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A semester abroad – study around the world –
Why should you do a semester abroad?

International Business and economics students top the table in terms of the number completing a semester abroad. Intercultural competencies are becoming increasingly important in our globalized economy. Many employers therefore value semesters abroad very highly indeed. Find out here why you should plan for a semester abroad when choosing a course and how you can finance it.
Three students talking about a possible semester abroad.

What advantages does a semester abroad offer me?

Especially when you study business science, a semester abroad can open up new perspectives. It is an opportunity to get to know a new country and to gain a deeper understanding of its economic situation.
A semester abroad offers you the following advantages:

  • You can view your study course from a global, international perspective and identify new contexts and connections.
  • You gain insights into a new society, culture and economic region.
  • By deciding to study abroad, you demonstrate flexibility and open-mindedness.
  • The collaboration with an international team is a good reference to have on your CV.
  • You improve your foreign language skills when communicating with local people.
  • You can often choose courses in other subject areas at the foreign university – allowing you to try out new things.

How do I apply for a semester abroad?

Places for a semester abroad are in great demand. A strong application can make all the difference.

Admission requirements

Proof that you have the relevant language skills is usually required before you can take a semester abroad in a non-German-speaking country. Exactly what level of proficiency is required depends on the language of teaching at the foreign university. For example, if the semester abroad is taught in English, standard tests such as TOEFL, IELTS or the Cambridge Certificate are accepted.

Previous academic performance is also taken into consideration. You must already have achieved a certain level of progress in your studies to ensure that you have mastered the basics of your subject. Your marks are also relevant because they are used to establish whether you will be able to keep up with the lessons at the foreign university.

Motivation letter

Your motivation letter for the semester abroad should express clearly why you have chosen that specific university. Do you have a special connection to the country or the language? Refer to the curriculum to show that you have already researched the courses on offer at that institution. How do the courses tie in with the course contents in Germany, and what do you want to get out of your semester abroad?

What does a semester abroad cost?

The cost of a semester abroad can vary widely and depends on the destination country. As a result, it is difficult to say exactly how much a semester abroad will cost.  Living expenses and student fees can also vary. As a student, it’s important that you do your research in advance and, if necessary, look for an appropriate way to finance your semester abroad.

Living expenses, in particular, vary widely from country to country. If you choose a semester abroad in a global city such as London or New York, you will have to be prepared for significantly higher costs for food, rent and other expenses than if you went to Warsaw or Prague. We therefore advise students who are thinking about going abroad to research their options before making a decision, and to find out approximately how much rent and food will cost at their chosen place of study.

You will have to pay student fees almost anywhere you go unless you study at a partner university or go abroad under a program. And these student fees vary considerably. 

WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management offers a choice of more than 200 partner universities for your semester abroad. When you study at a partner university, you will not be required to pay student fees, but you will still need to pay the regular WHU fees for the period of the semester abroad.

How can I find scholarships for the semester abroad?

How to fund the semester abroad is an important issue students will need to consider when applying. However, it should not be a critical factor when deciding on a semester abroad because there are numerous support programs that can help with funding.


Probably the best-known support program is the Erasmus scholarship, which is for students within the European Union. Under the Erasmus program, the student fees of the foreign university are absorbed, and students receive a monthly mobility grant. However, not all universities are part of the Erasmus program and it is not guaranteed that the country you want to study in is included.


The Auslands-BAföG is another possible source of financial support for your semester abroad. If you are eligible for BAföG support in Germany, you will also certainly receive state support when studying abroad. Even if you are not eligible for the domestic BAföG, you may still meet the criteria for the international BAföG support.

Funding at private universities

A semester abroad is mandatory at many private universities and the study fees of the foreign university is already included in the semester fee. That is the case at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management. Unlike with the Erasmus program, this means you can also study outside of Europe. You will usually have to pay for your own travel expenses, food and accommodation, but there are scholarships that can help you fund the endeavor. WHU offers its students a series of support and funding options, e.g. the Excellence and Diversity and the Women in Business scholarships.

What semesters abroad are offered at WHU?

The international focus is a high priority at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management. As a result, our students develop a keen intercultural understanding and are optimally prepared for day-to-day professional life.

WHU maintains a unique network of more than 200 partner universities around the world. From Australia to the USA – the global partner network includes universities on all five continents. A semester abroad is an integral element of the curriculum on the Bachelor in International Business Administration, the Bachelor in Business Psychology and on all our Master of Science programs. There are therefore no problems with the recognition of credits. Our broad and diverse selection of language and cultural courses will optimally prepare you for your stay abroad. For example, you can choose one of seven languages as part of your Bachelor course. At which foreign university you study is your decision.