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Off-Campus Study

ISEP at Universite de Fribourg, Suisse - Regular University Courses in French/German


Wilkommen and Bonjour in Switzerland!

Snow-covered Alpine peaks, geopolitical neutrality, high-tech watches, gourmet chocolate, yodeling mountaineers, and sophisticated banking are the Switzerland you know. However, ISEP’s Swiss institutions offer exciting academic and extracurricular opportunities to immerse yourself in the dynamic, youthful, and high-tech Switzerland that you have yet to discover. 

Study in the beautiful and exciting city of Fribourg! Having official languages of both French and German, this central city offers every comfort one would expect of the Swiss. Like its sister city Bern, Fribourg has preserved its medieval center and invites students and visitors alike to visit any one of its unique and diverse museums, theaters or its international film festival. Students interested in skiing, ice hockey or basketball will especially be attracted to the sports that the city has to offer!

This program is best for a student that is independent.  A student must be comfortable with advocating for themselves on campus and comfortable with the local language 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 Fribourg here! Read the ISEP Country Handbook to learn more about visa requirements, educational system, and culture.

Program Type



Fribourg, Switzerland

Languages of Instruction

French, German - A minimum of 4-5 semesters of university-level French OR German or the equivalent

Program Dates

Fall 2018:  mid-September to mid-January

Spring 2019: mid-February to mid-June

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


Early departure for fall term may be possible. Please contact the ISEP coordinator of the host country for more information.


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 Requirement: A minimum of 4-5 semesters of university-level French OR German or the equivalent must be completed prior to the program. 
  • Students must submit ISEP language proficiency report in 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 Fribourg, nestled at the foot of the pre-Alps, is on the linguistic border between the French and German speaking parts of the country. With its winding streets, shops and 13th-century cathedral, the city still retains a medieval atmosphere. Lausanne and Geneva are within an hour by train. All summer and winter sports are available nearby and are easily accessible by public transportation.


The Universite de Fribourg was officially founded in 1889, but its origins date back to the 16th century. A state institution with a Catholic tradition, Fribourg is the only university in Western Europe that has instruction in both French and German. The university has two principal centers within the city. 

Fribourg is very strong in law, philosophy, and theology, emphasizing European law, comparative religions, and philosophies. Courses are often highly structured. Also of note are Fribourg’s institutes, which are well known in Switzerland. These include the Institute for Medieval Studies, the interdisciplinary Institute of Eastern and Central Europe, the Federalism Institute, the interdisciplinary Institute of Counseling in Family Matters, the Institute for Ethics and Human Rights, and the Institute of Sports. 

Fribourg is the only bilingual (French-German) university in Switzerland; classes are taught in French or German. Some courses are taught in English–mainly at the master’s level.

Program Website

Course Description

Researching courses in English on a Swiss university homepage can sometimes be difficult and confusing. You can use the ISEP Guide to Course Selection to find information about navigating a university website, finding courses in both English and German and some translations of common words and major fields of study. 

Website for Course Availability


German Language Fields of Study

  • Business:

    Accounting,  Business Communications,  Business Management,  Economics,  Finance,  Human Resources Management,  Marketing

  • Biology:

    Biochemistry and Molecular Biology,  Ecology and Evolutionary Biology,  Microbiology and Immunology

  • Communication:

    Intercultural Communication,  Journalism,  Mass Communication/Media Studies

  • Area Studies

    Russian, Central European, East European, and Eurasian Studies

  • Computer and Information Sciences


  • English Language and Literature:

    American Literature (United States),  English Literature (British and Commonwealth),  General Literature

  • Foreign Languages and Literatures:

    Ancient/Classical Greek Language and Literature,  Classics and Classical Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics,  French Language and Literature,  German Language and Literature,  Italian Language and Literature,  Latin Language and Literature,  Linguistics,  Slavic Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics,  Spanish Language, and Literature

  • History:

    Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies and Archaeology,  Ancient Studies/Civilizations,  European History,  History, Other,  Medieval and Renaissance Studies

  • Education:

    Secondary Education,  Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language

  • Human Services

    Social Work

  • Law/Criminal Justice:

    Business Law,  International Law,  Legal Studies

  • Mathematics


  • Natural Resources/Conservation

    Environmental Science

  • Philosophy and Religious Studies:

    Biblical Studies,  Christian Studies,  Philosophy,  Religious Studies,  Theological Studies

  • Physical Sciences:

    Chemistry,  Geology/Earth Science,  Physics,  Theoretical and Mathematical Physics

  • Psychology
  • Social Sciences:

    Anthropology,  Geography,  Sociology,  Work and Family Studies

  • Visual and Performing Arts:

    Art History,  Musicology, and Ethnomusicology

  • Liberal Arts and Sciences


French Language Fields of Study

  • Biology:

    Biochemistry and Molecular Biology,  Botany/Plant Biology,  Neuroscience,  Plant Physiology,  Zoology/Animal Biology

  • Business:

    Accounting,  Economics,  Marketing

  • Computer and Information Sciences
  • Education
  • English Language and Literature:

    American Literature (United States),  English Literature (British and Commonwealth),  General Literature

  • Foreign Languages and Literature:

    Ancient/Classical Greek Language and Literature,  Classics and Classical Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics,  French Language and Literature,  German Language and Literature,  Slavic Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics

  • History:

    Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies and Archaeology,  European History,  Medieval and Renaissance Studies

  • Area Studies:

    Russian, Central European, East European, and Eurasian Studies,  Slavic Studies

  • Human Services

    Social Work

  • Law/Criminal Justice

    Legal Studies

  • Mathematics


  • Philosophy and Religious Studies:

    Biblical Studies,  Christian Studies,  Philosophy,  Religious Studies,  Theological Studies

  • Physical Sciences:

    Chemistry,  Physics,  Theoretical and Mathematical Physics

  • Psychology
  • Social Sciences:

    Anthropology,  Geography,  Sociology

  • Visual and Performing Arts:

    Art History,  Musicology, and Ethnomusicology

  • Liberal Arts and Sciences




French and German language and culture courses are offered during the academic year in addition to regular classes for advanced beginner, intermediate, or advanced levels. Contact hours per course/week: 4-8 hours/week. 

