Basic questions about studies abroad
Internationales Zentrum (IZ)
Phone: +49 (0)711-685-68567 (initial consultation)
Fax: +49 (0)711 -685-68600
Monday - Friday 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Monday and Wednesday 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
One-on-one advising by appointment only.
The best time to study abroad depends on the subject you study and on your personal motives. However, the Examination Office and most departments recommend that you first pass the mid-degree exams (usually during the first 4 semesters) before you go abroad?. Please inquire in your department before submitting an application. For example, you can ask the manager of your study program about their recommendation, or contact the academic counseling service.
The optimal duration of a stay abroad is 2 semesters, so you can use the first semester to familiarize yourself with the higher education system and everyday life in the host country.
In order to meet application deadlines, etc., you should start gathering information about 1½ years before your intended stay. You can get an initial overview of the programs available to you, the admission requirements, and more in the information session offered by the Global Mobility Department. Further help regarding planning and preparation.
Programs provide an organizational framework, i.e. they offer confirmed places at the host institutions. There are no tuition fees for the students. A scholarship / grant (e.g. to support living costs or travel expenses) is not necessarily included. In addition to the exchange and double degree programs, there are numerous other possibilities for a stay abroad, however, most of them must be organized on the student's own initiative.
Students are not obliged to have credits they completed abroad transferred to their study program at the University of Stuttgart. An application for credit transfer is therefore voluntary. If you still intend to apply, please read on.
Please note that the faculties are responsible for the recognition and transfer of credit from abroad, not the International Office. If you have any questions about credit transfer, please contact your relevant examination committee. The document “Recognition procedure” gives you an overview of the process with detailed information (mouseover of the yellow info boxed in the PDF document).
Before your stay abroad
Study achievements abroad are not automatically recognized. Therefore, before going abroad, you should contact your relevant examination committee as early as possible to discuss the selection of courses at the host institution and to find out about the credit transfer in your department.
One of the most important instruments for the transfer of credits from abroad is the learning agreement. For all students who go abroad within the framework of the Erasmus+ program, it is mandatory to sign a learning agreement. All students who stay abroad outside of the Erasmus+ program are recommended to sign a learning agreement.
The learning agreement stipulates which courses are to be taken at the host institution. This requires that you have thoroughly reviewed the courses offered at the host institution and that you have discussed the course selection with your Departmental Coordinator. The learning agreement must be signed by all three parties (the student, the home university, and the host institution) before you go abroad. The home university confirms, with the signatures of the relevant examiners (columns marked in red in the learning agreement), that the chosen courses can be credited, and the host institution declares that the study plan is likely to be feasible. The Departmental Coordinator at the University of Stuttgart is responsible for all subject-specific issues.
In order to simplify the credit transfer, the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) was developed. The system is based on the (quantitative) allocation of credits for specific courses and provides an indication of the workload / time required for each course. The standard is 30 ECTS per semester or 60 ECTS per academic year. Credits (CP) at the University of Stuttgart correspond to the ECTS (30 CP = 30 ECTS).
The recognition of specialist courses must be discussed with the department (individual lecturers / examiners from the department or the examination committee) before the start of the mobility, and the recognition must be noted down in the learning agreement. Please check the recognition of key competencies with the Center for Higher Education and Lifelong Learning (ZLW) before starting your studies abroad.
During your stay abroad
Should there be any changes in the curriculum after your arrival at the host institution, you have the option to amend your learning agreement. Be sure to discuss the amendments with your individual lecturers and examiners from the department or the examination committee, as well as with your Departmental Coordinator at the University of Stuttgart, and have the agreement signed again by all three parties involved.
After your stay abroad
After completing your studies abroad, your host institution will provide you with a transcript of records / academic transcript (record of study achievements). All study achievements will be listed in the transcript of records. It is a prerequisite for the credit transfer. Please note that achievements can only be recognized if they have been discussed and agreed upon in the learning agreement and are documented in the transcript.
For the credit transfer, the departments often need official, verifiable course descriptions in addition to the transcript, including information as detailed as possible about:
- Course content
- Semester (1st, 2nd, 3rd year)
- Number of semester hours
- Number of credits to be earned
As a rule, you have to submit your learning agreement, the transcript of records, and an application for recognition to the examination committee upon your return. However, the procedures may vary depending on the discipline and the faculty.
Since grading systems are not standardized globally, there are no generally applicable conversion tables. In order to enable later recognition, it is important that the host institutions enclose an explanation of the local grading scale to your transcript (if possible, together with a statistical distribution of the local grades) or publish it on its website.
The conversion and transfer of credits must always be done by the department, not by the International Office. You can get the application form "Recognition of Modules and Module Achievements" at the Examination Office.
The conversion by the department is usually done according to the principles of the ECTS. Among other things, the modified Bavarian formula from the Central Office for Foreign Education can be used.
