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BULGARIA - ISEP American University of Bulgaria

A member of the European Union since 2007, Bulgaria sits at an ancient crossroad between East and West. ISEP’s member university, the American University in Bulgaria (AUBG), is located in the southwestern part of the country, in the major city of Blagoevgrad. 

With its clean, quiet surroundings, walking plaza, shops, and restaurants, it is small enough for students to find anything they need within a few minutes. At the same time, the dynamic environment of outdoor cafes, movie theaters, and recreational facilities makes it possible for students to have a balanced life with both hard work and fun. Three majestic mountain ranges with picturesque lakes surround the region and offer outdoor activities for all seasons, and nearby historical and archaeological monuments include the ruins of Roman settlements, Early Christian basilicas, medieval Byzantine and Bulgarian towns, monasteries, and fortresses.

This program is best for a student that is independent.  A student must be comfortable with advocating for themselves on campus to thrive in this location. Please be aware that there may not be the same access to internet or amenities to which you may be accustomed.  Student services and especially class registration may not be at all similar to what is done at the College and may be difficult for some students to adjust. 

Learn more about the American University of Bulgaria here! Read the ISEP Country Handbook to learn more about visa requirements, educational system, and culture.

Experiences of Former Students


“Everyone should give study abroad a chance. Do not be afraid to go to a country which you do not speak the language. Never count out a country because you do not know a lot about it. I knew nothing about Bulgaria before I arrived and it was the best experience of my entire life.” -Amanda 

“You’ll be surprised by the beauty of the country, the food, the hospitality, and you will come to understand and respect the scars that the country has. It will have a lasting impact on the way you think and live.” - ISEP student from University of Wisconsin Stout

To be eligible to participate in this program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Good academic and judicial standing during time of application AND time of participation in program
  • Undergraduates must have completed at least two semesters of study at Lake Forest College AND have second-semester sophomore status or higher before participation. 
  • At least 18 years of age by the program’s departure date. 
  • Be able to stay at the host program for the duration of the semester, including through the exam and travel periods
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0

Students applying to ISEP must apply for an Exchange option (in any country) as a first choice but may apply to a Direct option as a back-up. Direct options may have an additional cost (see a financial section for more information).


The Rough Guide to Bulgaria calls Blagoevgrad “the coolest place in southwest Bulgaria.” Undoubtedly a university town—with 20,000 of its 80,000 residents being students—it is also a vibrant economic and cultural center boasting a restored old quarter and quaint shopping plazas, along with dynamic clubs and cafes that are known as some of the most “stylish” in the country. Blagoevgrad is famous for its architecture and welcoming atmosphere, and the surrounding region abounds with natural beauty and tourist attractions such as the Rila Monastery, the ski resort of Bansko, the spa town of Sandanski, and the Seven Lakes of Rila Mountain. Bulgaria’s capital of Sofia, only an hour away, offers access to cities all over Europe, and Istanbul and Greece can be easily reached by train or bus. 


AUBG students are energetic, enthusiastic, and highly intelligent. The multicultural student body includes 40 nationalities. Diversity is honored, inclusiveness is nurtured, and academic excellence is always the intellectual goal. Courses are taught by a high-quality, international faculty experienced in teaching in a multicultural, learner-centered environment. The interactive teaching found at AUBG fosters the development of intellectual reflection, effective communication, personal initiative, individual self-expression, and civic responsibility. 

The American University in Bulgaria is an American-style, four-year, English-speaking liberal arts University. Courses are taught by experienced American and international faculty who teach in a multicultural, learner-centered environment. The interactive teaching found at AUBG fosters the development of intellectual reflection, effective communication, personal initiative, individual self-expression, and civic responsibility. Educated in the spirit of the liberal arts tradition, AUBG graduates become competent professionals with a broad and integrated vision of contemporary society that enhances their capacity as citizens and future leaders of the region. Instruction is in English. Grades and transcripts are issued in the American-style format of A, B, C, D, and F.

The most appropriate fields of study for ISEP participants include European studies, business, computer science, journalism, and political science/ international relations. 

AUBG is accredited both in the US and in Bulgaria, and academic credits are fully transferable in Europe and in the United States.

