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Off-Campus Study

Budapest Semesters in Mathematics

Hungary has a long tradition of excellence in mathematics education. However, because of the language barrier, students have not been able to take advantage of the skill and dedication of the mathematics faculties of Hungarian universities.

Initiated by Paul Erdős, László Lovasz, and Vera T. Sós, the program Budapest Semesters in Mathematics (BSM) provides a unique opportunity for North American undergraduates. Through this program, mathematics and computer science majors in their junior/senior years may spend fall, spring or summer semester in Budapest and study under the tutelage of eminent Hungarian scholar-teachers. The instructors of BSM are members of Eötvös University, the Mathematical Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and Budapest University of Technology and Economics, the three institutions known for having educated more than half of Hungary’s highly acclaimed mathematicians. Most instructors have had teaching experience in North America and are familiar with the cultural differences.

Budapest Semesters in Mathematics courses comprise 14 weeks of teaching plus one week of exams. Each course usually meets three to four times per week for a total of 56 contact hours per semester. The summer program is eight weeks long, meets two hours per day, four days a week with the expectation that students will take two full-credit courses. Normally, one Budapest Semesters in Mathematics course transfers either as 3 or 4 semester hours depending on an evaluation of course material done by the home institution. Classes are taught in English by eminent Hungarian professors, most of whom have had teaching experience in North American universities. In keeping with Hungarian tradition, teachers closely monitor each individual student’s progress. Considerable time is devoted to problem-solving and encouraging student creativity. Emphasis is on the depth of understanding rather than on the quantity of material.

Program Type

Approved Third Party Provider


Budapest, Hungary

Languages of Instruction


Program Dates

Fall 2018: mid-August to mid-December

Spring 2019: mid-January to Late May

All dates are tentative and may change.  BSM will alert all accepted students of final dates


To be eligible to participate in this program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Good academic and judicial standing during time of application AND time of participation in program
  • Undergraduates must have completed at least two semesters of study at Lake Forest College AND have second-semester sophomore status or higher before participation. (Transfer students may participate after the first semester on campus)  Junior status or higher is strongly preferred.
  • At least 18 years of age by the program’s departure date. 
  • Be able to stay at the host program for the duration of the semester, including through the exam and travel periods. You should especially note the fall dates to be certain it will work for your schedule.
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0.  


Course materials are designed so that the credits will be transferable to American and Canadian colleges and universities. Normally, one BSM course transfers as either three or four semester hours depending on your home institution. Students should get advice in this regard from the Department of Mathematics or the Registrar’s Office at their college or university.

Students may take as many or as few courses as they feel comfortable with (check your home institutions regulations on this). The “normal” course load is four classes for fall or spring semester or two classes for the summer program, but courses are available according to the Hungarian standard. That is, once a student is accepted to a university program of study, final course load responsibility and authority resides with the student. Many students have taken a considerably heavier load, with seemingly no ill effects.

During the first three weeks of the fall and spring semesters, students have the opportunity – European style – to sit in on the courses that interest them (schedule permitting) to get an overview of what courses are available. This way, students may analyze what would best fit with their interests, or they will choose courses that are needed to complete the core curriculum for their home institution. Students usually select three to four courses to study for the remainder of the term; two courses for the summer program. However, students may carry as many courses as they feel they can handle.

If there is a specific course the student would like to take and it is not offered, they may approach one of the professors in the program, or talk to the Program Director to see whether it would be possible to offer the course.

Depending upon how many students would be interested in the suggested course, the professor will try to put together either a lecture or reading course.

Normally, one Budapest Semesters in Mathematics course transfers either as 3 or 4 semester hours depending on the home institution. BSM course credits and transcripts are issued by The Technical University of Budapest.

A list of courses currently being offered in Budapest can be found http://www.bsmath.hu.

Course Approvals

Check to see if your department has pre-approved courses here. If not, don’t worry. You can work with your advisor.

Housing and Meals

If you have indicated that you prefer living with a Hungarian family,  most families in Budapest live in small apartments with just one bathroom. Please let me know well before you leave if you have special accommodation needs, e.g., do you have allergies, do you wish to be in a non-smoking environment, etc.

You need to complete a “room match” form on the website, also found here. You can indicate special needs or wants on this form. Please note that each student has his/her own bedroom. If a roommate is chosen, it is simply an apartment mate. The form will go to the North American Office and to the Budapest Office. Staff in Budapest coordinate housing and will try their best to accommodate but we cannot guarantee specific requests. Housing assignments are given upon arrival in Budapest.

The person who meets your plane or train from the Budapest office should accompany you to your housing and go over the lease with you. They should also give you a mini orientation of your “environment” including your new neighborhood and how it works [i.e., where to catch the public transportation and how to use it; where the food stores in your area are located; and to mark a route on your map of how to get from your location to both the Babilon Language School (if you are taking the optional language course) and College International on Bethlen Gabor ter].

Rents are payable in Budapest usually on a monthly basis. Rent will be payable on the day of your arrival. Often a security deposit equal to approximately one month’s rent is also due on the day you arrive. Please be aware that Hungarian customs and laws governing rental properties vary from apartment to apartment and vary greatly from laws in North America. Do not sign any lease agreements until you fully understand and are comfortable with the terms. The landlord should be willing to give you a few days grace period in which to do so.

Students pay for meals on their own.

Financial Information

Here is an estimated budget for the Fall 2018/Spring 2019 program:

Budget Item


Lake Forest College Tuition


Program fee (estimated)


Program Deposit (credit)


Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College


College Deposit due on Acceptance (non-refundable)


Housing (BSM will place you in housing, but you pay rent on-site)


Additional Meals


Estimated Airfare


Estimated Personal Expenses (passport, visas, immunizations, textbooks, supplies, personal expenses, additional travel etc.)


Total Out-of-Pocket Expenses






Tuition rates and program fees are subject to change each year, but this information was up-to-date as of February 2018. We will notify applicants, and update this page if the program fee or other estimates change. 

Deposits to other programs, if required, will appear as a credit on your study abroad term bill.

Keep in mind that you may spend more or less in certain areas like personal expenses, travel, meals, or airfare, depending on exchange rates and your own spending habits. Classroom or lab fees are not included in this estimate, nor fees to enroll in courses at partner institutions, and will depend on your course registration choices.  

Don’t forget to apply for scholarships! A great listing can be found here.  

Do check your student account on My.Lakeforest for your aid awards, as much of this will go with you. If you want to compare your program to the cost of being on campus, those numbers can be found here: https://www.lakeforest.edu/admissions/tuition/fees.php

You can discuss with Financial Aid your specific aid package and your expected family contribution.