Surround yourself by historic medieval architecture and majestic mountains while studying at a modern university with over 400 years of educational experience. Take a rock climbing class, hop on a train to the great cities of Europe, or sing with the university choir. The possibilities are endless at the University of Bern in Switzerland!
- Bern is an International-to-International Site.
- Full-year or semester exchanges for graduates and undergraduates.
- Wide range of courses in the Humanities.
- At least 4 semesters of German required to enroll directly in German-language courses. Some courses in English available.
- Free intensive German language pre-session.
- Full-year: September to end of May;
- Semester 1: September-December
- Semester 2: mid-February to end of May.
“Switzerland is very central for traveling and has diverse cultures in its small borders, so I was able to experience different cultures and travel relatively easily.” Keely Alexander, 2004-05, University of MontanaAbout the University of Bern
Founded in 1528, the University of Bern’s purpose was the education of the clergy of the reformed church. After the Swiss Restoration, other faculties were added in 1805. The University as it is found today was established a few years later in 1834.
The main building of the university was built on a hill overlooking the city and its mountainous backdrop in 1903. Over time the university expanded into the city with various faculties and departments moving into new buildings; the faculty of Humanities moved in the old Tobler chocolate factory in the early 1990s.
The university main building stands right above the train station which offers easy access to the downtown area, its arcades, restaurants, small galleries, and cafés. Students may also hop on a train to the neighboring country side or other Swiss cities close by, such as Fribourg or Zurich.Academic Information
Academics at the University of Bern
- Courses are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
- 5 colleges are open to ISEP students:
Theology; Law; Economics and Social Sciences; Humanities; Sciences; Human Sciences.
- Bern is the only university in Switzerland that offers a program in Theatre Studies.
- The University of Bern has an average annual enrollment of 12,000 students.
- 55 libraries on campus and the Swiss National Library in town; many computer rooms (pools) across campus that are accessible free of charge.
ISEP students attending Bern will likely take courses mainly in the Humanities, which has 19 different institutes:
Department of Archaeology and Ancient Languages
- Institute of History
- Institute of History & Archaeology
- Institute of Early History and Archaeology of the Roman Provinces
- Institute of Near Eastern Archaeology and Ancient Oriental Philology
Department of Art and Cultural Studies
- Institute of Art History
- Institute of Musicology
- Institute of Theater Studies
- Institute for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies
- Institute of Cultural Anthropology
- Institute of Philosophy
- Institute of Religious Science
Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies I
- Institute of English Languages and Literatures
- Institute of Germanic Languages
- Institute of Linguistics
- Institute of Slavic Languages and Literatures
- Institute of Classical Philology
- Institute of French Language and Literature
- Institute of Italian Language and Literature
- Institute of Spanish Languages and Literature
Students should have a minimum of 4 semesters of German language prior to arrival in order to follow courses in German.
All courses are taught in German with a few exceptions: it is possible to take one semester course load in Economics in English; and most English courses are solely taught in English. It is however advisable that any student interested in taking courses taught in English still have a minimum of 4 semesters of German.
German Language Training courses are available. A language pre-session is offered at the beginning of each semester for students with sufficient German language knowledge, free of charge.
“After having the year abroad as a German major, I now believe that I am entitled and justified in bearing the title ‘Bachelor of Arts in a foreign language.’ I can now be confident that I actually have the knowledge level expected of this degree and hope to actually integrate it in my career plans rather than use it as a helping hand to my other degree." Keely Alexander, 2004-05, University of MontanaStudent Life
- Students are housed in residences that are about 5 minutes train ride away, convenient access from station to dorm and from station to the university. The facilities have been modernized and well kept over the years.
- Students mostly enjoy the privacy of single rooms. Rooms are all furnished with a bed, desk, chair, and closet. Showers and restrooms are on the same floor and are shared with an average of 8 other residents. The buildings are coed but floors are sectioned off by gender.
- Every building enjoys a main floor with an activity room, pool table, one large gathering room with kitchen, and of course a large TV room. All dorm rooms have access to individual phone lines and Wireless LAN on request. The university offers access to various computer rooms across campus.
- The campus extends into some residential areas of the city of Bern but students still have easy access to a number of facilities that allow for students to meet up, either for the early morning coffee or for lunch.
- One of the cafeterias is an ultra modern construction and has won a well-sought architecture prize in Switzerland.
- All classrooms are set up with modern audiovisual equipment.
- 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.
- Go support the university sports teams in basketball, ice-hockey, hockey, volleyball, and handball. Past participants have recommended to take advantage of the numerous options offered by the Athletics department.
- 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.
Switzerland is known for its resplendent landscapes and outdoor activities of which the most obvious are skiing, hiking, and biking. The mountains are just an hour away from Bern but you may easily access different areas in the Alps by using the highly efficient train system. By train you are just a few hours away from the most beautiful cities of Europe, Paris, Zurich, Geneva, Vienna, Florence, Munich, and so many more. But you need not go far from Bern to find interesting things to do. The city of Bern itself offers many attractions such as the brand new Paul Klee Institute, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Bear Pits, Albert Einstein’s house, and the downtown Bärenplatz with cafés, restaurants and clubs. For big city entertainment students often go to Lausanne in the French speaking part of the country or Zurich, in the German speaking part. Both of these cities are accessible by train from Bern in about an hour and offer great nightlife and many cultural attractions.
Of course, you needn’t limit your excursions to those areas. The best thing to do is to venture out by train to discover the many treasures of Switzerland. Here is a great resource with useful information about Switzerland and the most important cities in the country: http://wikitravel.org/en/Switzerland