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A Culture of Care

Read Smith’s UPDATED plans as of August 5, 2020,
for an entirely remote fall 2020 semester.

Smith in Hamburg

Photo of river and buildings in Hamburg, Germany

Located near the North Sea, Hamburg is known as both gateway to the world and one of Europe's most sustainable cities. Study in German at the Universität Hamburg with options for either the full year or spring semester.

Application Deadline

Smith student applications for the full-year program are due on the first Monday in February (February 1, 2021). Guest student applications will be accepted until the second Monday in March (March 8, 2021) on a space-available, rolling basis; applying by the February deadline is encouraged. 

Applications for the spring semester by both Smith and guest students are due by the first Monday in October (October 5, 2020). It is recommended that spring applicants apply early to guarantee admission.



The program begins with a cultural orientation, intensive language study and excursions. Students enroll in four 4-credit courses each semester based on their language ability, including a German language course, university courses taught in German or English, and optional program courses in history and theater.

Students take courses at the Smith Center in addition to courses at the Universität Hamburg and Technische Universität Hamburg with German students studying government, economics, social sciences, humanities, mathematics and sciences. For more than 50 years, the Universität Hamburg has been welcoming students studying through Smith, the only U.S. program in Hamburg. Students are required to take at least one of their courses at the Universität Hamburg.

Director: Jutta Gutzeit
Local program staff: Kathrin Beletti Mata, Associate Director

Both the year-long and spring programs begin with a four-week orientation session in Hamburg. The orientation program provides intensive language preparation, cultural courses and introductions to everyday and academic life in Hamburg. Guest lectures on the German university system, the press and politics supplement daily instruction in the German language. The group takes several excursions to north German towns and typically includes a four-day stay in Berlin. Scheduled events include tours of the city, visits to museums and monuments and several evenings at concerts, the opera or the theater.


Full-Year Requirements

Students enroll in four courses per semester, with the following requirements:

  • German language courses taught at the Smith Center
  • Two to three university courses in German
  • One to two Smith courses in German or English

Spring Semester Requirements

Students attending for the spring semester with less than two years German or equivalent enroll in four courses, with the following requirements:

  • German language courses taught at the Smith Center
  • Two to three university courses in English


Students enroll in 16 credits per semester.

All university courses taken in a student's major may be supplemented by tutorials arranged especially for Smith and conducted by advanced graduate students. The tutorial sessions meet two hours each week to clarify and elaborate upon the lecture material, and give you the chance to explore topics in greater depth. Students also receive writing assistance when preparing semester papers in German for university courses.


About the Smith Center

The Smith Center houses the offices of the director and associate director, who provide academic advising and friendly guidance. The Smith Center is located one block from the university in the Gästehaus der Universität Hamburg and is equipped with internet and computing facilities, as well as a classroom and lounge area with a small library.

German History and Culture from 1871 to 1945

This course covers the Wilhelminian Empire, the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich. For the Weimar Republic, the focus will be on the political, economic, social and cultural issues the republic was facing. For the Third Reich, we will focus on the establishment of dictatorship; the persecution of Jews; everyday life in Hitler Germany; World War II; resistance and opposition; the end of the Third Reich.

Theater in Hamburg: Topics and Trends in Contemporary German Theater

This course offers an introduction to the German theater system through concentration on its historical and social roles, its economics and administration. We study the semiotics of theater and learn the technical vocabulary to describe and judge a performance. Plays will be by German authors from different periods, but will occasionally include other texts as well. The program will cover the cost of the tickets. Attendance at four or five performances is required.

Language on Location I: Current Topics, Recurrent Issues

Building on work done in the orientation program, this course refines written and oral skills by examining everyday and academic challenges along with current topics in German media. Emphasis in class is on building practical vocabulary and mastering grammatical structures.

Language on Location II: Culture, Society, Environment

This course builds on the written and oral skills covered in Language and Location I or the spring orientation program by exploring current cultural and social issues in Germany, particularly contemporary approaches to environmental issues. Emphasis in class is on grammatical structures and explanding vocabulary, and includes a general introduction to German academic writing.

The Academy and the Environment

The objective of this course is to improve written and oral skills, building on work done during the orientation program or in the fall semester. Students learn to employ complex grammatical structures and expand their vocabulary while investigating current social and cultural issues. Emphasis is on academic challenges, such as composing a German term paper, and environmental challenges as discussed in German media.

Germany 1945–1990: Politics, Society, and Culture in the Two German States

This course, which provides a continuation of German History and Culture from 1871 to 1945, covers the post-war period of occupation; the founding of two German states; German-German relations during the Cold War; and the re-unification of Germany. Historical analysis; reading of selected literary works; screening of films.

Please note: The courses listed here are examples of courses that have been offered in previous years, and may not necessarily be offered at the time of registration. Please check your specific college program for current course offerings.

