When and how should I apply to the Central Student Exchange Program?
There are 2 application rounds in each academic year—one in November and one in May. There are different partner universities to choose from during each round. Please note that the application deadline is approx. 9 months prior to the start of the exchange.
Application deadline on 30 November (for exchanges from fall in the following year): Canada, China, Estonia, Mexico, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Taiwan, USA
Application deadline on 31 May (for exchanges from spring in the following year): Australia, Brazil, Chile, Japan, South Africa
The application portal is open on 1–31 May and 1–30 November each year. Applications cannot be submitted at any other time. A selection committee evaluates all correctly completed applications submitted by the deadline and nominates candidates for the exchange places. The final decision on admission is made exclusively by the partner universities.
When and how should I apply to the partner university?
The application to the respective partner university is separate from the application to the Central Student Exchange Program. If you have been selected by the Central Student Exchange Program for an exchange place at one of your chosen universities, you will then be nominated by the Department of International Affairs. Once you have been nominated, the partner university will contact you and inform you of the next steps you need to take to apply (some partner universities contact us instead and we then pass the information on to you).
If you are nominated for your second or third choice, remember that you may need to adjust your application documents to the new host university. The final decision on admission is made exclusively by the partner universities.
What are the benefits of taking part in the Central Student Exchange Program?
If you are nominated through the Central Student Exchange Program, the tuition fees at the host university are usually waived. In addition, you will receive administrative support and assistance from both Universität Hamburg and your host university, preferential access to or a guarantee of a dorm room, and even a partial scholarship to the host university in some cases.
How many exchange places are available?
The number of places varies according to the partner university, but is generally between 1 and 6 per year (see Partner universities).
Is my subject available at the partner university?
Check the partner university’s website to see if your subject is offered there. You should also check to see if the partner university has any restrictions on subjects that exchange students may study (see Partner universities). This is the case at several partner universities, in particular for medicine and law. If in doubt, ask the Outgoing Students Team(zentralaustausch"AT"uni-hamburg.de).
You can only apply for the following partner universities if you are already enrolled in a master’s program:
- Johns Hopkins University
- University of California, Berkeley
- University of Kansas
Can I apply for more than 1 partner university?
In the current application round, you can apply for a maximum of 3 partner universities. Applying for several partner universities can increase your chances of being offered an exchange place. However, this is only advisable if studying abroad at any of these partner universities would actually make sense for you. You should tailor your application to your first choice. If you are selected for your second or third choice, you may need to adjust some of your application documents. Make sure that you also meet the application requirements for your second and third choices (e.g., subject offered, language requirements).
What is a letter of motivation?
You explain in your letter of motivation why you want to go abroad. This is important to your application because it enables the selection committee to learn more about your personal and academic reasons for wanting to study abroad. Your stay abroad should relate to your area of specialization. You may wish to include the following in your explanation:
- Brief introduction to your person (e.g., personal background and academic development, interests/objectives, extracurricular qualifications, social commitment at the University and beyond)
- Presentation of and reasons for your planned study abroad (How will your stay abroad fit into your studies? Your reasons for choosing a particular university? How far along are you in your preparations (e.g., language skills)? What perspectives will your planned stay abroad open up to you?)
Language acquisition alone is not usually an adequate reason for studying abroad (with the exception of philology students). You are expected to already have good to very good language skills in order to master your subject-specific studies abroad without any major linguistic obstacles.
What do I need to bear in mind in the transcript of records?
The transcript of records is a current overview of all coursework you have completed to date. You can request it from your academic office or examinations office. Submit both a German version (or current STiNE academic transcript) and an English version (Mexico: German and Spanish). If your academic/examinations office does not issue (English) transcripts, you should instead submit appropriate confirmation from the office responsible for you. Master’s students in their first semester should submit a current STiNE course overview (in addition to their bachelor’s degree certificate with grades; German and English versions).
What should I do if I have not received my TOEFL or IELTS language certificate by the application deadline?
To be allocated an exchange place, you must provide proof of good knowledge of the respective language of instruction. Many partner universities require a TOEFL or IELTS certificate (see Partner universities). You can take the TOEFL test at the University Language Center (SZ). Information about IELTS test dates is available from the British Council. Remember to register early as test dates are often fully booked far in advance and it may take up to 4 weeks for you to receive your certificate in the mail afterwards. If you have not received your TOEFL/IELTS test score by the time you submit your application, you should instead submit a provisional language proficiency certificate from the University Language Center (SZ) and proof that you have taken the TOEFL/IELTS test. Please use the linked language proficiency certificate only, a placement test is NOT sufficient). If you are studying a language as part of your major or minor, you may also obtain proof of language proficiency from your language instructor.
