Academics

AYF students enroll in a customized combination of program courses and a variety of courses at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität (University of Freiburg) and other local educational institutions.

Program participants are enrolled as full-time non-degree seeking students at the University of Freiburg and have access to almost all fields of study (only medicine, psychology, and pharmaceutical studies are not open to our students).

In addition, program participants may …

  • take special topics courses offered exclusively to AYF students
  • enroll in additional language courses (up to 130 hours intensive language training)
  • take language and culture courses at the university’s Language Teaching Institute
  • register as a guest student at Freiburg’s University of Education
  • participate in the credit-bearing AYF Internship Program

U.S. Professor on Site

AYF is led by a Resident Director (RD) who is a tenured professor from one of our American partner schools, generally from the German or History department.

The Resident Director is on site during the program to assist students with their academic planning, act as liaison with local institutions, and provide emergency assistance if needed. In addition, the RD teaches a topics course in the first term and the Internship Seminar in the second term.

The RD is supported by an experienced professional staff member, Program Director Ulrich Struve, who has successfully managed the AYF program center and cultivated deep connections in the Freiburg community since 2002.

Customized Plan of Study

Each AYF student puts together a personal course of study in individual academic advising sessions with the Resident Director. Keeping graduation requirements in mind, students on the Academic Year in Freiburg program enroll in courses at various institutions in Freiburg to explore different aspects of the German academic landscape.

A customized course of study allows students to explore their interests and challenge themselves academically while maintaining a manageable course load. In preparing an academic plan, students seek to match courses taken in Freiburg to graduation requirements needed at their home university, while allowing themselves to explore academic opportunities not available at their home institution.

Alongside our students, AYF works diligently with American partners to make the transfer of credits a smooth one.

Credit Transfer

Credit earned in Freiburg transfers back as U.S. college credit helping our students to stay on track to graduate on schedule! Grades are converted to their U.S. equivalents based on a grade comparison analysis.

Students from non-consortium schools apply for participation in the Academic Year in Freiburg program through the University of Wisconsin-Madison and receive a UW-Madison transcript in addition to an AYF transcript.

Students from our American partner schools – University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Michigan, Michigan State University and University of Iowa – receive in-residence credit on their home university transcripts for credits earned in Freiburg.

We will make every effort to facilitate the transfer of courses as equivalent courses needed for a student’s course of study in the U.S. That being said, AYF cannot guarantee for all students in all cases that equivalents are accepted by home university departments for requirements in specific majors or minors.

AYF participants generally transfer 27 to 30 credits back to the U.S. from a full year of participation in the program.

Negotiating Differences in Academic Culture

Some aspects of German academic culture and tradition may seem confusing to students and advisors when faced with these differences for the first time. A few key aspects to keep in mind are:

  • Many disciplines in Germany do not have predictable course rotations. Rather, course topics change from one semester to the next and it is often hard to predict what courses will be available to students in a given term. However, in some cases rotations do exist, especially in the sciences and at the Freiburg University of Education.
  • Language proficiency levels may at times necessitate that students take courses that meet their linguistic needs more than their content needs.
  • Course formats as well as course descriptions, syllabi and methods of assessment may differ from formats that students and advisors are familiar with.
  • Just like in the U.S., syllabi for courses will generally not be available before the start of the German semester (mid October and mid April, respectively).

AYF course offerings and academic advising are designed to help navigate these differences and to prepare students for success in university courses.

  • AYF courses, intensive language courses, and courses at the Language Teaching Institute are predictable in terms of topics and rotation, and are to a large extent already approved for equivalencies.
  • Students are advised on their course selection by the Resident Director, an American professor from one of the AYF consortium universities, in consultation with home university major/minor advisors.

Being mindful of these differences can reduce confusion. It is also helpful to know that AYF program participants report the most significant academic and personal growth precisely because they worked through these differences and learned to negotiate them successfully.