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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, or opt for the Practicum Program in the fall semester.

Application Deadline

Application Deadline
Smith student applications for the 2024-25 Academic Year and for Fall 2024 are due by Monday, February 5, 2024. Smith Programs Abroad accept applications from students of any gender identity. Guest student applications will be accepted until the second Monday in March (March 11, 2024) on a space-available, rolling basis; applying by the February deadline is encouraged.

Applications for the Spring 2024 semester (Smith and guest students) are due by the first Monday in October (October 2, 2023). It is recommended that spring applicants apply early to guarantee admission.



The Smith in Hamburg program offers two tracks: University Studies and Practicum Program

Choose Your Curricular Track

Track A: University Studies Program (academic year or spring semester)

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 and international students studying humanities, social sciences and history, mathematics and the natural sciences. For more than 60 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.

Note: If academic year students want to combine their academic work with practical experience, they can pursue a Practicum Project and join the Practicum Course in the fall (see below).

Track B: Practicum Program (fall semester only)

Students in this track pursue a practicum project (which may be either an internship, voluntary work, or a research project). Students earn credit through a practicum course, a German language course and two additional courses at the Smith Center.

Note: Track B students may decide to return to Hamburg in March and attend the Track A University Studies Program in the spring semester.

Director: Jutta Gutzeit
Smith Faculty Liaison: Joel Westerdale, Associate Professor of German and Italian
Local program staff: Kathrin Kämpfer (formerly 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.

Required Courses

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. Normally offered in the fall semester.

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 expanding vocabulary, and includes a general introduction to German academic writing. Normally offered in the spring semester.

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. This is an advanced German language cousre normally offered in fall and spring semesters.

Practicum Course

The course guides students through the different stages of their practicum project and helps them design their own project path. It provides methodological information as well as opportunities for reflection and discussion of individual projects and experiences. Focus will also be on aspects of interculturality (perception of cultural differences, aspects of intercultural communication, reflection on students' own role as agents and observers in an intercultural setting). Mandatory for Track B students only. Taught in English.


Elective Courses

Alexander Von Humboldt

The course looks at Alexander von Humboldt from different perspectives and discusses his contributions to various fields of science as well as his role as a politician and global citizen. Focus will also be on how his life and works have been perceived in later centuries and until the present. Includes a day trip to the Humboldt Forum in Berlin. Normally offered in the fall semester. Taught in English.

Culture in Hamburg: Topics and Trends

The course examines the role of culture and cultural policy within a community. Using the city of Hamburg as a classroom, students will explore and discuss different cultural sites which may include museums and concert halls as well as sites which are relevant for history, history of technology or sports culture. Attendance of performances and site visits is required. Normally offered in the fall semester.

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. Normally offered in the fall semester.

Germany Since 1945

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. Normally offered in the spring semester.


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
  • A Look at the "Other": Iconographies of Savages, Blacks, Jews and "Others" in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Times
  • Art Exhibitions in the Two Germanys After 1945
  • European Futurism and Russian Avant-Garde
  • Chemistry of Renewable Raw Materials
  • Ecophysiology of Marine Organisms
  • Introduction to Plant Physiology
  • Introduction to Molecular Cell Biology
Comparative Literature
  • Feminist Literary Theory
  • German and English Humor
Computer Science
  • Computer Graphics Distributed Systems
  • Economic Problems of German Reunification
  • International Finance
  • Macroeconomic Theory
  • Microeconomic Theory
  • Curriculum Planning and Educational Goals: United States and Germany in Comparison
  • Fairy Tales, Myths and Their Pedagogical Role
  • Learning Processes in Intercultural Relations
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 and Nietzsche
  • Nature Writing: Traditions of "Nature Journals" (18th Centry - Present)
  • Queerness in Children's Literature
  • Theater in Hamburg between 1933 and 1945
  • Comparative Presidential and Parliamentary Systems: FRG, USA, Britain, Canada
  • Democracy and Its Enemies
  • Minority Politics in Europe
  • The CIA, the cold War and Right-Wing Extremism
  • 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
  • Writing Colonial History
  • 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
  • From Avantgarde to Noise - Theories of Experimental Music
  • Romantic Works – The String Quartets of Bela Bartók
  • String Quartets of the Viennese Classical Period
  • Introduction to Cognitive Psychology
  • Self-Regulation in Adolescence
  • The Development of Children and Adolescents
  • The Psychology of Learning Disorders
  • Introduction to Buddhism
  • Houses of Religion in European Cities
  • 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 humanities and in the departments of Economics, Political Science, Sociology, and Education 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 (Track A students only)
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

Fall/Winter 2023

Arrival in Hamburg

Tuesday, September 12


Wednesday, September 13 - Friday, October 13

Fall Semester

  • Wintersemester courses begin: Monday, October 16
  • Wintersemester courses end: Saturday, February 3, 2024
  • Wintersemester work due: Friday, February 16, 2024

Winter Break (Weihnachtsferien)

Sunday, December 24, 2023 – Sunday, January 7, 2024

Spring Break (for full-year students)

Friday, February 16, 2024 – Monday, April 1, 2024

Spring 2024

Arrival in Hamburg (semester students only)

Monday, March 4

Orientation (semester students only)

Tuesday, March 5 - Thursday, March 28

Spring Semester

  • Sommersemester courses begin: Tuesday, April 2
  • Pfingstferien (Pentecost Holiday Vacation): Sunday, May 19 – Sunday, May 26
  • Sommersemester courses end: Saturday, July 13
  • Sommersemester work due: Friday, July 26
  • Program ends: Wednesday, July 31


Fall/Winter 2023

Arrival in Hamburg

Wednesday, September 20


Thursday, September 21 - Sunday, September 24

Fall Semester

  • Practicum projects and classes begin: Monday, September 25
  • Practicum projects and classes end: Friday, December 15
  • Depart Germany: Saturday, December 16

Life in Hamburg

Students standing and viewing light show

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. Note: This scholarship is for year-long Track A students only.

Student Residences

Track A: University Studies Program

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.

Track B: Practicum Program

Program participants live in single rooms in coeducational hostels or university residence halls located throughout the city and share common kitchens. Students must live in program 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 SIM card. 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. Track A students also join activities at the University, including music, theater and sports. Additionally, all students are encouraged to explore the restaurants, clubs and cafés in Hamburg, a modern European city.


Track A: University Studies Program

Boat tour of the harbor; day trips to medieval Lübeck or Lüneburg; several nights in Berlin during Orientation, and several nights on the coast of the Baltic Sea.

Track B: Practicum Program

Boat tour of the harbor, day trip to medieval Lübeck or Lüneburg, day trip to the Humboldt Forum in Berlin (as part of the Humboldt course).

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

Track A: University Studies Program

Academic Year: 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 only: At least three semesters or the equivalent 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.

Track B: Practicum Program

Two semesters or the equivalent of college-level German, normally two 4-credit courses, which should be taken the year preceding study abroad

Accepted Students

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