Universität Hamburg

Courses taught in German. Typical courses include:

Art History
  • Art Exhibitions in the Two Germanys After 1945
  • European Futurism and Russian Avant-Garde
  • A Look at the "Other": Iconographies of Savages, Blacks, Jews and "Others" in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Times
  • Ecophysiology of Marine Organisms
  • Introduction to Plant Physiology
  • Introduction to Zoology
Comparative Literature
  • Feminist Literary Theory
  • German and English Humor
Computer Science
  • Computer Graphics Distributed Systems
  • Economic Problems of German Reunification
  • Macroeconomic Theory
  • Microeconomic Theory
  • International Finance
  • Curriculum Planning and Educational Goals: United States and Germany in Comparison
  • Learning Processes in Intercultural Relations
  • Fairy Tales, Myths and Their Pedagogical Role
Film Studies
  • Conflicts in Fictional Films of the GDR and the FRG
  • West German movies after 1945
  • Basics of Tectonics
German Language and Literature
  • Concepts of Love and Death in the 18th century
  • Goethe's Novels: Werther/Wahlverwandschaften
  • National Stereotypes and their Function in the World of Heinrich Heine Nietzsche
  • Theater in Hamburg between 1933 and 1945
  • The CIA, the cold War and Right-Wing Extremism
  • Democracy and Its Enemies
  • Minority Politics in Europe
  • Comparative Presidential and Parliamentary Systems: FRG, USA, Britain, Canada
  • Germany 1945 to present
  • Germany and the United States from the 18th century to the 20th century
  • History of the Third Reich
  • Jews as a Minority in Germany
  • Code Switching of Bilinguals
  • Phonetics and Phonology of Modern German
  • Theories of Second-Language Acquisition: Aspects of Foreign Language Learning
  • Differential Equations
  • History of Mathematics: Classical Problems
  • Introduction to Discrete and Algorithmic Geometry
  • Romantic Works – The String Quartets of Bela Bartók
  • String Quartets of the Viennese Classical Period
  • The Development of Children and Adolescents
  • Self-Regulation in Adolescence
  • Introduction to Cognitive Psychology
  • The Psychology of Learning Disorders
  • Introduction to Buddhism
  • Introduction to the Sociology and Culture of the Deaf Community
  • Medical Sociology
  • Multicultural Society in Germany
Women's Studies
  • Gender, Status, and Class-History of Women in Germany in the 19th Century
  • History of the Persecution of Witches
  • Politics of Women in the Federal Republic of Germany

Technische Universität Hamburg

Courses taught in German. Typical courses include:

Computer Science
  • Computer Operating Systems
  • Computer Modeling and Simulation
  • Computer Science for Engineers
  • 2D Microsystems
  • Basics of Aircraft Systems
  • Environmental Technology

University of Hamburg

Selected courses are taught in English each semester in the departments of Economics, Political Science, Sociology, Engineering, Education and American Studies at the University of Hamburg. Typical courses include:

  • Contemporary Environmental Problems
  • Environmental and Resource Economics
  • Growth and Economic Development
  • Political Theories
  • Global Transformations
  • Continuum Mechanics I
  • Electrical Engineering Fundamentals: Circuit Theory
  • Mathematics for Physical Science and Engineering
  • Gender Theory
  • Drama and Film
  • The Poetics of the Sea in the Early 20th Century
  • The Angry Young Men: Novels
  • Intercultural Studies

Program Dates

Arrive in Hamburg

Tuesday, September 10


Wednesday, September 11 – Friday, October 11

Fall Semester 2019

  • Wintersemester courses begin: Monday, October 14
  • Wintersemester courses end: Friday, January 31, 2020
  • Wintersemester work due: Friday, February 14, 2020

Winter Break (Weihnachtsferien)

Saturday, December 21, 2019 – Sunday, January 5, 2020

Spring Break

(for full-year students)

Saturday, February 15, 2019 – Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Spring Semester 2020 Program Orientation

(for spring-only students)
  • Arrive in Hamburg: Tuesday, March 3
  • Orientation: Wednesday, March 4 – Wednesday, April 1

Spring Semester 2020

  • Sommersemester courses begin: Thursday, April 2
  • Pfingstferien (Pentecost Holiday Vacation): Saturday, May 30 - Sunday, June 7
  • Sommersemester courses end: Friday, July 15 (approx)
  • Sommersemester work due: Friday, July 24
  • Program ends: Wednesday, July 31

Life in Hamburg

Students standing and viewing light show

Student Residences

Program participants live with German and international students in coeducational university residence halls. Located throughout the city, the halls provide students with single rooms that remain available to them during vacation periods and until the end of the academic year. The rooms are modern and the common kitchens are well equipped. Students must live in university housing; independently arranged housing is not permitted.


Students receive a board stipend each month to cover their meal costs. Though students cite the numerous restaurants in Hamburg as an inexpensive alternative to cooking, many students enjoy preparing their meals in shared kitchen facilities in their residence halls. Centrally located student cafeterias also provide reasonably priced meal options.


