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Programs and Deadlines
About Penn Abroad
Goethe University Frankfurt (BFM)
Frankfurt, Germany (Exchange Program) (Fall Spring Academic Year Outgoing Program)
Program Terms: Spring,
Homepage: Click to visit
Budget Sheets Spring
Fact Sheet:
Language of Instruction:
Language Prerequisite:
4 Semesters of college level language
Minimum Cumulative GPA: 3.0
Credit Available For:
Huntsman, Wharton
Other Eligibility Requirements: Prior Coursework as Required by Subject
Type of Program:
Direct Enrollment, Exchange
Application Deadline:
Fall/Year: March 1, Spring: October 15
Program Description:
Photo Credit: Bhairavi Madhusudhan

Program Snapshot

(click on the links highlighted in blue below to learn more)
The Academic Program
  • Direct Enrollment through Goethe Universität
  •  Spring Semester: early-April to mid-July
    • Regarding final exams: Please contact the respective faculty directly to receive information about exam schedules. Exams may be held after the lecture period has ended.
  • Academic Year: mid-October to mid-July
  •  Pre-session, internship and intensive German language course: mid-January – mid-April
  • Students cannot participate in this program for only the fall semester.
  • Minimum 3.0 cumulative 
  • Minimum 4 semesters of college-level German or equivalent  for Academic Year, 5 semesters for Spring semester
  • Homestay then off-campus accommodation
The City of Frankfurt
  • Official language: German but English is understood by most
  • The financial and transportation center of Germany and home to the European Central Bank, the German Federal Bank, the Frankfurt stock exchange, as well as several large commercial banks.
  • Frankfurt is one of Germany's and Europe's most multi-cultural cities and holds a number of cultural festivals each year 
  • Population: Approximately 670,000, largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany
The Application Process
The Penn Abroad application requires applicants to submit one academic recommendation from a Penn German language professor.
Financial Matters
Penn Resources

This program requires an advising session with a Program Manager prior to opening an application. To view the schedule for upcoming group advising sessions, or to schedule an individual appointment, select the ‘Schedule an Advising Appointment’ button on the Penn Abroad homepage.  


The Academic Program

Goethe Universität

The Goethe Universität was founded in 1914 as a Citizens' University, which means that while it was a State university of Prussia, it had been founded and financed by the wealthy and active liberal citizenry of Frankfurt am Main, a unique feature in German university history. It was named in 1932 after one of the most famous natives of Frankfurt, poet and writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Today Goethe Universität is a lively, urban, and cosmopolitan university that provides for its study population of 33,000 an excellent atmosphere in which to study, research, think, and create. Of the totally population of 33,000, nearly 6,000 students are non-Germans, coming from over 100 different countries.
The University of Frankfurt has at times been considered liberal, or left-leaning, and has had a reputation for Jewish and Marxist scholarship (or even Jewish-Marxist). Under Nazi rule, a large percentage of the faculty and student body were dismissed for radical and/or political reasons and the University played a major part of the German student riots of 1968. The University of Frankfurt is historically best known for the Institute for Social Research, founded in 1924, and is the institutional home of the Frankfurt School, one of the most important 20th century schools of philosophy and social thought of all time.

The University is committed to providing a wide spectrum of disciplines in research and teaching and supports the practical application of knowledge based upon solid fundamental research. The campus is located close to the center of the city, within walking distance of museums, restaurants, cafes, shopping, and some of the dormitories and is only minutes by subway from the central rail station, The U-Bahn system, which provides quick and convenient access to the rest of the city and the Rhein-Main area. Students have full access to the facilities of the Goethe-Universität, including libraries, computer facilities, laboratories, cafeterias, and sports facilities.

Program Structure

Penn students at the Goethe Universität are officially enrolled as students of the University. As officially matriculated students, they receive a German student identification card that enables them to enjoy the same privileges as their German counterparts. Such benefits include inexpensive health insurance, access to subsidized university cafeterias and dining commons, access to the university fitness facilities, computer labs, students clubs and organizations. Students may also participate in field trips and excursions that are offered by the Akademische Auslandsamt, the international student office.

The spring semester at the Goethe Universität starts with a pre-session from mid-January to mid-April. During the pre-session, students complete an internship at one of the financial institutions while, simultaneously, enrolling in the intensive German language course appropriate to the student's proficiency level. In order to qualify for Penn credit, students must take either the Zertifikat Deutsch als Fremdsprache or the Zentrale Mittelstufenprüfung examination upon completion of the course.
At the Goethe Universität, Wharton students would enroll in the Vertiefungsstudium and Spezialisierungsstudium. The University offers a wide range of courses within each of the eighteen faculties.

