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Off-Campus Study

ISEP at Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen


Wilkommen in Deutschland!

Enjoy life in a city with the highest concentration of students in Germany. The university is located in the midst of rolling hills and forests just north of the major economical hub of Frankfurt. Students can choose from a wide range of courses in German or English in strong fields such business and economics, psychology, sports, natural sciences, and law.

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.

Learn more about Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen here!

Program Type

Exchange or Direct-Enroll


Giessen, Germany

Languages of Instruction

German, English - 3-4 semesters of German is required IF taking courses in German

Program Dates

Fall 2018: Early October to February

Spring 2019: Early April to July

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.  
  • Language Requirements: 2 semesters of German is recommended. 3-4 semesters of German is recommended to follow courses conducted in German. Students wishing to enroll solely in English-taught courses are not required to provide German proficiency (provided courses are available). 
  • Students must submit ISEP language proficiency report in the application, even if native speaker if you are taking courses in German.


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.

ISEP Exchange chance of placement for US students is generally Excellent.


The university town of Giessen is located 60 km north of Frankfurt, in the midst of pleasant countryside, surrounded by rolling hills and forests. Historic buildings and modern construction are the centers of this conference and retail center. The university administration building is situated in downtown Giessen, not far from the Liebig science museum, the city theater, and the botanical gardens. The university also owns a 19th-century castle which is often used for meetings and special programs.


The university, which dates back to 1607, is one of the traditional universities of the German-speaking countries. It offers a combination of theoretical and applied learning and research in natural, social, and philological sciences unique in the country. Facilities are in mini-campuses throughout town.

The university is located in the midst of rolling hills and forests just north of the major economic hub of Frankfurt. Students can choose from a wide range of courses in German or English in strong fields such business and economics, psychology, sports, natural sciences, and law.

Giessen’s interdisciplinary program groups the departments of classical and modern languages with art history, business studies, and economics, education, history, musicology, political science, religion, physical education, and sociology. An interdisciplinary theater arts program stresses Anglo-American-style professional theater training. Agricultural science, in combination with genetics, is a traditional and unique center of excellence at Giessen; strong programs in biological and ecological sciences are also featured. The physics, chemistry, and mathematics departments have outstanding study and research facilities. The mineralogy division features advanced research in analytical geochemistry and the new interdisciplinary research center promotes and supports research activities in the dynamic field of life sciences. 


At most universities, the winter semester runs from mid-October to March and the summer semester from mid-April to Mid-July. The period of study is generally counted in semesters rather than years.

Teaching at the universities includes lectures and seminars. Vorlesungen (lectures) will, as a rule, take up the full amount of time designated, and the number of students is not limited. Discussion and questions concerning the lecture take place during the accompanying Übungen, small discussion groups. The Übungen usually feature homework assignments, research and the writing of papers.

The Seminar, dedicated to small-group learning, is headed by a professor. It covers a subject area in more detail and requires that each student contributes, by way of an oral presentation on a specific topic. Students are encouraged to participate intensively in two to four seminars per semester. Proseminare makes up the Grundstudium (first few terms of study) until successful completion of the intermediate exam, after which Hauptseminare are taken to finish the course of study. Proseminare may also be taken in the Hauptstudium.

A common practice is the akademische Viertel. Classes are scheduled on the hour but do not actually begin until 15 minutes past. This is signified by a “c.t.” (cum tempore) after the listed time of a meeting. If this practice does not apply to a particular meeting, an “s.t.” (sine tempore) will appear after the posted time. Check with other students before assuming that the akademische Viertel is practiced by individual instructors.

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

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


Independent, self-directed study is heavily emphasized at German universities. There are usually no definite assignments of a certain number of pages to read in textbooks. German students are expected to do independent primary and secondary reading during the course of their studies. Independent study is a crucial element of the academic freedom of a German institution and is designed to encourage self-motivation and promote interesting discussion since not everyone has read the same material. While less demanding on a daily basis than study at a U.S. institution, independent study may ultimately be more rigorous in its demands.


Assessment is based on oral and written reports in seminars for which the student receives a Schein, or certificate (a grade can be requested). A certain number of Scheine are required in order to take the intermediate exam. The state exam, for which the student receives a grade, assesses the quality of his or her entire course of study. Grades are given on a five-point scale: 1, very good, to 5, unsatisfactory or failing.   However, by introducing the ECTS credit system, the German „Schein“ is becoming less common.  Students need to earn 30 ECTS credits to receive 4 Lake Forest credits.




