Freie Universität Berlin European Studies Program (FU-BEST)


  • Study a range of subjects on a university campus in the vibrant, youthful, and historic city of Berlin.
  • Fall, spring, and internship program options available.
  • Program includes week-long off-site excursion.
  • No German language experience required.
  • Program eligible for the Collins Scholarship. See Further Reading section below for more information.

Spend a semester in one of Europe’s most exciting cities.  The Freie Universität Berlin European Studies Program (FU-BEST) program in Berlin, Germany offers a menu of nearly 30 content courses taught in English in subjects such as political science, history, philosophy, sociology, music history, film studies, environmental studies, and art history. The program also offers a strong intensive German language program for any student wishing to have an immersive language experience.

Included in the program is a week-long excursion typically to an international destination such as Vienna, Budapest or Prague, numerous local field trips, cultural events, and a semester public transportation pass.  Located in the trendsetting city of Berlin, this program is a great value and offers a dynamic academic experience in Europe. 

Berlin, Germany

Berlin is the vibrant capital city of Germany.  The city of 3.7 million inhabitants is known for its diversity, youthful vibe, urban green space, nightlife, and tangible history.  Berlin is home to several of Europe’s most prominent universities and a large student population, lending the city a youthful atmosphere and many student-friendly amenities.  The beautiful Spree River runs through the city center and there are numerous architectural, historic, cultural, and outdoor features to explore.  With an expansive system of public transportation it is very easy to get around.  Students will enjoy the relaxed feel and tangible history of this dynamic European capital.

Freie Universität Berlin

Freie Universität Berlin (FUB) is a premier destination for research and education in Europe. It was founded in 1948 with U.S. support as a response to the persecution of students critical of universities in the Soviet sector of the divided city of Berlin.  FUB excels in the humanities and the social sciences and is ranked nationally and internationally among the top research universities in Germany.  The university has an enrollment of approximately 31,000 students and is located in the charming and mostly residential southwest sector of Berlin. Thanks to Berlin’s superb public transportation network it is within easy reach of the city center.

The Freie Universität Berlin European Studies Program (FU-BEST) was created in 2005.  FU-BEST seeks to educate responsible, global citizens by promoting intercultural exposure in a multi-faceted environment. The program provides an intensive and diverse study abroad experience by combining mandatory German language instruction with a varied menu of content courses taught in English and German. Small classes and the availability of day-to-day guidance and support are designed to enable students to make the most of a unique educational opportunity.

The FU-BEST program combines German language study with a varied menu of subject courses and the concept of the “extended classroom” which uses Berlin’s numerous historic and cultural sites as tangible context for what students learn in the classroom.  Courses include field trips and hands-on experiences available in the Berlin area. All students will take one German language class appropriate to their level. In addition, students can select English or German language subject courses appropriate to their degrees or interests. 

Students typically earn 12 to 15 KU credit hours during one semester abroad. You are encouraged to use the following resources to research available courses and to determine if these courses will meet your academic requirements at KU:

FU-BEST Course List: Information on all courses offered at FU-BEST.

German Language Course Information: All students are required to enroll in one German language course.

  • Experiential Beginning German: This course is for students with no prior German language study. Students earn credit for GERM 104 (5 credits).
  • Intensive German Language: Students with any prior exposure to German will enroll in the Intensive German Language course appropriate to their language level.  The intensive course counts as two KU semesters of German. Students will earn credit for two German language courses for a total of 6-10 KU credits, depending on language level placement.

Courses for German Studies Majors & Minors: In addition to the required intensive language course, German degree students are encouraged to take at least one of the two courses taught in German.  Subject courses currently taught in German currently include:

  • Theatermetropole Berlin: Vergangenheit und Gegenwart
  • Deutsch, Deutscher, Deutschland: Identität(en), Geschichte, Politik

Credit Approval Process

Visit the Credit Approval Process page for detailed information on the procedure for obtaining KU course equivalency approval for courses you plan to take abroad. All courses taken and grades earned while abroad must be posted as KU equivalents on a student’s KU transcript and grades will figure into a student’s KU GPA. The relevant KU academic department will make the final decision regarding posting of credit, and their application toward graduation.