Required Courses

Penn Abroad participants must maintain a full course load for their period of study abroad. During the regular semester, students typically take four courses. Penn Abroad cannot provide a list of courses in advance because the University schedule of courses (Vorlesungsverzeichnis) will not be available before students leave for Germany and courses may change from semester to semester.


Students are required to take examinations, to complete papers, and to fulfill all other requirements of the German courses. The faculty at the Goethe Universität grades the exchange students as they do their German counterparts. Students should keep syllabi, bibliographies, notes, corrected papers, and examinations for eventual submission to Penn. For each course taken, students receive a performance rating according to the German grading system. The performance rating is then converted to an American grade according to the following scale:

0.7 = A+
1.0/1.3 = A
1.7/2.0 = A-
2.3 = B+
2.7 = B
3.0 = B-
3.3 = C+
3.7 = C
4.0 = C-

As on all Penn Abroad programs, grades are recorded on the Penn transcript and are calculated in the cumulative grade point average. The pass/fail option can be exercised according to the Penn on-campus policy.

Learn More About Goethe Universität

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During the pre-session/internship phase of the program, students live with host families in the surrounding area. All host families have been carefully screened by the University staff and every effort is made to place each student with a compatible host family. Following the home stay, students may choose to live in either dormitories or private housing. The dormitories are coeducational and offer single rooms, however, blankets, pillows, sheets, and towels are not provided and must be brought or purchased. Dormitories offer and excellent opportunity to meet and intermingle with local students. Private housing can be arranged with other German students throughout the city and while dishes, utensils, and other appliances are not provided, most German roommates are happy to share their kitchen supplies with their overseas roommates. Students have meals in university cafeterias and restaurants with other German students. There are also shared kitchens located on each floor of the dormitory, where students can prepare their own meals.

The City of Frankfurt

Situated on the Main River, Frankfurt is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany, with a population of 670,000. The city is at the center of the larger Frankfurt Rhine Main Region which has a population of 5.3 million and is Germany's second largest metropolitan area. The city is the financial and transportation center of Germany and one of the two largest financial centers in continental Europe, the other being Paris. It is the place of residence of the European Central Bank, the German Federal Bank, the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and the Frankfurt Trade Fair, as well as several large commercial banks. Frankfurt International Airport is one of the world's busiest airports, Frankfurt Central Station is one of the largest terminal stations in Europe, and the Frankfurter Kreuz (Autobahn interchange) is the most heavily used interchange in continental Europe. Frankfurt lies in the former American Occupation Zone of Germany, and it was formerly the headquarters city of the U.S. Army in Germany.

Ever since the Middle Ages, Frankfurt's strategic location at the crossroads of the main trade routes made it a focal point for traders north of the Alps. Frankfurt is a city with a 1200-year old history and rich cultural traditions. The Römerberg, the Paulskirche and the cathedral are reminders of the imperial history, when Frankfurt enjoyed stature as the place of the elections and the coronations of the German emperors of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1848, the first National Assembly held free elections and opened a new chapter in German history. It was Frankfurt where journalism thrived as an instrument of political and social criticism.

Frankfurt is one of Germany's and Europe's most multi-cultural cities. Immigrants from Turkey, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, Spain, North Africa, Iran, Lebanon, and the United States make up a large portion of the population and the city is home to one of the largest Korean communities in Europe. The city holds a number of cultural festivals each year, including the Museumsuferfest (Museums Riverbank Festival), where the more than twenty museums located along the river are open late into the night and there is live music, food, dance performances and fireworks, and the Dippemess (Festival of Stoneware), Germany's oldest folk festival, first mentioned in the 14th century.

Financial Matters

Students are charged Penn tuition and student fee (called study abroad fee the semester abroad) for all Penn programs.  Additional expenses will typically include items such as housing, meals, and airfare.  Please see the program budget sheet to determine other costs. 

Scholarships & Financial Aid

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) offers Undergraduate Scholarships to highly qualified undergraduate students for study abroad. For more information click here and ask your Penn Abroad Overseas Program Manager.
In most cases, financial aid applies to Penn-approved programs.  Student Financial Services reviews program budget sheets each semester to determine how to appropriately adjust your aid package.  

Penn Resources

Students who study abroad are encouraged to take advantage of Penn's many resources for students, even if you haven't used them before going abroad.  There is an extensive list of resources on the Penn Abroad website that can help you to explore issues that might pertain to you and to help you prepare for a term abroad. 

In addition to these resources, we encourage you to reach out to a past program participant or ambassador to learn more about the program from a student perspective.

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