AJY Academics

AJY students arrive in Heidelberg six weeks before the actual start of the university semester. The first four weeks are spent in the preliminary course designed to prepare students for the demanding University Language Proficiency Exam (DSH) taken in week five. During the first four weeks, each student will meet individually with the Resident Director for course counseling and draft of a course list. Nearly all undergraduate courses at Universität Heidelberg are taught in German, making your performance on the DSH exam a major factor in determining which courses are suited for you. Once students have taken the DSH exam, they will have week six for a short break (second week of October/ second week of April).

Students are encouraged to attend as many courses as possible during the first two weeks of the classes in order to make informed decisions when selecting courses. By the end of the second week of the semester a final course selection is agreed upon and signed by the student and the Resident Director. This final course selection cannot be changed. An official copy will be sent to student's home campus.

Aside from the mandatory preliminary course, students enroll in four additional courses, or three courses and an academic internship. Most courses earn three U.S. credits. Occasionally, a course might have a tutorial or a lab earning an additional credit. Your total number of credits as a full year student will be 30-32 credits, or 9 credits for the Summer Program.*

Program and Semester Dates

Universität Heidelberg, like all German universities runs on a semester system with two semesters per year, Wintersemester (October - February) and Sommersemester (April - July). In order to accommodate American students from both, semester and term-based schools, AJY offers two fall semester options. Other options include a full academic year, spring semester or our Summer Program. No matter which option students choose, they will earn between 15-16 academic credits per semester.

  • Academic Year - Students staying in Heidelberg an entire academic year arrive in September and return to the U.S. in late July. (2017-18 Academic Year dates) (2018-19 Academic Year dates)
  • Fall Semester - The fall semester is patterned after the American fall semester. Students arrive in September and leave at the end of December. They are back in time for the start of their home campus spring semester in January/ February.
    (2017 Fall Semester dates) (2018 Fall Semester dates)
  • Extended Fall Semester - The extended fall semester is equivalent to the Wintersemester at a German university. Students arrive in September and return to the U.S. in early February. This option is ideal for students coming from a campus on a term system rather than a semester system.
    (2017-18 Extended Semester dates) (2018-19 Extended Semester dates)
  • Spring Semester - The AJY spring semester is equivalent to the Sommersemester at a German university. Students arrive in March and return to the U.S. in late July. (2018 Spring Semester dates) (2019 Spring Semester dates)
  • Summer Program - Students can earn nine credits in the summer term which typically runs late May through early July. Learn more about the AJY Summer Program.


AJY semester courses are for AJY students only, and are taught by AJY faculty. Topics may vary. For courses taught in recent semesters please go to AJY sample course catalog. AJY also offers independent research project or capstone seminar projects. Resident Director serves as academic advisor.

Universität Heidelberg is a comprehensive university, offering the full spectrum of disciplines in the humanities, law, and social sciences alongside natural and life sciences, including medicine. Every semester, more than 100 departments offer lectures or seminar-style courses, many of them varying from semester to semester. Among AJY students, the most popular departments in recent years include, American Studies, Economics, Education, English, Environmental Studies, Geology, German Studies, History, International Study Center, Islamic Studies, Jewish Studies, Philosophy, Physics and Astronomy, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, and Theology. Please go to the Universität Heidelberg sample course catalog.

The International Study Center (Internationales Studienzentrum, ISZ) specializes in German language courses at all levels (A1 to C2) and is the perfect fit for students who wish to improve their language skills in grammar and vocabulary courses, in technical language courses (economics, bio-medicine), creative writing, German cinema, history or philosophy. Here is a sample course catalog.

The German Studies Department (Institut für Deutsch als Fremdsprachenphilologie, IDF) is the oldest department of its kind in Germany. It offers students a wide selection of courses in the area of linguistics, literature, theater, art history, media and business communication. Here is a sample course catalog.

Tutorials are available for students enrolled in university courses and in need of extra help. Weekly tutors can be arranged to review lecture topics, assign appropriate readings, and assist students in preparing for their final exams or in doing research for their term papers.

NOTE: AJY students do not need to pre-register for courses. It is very important, however, that students meet early with their home campus advisors/professors to outline a plan of study and to discuss requirement issues prior to departure. Most likely your on-campus meeting will be at a time when the Universität Heidelberg course catalog is not yet available, because the course catalog (Kommentiertes Vorlesungsverzeichnis, in German only) is not published until early to mid-February for the spring semester and early to mid-August for fall semester. Consult the sample course catalogs provided above.


Internships will appear on your transcript and counts for three academic credit hours. The credit is earned by completing an academic project related to the internship, not the actual work as an intern. The project is compiled into a portfolio and is presented to students, faculty and guests at the AJY internship colloquium that takes place near the end of your semester/year. All AJY internships are uncompensated.

Internships are highly competitive. They require approval of your home institution and the AJY Resident Director who will also serve as your internship advisor. Interested students should submit their resume along with a letter of intent to the Resident Director by April 1 or October 1. Once you are in Heidelberg, interviews will be conducted, and a contract will be signed. Internships typically begin in October or April after the start of your university classes.

In order to be a meaningful experience, an internship requires that prior to the start of your work you have adjusted to life in Germany, and that your German is fluent enough to feel comfortable with the language in a work environment. The majority of our internship partners ask that interns stay a minimum of three full months, preferably longer, therefore Internships are available to full year and semester students only.

Currently, we have opportunities for students interested in International Relations, Political Science, History, Museum Studies, Education, Business, and Theater. AJY is constantly looking for new internship opportunities.

Brewery "Klosterhof" - Neuburg Monastery Heidelberg

Are you interested in the art of beer brewing? The Brauerei zum Klosterhof is Heidelberg's only organic brewery. It is located at Stift Neuburg, a benedictine monastery.

University Archives, Universität Heidelberg

Interns work in the University Archives of Universität Heidelberg will learn about the maintenance, special storage and preservation of old legal university documents, such as charters, registers and other materials dating back to the foundation of Universität Heidelberg in 1386. In addition, interns are involved in the daily business of the archives, which includes staffing the information desk and the reading room. This internship is ideal for a student who is majoring in history and might be contemplating a career in archival or library science.

Friedrich-Ebert Memorial Archives

The Friedrich-Ebert Gedenkstätte interns have the opportunity to do archival research for publications, prepare exhibitions, and participate in public events of this small museum focused on the life and times of Germany’s first Reichtagspräsident, Friedrich Ebert. The focus of the work of the Gedenkstätte is the period of the Weimar Republic—after World War I and prior to the assumption of power by the Nazis in 1933. The Gedenkstätte is located in the building that was Ebert’s birthplace in the old city of Heidelberg.

The German-American Institute (DAI) in Heidelberg

Deutsch-Amerikanisches Institut (DAI) interns assist patrons in the library and take part in lectures, seminars, discussion groups, and cultural events. Interns at the DAI also have the opportunity to work with bilingual children at DAI’s International Kindergarten.

Additional internship opportunities:

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