Regular JLU Giessen course offer listed in the Giessen Electronic Course Catalogue

STEP 1: Click on Lehrveranstaltungen and you can choose the respective faculty: e.g. Fachbereich 05 Sprache, Literatur, Kultur.

STEP 2: click on Veranstaltungen and choose a language department.

HINT: If you click on Kommentare Anzeigen course descriptions become visible where available.

STEP 3: also check the Electives: http://evv.uni-giessen.de > Lehrveranstaltungen > Zentrum für fremdsprachliche und berufsfeldorientierte Kompetenzen > Außerfachliche Kompetenzen

You can also choose to form the ERASMUS Tutorials. These are not listed in the electronic course catalog and will be sent to the students directly in advance.

Students who want to attend courses in the German Department must participate in an introductory tutorial entitled “Kernkompetenzen Germanistik”.

Researching courses in English on a German university homepage can be difficult and confusing. Here find a quick guide to navigating a university website, finding courses in both English and German, and some translations of common words and major fields of study. 
Download the ISEP Guide to Course Selection



Giessen offers some courses in English every semester in the following fields: Law; Social Sciences; Psychology and Sports Science; Business and Economics; Language, Literature and Cultural Studies; Mathematics, Computer Science, Natural Sciences. Course offerings can be found here.

Language Notes: A German language course is offered in addition to regular classes during the academic year through the university language center. Contact hours per week: 4. (offered once or twice per week). ISEP participants may be able to take additional German language courses by individual arrangement. Note: students who want to attend courses in the German Department must participate in an introductory tutorial entitled “Einfuehrung in die Literaturwissenschaft”. 

Pre-session: A pre-session German language course is offered for an additional fee at all levels.

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


Students should always inform their host ISEP coordinator of their arrival time, which should be during regular business hours (M-F). Germany has a safe and reliable network of public transportation which will take students from the airport to their host site easily and most people in Germany will speak fluent English. 

Students have the option to be picked up at the train station by a student “Study Buddy.” Students should try to arrive between Monday and Friday during working hours. 

Every semester, the International Student Advisory Office runs an orientation program for foreign students during their enrollment period. The “Info-Table”, for students from abroad who are at JLU Giessen for the first time, always takes place during the two to three weeks before commencement of the semester. There will be cultural events throughout the semester.
Orientation programs are given by the international office in conjunction with local students, individual departments, and the city of Giessen. ISEP office and home students. Students will have the chance to ask logistical and organizational questions and be given a local tour. Individual orientations can be set up for students arriving outside of the normal orientation time.


Giessen lies in the heart of Hesse and is surrounded by the romantic Lahn valley and rolling tree-topped hills while offering a broad range of cultural programs at the same time. Whether you like water skiing on the nearby lakes, paddling or rowing on the Lahn River, roaming the nature reserves and recreational areas in the Vogelsberg and Wetterau, visiting medieval castles and villages, or whether you prefer the cinema, theatre, and museums - Giessen and environs have it all. We trust that you will feel quite at ease in Giessen, and wish you a profitable and stimulating stay! Every year, JLU’s International Student Advisory Office organizes numerous interesting excursions designed to give you the opportunity to learn more about Germany and explore new locations. To ensure that you get a place on excursions of your choice, and to help us with our planning, please give us sufficient advance notice. To obtain further information or to sign on to excursions, just drop by during Frau Hapelt”s counseling hours in the International Student Advisory Board. Her office is in the Goethestrasse 58, room 37. 

Excursions 2010 

We will also try to arrange a student mentor to assist you directly upon your arrival. This Study Buddy Programme was very recently launched by our office. “Study Buddies” are German students who are familiar with Giessen and the university’s structures and will give international students a helping hand during their first semester.

Student Activities: http://www.uni-giessen.de/cms/international-pages/study/around-gi/activities

Housing and Meals

As a student in Giessen, you can choose between private accommodation or life in a student hall of residence. JLU’s center’s services offer you active support in finding a place to stay. Students are housed in single rooms in one of the residence halls located on campus: http://www.uni-giessen.de/cms/international-pages/study/around-gi/accommodation 
Married students housing is possible but very competitive. Students receive meal benefits which can be used to prepare meals or eat at cafeterias (19-21 meals per week) 

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.

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

Budget Item


Lake Forest College Tuition


Program fee (estimated)

Note: Spring may have added cost


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 ($90/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.