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Aquincum Institute of Technology provides a unique English language study abroad experience for North American undergraduates majoring in computer science, software engineering, and related disciplines.
Hungary has a proud tradition of creativity in computing: John von Neumann, who developed the principles of stored-program digital computers, Andy Grove, longtime leader of Intel, and Charles Simonyi, father of Microsoft Office, all got their start in the schools of Budapest.
Following in this tradition of innovative education, AIT brings together globally-acclaimed scholars, designers, and entrepreneurs to provide an inspiring academic program with small classes (5 to 15 students in a typical class) that emphasize interactivity and creativity. AIT was established in 2007 by the successful Hungarian software entrepreneur, Gábor Bojár, to provide an exceptional study abroad experience to North American undergraduates in IT fields. AIT’s curriculum integrates design, entrepreneurship, and foundational courses in computer science with advanced applications in computational biology and computer vision applications for digital cinema as well as humanities courses related to Hungary’s rich cultural heritage.
AIT’s distinguished faculty includes Ernő Rubik (inventor of Rubik’s Cube), András Falus (Professor of Genetics and Immunology and a member of the Hungarian Academy of Science), and software entrepreneur Gábor Bojár (founder of Graphisoft, the most successful global software company from Central Europe).
This program would be suitable for students that are ready to be abroad, but would still like some of the academic services that a U.S. college provides. It is a good choice for someone that is a world traveler OR has never left their hometown.
Languages of Instruction
Fall 2018: Early September to mid-December
Spring 2019: Early February to Late May
All dates are tentative and may change. AIT 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 first semester on campus)
- 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 period
- Minimum GPA of 2.5
- At least one course that involves programming
- Mathematical maturity developed through a college mathematics course beyond calculus (e.g. linear algebra, discrete mathematics, etc.)
- Exposure to concepts in data structures
Tailored to the needs of North American computer science and software engineering undergraduates in their sophomore through senior years, AIT offers semester-long programs to bridge the gap between the world of academia and business. Classes are taught in English by eminent Hungarian professors, most of whom have had teaching experience in North American universities. 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. The academic program is based on a philosophy of small and intimate classes, close collaboration of students and faculty, and hands-on work through group projects.
The program is made up by four-course groups, each containing several different course offerings:
- Foundational Courses in Computer Science
- Advanced Applications
- Creative Design and Entrepreneurship
- Humanities Courses Related Hungary’s rich cultural heritage
You can learn more about the courses offered here.
In years past, AIT students have participated in summer internships at top Hungarian software companies, such as Prezi and LogMeIn. These internships proved to be a great opportunity for students to increase their practical software development knowledge, in addition to experiencing a fun team environment at a successful company.
There is no single streamlined application process for students seeking a summer internship in Budapest. Spring semester students who are interested in an internship are encouraged to speak to AIT staff once they arrive in Budapest, so AIT can facilitate talks between the student and software companies that fit the students’ interests. AIT also arranges a networking event during the spring semester that brings students in contact with representatives from Hungarian software companies so students can learn about various companies, and the companies themselves can get to know AIT students.
AIT cannot guarantee that a student wanting an internship will be placed, but many AIT students in the past who sought internships found a placement they were very pleased with. Most software companies in Hungary have expressed that they do not typically know their needs for the summer until early spring, and this is why it is very difficult to arrange for a summer internship before the students arrive in AIT. Those students who are very serious about staying in Budapest for the summer are encouraged to book a flight that has a flexible return date.
If a student decides to stay in Budapest for a summer internship, their status as an AIT student terminates at the end of the academic semester. Students are responsible for extending their residence permit and arranging their own housing for the summer. AIT staff is happy to assist but is not responsible for these services.
Extracurricular activities are generally scheduled for late afternoons and weekends and will be organized so as not to overlap each other. Some of these activities (like the Budapest City Rally and Movie Club) are offered as a courtesy of AIT, while some others (like cultural and sports programs, and excursions within Hungary) will be provided for additional fees.
AIT organizes a wide range of cultural events and excursions for its students. All of them are optional, except for the orientation and closing events. Some of the activities are organized and orchestrated by AIT staff (like guided city tours with professional tour guides) while others are just proposed and coordinated by AIT (like visiting baths, or opera and concert tickets), where students are free to finalize the details. In addition to the AIT organized events, US students are encouraged to enjoy the advantages of studying together with Hungarian students. They are happy to take US students to local events and to introduce them to student organizations.