This program offers several different housing options:

  • Homestay: Students opting for a homestay will have the unique opportunity to live in a local German household. Students will have a private room at minimum and some homes may also offer a private bathroom. Host families range from families with children to couples or single-person households. Breakfast and dinner are included with this option. Hosts may also provide additional opportunities for local activities and sightseeing.
    • Cost: EUR 2,800 (includes breakfast and dinner)
  • Student Village: The Student Village (“Studentendorf Schlachtensee”) offers private rooms with kitchen, bathroom, and living areas shared between 2-4 students.  Rooms are furnished with a bed, desk/chair, bookshelf, and closet. The Student Village is located in southwest Berlin with restaurants, cafes, and grocery stores within easy walking distance.
    • Cost: EUR 2,300
  • Student Hotel: The Student Hotel is located in the heart of Berlin (mitte district).  With this option students will stay in private rooms with a bathroom and have access to a shared kitchen and living spaces. Amenities include free WiFi, an on-site gym, study rooms, library, game lounges, outdoor cinema, restaurant, 24/7 reception and security, and access to bicycles.
    • Cost: EUR 4,360
  • Individually Arranged Housing: This option is not recommended for most students, but does exist for those in unique circumstances.  
    • Cost: Varies

Meals and Other Information

Meals are not included, except for breakfast and dinner with the homestay option. All students will have access to kitchen facilities.  Students can also purchase inexpensive meals at the FUB campus cafeteria (“mensa”) with many options including vegetarian and vegan selections. At the mensa, students can get a hot meal for less than 5 Euros.

All students, regardless of housing option selected, should expect to commute to the FUB campus.  Commuting is normal for Berliners and a 30-45 minute one-way commute is considered average.  The top-notch public transportation system in Berlin makes commuting easy and a semester public transportation pass is included as part of the program fee

SAGE is dedicated to creating international engagement opportunities that meet the needs of all our students and providing resources to support you through the process of studying abroad. Study abroad is achievable for students of all identities including our BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ students, students with disabilities, and students with religious/non-religious viewpoints. Before selecting a program, consider how your identities may impact your experience abroad in unique ways and talk with your Program Coordinator about any program-specific concerns. Students with documented disabilities should discuss any accommodation needs with their Program Coordinator early in the planning process.

Considerations for Germany

Germany has laws in place to protect ethnic and religious minorities, LGBTQIA+ individuals, the differently abled, and other groups. Same-sex marriage is available in Germany and most large city governments officially encourage and host LGBTQIA+ pride events.  Most German universities have student groups and community organizations to support LGBTQIA+ students.

Germany’s cities and public transportation are generally accessible to individuals with disabilities.  Older sections of the cities and smaller towns may be less accessible due to centuries-old architecture, cobblestone streets, and small indoor spaces. Germany offers services for people who are mobility, sight, or hearing impaired.

Source: U.S. Department of State country information pages and Diversity Abroad.

Additional Resources

Check our Identity Abroad page and resources listed below for information specific to you and other students who may be on your program.

Applicants must be at least a second semester sophomore by the beginning of the program with a cumulative GPA of 3.0.  GPA exceptions are considered, so all students are encouraged to apply.  There is no language pre-requisite for this program.

Drs. Dean T. and Elisabeth Collins Scholarship

The Drs. Dean T. and Elisabeth Collins Scholarship is a fund created by an estate gift from the late Dean and Elisabeth Collins for semester study abroad in Germany. Awards up to $10,000 per semester or $20,000 for year-long programs to Germany. Open to all majors but preference for students studying music and particularly opera. Additional preference given to students studying German language and culture. Minimum 2.5 GPA requirement. Apply online at Drs. Dean T. and Elisabeth Collins Scholarship.