A 3-week pre-session French language course is offered before the fall semester and 2-week pre-session before the spring semester, for an additional cost. They are offered at the intermediate and advanced levels. No pre-session in German is offered. 

For more information on Courses: click here.

Here is the link to the University Home Page.


Studying at a Swiss University

Significant differences exist between European universities and their U.S. counterparts; In European universities, the structures of programs and majors vary considerably. Foreign students are placed differently than natives; thus, although ISEP students are able to take courses with regular Swiss students, their programs of study may be slightly different than those of their Swiss friends.

To complement lectures, professors sometimes prepare a bibliography of suggested readings on the lecture topics; it is a good idea to talk with the professors early to find out whether they might have these reading lists. Specific assigned readings or homework, as U.S. students know them, are uncommon; keeping up with general reading is your responsibility. It is advisable to tell your professors that you are a U.S. ISEP student and are not totally familiar with the Swiss educational system; most professors will be willing to advise and guide you in the first few weeks of adjustment.


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.



Courses are usually in the form of lectures and seminars. Swiss students usually take a majority of courses in their field of study with some flexibility within the field. They do not have the same general education requirements found in other higher education systems such as in the United States.

Students will also find that universities have modules. A module is a unit that is confined in respect of content and time and can consist of multiple courses, e.g. lecture and tutorial. Modules are structural components of study programs and generate a defined workload. For the calculation of a student’s workload, the ECTS-credit points are to be multiplied by the factor 30 (1 ECTS-credit point = 30 hours). The workload that is to be brought up in order to pass the module comprises all learning activities of the student, i.e. contact hours (actual taught course hours) and self-study hours. During the self-study hours the reading of relevant literature (reading assignments), the writing of term papers, and the preparation of oral presentations and/or exams are to be accomplished.

Registration and Course Selection

Registration will generally take place during the first few weeks of courses. Students are allowed to register in multiple facultés or departments in order to meet with their home institutions requirements. Each department will have different registration requirements and processes, so students will need to speak with individual departments to ensure they are registered for courses properly. Students may be able to register online for certain courses while other courses will require the student to speak with a department faculty member.

Exams and Grading

Grade averages between 5.5 and 6 are very rare; an average of a 6 is mostly impossible. In exams, quarter steps are usually used to indicate grades between integer grades: e.g., 5.25. To pass a year, this overall result needs to be sufficient. Sometimes further conditions need to be fulfilled, such as a maximum allowed a number of grades below four. At the university level, classes can often be repeated individually in case of an insufficient grade, so not the whole year or semester needs to be repeated.

Since education is the responsibility of the cantons (except for the federal universities), grading notations may differ depending on the region. In some regions, + and - are used to indicate marks below or above an integer. Sometimes the - is used to indicate a better grade if it stands after the grade and a lower grade if it stands before the grade (in which case - is a symbol for “bis” ‘to’ rather than ‘minus’), for example -5 is lower than 5 which is lower than 5- in that system. 

6 Excellent
5.5 Very good
5 Good
4.5 Satisfactory
4 Pass
3.5 Fail
3 Poor
2.5 Very poor
2 Extremely poor
1.5 Almost no performance
1 No performance
0 Absence without good cause 

Evaluation is based on written or oral exams, presentations, and works. In a typical exam, the average result will be somewhat above 4 with a variance between 0.5 and 1. This, of course, varies depending on the kind of exam, the tested class, the school level, the region, the teacher and other factors. Exams take place at the end of each semester. Students may have to register for examinations, so be sure to contact the departments about exam registration procedures.

Transfer of Credit

Students will be able to earn ECTS credits for courses. In the ECTS system, credits are allocated to course units according to the workload required to complete the course unit. The workload takes into account lectures, practical work, seminars, field work, private study, examinations, and other assessment activities. ECTS is thus based on a full student workload and not limited to contact hours only. In the ECTS system, 60 credits correspond to the workload of a full academic year of study and 30 credits to that of a semester (full-time studies). ECTS credits are relative rather than an absolute measure of student workload. They only specify how much of a year’s workload a course unit represents at the institution allocating the credits. ECTS credits ensure that the program will be reasonable in terms of workload during the period of study abroad.

Students need to take 30 ECTS credits to earn the equivalent of 4 Lake Forest credits.

Credits will only be given for a course if the student has passed the evaluation. A written or oral exam will usually be administered at the end of the semester.

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

The Universite de Fribourg was officially founded in 1889, but its origins date back to the 16th century. The university has two principal centers within the city. The university also has fine sports facilities. Some 80 percent of the student body is Swiss, with about 1,500 international students. Total enrollment: 10,000. 



Students are highly advised to arrive in Fribourg during normal business hours and go straight to the international office. Public transportation in Switzerland is generally very safe and efficient. 
There is an orientation day with the ISEP Coordinator, meetings with other exchange students, and meetings with Swiss students. There are also possible individual meetings with members of the teaching staff to discuss academic matters.


The Sports department at the University of Fribourg offers a variety of sports. A complete program is sent in the mail at the residence of every student at the beginning of the semester.

Housing and Meals

Students are housed in student houses or in rooms rented from private individuals. Students receive a stipend to cover room and board. 

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 January 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.