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Off-Campus Study

ISEP at Universität Trier


Wilkommen in Deutschland!

Enjoy life in the oldest German city and mature academically at a modern campus university. Extend your knowledge from an interdisciplinary perspective based on Trier University’s strong offerings in the liberal arts and social sciences. Improve your German skills not only in daily life but in superb German courses offered by the German as Foreign Language Department. Make new friends not only in the classroom but while participating in the extracurricular activities (a buddy program, language tandems, encounters with Trier locals, excursions) offered by the student run International Center. Have a truly international experience as Trier is located in the heart of Europe close to the borders of Luxemburg, France, and Belgium. 

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 the Universitat Trier here! Read the ISEP Country Handbook to learn more about visa requirements, educational system, and culture.

Program Type



Trier, Germany

Languages of Instruction

German, English - 4-5 semesters of German required IF taking courses in German

Program Dates

Fall 2018: Late September to Late February

Spring 2019: Late March to Late 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 second-semester sophomore 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 required 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. 


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 city of Trier, founded around 16 B.C. by the Romans as Augusta Treverorum, looks back on a history of over 2000 years and thus counts as the oldest German city. Its long history can be seen and experienced first-hand, particularly thanks to the many architecturally interesting sites still standing since Roman times, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. A total of eight of these architectural legacies is designated UNESCO sites of world cultural heritage. The geographical significance of Trier can be viewed in a number of ways: At a local level, Trier is the center of one of the most famous and well-established wine growing regions in Germany. Seen nationally, Trier lies on the outskirts of Germany, in the most south-western corner and quite remote from the metropolises that are Berlin, Hamburg or Munich. Internationally, however, Trier is in the center of Europe, in direct proximity to Luxembourg, France, and Belgium. Trier’s long history, its significance as a center of the Moselle wine-growing region and its proximity to its European neighbors all make the city a popular tourist destination for visitors from all over the world. With around just 100,000 inhabitants, Trier is a small city so it does not take long to get to know your way around. The city center has plenty of shopping centers, sports facilities, public amenities and civil authority offices all within a short distance from each other.


With its 15,000 students (including more than 10 percent international students), Trier University embraces contrast: young, yet true to tradition; internationally oriented and regionally rooted; on the geographic edge of Germany, but in the heart of Europe. Since its beginnings in 1970, Trier University has been developing into a major academic center in a region characterized by its proximity to Belgium, France, and Luxemburg. The balance between research and teaching, the university’s increasing internationalization, and interdisciplinary cooperations characterize many of the courses and degree programs. There are six faculties which together cover more than thirty subject areas. Faculty and departmental buildings are grouped around the Forum and the Central Library, to which they are connected by bridges. With its modern architecture surrounded by luscious green nature, it is said to be one of Germany’s most beautiful campuses.

The liberal arts and social sciences are predominant at Trier, with particularly strong offerings in business administration, economics, geography/geosciences, history, languages, linguistics, applied mathematics, political science, law, and psychology. Interdisciplinary focal points of teaching and research are European studies, East Asian studies, environmental studies, information and communication, women and gender studies, public health.


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



Some courses are taught in English every semester. However, it will not be known until arrival which courses will be available. Undergraduate level students wishing to participate at Trier should have very good working German knowledge (3-4 semesters). Graduate level courses are available in English to those students interested in European Political Economy, Environmental Sciences, International Economics, and Public Policy.

Language Notes: German language courses are offered at all levels in conjunction with regular courses during the academic year. A 3-week orientation and intensive language course is offered at all levels and is included in ISEP benefits. 


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.

While often friendly and helpful to foreign students, professors may be far more formal and less easy to approach than their U.S. counterparts. 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 make up the Grundstudium (first few terms of study) until successful completion of the interimediate 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.


Academic Environment and Teaching Style

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 take 30 ECTS credits to earn 4 Lake Forest credits.

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 can travel into Trier either from Luxembourg or another German airport. 

The Akademische Auslandsamt organizes an optional three to four-week long orientation program (Einfuehrungsseminar) held prior to the beginning of the classes. The program is designed for newcomers to the university and is recommended for all ISEP participants. The program includes mornings of intensive language courses and afternoons filled with a variety of programs, including tours of the city, excursions etc. This orientation is included in ISEP benefits.


Students have the opportunity to take advantage of a wide range of cultural and other activities. The International Center, a student initiative, offers international students a varied and intercultural mentoring program each semester as well as advice and guidance. It organizes international country-themed evenings and film nights, relaxed language practice evenings and language tandems as well. The extensive program is rounded off by several day excursions and one short-break excursion per semester to German and European destinations both in the local area and beyond. Another student initiative, the CineAStA, offers a lively and varied film program during the lecture period. It includes original versions with subtitles, experimental and mainstream films as well as the classics. (Interested students may join these student initiatives and contribute their services.) Furthermore, the university’s sports federation offers students a wide-ranging sports program each semester. Last but not least interested and talented students may participate in the university choir and orchestra.

Housing and Meals

In most cases, ISEP students are housed in single-occupancy rooms in the student residence hall Cusanushaus on the Mosel River, or in the Martinskloster, a 13th-century cloister on the Mosel River that has been renovated into a student residence. Students receive a stipend to cover food cost. Residents of the Cusanushaus and of the Martinskloster commute between downtown Trier and the university campus (five miles away) by bus.

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.