Since many TOEFL test centers in Germany are temporarily closed and/or have limited availability, ETS has expanded the availability of the TOEFL iBT® Special Home Edition test to everywhere that TOEFL iBT testing is normally available. For more information and to register, please visit the official ETS website. If you are not able to participate in the TOEFL iBT® Special Home Edition, you can submit a language proficency certificate from the University language center as an exception (please use the linked DAAD language certificate only, a placement test is NOT sufficient). Please note that - in case of a successful application in the Central Exchange Program - a TOEFL or IELTS test result may have to be submitted additionally for the nomination at the partner university.
What do I need to take into account for the evaluations and who is allowed to prepare them?
Two evaluations in English are required for the Central Student Exchange Program. Use the form provided by the Central Student Exchange Program for this purpose—this is the only way to ensure that the selection committee has all of the information it requires. Make sure that the evaluations have been signed and stamped. The evaluations must always relate to your current plans to study abroad. Evaluators may give their evaluation to you or send them directly to the Outgoing Students Team(zentralaustausch"AT"uni-hamburg.de). The evaluations must be submitted no later than 10 June (May application round) or 10 December (November application round). Be sure to arrange evaluations well before the deadline.
Your professors or other postdoctoral teachers at Universität Hamburg who are/were responsible for teaching classes in your subject for an entire semester can prepare evaluations for the Central Student Exchange Program. Language teachers and non-postdoctoral instructors will only be accepted as evaluators in exceptional circumstances and only after consultation with the Outgoing Students Team. In such cases, be sure to contact the Outgoing Students Team(annette.listmann"AT"uni-hamburg.de) well in advance. For the Central Student Exchange Program, only one of the evaluations may be from a postdoctoral teacher who is not an employee of Universität Hamburg.
What needs to be included in the Learning Agreement?
The Learning Agreement for the Central Student Exchange Program indicates the courses you plan to take during your stay abroad, thus demonstrating that you have reviewed the courses offered by the host university and made plans that will enhance your understanding of your subject. The Learning Agreement must be signed by you and the coordinator, academic office, or examinations office responsible for you. It does not need to be signed by the host university for your application to the Central Student Exchange Program. The host university’s course catalog for your semester abroad is not usually available by the application deadline. You should therefore choose appropriate courses from the current course catalog for the winter or summer semester, depending on the dates of your planned exchange semester. Only use the form provided by the Central Student Exchange Program for this purpose.
Several partners universities permit stays for research purposes, such as preparing a final thesis (see Partner universities). If you are planning to attend one of these partner universities as a visiting research student, a Learning Agreement is not necessary. Instead, upload confirmation from your supervisor at the partner university (e.g., for UC Berkeley) or an overview of potential supervisors (e.g., for John Hopkins University) to the application portal.
When will I learn if I have been chosen for the Central Student Exchange Program?
The selection committee evaluates all applications that have been correctly completed and submitted before the deadline. It meets 4–6 weeks after the application period ends. You will learn if you have been allocated an exchange place 6–8 weeks after the application deadline. You will also be notified if you have not been allocated a place. The host university reaches the final decision on your participation in the Central Student Exchange Program. It can take up to 4 months to receive approval from partner universities.
Should I formally withdraw from Universität Hamburg during my stay abroad?
No, you must remain enrolled at Universität Hamburg for the entirety of your stay abroad. Be sure to inform yourself of the option of taking academic leave.
What should I include in my testimonial after my stay abroad?
You can find brief instructions and templates in the Testimonials section.
How do I correctly indicate the time frame for my exchange in my application?
In your online application for the Central Student Exchange Program, you can apply to complete an exchange in the winter semester, summer semester, or winter and summer semesters. The semester dates at Universität Hamburg are merely provided as a guide. The semester dates and names at your host university may vary. When completing your online application, select the semester at Universität Hamburg that best corresponds to your desired semester dates at the host university. Example: You want to study at your host university during its “spring semester,” which runs from February to June. In your online application for the Central Student Exchange Program, you should therefore select the summer semester (April to September).
What costs can I expect in my host country during my semester abroad?
Before you depart, costs will arise for flights, visas, insurance, vaccinations, etc. If you are participating in the Central Student Exchange Program, the tuition fees at your host university will be waived. However, you will generally still have to pay an administration fee or semester contribution (other regulations may apply for visiting research students). The partner university will inform you of the living costs you can expect (e.g., for accommodation, food, clothing, leisure activities, etc.). The DAAD’s country pages provide further information, along with links and testimonials. Be aware that there may be more costs at the start of your stay abroad (e.g., deposit for accommodation).