in study tours to Istanbul, Turkey and St. Petersburg, Russia as well as a number of field trips in and around Berlin.

Going Abroad With the CGE

Students will be charged standard HWS tuition and fees and a $600 administrative fee. This will cover tuition for a four-course semester, health insurance, all program-related excursions, and homestay accommodations (accommodation costs are covered by the Blocker Fellowship). Blocker Fellows receive a stipend intended to offset the cost of meals, airfare, books and course materials, local transportation and residence permit. Additional expenses not covered include laundry, entertainment, ground transportation and independent travel. It is difficult to give an accurate estimate of student expenses because student spending habits differ considerably. We would suggest a minimum of $1500 for these additional expenses. However, students on a tight budget should be able to manage with less. If you are concerned about finances, we strongly encourage you to talk to the CGE staff who can offer information and advice based on your specific situation. Only those applying for and receiving a Julius G. Blocker ’53 Fellowship will be considered for admission. For further information please visit the Julius G. Blocker ’53 Endowed Fund website. The deadline for applications for the Blocker Fellowship is the same as the deadline for CGE program applications.


Application Deadline

  • This program is offered every semester.
  • Applications are available at the Center for Global Education.
  • Applications are due at the CGE office at a selected date in October (for Fall programs) and March (for Spring programs). For specific date contact the CGE.

NOTE: The information above is subject to change. Please see the CGE for more information.


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