University of Bonn

Image of Bonn, Germany

  • Spend a semester or academic year in Bonn, the former capital of West Germany.
  • Study German language and culture at a well-known research university. Some coursework in English is also available.
  • Live in university residence halls with private bedrooms.
  • Collins Scholarship available. See Further Reading section below for more information.

The University of Bonn (Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn) was founded in 1818 under Friedrich Wilhelm III, King of Prussia. Its 200 year history has made it one of Germany's most recognized institutions for research and higher education. The university is internationally renowned for top-level science, research-oriented study programs, and its international flair.

With 35,000 full-time students, including almost 4,000 foreign students from more than 130 countries, the University of Bonn is one of the largest universities in Germany. It is located in Bonn, the former capital of West Germany and a city known for its international profile, top-rated museums, and charming riverside setting. The university's excellent reputation in teaching and research and central location in Europe make this an ideal option for students looking for a flexible and immersive program in a German university setting.

Bonn is a vibrant university city, a cultural center, and a crossroads of international development. Located south of Cologne on the Rhine River, Bonn was the capital of West Germany until unification in the 1990's. Bonn remains a federal city ("Bundesstadt") and a center of politics, administration, and national and international affairs. It is a hub of international cooperation and the headquarters of 19 United Nations agencies plus numerous other international organizations. The city hosts numerous international conferences plus prestigious concerts and exhibitions. Bonn has a pouplation of 325,000 and its picturesque city center features 18th century architecture, a lively daily market, and Beethoven's birth house.

Students participating in the University of Bonn Global Exchange Program can choose from regular university classes in more than 200 disciplines, German language classes and/or English-taught courses in the "Germany in a Global Context" course series plus earn credit for a German language course before the start of the semester.

University Courses

Courses are available in the full range of humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and business and economics. Most courses are taught in German, however, some departments offer coursework in English. Students taking courses in German should have completed at least four semesters of university-level German. Any student may take courses taught in English. Departments most popular with KU students include:

African/American Studies, Anthropology, Archeology, Art History, Biology, Chemistry, Communications, Comparative Literature, Economics, English Literature, European Studies, Geography, Geology, History, Linguistics, Mathematics, Philosophy, Political Science, Religious Studies, Physics and Astronomy, Psychology, Sociology, and more.

Some of the departments offering coursework in English include:

American Studies, Astronomy, Biology, Economics, English Literature, Geography, History, Literature, Physics, and Political Science.

Bonn Course Catalog: Search among all course options available in all departments at Bonn. Catalog can be used in German or English. To search for courses taught in English, go to Course Overview > Search for Lectures > Language of instruction > English.

German Language Courses

Students can enroll in German language courses taught during the semester by the International Office. These everyday German language courses are offered from beginning (A1.1) through advanced (B2.2) levels and feature small class sizes and a focus on practical communication. The International Office also teaches a variety of special topics courses taught at levels A2 through C1. Topics include German history, art and culture, advanced grammar and more. These courses are appropriate for German majors and minors. See additional information on Learning German at the University of Bonn.

Pre-Semester German Language Course

Before the start of the regular semester, the International Office hosts a 3-week orientation and language program. The program includes an intensive German language course (taken for credit) plus social and cultural activities. Read more in the "Life Abroad" section below.

Courses in English

Students looking for coursework in English can take regular university courses taught in English (varies by department) or courses in the "Germany in a Global Context" course series. These courses are designed to give visiting students insights into the political, cultural, historic and economic facets of Germany. See the Germany in a Global Context webpage for more information.

Credit Information

Students typically earn 12 to 18 KU credit hours during one semester abroad. In addition to the links above, use the following resources to research available courses and to determine if these courses will meet your academic requirements at KU:

Course Information: Complete information on courses offered by the Bonn International Office and available to visiting students at the University of Bonn.

KU Course Equivalency Database: This is a list of courses currently pre-approved for KU credit (approved equivalency) and courses that students have had approved for KU credit in the past (possible equivalencies). Use 'Bonn' in the search field.

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.

Students live in residence halls operated by the Studierendenwerk Bonn and located throughout the city of Bonn. The typical arrangement is a private bedroom with shared kitchen and bath facilities, but other configurations are possible. View dorm and room options on the Studierendenwerk Bonn webpage. All rooms are furnished and students have the option to purchase a basic dorm kit that includes sheets, towels, and basic kitchenware.

Students will have access to cooking facilities in their residence hall and can also purchase affordable meals at university cafeterias and restaurants. A public transportation ticket is included in the cost of the program.

The University of Bonn International Office offers a 3-week orientation and language program before the start of the regular semester. Orientation Weeks are intended to help students settle into their semester or year abroad and advance their German language skills. The Orientation Weeks program includes:

  • An intensive German language course taken for credit and offered at several different levels (A1-B2)
  • Cultural activities, excursions, and social events designed to acquaint students with the university, city and region
  • Assistance with practical things such as enrollment and city registration

The Orientation Weeks program is optional, but strongly encouraged for all students.

The University of Bonn International Office has hosting students for more than 70 years. Students can expect to be supported by a full range of student services. This high level of support begins during orientation when students receive assistance with practical matters, enrollment, and all aspects of adjusting to life in Germany. It continues during the semester when students can participate in a number of activities organized specifically for visiting students.

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.

Open to KU students with sophomore status or higher and a 2.8 cumulative GPA who have completed 4 semesters of college-level German or the equivalent by the beginning of the program. Students may be accepted with less language on a case by case basis.

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.

German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)

A wide range of scholarships are also available through the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Please contact Study Abroad & Global Engagement for more information.