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GERMANY - ISEP Technische Universitat Dortmund

Dortmund is located in the middle of the famous Ruhr region of Germany and is the perfect city in which to explore. The university integrates humanities, natural and engineering sciences, business and economics, teacher training, and excellent German as a Foreign Language for exchange students at all levels. While you can find enough to do without ever leaving the metropolitan area, the proximity to the Netherlands, Belgium, and France also makes this a great place to start your weekend excursions exploring the rest of what old Europe has to offer.

This program would be suitable for students that are ready to be abroad, but would still like some of the academic services that a U.S. college provides.  It is a good choice for someone that is a world traveler OR has never left their hometown.

Learn more about the Technische Universitat Dortmund here! Read the ISEP Country Handbook to learn more about visa requirements, educational system, and culture.

Experiences of Former Students


The decision to study abroad was the best choice I have made in my life. Living in Europe gave me the chance to see many different lands and cultures and to study in an academic environment different from the one I had been in until that time, but the most important aspect was the many different friends from different cultures I made while there. -David Watson, New Mexico State University

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 junior 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 2.75.  
  • Language Requirement: 2 semesters of German is recommended. 3-4 semesters of German is required to follow courses conducted in German. Students wishing to enroll solely in English-taught courses are not required to provide German proficiency (provided courses are available). 
  • The student must submit ISEP language proficiency report in the application, even if native speaker.

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 Ruhr is one of Europe’s most exciting regions. More than 5 million people live in 53 cities, with Cologne, Bonn and the vineyards of the Rhine Valley on the periphery. A public transportation network, available to students at no cost, connects the whole area and opens its vast cultural offerings to each of its inhabitants. 

The city, whose origins date back to 890 A.D., has grown into a modern center of business, high-tech industry, education, and culture. The old districts of town with their restaurants and pubs contrast with the newer sections dominated by daring modernist and postmodern architecture. More than half of the city’s incorporated area is devoted to green spaces: gardens, spacious parks, and forests.The proximity to neighboring states such as The Netherlands, Belgium, and France adds to the attractiveness of the region.


Founded in the late 1960’s, Technische Universitaet Dortmund has retained much of the dynamic of that period. The result of thirty years of institutional development is a new kind of university that combines the academic excellence characteristic of the traditional German university system with modern commitments to innovative teaching and proactive leadership in the community. Interdisciplinarity, practice-orientation, and internationalization are the cornerstones of the university”s philosophy both in research and teaching. Among its 25,000 students are some 1,900-degree students from abroad. A faculty/student ratio of 1:19 assures a productive learning environment and individualized attention. 

There are a number of exceptional research facilities on campus such as DELTA, an electron storage ring test facility, or the Research and Training Center for Robotics. 

TU Dortmund integrates natural and engineering sciences, business and economics, social sciences, humanities and teacher training, and offers strong and innovative programs in all the major divisions. 

TU Dortmund is one of the few German universities offering degree programs in Statistics, Journalism, and Mathematics for Business and Economics. The degree program in Spatial Planning has become one of the largest training centers of its kind in Europe, and the Dortmund Model for the Building Sciences links the often disparate fields of architecture and civil engineering. Particularly recommended for ISEP participants is a special program enabling them to combine language and culture courses with academic work in their major and minor subjects. 

The Department of English and American Studies has developed courses in comparative culture in which students from Germany and English-speaking countries learn together in intercultural classrooms. Students from anywhere in the world are welcome to attend.
Dortmund also offers independent study opportunities and participation in research projects in students’ special areas of interest and expertise.


Researching courses in English on a German university homepage can be difficult and confusing. Here is a quick guide to navigating a German website, finding courses in both English and German, and some translations of common words and major fields of study. 

Download the ISEP Guide to Course Selection 


Courses in English are offered in many fields of the university including Engineering, literary and cultural studies and English, American, and Comparative literature and culture. 

Language Notes: German language courses are offered in conjunction with regular courses during the academic year. 

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.

At most universities, the winter semester runs from mid-October to March and the summer semester from mid-April to Mid-July. The period of study is generally counted in semesters rather than years.

While often friendly and helpful to foreign students, professors may be far more formal and less easy to approach than their U.S. counterparts.Teaching at the universities includes lectures and seminars. Vorlesungen (lectures) will, as a rule, take up the full amount of time designated, and the number of students is not limited. Discussion and questions concerning the lecture take place during the accompanying Übungen, small discussion groups. The Übungen usually feature homework assignments, research and the writing of papers.

