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Freiburg Study Group

Director Spring 2020: Alan Swensen, Department of German

History of the Freiburg Study Group

The first German Study Group was established in 1979, and the first director was Professor Dirk Hoffmann. Twelve students studied at the University of Freiburg for the semester. The purpose was to provide students from the German Department first-hand experience of German culture, and to give them the opportunity to develop and improve their language skills in a German-speaking environment. On March 22, 1989, the members of the German Department met with Martha Dietz to discuss the future of the Freiburg Study Group. Present were several former study abroad directors: Gundula Bavendamm, Martha Dietz, Angelika Held, Dirk Hoffmann, Jurgen Meyer-Wendt, and Alan Swensen. After a thorough review of the goals and the various options, the department suggested a compromise which Martha accepted. They compromised to reduce the course load to three courses and add an internship portion. Today it continues and students have all sorts of internships in Freiburg. The program consists of two parts: a four-week group trip through German-speaking Europe, followed by the semester enrollment at the university in Freiburg. The Freiburg Study Group is sponsored by Colgate’s German Department, but is open to students in all fields.


The Freiburg Study Group provides students with first-hand experience of German Culture in its diversity, gives them an opportunity to develop and enhance their language skills through immersion in a German-speaking environment, and enables them to pursue academic study at the internationally renowned Albert-Ludwigs-Universität.

The program consists of two parts: a group travel seminar through German-speaking Europe in March and early April, followed by the semester enrollment at the university in Freiburg. The Freiburg Study Group is sponsored by Colgate’s German Department, and is open to students in all academic fields.       

In 2020, the group travel in March and April includes stays in Munich, Vienna, Prague, Dresden, and Berlin During this travel period, students begin their first two courses: the advanced language course GERM 341 and the literature and culture seminar GERM 457. The semester at the University of Freiburg begins on April 20, 2020 and ends on July 25, 2020. At the University of Freiburg, students can take elective courses in any discipline and receive credit for majors in most fields.

Wandern im Schwarzwald, Black Forest, Germany Unterricht im Freiburg Südtirol, Italy Museumsquartier, Wien Freiburg Study Group: Zürich Freiburg Study Group: Sils-Maria, Schweiz Freiburg Study Group: Die Schaubühne, Berlin Die Dreisam in Freiburg Beautiful landscape of Der Kaiserstuhl outside Freiburg, Germany Der Bundestag im Reichstagsgebäude, Berlin Das europäische Parlament, Strasbourg, France A scenic view of Berlin

Prerequisites and Selection Criteria

Satisfactory completion of GERM 202 or the permission of the director. Students who are unable to take GERM 202 might be able to satisfy the language prerequisite in a different way and should contact the director.


GERM 341 Advanced Conversation and Composition (Prof. Swensen).  This course focuses on the language skills needed for excelling as a student at a German university. The first part is taught by the director while the group travels; the second part is taught in Freiburg by the director and local personal tutors in accordance with the specific needs of the individual student.

GERM 457 German Culture and Literature (Prof.  Swensen).  This course conducts an on-site study of German culture beyond the university setting. Students deepen their knowledge of German literature and culture and their ties to broader cultural, social, and political issues past and present. The study trip to key cities and regions of central Europe is an integral part of this course, and includes guided tours, lectures, visits to museums, and attendance at theater performances and concerts. Upon return to Freiburg in April, the course meets regularly during the semester at Freiburg. This course satisfies Colgate’s Global Engagements requirement.

Electives, Two Courses

During the semester at Freiburg, students may enroll in courses from any field of study (subject to availability and the satisfaction of prerequisites).

Living Arrangements

Students are housed in the dormitories of the University of Freiburg together with other Freiburg students. Students may participate in all university and extracurricular activities such as sports, choruses, orchestras, theatre groups, etc.

Extracurricular Opportunities

Students may participate in various university and community extracurricular activities such as sports, choruses, or orchestras, etc.

Educational Journeys

In the first weeks of the program students will travel with the director to several cities chosen to illustrate important aspects of the political, economic, and cultural development of German-speaking Europe. This travel is an essential part of German 457: German Culture and Literature.


Mid-March through July 2020. Students may remain in their dormitory rooms until July 31, 2020.

Travel Arrangements

Students make their own travel arrangements to and from Europe, and will meet in Freiburg at the beginning of the group activities. The director makes all the arrangements for the group trip in March and April.


Three orientation sessions in the fall prior to departure help to prepare students for their experience at a German university. Previous study group participants and native German students in residence at Colgate will serve as resource persons for the new study group.


For details of student expenses on this study group, please see Student Cost Estimate Sheets on the Off-Campus Study website.

Calendar and Deadlines

Students interested in applying should attend one of the informational sessions and contact the study group director at

The study group application will open on Wednesday, October 3, 2018, and will close on Wednesday, November 7, 2018. Applications are submitted online at The director will interview all applicants in early December, and admissions decisions will be announced by the end of December. Written confirmation of participation is due in early January 2019.

Passports and Visas

You must confirm that your passport is valid through December 2020. All students participating on the Freiburg Study Group will be required to obtain a Schengen student visa. With participation on this study group comes the responsibility of understanding and complying with German government visa requirements. If you will not be traveling on a U.S. passport it is imperative that you contact an adviser in Off-Campus Study/International Programs and International Student Services, 101 McGregory, to learn as much as you can about the regulations. For some students there are significant visa requirements to be met that take time, advance planning, and incur extra costs.

Program Dates

Freiburg Study Group Program Dates: March 1 to July 25, 2020

Information Sessions will be held on:

  • Monday, October 15 at 4:15 p.m.
    115-116 Lawrence Hall

  • Tuesday, October 23 at 2:45 p.m.
    101 McGregory Hall

General Information

Field Trip Information

Course-related Materials