Study abroad  

Study abroad
  • How to fit into my studies?

How can I best fit a stay abroad into my course of study?

Spending a period of time abroad for your studies is definitely possible! If you plan carefully in advance, you can integrate qualifications achieved abroad into your course of study in Germany and transfer academic credits back to your home university. 

Tips and answers to the most common questions can be found here:

What is the best time to go abroad?

How long should a stay abroad last?

How can I prepare linguistically for my stay abroad?

How can I get an official certification of my language abilities?

Should I take a leave semester?

How can I transfer credits achieved abroad to my home university?

And what if my studies end up taking longer?

What is the best time to go abroad?

In general, it is recommended that Bachelor’s students study abroad in their fifth semester and Master’s students in their third semester. A look at the  structure of your own course of study helps: the  study regulations determine whether a period of time outside of Germany is required or recommended, and sometimes also include information on when this would best fit – this information can also be found in the study guide for your course of study, or you can speak to your study adviser (whose contact information can also be found in the study guide).

How long should a stay abroad last?

The International Centre recommends that you spend an entire academic year abroad if possible. A year offers enough time to get used to the new university system. Also, this means that any possible schedule overlaps between Leipzig University and the foreign university regarding the start and end dates of each semester will be easier to sort out.

How can I prepare linguistically for my stay abroad?

Linguistic preparation for your stay abroad – whether it’s an internship or a study period – should start while you are still in Germany.

You have the following options:

You can find information about attending a language course abroad here:

How can I get an official certification of my language abilities?

Do you need to prove a certain level of linguistic knowledge in order to apply for an exchange programme?

To demonstrate your level, you can get a language certificate or Sprachzeugnis after passing a test at Leipzig University Language Centre. Here you can find regularly scheduled tests for these language certificates (English, French).

Further information regarding other languages can be found here: Language Centre Information.

Should I take a leave semester?

As a student at Leipzig University, you have the right to two leave semesters during your studies at your own request. The  application for leave semesters for a study abroad is particularly recommended for those receiving BAföG (federal assistance), because leave semesters are not counted as part of the standard period of study. In this case, the stay abroad can take place between either the first and second or between the second and third year of study. And don’t forget: even credits earned abroad during leave semesters can be transferred back to Leipzig University!

How can I transfer credtis achieved abroad to my home university?

In general, it is your decision whether you want to transfer credits earned outside of Germany back to your home university. The following information will be useful if you have decided to transfer your credits.

Please note: Pay attention to the minimum number of credits required for a stipend. For the ERASMUS study stipends this is 30 credits per semester, 60 credits per academic year.

1. Discuss your plans with your study adviser        

Before your study abroad, you should meet with the adviser for your course of study and discuss which courses from the foreign university will earn you transferable credit in your study porgramme. Contact persons for an ERASMUS study programme are the ERASMUS departmental coordinators (who can be found in the KISS database) or the subject advisers (listed in the study guide), while contact persons for a non-ERASMUS study abroad programme are the advisers for each study porgramme. 

Together with the responsible contact person, you will draw up a study agreement.

The following criteria are important when choosing courses at the foreign university:

  • the educational goals of the course are comparable, especially the competences to be achieved (listed in the module description)
  • the level of study is comparable
  • the courses fit with the qualification goal and study profile of your study programme
  • the amount of work expected is comparable.

2. Know your credit transfer options

The Examination Committee of the department will determine the recognition and transfer of credits earned outside of Germany, as well as the conversion of foreign grades. The following information should serve as a guide, but it does not replace the advice of your ERASMUS departmental coordinator or your study programme adviser.

Transferring credits in your core subject

Here it is particularly important to pay attention to the course selection criteria listed above, and to prepare the transfer carefully with the module representative and/or the Examination Committee.

Transferring credits in your elective subject

You will often get the opportunity to have external study credits recognised and transferred as elective subject credits. However, the transfer will still take place at the institute where you study your core subject.

Transferring credits for a key qualification

Credits earned abroad can be transferred into your course of study as a key qualification in various ways.

SQ (key qualification) in your own study programme:

Certain study and examination regulations provide for the recognition of a stay abroad as a key qualification.

SQ (key qualification) 32a "International Experience"

The key qualification module SQ 32a „Internationale Erfahrung“ (International Experience) earns 10 LP for successfully completed study credits, as long  as these are not already recognised as core subject credits, elective subject credits, or other SQ credits.

For further information please contact the International Centre or Irmgard Wanner at the Language Centre.

Please note: each credit earned abroad can only be transferred back to the study programme at Leipzig University once.

3. Transfer the credits

The image above will give you a general idea of how the recognition and transfer process is usually carried out.

Learning Agreement

The best basis for the recognition of credits earned abroad is the Learning Agreement. It lists all the modules/courses that you wish to attend at the foreign university. Your home university and the foreign university will both sign this document – ideally BEFORE your stay abroad, or at the very latest up to four weeks after it has started.

If there are any changes once you get there, these must be recorded in the form called Changes to the Learning Agreement, which must be signed by both the foreign university and your home university. In this way, your study plans are officially confirmed, and the later recognition and transfer process will be easier.

Tips for those participating in an ERASMUS study programme: The Learning Agreement is a requirement if you wish to apply for an ERASMUS stipend.

For the recognition of credits achieved abroad after completing your stay at the host university, you must submit your transcript of records to the person responsible for the transfer of your credits to your study programme.

This could be any of the following people in your study programme:

Important: Before beginning your study aborad, create your Learning Agreement and make sure you know who will be responsible for the recognition of your credits upon your return – and what information that person will require.

Discuss your study plans with your study programme adviser

And what if my studies end up taking longer?

The experiences you will gain from a stay outside of Germany can bring you even further than a six-semester course of study can, because

  • your study abroad will play a deciding role in your career plans, especially in broad disciplines that deal with various subject areas
  • you have shown flexibility and engagement
  • You have gained intercultural knowledge, foreign language skills, and country-specific know-how – this cannot be acquired at your home university, and it is highly prized by future employers!

The expert says...

We definitely recommend that students spend a period of time abroad for the purposes of personal development – even if this ends up extending the amount of time required to complete the course of study. When interviewing job applicants, we see this as a plus, not a minus: it means that this person can deal with new situations and take on responsibility.

Lars Funk, Association of German Engineers
in "It all depends on personality",

Reading suggestions:

It all depends on personality, GO OUT!-Magazine

Am I too old?, ZEIT online

last update: 10.04.2018 


International Centre
Goethestraße 6
04109 Leipzig

Phone: +49 341 97-32020
Fax: +49 341 97-32049

Contact persons

The experts says...

A stay abroad is the icing on the cake for your studies. And it can even take place during the standard period of study. I will be glad to discuss your plans with you!

Jane Moros / International Centre