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A Culture of Care >> Read Smith’s plans for the fall 2021 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 and Guest student applications for the 2022-23 full-year program are due on Monday, February 7, 2022

Applications for the spring semester by both Smith and guest students are due by the first Monday in October (October 4, 2021). 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 German history and culture.

Students take courses at the Smith Center in addition to courses at the 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


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.

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; screening of films.

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.


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

University of Hamburg

Selected courses are taught in English each semester in the departments of Economics, Political Science, Sociology, 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
  • Landscapes in Northern Germany

Certificate of Intercultural Competence
The University of Hamburg offers students the option to work towards an extracurricular Certificate Intercultural Competence which can be obtained either in German or in English. Students who are interested in this option should consult with the director.

Program Dates

Arrive in Hamburg

Thursday, September 9 or Friday, September 10


Saturday, September 11 – Friday, October 08

Fall Semester 2021

  • Wintersemester courses begin: Monday, October 11
  • Wintersemester courses end: Saturday, January 29, 2022
  • Wintersemester work due: Friday, February 11, 2022

Winter Break (Weihnachtsferien)

Sunday, December 19, 2021 – Sunday, January 2, 2022

Spring Break

(for full-year students)

Saturday, February 12, 2022 – Friday, April 1, 2022

Spring Semester 2022 Program Orientation

(for spring-only students)
  • Arrive in Hamburg: Wednesday, March 2 or Thursday, March 3
  • Orientation: Friday, March 4 – Friday, April 1

Spring Semester 2022

  • Sommersemester courses begin: Monday, April 4
  • Pfingstferien (Pentecost Holiday Vacation): Sunday, May 22 - Sunday, May 29
  • Sommersemester courses end: Saturday, July 16 (approx)
  • Sommersemester work due: Monday, July 25
  • Program ends: Sunday, 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.

Accepted Students

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