The result will be rounded to the next German grade (e.g. 1,6 =>1,7 / 2,4 => 2,3). If the result is in-between two grades, it will be rounded to next better grade (e.g. 2,5 => 2,3 / 1,15 => 1,0).
Please note that external study achievements are recognized with the credits of the equivalent module at the University of Stuttgart, i.e. if a 9 CP module is recognized whose equivalent module has 6 CP, only 6 CP can be recognized. If a 3 CP module is recognized whose equivalent module has 6 CP, 6 CP must be recognized.
The term ‘funding opportunities’ here means grants and all kinds of financial benefits. A university place is not included (exception: Erasmus+).
You can find out more about funding opportunities on our financing website.
If you have decided to go abroad
The documents necessary for the application vary depending on the program and the country, but usually the following documents are required:
- Application form
- Motivation letter
- Copy of Bachelor’s degree (if available)
- Academic transcript (via C@MPUS or LSF)
- Proof of language proficiency
- Copy of Abitur certificate (High School Diploma)
- Letter of recommendation or ranking by the Examination Office
What is the process for selection?
- The selection of applicants is made by the Senate Committee for Studies Abroad and Grants; primarily based on the documents submitted, sometimes also by means of selection interviews.
- Specifically, the following selection criteria are used:
- qualification / suitability according to study achievements
- explanatory statement / motivation for the study project
- interests and activities outside of university studies (for example, engagement in the buddy program “ready.study.stuttgart” of the University of Stuttgart)
- knowledge of culture and society in both Germany and the host country
- flexibility regarding the university location
How and when do I find out for which program / university I was selected?
- After the selection procedure, the committee will let you know for which exchange program you will be recommended and what documents you have to submit for the application to the host institution. In the case of the state-to-state programs, the nomination just refers to your admission to this program.
- In the course of the application process, you may receive a request from the International Office or from abroad to submit further documents. You should therefore check your emails and mailbox regularly so that the process does not stall.
- The partner universities usually leave the selection process to the University of Stuttgart. However, they can reject nominees from the University of Stuttgart, if the applicant does not meet the admission requirements of the respective university or institute. We always endeavor to resolve these critical cases in advance, so that rejection rarely occurs in practice.
Application process in the Erasmus+ program
- In the Erasmus+ program, specialist and organizational advice as well as applications are managed by the Erasmus+ Departmental Coordinators of the institutes or faculties. They also provide information on the individual partner universities’ areas of specialization and on the prerequisites for the recognition of study achievements in the relevant department.
What do I select under “starting semester” and “duration of stay”?
Select the semester after next, and then click on 1 or 2 semesters.
What do I select under “preference”?
What does “begin and end of the mobility program” mean?
Please indicate the approximate semester times (day / month / year) of the university / country for your intended stay.
Do I have to print out the application form and hand it in at the International Office?
Yes. Please print out just the application form, sign it and hand it in at the International Office by the application deadline. All other documents only need to be uploaded.
- A letter of recommendation needs to be submitted only if a ranking by the Examination Office is not available.
- Bachelor’s degree students need 1 letter of recommendation from the University of Stuttgart (by a professor or other academic staff).
- Master’s degree students need 1 letter of recommendation by a professor at the University of Stuttgart.
- The recommendations should be sent to the International Office in duplicate. Normally they are sent by in-house mail to the International Office.
- The recommendation must be written in English.
- A letter of recommendation needs to be submitted only if a ranking by the Examination Office is not available.
- Please upload a scan of your original certificates.
- You can upload evidence of voluntary work, but this is not a requirement.
- When writing a term paper or a thesis, you need proof of supervision from the possible supervisors at the partner institution. This confirmation can be an informal email or a letter of acceptance from the supervisor at the partner institution. In addition, you should enclose proof of supervision by a professor at the University of Stuttgart with the application. You can upload both documents as PDF files under “other documents”.
A stay abroad (for university studies or an internship) can be funded on application, which must be submitted separately. It is not possible to simply take the BAföG funding that you receive in Germany abroad. Special offices for educational support are responsible for the BAföG grants for studies abroad.
BAföG grant for studies abroad
Who is eligible for a BAföG grant for studies abroad?
- Students with permanent residence in the Federal Republic of Germany can receive a BAföG grant for a studies-related stay or an internship abroad.
- Students who are already receiving funding in Germany are generally also granted funding abroad.
- Students who do not receive a BaföG grant in Germany can receive a BAföG grant for studies abroad, because in this case different conditions / prerequisites apply. You can find more information on the website of the Deutsches Studentenwerk (a non-profit organization for student affairs in Germany).
- Foreign students who are enrolled at a university in Germany can receive domestic funding, but not a BAföG grant for studies abroad.
When should I apply for a BAföG grant for studies abroad?
- Applications should be made at least 6 months before going abroad. Here is a list of host countries and the corresponding BaföG offices responsible.
- You must have completed at least 1 academic year at a university in Germany in order to be eligible for a BAföG grant for studies abroad.