Students typically enroll in 4-5 classes per term which average to 15 hours in class per week. A term runs for 15 weeks.  Students must earn 15 credits to receive the equivalent of 4 Lake Forest credits.

Academic Environment and Teaching Style

Please understand that the academic system is quite different. Classes are usually lecture-based, instead of discussion or group work. Classes are often much larger than those found at Lake Forest College. Grades are based heavily, at times almost entirely, on one end-of-term exam, though some courses will also offer a midterm.  Professors are often more formal than those in the United States.

All courses/modules may have prerequisites.  Some departments may have limitations on numbers of courses that can be taken within or outside it.  Be aware of these limitations.


Click on the Courses link
Click on the department name in which you are looking for courses
Click on the link courses at the top of the page for a list of courses and course descriptions.

Course Approvals

Check to see if your department has pre-approved courses here. If not, don’t worry. You can work with your advisor.

Please review the ISEP country handbook for more information on the education system, grades, class hours, and classroom etiquette.

Student Life

AUBG offers American-style liberal arts education with English as the language of instruction. AUBG is a multicultural institution and provides an unrivaled cultural experience. Forty percent of the student body is non-Bulgarian from over 24 countries. The university promotes educational outreach programs to serve the wider community.

Founded in 1991, following the fall of communist governments across Eastern Europe, the American University in Bulgaria (AUBG) was established in order to educate future leaders committed to serving the needs of the region by promoting the values of an open democratic society. AUBG offers American-style liberal arts education with English as the language of instruction. 


All first-year and transfer students participate in a week-long orientation program. During this time new students receive information on academic advising and course selection, health care, campus activities, athletics, financial aid, career planning, residence life, and diversity awareness. Social events throughout the week provide opportunities to meet other students, Residence Assistants, Faculty, and Student Services personnel.

Airport pickup can be arranged for an additional fee if the host site is notified in advance.


AUBG offers a variety of sports opportunities, including baseball, tennis, boxing, chess, skiing, fitness, dancing, soccer, American football, swimming, and aerobics. Residence halls host table tennis, billiards and gym facilities. Those interested in skiing, hiking, boxing, kickboxing, aerobics, volleyball, baseball, yoga, tae kwon do, softball, and karate have formed student clubs and intramural teams. Every semester the soccer and basketball intramural competitions and the Bulgarians vs. Internationals tournaments stir the emotions of players and fans alike. AUBG is also ideally located for trips to the ski resorts of Bansko, Borovetz, and Pamporovo. 

Housing and Meals

Students live in shared rooms in on-campus residence halls and receive a stipend to purchase meals at the campus cafeterias. Additionally, common cooking facilities are available.

Financial Information

For all approved programs for guaranteed financial aid transferability, students pay their Lake Forest College tuition plus a program fee. The program fee for a semester with the ISEP Exchange progam includes orientation, on-site director, college fees, insurance, housing, and an equivalent of 19/meals per week.  

Here is an estimated budget for the Fall 2018/Spring 2019 programs:

Budget Item



Lake Forest College Tuition


Program fee (estimated)

Note: Spring may have added cost


Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College


ISEP Fee due on Stage 2 Application


ISEP-required health and repatriation insurance (estimated, $90/mo)

Note: Some countries require national insurance. Check ISEP


Additional Meals


Estimated Airfare

*Students placed on ISEP Exchange may be eligible for up to $750 airfare award


Estimated Personal Expenses (passport, visas, immunizations, textbooks, supplies, personal expenses, additional national insurance if required, travel insurance, additional travel etc.)


Total Expected Out-of-Pocket Expenses




Tuition rates and program fees are subject to change each year, but this information was up-to-date as of February 2018. We will notify applicants, and update this page if the program fee or other estimates change.

You can discuss with Financial Aid your specific aid package and your expected family contribution.

Keep in mind that you may spend more or less in certain areas like personal expenses, travel, meals, or airfare, depending on exchange rates and your own spending habits. Classroom or lab fees are not included in this estimate and will depend on your course registration choices.  

Don’t forget to apply for scholarships! A great listing can be found here.  

  • Contact:

    For Questions About the Initial Application Process:

    Alexandra Olson
    Coordinator of the Global Engagement Office