Due to the shortness of the Summer Term, some of the following activities may not be offered.
The list of planned extracurricular activities in each semester includes:
- Budapest City Rally
The Budapest City Rally is organized at the beginning of the semester, during the orientation period. It is a game that helps students get to know each other and the city. Students form small groups and follow a route through downtown Budapest, visiting points of interest and accomplishing various tasks.
- Guided Budapest tours
Several guided tours will be organized in Budapest: the Buda side of the city; the Pest side of the city; the Hungarian National Gallery; the Budapest Museum of History; Jewish Budapest; the international and Hungarian secession; Statue Park; the Hungarian Parliament; the caves of Budapest; and the Hungarian State Opera.
Costs: Between 2000-8000 HUF (approx. $10-40).
- Opera and concert visits
Students taking the Hungarian Music course will attend two musical events during the semester. Concerts and opera performances take place at the Palace of Arts, the Opera House, or in one of the several cultural venues of Budapest. Students who don’t take the Hungarian Music course can also attend these musical events.
Cost: concert and opera tickets are usually between 1500-10000 HUF (approx. $7-50).
A one-day weekend hiking trip in the Buda hills will be organized. The students get to see the green hills of Budapest, take a panoramic trip on the chairlift, and a ride on the heritage forest railway.
Cost: chairlift ticket is 1300 HUF (approx. $6), heritage railway ticket is 500 HUF (approx. $2-3).
- Excursions to the Hungarian countryside
In the summer pilot program, a trip was organized to Gödöllő (a small town with a beautiful castle about 20 miles northeast from the outskirts of Budapest) and Hollókő (a carefully preserved traditional settlement about 60 miles from the capital). Similar 1-day tours to the Hungarian countryside will be organized in the spring of 2011.
Cost: depending on the destination, between 18000-28000 HUF (approx. $85-130).
- Thermal bath visits
Budapest and Hungary are famous for their thermal baths. The most well-known baths of Budapest are the Széchenyi Bath and the Gellért Bath. Visiting these thermal baths is highly recommended for everyone, especially in the cold winter time. AIT staff can help students to organize a group visit.
Cost: bath entrance tickets are between 3200-3900 HUF (approx. $15-18).
- Movie club
The movie club is going to meet 6 times during the semester on AIT campus. Screenings will be held after classes. Interested students will have the chance to see Hungarian movies with English subtitles. The movie club is part of the Hungary through Hungarian Cinema course but offered for everyone.
An afternoon cooking is planned, where students will have the chance to get to know Hungarian cuisine and to prepare (and eat) a traditional Hungarian 3-course dish.
Cost: approx. 4000-5000 HUF ($20-25).
Housing and Meals
AIT helps students find a reasonable accommodation for their stay. Following acceptance to AIT, students should complete the Room Match Form electronically on the website. We try to find the most suitable accommodations for the semester in Budapest. After collecting all housing requests, apartments will be assigned randomly by ballot.
Generally, two or three students will share a two-three bedroom apartment. Housing options will be specified on the Room Match Form. Apartments are equipped with internet connection, linens, sheets, washing machine (clothes dryers are rarely used in Hungary), and a fully equipped kitchen. A cleaning service is brought in once a month.
Students often like to take advantage of Budapest’s spectacular cultural offering and vibrant night life, so AIT offers accommodation in the city center. Living downtown is more convenient for evening programs and on weekends, but this will entail a 40-50-minute commute every day to the AIT Campus. Students will purchase a transportation card, which costs about $20 per month for unlimited use. In most cases, they will have access to transportation 24/7.
Students pay utilities while in Budapest. Most landlords ask for a security deposit for incidental damages which should be provided together with the initial rental fee and will be returned upon moving out.
For all approved programs for guaranteed financial aid transferability, students pay their Lake Forest College tuition plus a program fee. The program fee for the AIT Budapest program includes orientation, on-site director, airport pickup, and university fees. Housing and meal costs are paid on-site.
Here is an estimated budget for your Fall 2018/Spring 2019 program:
Lake Forest College Tuition
Program fee (estimated)
Program Deposit (credit)
Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College
Program Deposit (non-refundable)
Housing and Meals (estimated) (AIT assigns housing on-site)
Estimated Personal Expenses (passport, visas, immunizations, books, 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 update these, and notify applicants if these estimates change closer to the 2017/2018 academic year.
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.
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