Upon arrival to the program students will receive approximately 50 Euros to use to purchase a German cell phone or SIM card. Landlines are not provided in residence halls, but can be installed. Students are responsible for all associated charges.

Activities & Excursions

The Hamburg program incorporates a wide range of activities, from guided trips to historic and cultural locations, to group events like Tea Hours and the annual Thanksgiving Dinner with program staff and faculty. Students also join activities at the University, including music, theater and sports, and enjoy the restaurants, clubs and cafés in Hamburg, a modern European city.


Boat tour of the harbor; day trips to medieval Lübeck or Lüneburg; several nights in Berlin during Orientation.

Cultural Activities

Architectural tour of the city, concerts in the Laeiszhalle or in the Elbphilharmonie, theater and opera performances, and visits to museums.


Soccer matches, annual marathons, canoe tours on canals or the Alster, bicycle tours to the Alte Land during cherry blossom time.

Please be sure you meet Smith College's eligibility requirements for approval to study abroad. In addition, Smith in Hamburg has its own program-specific requirements.

  • The ability to follow coursework in German: oral comprehension, reading and writing ability, and communicative competence
  • Evidence of maturity, responsibility, preparation for study abroad and demonstrated interest in German culture

Year-Long Program

Two years or the equivalent of college-level German, normally four 4-credit courses, of which one should be taken in the spring semester preceding study abroad.

Spring Semester Program

At least three semesters of college-level German or the equivalent prior to the start of the program. It is recommended that the third semester of German language be taken in the fall semester preceding study abroad.

2020-21 Semester Fees

Tuition: $27,915
Room and Board: $9,380


The Smith Program Abroad fees in Florence, Geneva, Hamburg and Paris include intensive language instruction, cultural orientation, tuition, academic advising, assistance with university enrollment and course selection, supplemental study abroad insurance, medical evacuation and repatriation coverage, excursions and cultural events, room, board, cell phones or SIM cards, and the services of on-site directors

Smith Program Abroad fees do not include international travel, passport and visa fees, books and art supplies, and personal expenses including phone calls.

Financial Aid

Smith College students are eligible for financial aid on the same basis as when they are studying in Northampton (with a few exceptions). For questions about Smith financial aid related to study abroad on a Smith program, please visit Student Financial Services.

Smith College does not provide financial aid to students from other institutions; those students should contact their own college for financial aid assistance.

German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and University of Hamburg Scholarship

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) together with the University of Hamburg are collaborating to offer scholarships to students who are studying abroad in Hamburg during the academic year. All year-long students (including guest students) are encouraged to apply to this merit-based scholarship. Two scholarships for €4,250 each will be awarded each year. Information on how to apply is included in the Smith in Hamburg program application.

Health Insurance

All students enrolled in one of the four Smith Programs Abroad are automatically covered by a supplemental study abroad insurance policy through Gallagher Student Health and Special Risk.

Please note that this is a supplemental plan only. All students participating in these programs are also required to be covered by a U.S.-based primary health insurance and will be automatically enrolled in and billed for the Smith College student health insurance plan through Gallagher Student Health & Special Risk at the beginning of the term abroad.

For students who are U.S. citizens, this insurance plan may be waived online at Gallagher Student Health & Special Risk if the student has another primary health insurance policy that provides comparable coverage. International students are required to be covered by the Smith College student health insurance plan through Gallagher Student Health & Special Risk as you would on campus.

More information about insurance is available on our Health & Safety section.

Application Materials

  • Smith Programs Abroad Application
  • Language Evaluation
  • Non-language Faculty Recommendation
  • Personal statement
  • Copy of passport

Applicants from other colleges must also submit:

  • Home School Statement of Support
  • Official transcript
  • Original sample of written work in language of the program which has been submitted for a course and graded by an instructor

Students can find the application materials and apply to a Smith Program Abroad online using the new Smith International Travel Experiences System (SITES) by clicking on the appropriate log in option below.

Smith Student Log In  Guest Student Log In


Before applying to a Smith Program Abroad be sure to:

United States, Canadian and EU Citzens

The German government requires students to obtain a Residence Permit (Aufenthaltsgenehmigung) after arrival in Hamburg. During the first meeting of the orientation program, the director and associate director will help students complete the necessary paperwork. A student who enters Germany prior to the official start date of the program may be responsible for obtaining a residence permit herself. Permits normally include permission to work part-time during the semester and full-time during semester vacation.

Citizens of Other Nations

Citizens of other nations are required to apply for and receive a residence permit (Aufenthaltsgenehmigung) through the German Consulate in Boston prior to arrival in Germany. Students should research visa application requirements online and contact the Office for International Study for supporting documentation.

Accepted Students

For resources and information about the German visa application process, please visit the Hamburg Accepted Students website.