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Universität Bern


Program Snapshot

Study economics, politics, and the humanities in the exciting Swiss capital of Bern, where many international businesses and companies have made their home! This fourth most populous city in Switzerland offers both modern advances and opportunities for growth, surrounded by the natural beauty that Switzerland is known for. In 1983 the historic old town in the center of Bern became a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Bern is ranked among the world’s top ten cities for the best quality of life. Come find out why!

The city of Bern, founded in 1191, is one of the most splendid examples of medieval town architecture in Europe. UNESCO has placed Bern on its list of World Cultural Heritage sites. The city is safe and attracts young people with its many bars, restaurants and theaters. Einstein developed his theory of relativity while living in Bern, and the largest collection of Paul Klee works is housed in town. The city is green and offers a variety of outdoor activities, including skiing in winter, and swimming in the Aare River and various city swimming pools. Bern is the capital of Switzerland, and is situated in the center of the country and Europe. Zurich, Basel, Lausanne, and the Bernese Swiss Alps are within an hour by train; Paris and Milan within 3 to 4 hours' journey.

ISEP Exchange: undergraduate and graduate programs available for an academic year or semester

ISEP-Exchange for International students.
ISEP-Exchange for US students.

Chance of Placement
ISEP Exchange chance of placement for US students is generally Fair
ISEP Exchange chance of placement for I-to-I students is generally Fair
For the most current chances of placement, see the Sites Open for Applications for US Students or Sites Open for I-to-I Applications.

Program Dates
Academic year: mid September to late May
Semester 1: September to December or January (some exams will take place in January and February)
Semester 2: mid-February to late May (some exams will take place in June)

Fast Facts
Bern, Switzerland (pop. 160,000)
Student Enrollment: 14,300
Language of instruction: German, some English
University Home Page
Course Catalogue
International Office

The Universität Bern offers over 100 programmes. For example: Ancient Cultures and Constructions of Antiquity, Anthropology of Transnationalism and the State, Archaeology, Art History with special qualification in the History of Textile Arts, Central Asian Studies, Comparative and Swiss Politics, English Languages and Literatures, General Ecology, German Studies, History and Philosophy of Sciences, Mathematics, Musicology, Philosophy of the Mind, Political and Economic Philosophy, Public Management and Policy, Religious Studies; Religious Cultures; Science of Religion; Theology (Reformed and Old Catholic denominations), Statistics, Social Anthropology, Sociolinguistics, Theatre Studies, and many more. Complete listing of the Bachelor programs: http://www.unibe.ch/eng/studies/bachelor_programmes Complete listing of the Master programs: http://www.unibe.ch/eng/studies/master_programmes.html

Courses taught in English
The following subjects are taught in English: English Language and Literature and Masters level courses in Business Administration (Business Management). Most Masters programs in the natural sciences and many Masters-level courses in Anthropology and Transnationalism of the States Program are offered in English. Some courses in the Political and Economic Philosophy Program are conducted in English on demand. Parts of the Latin America Master program are conducted in Spanish.

Courses in English at Bern can vary and it is recommended that students be flexible and open to taking courses in various fields.

Courses for Graduate (Masters) Level
Courses are available at graduate level in Theology, Law, Business, Philosophy, History,. Sciences, and Sports. Courses in English are available in Business, Economics, Biological sciences, English and Literature, Chemistry, Geology and Computer Science. Some courses may be available to upper level undergraduates, provided they meet pre-requisites.

Academic Notes
ISEP participants are welcome to take courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Medicine and Verterinary Medicine are closed to ISEP participants.
Some courses of the University of Bern are offered together with other Swiss universities. This arrangement is called BeNeFri (Bern, Neuchatel and Fribourg) Only some courses in Bern are offered in Neuchâtel or Fribourg and it varies from semester to semester. Students taking courses at neighboring unis are responsible for any transportation costs (minimal).

Transcripts are generally released in March for Semester 1, in September/October for Semester 2 and September/October for the Full Year. Transcripts are sent to ISEP and then immediately released to the student’s home institution if there are no outstanding financial obligations.

Language Notes
If students wish to take only English conducted courses, no German pre-requisite is needed, though is helpful for daily life.
1-2 semesters is recommended.
A mimumun of 4-6 semesters of university-level German or the equivalent must be completed prior to enrolling in full-immersion courses in German.
Bern does not offer German language courses for absolute beginners. Therefore, any student wishing to enroll in German as a Foreign language courses on site should have an intermediate knowledge prior to enrollment.

During the semester, students can attend one or two German language courses at intermediate to advanced levels.

A 2-week pre-session before SM1 and a 1-week pre-session before SM2 of German integration course is offered before each semester for students at the intermediate or advanced levels.

For more information on language advising, see the:
German Options-at-a-Glance
German Language Advising Chart

Special Academic Conditions
At least 2/3 of the courses and ECTS credits must be taken in students faculty of enrollment.

Hints for Researching Courses
Researching courses in English on a Swiss 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

Housing and Meals
Students are housed in residence halls or in private rented rooms and receive a stipend to cover room and board.


You are responsible for all of your personal expenses including: optional fees (e.g. computer, language, science lab fees), books, local transportation, entertainment, etc. The amount below is provided as a guide; the actual amount needed will vary depending on courses and personal habits. Your personal expenses per month, including books, are estimated at: 600 Swiss Francs per month. This will vary by personal spending and consumption habits.

All instructions for travel to the host site will be given to students prior to arrival.

Students are always advised to arrive during set business hours. During the orientation, students will get an introduction to the University, opportunities to meet with other Exchange students and a campus tour including various institutes, library, sport facilities, and the student union as well as an Official Reception. A city tour for the special needs of students is also offered.

Excursions at the end of the Orientation days and further excursions during the terms are also offered for a nominal fee.

Student Activities
An event and excursion program for exchange students is available for a low cost. The Student Union, the University Big Band, the choir, religious groups, sport teams and many other organizations are open to all students. Sports facilities are excellent and most are free of charge including supervised training in different sports: climbing, skiing, fencing, fitness, swimming, games, dance, and martial arts.
The University of Bern has modern sports facilities, tennis courts, a swimming pool, interior courts for volleyball, basketball, and other team sports. Students may sign up for a variety of lessons in ballet, dancing, martial arts, fitness, and many more.
The sports association schedules trips for hiking, mountain climbing, paragliding, skiing, etc.

. Interest Groups and Clubs

The International Students Club. The University Big Band and Choir are open to ISEP students. You may join a number of student interest groups and clubs: Cultural groups, religious, political, and many more.

The University of Bern offers top quality across the board: it enjoys special recognition in leading-edge disciplines, is reputed for the excellent quality of its teaching and offers a delightful setting. The campus environment is intimately linked to the social, economic and political life of the city - the capital of Switzerland.

The university’s comprehensive offering includes 8 faculties and some 160 institutes. The university has been founded in 1834. However, some of the institutes date back to the XVIth century. With more than 14,000 students, it is of mid-range size among Swiss universities. Unlike the bigger institutions, it retains a human dimension and a warm and friendly atmosphere.

Unversity of Bern hosts two Centers of Competence in "Climate Science". The Bern-based National Center of competence "North South" works on Governance and Conflict, Health and Sustainability. Research is also strong in Computer Science and Space Research. Theatre Studies are based in Bern uniquely. In the Humanities three new focal points in research and teaching have been founded in 2008: Center for Cultural Studies, Center for Global Studies and Center for the Study of Language and Society.

Students of these fields meet first class researchers as their teachers.