The Seminar, dedicated to small-group learning, is headed by a professor. It covers a subject area in more detail and requires that each student contributes, by way of an oral presentation on a specific topic. Students are encouraged to participate intensively in two to four seminars per semester. Proseminare makes up the Grundstudium (first few terms of study) until successful completion of the intermediate exam, after which Hauptseminare are taken to finish the course of study. Proseminare may also be taken in the Hauptstudium.

A common practice is the akademische Viertel. Classes are scheduled on the hour but do not actually begin until 15 minutes past. This is signified by a “c.t.” (cum tempore) after the listed time of a meeting. If this practice does not apply to a particular meeting, an “s.t.” (sine tempore) will appear after the posted time. Check with other students before assuming that the akademische Viertel is practiced by individual instructors.

Independent, self-directed study is heavily emphasized at German universities. There are usually no definite assignments of a certain number of pages to read in textbooks. German students are expected to do independent primary and secondary reading during the course of their studies. Independent study is a crucial element of the academic freedom of a German institution and is designed to encourage self-motivation and promote interesting discussion since not everyone has read the same material. While less demanding on a daily basis than study at a U.S. institution, independent study may ultimately be more rigorous in its demands.

Assessment is based on oral and written reports in seminars for which the student receives a Schein, or certificate (a grade can be requested). A certain number of Scheine are required in order to take the intermediate exam. The state exam, for which the student receives a grade, assesses the quality of his or her entire course of study. Grades are given on a five-point scale: 1, very good, to 5, unsatisfactory or failing. However, by introducing the ECTS credit system, the German „Schein“ is becoming less common.  Students need to earn 30 ECTS credits to earn 4 Lake Forest credits.

Student Life


Dortmund offers a comprehensive orientation to the city, university, study programs, and extracurricular activities. Students will also have the opportunity to meet their “Dortmund Double,” register for courses and ask any logistical questions they may have. The International Office is available for a consult before, during and after the official orientation period. 

A full-Time ISEP coordinator on site is always available. The international office provides advice and support to foreign study applicants and facilitates their admission to the university. Mentors provide support with overcoming difficulties, advice regarding bureaucratic affairs and organization of a semester timetable.


  • All students are assigned a “double” in the Dortmund Doubles Program. Doubles are buddies who assist with everyday matters on campus and help you to get to know the entire metropolitan area better as well as arrange events like American Thanksgiving and Independence Day celebrations.
  • Students are offered the opportunity to take a hiking or biking tour through the Ruhr Valley landscape with the Dortmund staff and faculty at the beginning of each semester.
  • International Kulturcafes are presented twice a semester and give students from different countries the chance to present their region, food, and culture. Each evening focuses on a certain region of the world and students are encouraged to assist in planning the entertainment and culinary highlights of the evening.
  • Students have the chance to participate in an internship in addition to their studies.
  • Students attending either for Fall or Full Year are invited to the university’s International Welcome Reception each fall, in which International Students are welcomed to Dortmund and are offered the chance to meet students have just returned from abroad.
  • Students attending either for Fall or Full Year will also receive a free ticket to attend a BVB Borussia Dortmund soccer game in the fall. BVB Borussia Dortmund is one of the most successful teams in German soccer (German National Champion in 2011) and is an exciting experience for any student!
  • The university also boasts over 60 kinds of sports associations to keep you active during your study abroad experience. Additionally, students may choose to join a Student Association, including the Chamber Choir, Wind Orchestra, University Film Club or the University Orchestra.
  • TU Dortmund also hosts the Summer Festival once a year, open to all. The festival consists of open-air parties and food from all over the world. You may even see your favorite professor as a DJ!

Excursions: The International Office will organize excursions and day trips in and around Dortmund, the Ruhr area, and North-Rhine Westphalia. Additionally, an annual excursion over several days to cities beyond NRW is offered.

  Internship Opportunities
Students attending Dortmund through ISEP may apply for internship opportunities once they arrive. This includes a long-standing and very popular school internship program where students can work with elementary or secondary school students in a Dortmund school one morning per week
Housing and Meals

Students are housed in residence halls (single rooms) and receive a stipend for meals. Dortmund’s multiple mensa’s (cafeterias) offer daily specials at a low-cost, including a salad bar, main meals, barbeque, noodle and dessert bars and snacks. The ‘Vital” restaurant on campus offers fresh salads, vegetables, wholesome dishes and a buffet.

Most buildings on campus (including dorms) have internet access. The university’s computer labs and single-computer stations are also available to you if you do not have a net book.

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 includes orientation, on-site director, college fees, housing, and the 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-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