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Off-Campus Study

ISEP at Masaryk University: Central European Studies Program (CESP)


The Czech Republic’s rich and varied history characterized by repression, resilience and a long struggle for independence makes this “small country in the heart of Europe” a fascinating place to experience. Formerly known as “Czechoslovakia,” this country was split into the two sovereign nations of the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993, following the peaceful “Velvet Revolution” in 1989. 

The country now borders Poland to the northeast, Germany to the west and northwest, Austria to the south and Slovakia to the east. Visit the nearby cathedrals, castles, breweries, caves and abyss in and around Brno, or travel just a few hours to Prague, Bratislava, Vienna, Budapest or Krakow.

This program is best for a student that is independent.  A student must be comfortable with advocating for themselves on campus to thrive in this location. Please be aware that there may not be the same access to internet or amenities to which you may be accustomed.  Student services and especially class registration may not be at all similar to what is done at the College and may be difficult for some students to adjust.

Learn more about Masaryk Universityhere! Read the ISEP Country Handbook to learn more about visa requirements, educational system, and culture.

Program Type



Brno, Czech Republic

Languages of Instruction

Czech, English, French, German

Program Dates

Fall 2018: September to December

Spring 2019: February to May

All dates are tentative and may change.  ISEP 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 junior status or higher before participation. 
  • 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
  • Minimum GPA of 2.75.  


Students applying to ISEP must apply for an Exchange option (in any country) as a first choice, but may apply to a Direct option as a back-up.  Direct options may have an additional cost.

Chances of placement on ISEP Exchange is generally Fair.

Chance of placement on ISEP Direct is Excellent.


The historical capital of Moravia, Brno combines a rich cultural legacy with the vibrancy of a university city that is home to six higher educational institutions (of which Masaryk University is the largest) and over 75,000 students. Thanks to its strategic location at the heart of Central Europe, major regional centers such as Prague, Bratislava, Vienna, Budapest, and Krakow, are within easy reach by train and bus. In the immediate vicinity of Brno, the Moravian highlands to the north and west offer outstanding opportunities for hiking, bicycling and skiing. Southeast of Brno is the Czech Republic’s main wine-producing region, with its many ancient cellars, now linked by a new network of ecology-friendly bicycle trails. 


Get off the beaten path and explore Brno, where the country’s second largest and fastest growing university, Masaryk University, is located. 

Please understand that the academic system is quite different. Classes are usually lecture-based, instead of discussion or group work. Classes are often much larger than those found at Lake Forest College. Grades are based heavily, at times almost entirely, on one end-of-term exam, though some courses will also offer a midterm.  Professors are often more formal than those in the United States.

Students must take 30 ECTS credits to earn 4 Lake Forest credits.


ISEP Direct: Central European Studies Program (CESP); Semester or Full Year

An interdisciplinary program designed for students at the upper Bachelor’s and Master”s degree levels. CESP courses include studies of the social, economic, political and cultural transformations that have shaped Central Europe and the Czech Republic in particular at the end of the 20th century and the changes facing this region at the beginning of the 21st century. 

More info can be found here.

Students do not need any prior Czech in order to study at Masaryk University. 
An intensive mini-crash course in survival Czech forms part of the orientation-week program for international students. During the semester, weekly Czech lessons for international students are taught by members of the Department of Czech for Foreigners. 

Academic Environment and Teaching Style

Please understand that the academic system is quite different. Classes are usually lecture-based, instead of discussion or group work. Classes are often much larger than those found at Lake Forest College. Grades are based heavily, at times almost entirely, on one end-of-term exam, though some courses will also offer a midterm.  Professors are often more formal than those in the United States.

All courses/modules may have prerequisites.  Some departments may have limitations on numbers of courses that can be taken within or outside it.  Be aware of these limitations.

Can review the country handbooks for ISEP here as well:



ISEP Placement info: http://www.isep.org/Coordinators/us_placement_notes_english.asp


Please review country handbook for more information on the education system, grades, class hours, and classroom etiquette.

Course Approvals

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

Student Life

Founded in 1919, Masaryk University is the second largest higher educational institution in the Czech Republic. University facilities include several new university and faculty libraries, a wide range of sports facilities (gymnasiums, sports fields, rowing center, indoor and outdoor tennis courts), a botanical garden, and several student clubs at individual faculties. Total enrollment: over 37,000 students. Thanks to a loan from the European Investment Bank, the university is now engaged in building a new campus and refurbishing existing buildings; when completed, all the university’s faculties, research centers, and residences will be equipped with the most up-to-date facilities. 



The first day of Orientation week (Monday), students will be given a packet with an orientation week program. The International Student Club arranges a Buddy Program, including having a Czech student meet international students upon their arrival in Brno.

In addition to arrangements for registering for courses and obtaining all the various official documents, a typical orientation week includes tours of the university and its facilities, lectures on Czech culture and Czech society and on the Czech university system, an intensive course in Czech (ranging from “survival” Czech for complete beginners to various degrees of advanced courses for those who already have knowledge of the language), a welcoming party with Masaryk University teachers and students, a tour of Brno, visits to Brno museums, and a day-long excursion in the environs of the city (Maravian Carst). 
See http://czs.muni.cz/en/in/students/studies/xprogram-isep for more details. More information is available at http://czs.muni.cz/en/in/students/studies/xprogram-isep. The webpage of the International Student Club: http://isc.muni.cz


The International Student Club on campus promotes and sponsors activities to help exchange students transition into life at Masaryk. A list of their activities can be found under the “Featured Programs” link.

Orientation benefits are also included in your program. This includes arrangements for registering for courses and obtaining documents you will need. A typical orientation week also includes tours of the university and its facilities, talks on Czech culture and Czech society and the Czech university system, a mini-“crash course” in Czech, meeting with Masaryk University teachers and students, a tour of Brno, and a day-long excursion in to the city.

Masaryk also offers day-long excursions into the surrounding area, which are available for all ISEP students; however the costs are not included into the program fee for ISEP Exchange and Direct students. In the past, students participating in ISEP have traveled to places like Vienna, Budapest, Krakow, the Cerna Hora brewery and the National Park, Moravian Karst.

Housing and Meals

ISEP Direct fees include tuition, housing, and meals. International students live in a modern university residence that offers double rooms, each with a bathroom and kitchenette. A meal stipend is provided; international students can benefit from very inexpensive meals in the university cafes and cooking facilities in their dorms.

Financial Information

For all approved programs for guaranteed financial aid transferability, students pay their Lake Forest College tuition plus a program fee. The program fee for a semester with the ISEP Exchange program includes orientation, on-site director, college fees, housing and a stipend to cover the equivalent of 19/meals per week.

ISEP costs for Exchange are usually the most cost-effective, as it is intended to promote mobility of students around the world. Direct options are available for those students that prefer to attend a school with limited availability for Exchange, though costs may be different as they are set by the host school. For students that participate in the ISEP Direct to Masaryk University, the program fee includes housing and insurance, but not meals.

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

Budget Item


Lake Forest College Tuition


Program fee (estimated)


College Deposit (credit)


Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College


ISEP Fee due on Stage 2 Application


College Deposit due on Acceptance (non-refundable, but shows as credit on bill for off-campus term)


ISEP-required health and repatriation insurance ($85/mo estimated)

Note: Some countries require national insurance. Check ISEP


Additional Meals


Estimated Airfare


Estimated Personal Expenses (passport, visas, immunizations, textbooks, supplies, personal expenses, additional national insurance, if required, travel insurance, 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.

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 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.