A Place to Belong. A Person to Become.


The University of Marburg (UM; also known as Philipps University) is a liberal arts university offering courses in archaeology, biology, business, chemistry, computer science, economics, educational theory, English, geology, Greek, geography, German, Latin, mathematics, history, philosophy, psychology, political science, sociology, and theology. More than 75 percent of UM’s 18,000 students are from outside Germany, about 100 of which are American. Its extensive orientation and study support programs reflect UM’s experience with and dedication to integrating international students into its programs.

Philipp the Magnanimous, Land Grave, Count of Hesse, and descendant of St. Elisabeth, founded Philipps University in 1527 as the first European university with an exclusively Protestant theological faculty. St. Elisabeth’s Cathedral, the first German Gothic church, dates from the 13th century. The castle that once housed the Land Graves of Hesse towers over the city, overlooking and now used in part by the University. The view presents a striking contrast: centuries-old sandstone buildings next to modern steel-and-glass structures of the postwar era. Marburg is said to be a university with a city, rather than a city with a university.

UM has excellent academic facilities, including classrooms, laboratories, and libraries. The library facilities include a main library with closed stacks, complemented by many departmental libraries with open stacks. Computer labs are available in multiple locations on campus; email is available through the university (for a small fee) or private providers. The university has excellent facilities for a variety of sports, and club sports are played widely by university students.

International students at UM taker regular courses taught in German by regular university faculty. Students typically enroll for four courses during a 14-week semester. Class sizes vary from lectures of several hundred students to seminars with 15 to 20 students. Courses are evaluated with a mix of exams, presentations, papers, etc., depending on the subject, professor, and course size. Final exams are given at or near the end of the 14-week term. In the month before each academic term, international students take a graded, intensive German language course. This course significantly increases the quality of a student’s experience during the academic term. International students also take a tutorial taught by peer tutors under the supervision of a member of the English department during the first half of their first term at UM. This course addresses expectations of courses, written papers, oral reports, and use of the library and tutorial assistance for specific courses. These classes provide international students a complete introduction to study at UM.

UM also orients students to German culture, the city, university, and basic needs such as shopping, cooking, banking, etc., and offers optional field trips. Academic departments also offer orientation sessions for all of their students on departmental issues, including library use, labs, computer skills, etc.

Course registration occurs within the department rather than through a central registrar’s office, while international students are advised by faculty and peer tutors through the International Relations Office. International students are required to complete a Learning Agreement that describes course requirements that the home institution expects to be completed at UM. The Marburg faculty advisor matches these expectations with appropriate courses available that term. Because German universities continually vary their offerings, they cannot guarantee that a particular course will be available in any given term. On the other hand, courses are routinely available in broad categories, so students coming to Marburg invariably find courses that meet their needs and interests.

Unlike Hanover faculty, UM professors are available only during restricted office hours and are not prepared to deal with the special needs of international students. Consequently, these students consult with the International Relations Office staff first on all issues. Their experience with and readiness to help international students play a large role in the success of students who study at UM.


Marburg, an old university town located in central Germany, has a population of 80,000, of which 18,000 are students. Despite many wars, Marburg has retained its medieval charm, but tourists do not regularly visit it. This makes the town especially attractive to both German and foreign students who seek a genuine atmosphere of learning in a town representing normal life in modern Germany.


Hanover students live with German and international students in coed housing facilities run by non-profit organizations. Students typically have single rooms with access to a kitchen and individual, lockable storage. Bed linens, but not towels, are provided. Remodeling is underway in older units to create efficiency apartments with kitchen, bathroom, and Internet access; however, students must provide their own computers. All residence halls have laundry facilities and study rooms. Phones in individual rooms are not common. Food money is provided to students as part of Hanover’s exchange agreement, and a variety of affordable options is available for students within conveniently-located student cafeterias or by cooking in the residence units. Few students eat in restaurants on a regular basis.


The German academic year consists of two semesters, Winter (October through February) and Summer (April through July). Hanover students would participate during Marburg’s Summer Semester.


The application process is initiated through the German Department. The application procedure is necessarily lengthy, due to the requirements of international study and the need to maintain satisfactory progress toward graduation from Hanover. The application deadlines are strictly enforced. Students are urged to contact the Study Abroad Office for an Application for Off-Campus Study. Consult your academic advisors or the study abroad advisor early in your career, so that you can plan ahead. Studying off-campus for a term requires careful planning to ensure timely completion of the Liberal Arts Degree Requirements and major course requirements.


  • Obtain a passport. Germany does not require visas of American students, but an acceptance letter from UM is needed to obtain residency papers once in Gemany.
  • Purchase an International Student Identity Card (ISIC). The holder is eligible for basic medical, accident, and illness insurance, and gains a variety of discounts.
  • Maintain a 3.0 or better GPA.
  • Complete the equivalent of GER 220 or 221 with a “B” or better and receive the recommendation of the Hanover Department of Modern Languages.
  • Enroll in the month-long intensive pre-term German course and continue with an ongoing course in German language, as well as the academic tutorial during the first half of the academic term.


Faculty that have visited UM include Drs. Randall, who will be happy to answer your questions.

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