Planning Your Stay Abroad

For your compulsory stay abroad you have basically two options: either studying or working in an English-speaking country. By all means, do travel before, after, or during your stay abroad but please note that we cannot give you ECTS points for travelling. For an overview of the many possibilities, read the reports of students who have already completed their stay abroad.

The Basics

  • Duration: min. 6 months (24 weeks) for majors, 3 months (12 weeks) for minors
  • ECTS: depending on duration of stay (24 weeks= 10ECTS; 12 weeks=5ECTS, other lengths of stay calculated accordingly). In order to receive ECTS points, you must be matriculated during your stay abroad and have a stay abroad agreement signed by the department's International Coordinator (IC).
  • Workload: min. 40%, i.e., 16 hours/week average, for each week you want counted.
  • University courses: a maximum of 30 ECTS can be accredited in addition to the stay abroad points. Please make sure to get the IC’s agreement before you leave.
  • English-speaking countries:  Countries in which English is an official language and/or spoken by a majority of the inhabitants.
  • Splitting the stay abroad: The 6 months stay can be done in max. 3 parts, the 3 months stay in max. 2 parts. Each part requires its own agreement sheet. All documentation remains with the students until completion of the full requirement.
  • Waivers: waivers or partial waivers are possible for students who have done a stay abroad, no more than 2 years prior to beginning their studies, which fulfils the usual requirements concerning duration and workload. To request a waiver, please write a formal letter including all necessary documentation, addressed to the IC.

Planning your stay abroad takes time, and there are deadlines, so please do start early. The reports and the checklists will help. Once your plans are fairly concrete and you have read all the information on this site, please see the International Coordinator (IC) Dr Nicole Nyffenegger (D 208) during her walk-in consultation hours (which means just that: you just walk in during these hours, no appointment necessary!) and bring along the Stay Abroad - Agreement Sheet (docx), already filled in to the best of your knowledge.


In order to get your studies abroad acknowledged, you need to fill in the Stay Abroad-Agreement Sheet and have it signed by the International Coordinator before you leave. Use the checklists to make sure you follow all the required steps.

There are several options to organise your study abroad:

SEMP (“Erasmus”)

The Department of English currently has agreements with these universities:

  • University of Limerick
  • University of Ulster Coleraine
  • University of Birmingham
  • University of Malta
  • University of Exeter
  • University of Essex
  • University of Warwick
  • University of Kent

Some places offer the option of choosing between one term (3-4 months), two terms (6 months), or even longer. More information can be found here.

Application is through the Department of English. To apply for the autumn term of the following year or later, please address a motivational letter to the International Coordinator (IC) Dr Nicole Nyffenegger. You can find a letter template here. Please note that, depending on the number of applications, your success may depend on the strength of this letter. Only electronic submissions, please.

Application deadline: 1 December

You will then be invited to a short interview in December and will know before Christmas whether your application has been successful.

Late applications for remaining places during the year are possible; please contact Dr Nicole Nyffenegger to inquire about open places.

For more information on the SEMP programme, see here.


Exchanges Worldwide

A number of universities in English-speaking countries have agreements with the University of Bern through “exchanges worldwide:” They include:

  • University of Wisconsin, Whitewater Campus (USA)
  • Sam Houston State University (USA)
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute (USA)
  • State University Institute (Virginia Tech) (USA)
  • University of Ottawa (Canada)
  • University of Technology, Sydney (Australia)
  • Stellenbosch University (South Africa)
  • Nanyang Technological University (Singapore)

Application is through the university’s international office. Deadline for applications is 15 January each year (with 15 June for later registration for any remaining places). Get more information and the specific requirements for each university here.


ISEP Is the largest network for student exchanges worldwide. Application is through the university’s international office. Get more information here.


Of course it is possible for you to organise your study abroad by yourself. The university’s international office has some helpful tips here.

Please also consult the many reports written by students who have already been abroad and the checklists.

Working abroad is the other option chosen by many of our students. In order to get your work abroad acknowledged, you need to fill in the Stay Abroad-Agreement Sheet and have it signed by the International Coordinator before you leave. The minimal workload is 40% for each week you wish to be acknowledged.

Please note that neither the Department of English nor the University’s International Office can help you find a work assignment abroad. Also, please make sure to get the necessary information concerning work permits through the respective embassies or through the EDA’s page on “Auslandaufenthalte”.

A few links that may be useful:

Please also consult the many reports written by students who have already been abroad and the checklists.