Experiencing the Possibilities
German American Student Exchange Program
From the outset, the promotion of German American friendship and common values was the goal of this successful program that was founded in 1957 as an initiative of the German American Women's Club Munich. Acting as cultural ambassadors during their year in a foreign country, the exchange students contribute to the development of understanding of the similarities and differences of their respective homelands.
The German American Women's Club Munich, is one of 19 partner clubs in the Verband (Federation) of the German American Clubs, VDAC, that supports the German American Student Exchange Program. It is the largest privately-financed exchange program of its type in Germany.
To date, the cooperation of some 20 American and 20 German universities has made it possible for over 3000 students to spend a year in the US or Germany studying at the university level.
Every year, up to 50 American and German students study abroad. German students receive a scholarship from the American partner universities and American students receive a scholarship from the VDAC to finance their time in Germany.
Organization: Barbara Standl,GAWC Chairlady, Student Exchange Program
Important Information regarding VDAC Student Exchange
Financing (bilateral system)
German students receive a scholarship from the American partner universities, which generally includes the waiver of the very high tuition fees and a small contribution to living expenses. The American students proposed by the American partner universities receive a monthly stipend from the association in the amount of the BAföG (German government education and training assistance act) rate for one academic year (10 months) as well as the waiver of tuition fees, if any. In addition, the students will receive a rail card. This money is donated by the Clubs affiliated with the Federation.
Einige Bundesländer gewähren zusätzlich Voll- oder Teilstipendien (z.Zt. zwei Voll- und vier Teilstipendien). Das Auswärtige Amt gewährt Zuschüsse für Seminarkosten.
All work in the Federation and in the Clubs is done exclusively on a voluntary basis.
Mode of Operation and Application Procedure
Not only the funding, but also the operation of the program is bilateral.
On the German side, member Clubs of the Federation have the exclusive right to propose candidates. Interested students apply to the "Local Chairperson" of the respective Club, where they also receive information and application documents. After a personal selection interview, nominations, with a review by the Chairperson, go to the Federation's Student Exchange Committee, where the final selection is made. Suitable study places at the American partner universities are selected for the proposed students and the admission procedures are initiated. The final decision on awarding the scholarship and on admission rests with the American university.
The American students are selected by the program supervisors of the partner universities and proposed to the Student Exchange Committee. This committee selects the German host for the student from 20 universities depending on the student’s aptitude and field of study. The students are supervised there by the respective Federation Club.
Requirements for the Application by German students
- Students must be single at the time of starting the scholarship and must not be older than 25 years.
- They must be legal German residents and must have completed German Abitur.
- At the time of application, they must have completed at least two semesters of study at a German university, i.e. four semesters by the start of the scholarship.
- For admission to "graduate studies", the Bachelor’s degree plus two semesters in the major field of study are required according to the old study regulations; for the Bachelor's degree, there are new regulations which are not yet uniform.
- Good academic performance is a prerequisite.
- A good command of English is required and must be demonstrated by a TOEFL test, or GMAT or GRE if applicable.
- Applications for medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and law are not possible because of the very different courses of study.
- The deadline for application to the Student Committee is September 30 of each year, one year prior to the start of the scholarship.
- Individual application deadlines of local Clubs may vary. Please inquire with the local Club.
- The exchange year lasts from August/September to May/June of the following year.
The Federation arranges scholarships for German students from our 20 partner universities in the USA. The scholarship is provided by the American university and includes a waiver of the very high tuition fees.
The value of such a scholarship is equivalent to up to $30,000, depending on the university. In addition, depending on the college/university, a partial or full contribution to the cost of living board and lodging may be granted.
In general, it should be assumed that the cost of living, especially housing, is higher in the US than in Germany.
For graduate students, a paid assistantship may be tied to the scholarship. Participation in the German Department or German/International House or Club is expected.
Travel expenses must be covered by the student. However, it is possible to apply in a timely manner (until January) at their university’s office for International Students for a travel grant from the Fulbright Commission.
A non-refundable application fee of €100 will be charged by the VDAC when applying for a scholarship.
After acceptance of the offered study place at the American university, a deposit of €300 must be paid, which will be refunded upon return to Germany.
Support and Seminars
An important feature of the Federation Student Exchange Program is the personal support on both the German and American sides.
On the German side, the "Local Chairpersons" are the representatives of the local Clubs who help attend to the various needs of the American students— from welcoming them to Germany, helping them find housing and with necessary visits to government offices, arranging study counseling or language courses, to providing personal support throughout the year. The exchange students are also welcome guests at Club events.
The German students enjoy the benefits of our "network". They come into contact with their predecessors at their future university even before they leave for the US and thus receive valuable information and assistance.
They also get to know the American scholarship holders personally at an orientation seminar in June before their departure. Here, too, connections are developed that are valuable for the coming year.
In return, the German students are required to assist the American students spending their year abroad as much as possible, mainly on-site at the universities, during the application year and after their return.
Five seminars per year for the American students, as well as for the applicants and the returnees, serve to maintain network contacts, promote the sharing of cultural and political information, inform one another about the other’s country and its people, and maintain Federation consciousness.
In this context, the Club of Former Exchange Students (DAAC) plays an important role. Its members are involved in the seminars and support the goals of the Federation in many ways.
Expectations of the Federation for German Scholarship Holders
- Appropriate appearance and personal commitment in the sense of the Federation’s goals as an "Ambassador of German American friendship”
- Adaptation to the given conditions inside and outside the host university
- Completion of the required minimum number of academic hours
- Writing two reports for the Federation’s magazine GAZETTE
- Participation in two orientation seminars
- If possible, participation in the German-American Exchange Students Club DAAC after return.
We do not see our scholarship program as a primarily career promotion measure, but rather, we want to make future academics on both sides of the Atlantic into bearers of German American international understanding under the motto "understanding through mutual acquaintance". Our Student Exchange Program would like to encourage the students participating in it not to put personal utilitarianism first in their life planning, but to commit themselves to an important socio-political task.