Where and for how long does the BAföG grant for studies abroad apply?
- Within the EU member states, the entire study program, including completion of the degree, is eligible for funding on domestic terms.
- Outside the EU, studies or an internship can initially be funded for up to 1 year, and up to 5 semesters in total. As a rule, a maximum of 1 year of education / training abroad will then not be included in the maximum BAföG funding period.
What is included in the funding?
- Outside the EU, in addition to the support you receive for education / training in Germany (grant / loan), the benefits correspond to allowances for a stay abroad, demonstrably necessary tuition fees, travel expenses, and health insurance costs.
That depends on the respective host country. However, applicants should have solid language skills (at least level B1) in order to be able to follow the classes in the host country and to complete coursework.
In some countries, in addition to study programs taught in the national language, programs in other languages of instruction are also available. For example, there are English-language study programs in most northern European countries (Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark), in the Netherlands, in Central and Eastern Europe, and at universities in Asia and South Africa. In these cases, you should check whether an English-language course is offered in the desired field and level of study at the target university. Apart from good English skills, applicants should have at least a basic knowledge of the national language for better integration.
The Language Center of the University of Stuttgart offers a wide range of language courses and tests for university studies and internships abroad.
Language trips and language trainings are offered by various language schools and as part of summer or winter schools at universities abroad. The DAAD can help you choose the right language school.
To participate in the exchange program with North America, the TOEFL iBT (internet-based) must be taken before the application deadline. The test is valid for 2 years.
The TOEFL iBT is offered regularly as a computer test at various test centers in Germany. Detailed information on the test structure, test dates and centers can be found on the pages of ETS (Educational Testing Service).
Please inform early about the test dates, as only a couple of them may be offered per month. Usually you will not receive a test appointment for several weeks. Please have the test results sent to the IZ under Institution Code 0460 and Department Code 00.
The Academic IELTS is preferably accepted in Australia and other Commonwealth countries and has a validity of 2 years. For the exchange program with Australia, the IELTS is not required for most partner universities.
If you have not yet decided on a specific country, the TOEFL is more recommended. The Academic IELTS is offered by the British Council at various locations in Germany. For detailed information on the test structure, test dates and centers, please contact British Council.
Occasionally, universities in the exchange program with Asia and Australia require the TOEFL or IELTS. Please contact the respective program coordinator for more information.
Semesters of leave are not included in the number of semesters studied. Detailed information on the topic of leave of absence is provided on our website.
Please first check with your examination committee whether the exam regulations of your study program allow you to apply for semesters of leave for studies or an internship abroad.
If so, please submit an informal application for leave of absence for your semester(s) of leave at the Admissions Office during the re-registration period. (Please have your application confirmed by the International Office at the International Center.) If you do not use this form as an application, please enclose proof of your planned study abroad (copy of letter of admission or confirmation of grant) with your personal informal application.
Please note that only the tuition fees are waived due to a leave of absence. Administrative fees and the fee paid to the Studentenwerk cannot be refunded. You will remain a member of the University of Stuttgart during your leave of absence. However, students on leave do not have the right to attend courses and to use university institutions (except for the libraries and the IT Department). Please also note that a leave of absence can have consequences elsewhere. For example, regarding your BAföG grant, children’s allowance, or your residence permit. Please check with the relevant offices (e.g. office for educational support, social welfare office, children’s allowance office, immigration office if applicable).
The International Office does not arrange internships, but it will advise you on the planning of your stay abroad and inform you about financing options such as
- Erasmus+ internships: This program of the European Union provides financial support for internships in other European countries lasting from three (at least 91 days) to twelve months. You will have to arrange the internship position yourself, on your own initiative. Applications will be forwarded through the International Office.
- The DAAD publication Paths to an internship abroad gives a good overview of the topic “internships abroad”.
The following organizations and institutions will help you find an internship position:
- IAESTE (International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience,
arrangement of studies-related internships for students in science and engineering)
- AIESEC (arrangement of studies-related internships of at least 8 weeks for students of all disciplines, especially in economics)
- STUDIES - INTERNSHIP - CAREER
Arrangement of internships for students in the humanities and social sciences
Assistant teacher: Opportunities to work as a teacher abroad during university studies. Relevant addresses and more information can be found at the Bundesagentur für Arbeit (Federal Employment Agency) and Stage Europa (internships offered by EU institutions) and Paths to Go Abroad
Yes, you can write your thesis / do a research project abroad.
The international student ID
- is the only internationally recognized proof of student status
- gives you access to student discounts worldwide
- is available at the Asta Reisen Stuttgart GmbH travel agency
During your stay abroad, it is important that you regularly check the websites of the Auswärtige Amt (Foreign Office) and the relevant embassy / consulate general that is responsible for you, and inform yourself about the current travel and safety advice.
In an emergency (political unrest, natural disasters, etc.), the instructions of the diplomatic missions abroad must be followed.