Credits / Transcripts / Grades
A standard IUSP course load consists of an intensive German course plus the German culture and history course during the first six weeks, and two regular IUSP courses for the eight weeks following. If 15 classroom/contact hours equate to one US semester credit hour, this regular course load would equate to 17 US semester credit hours.*
Credits will be issued in European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) points, which can be easily converted into other credit systems. Upon successful completion of your IUSP semester, an official transcript will be issued indicating the number of semester credit hours and grades earned. Here you can have a look to see how grades are listed.
IUSP uses the grading system of Philipps-Universität Marburg. Thus the transcripts contain exclusively German/Philipps-Universität grades. Have a look at a sample transcript which lists grades, contact hours and European credits. The transcript shows a regular course load for one IUSP semester.
Please bear in mind that attendance is required in order to receive credit for IUSP classes. Failure to attend classes can result in grade cuts and/or a grade not being issued to you if you do not attend lectures regularly; IUSP students do not have the option of simply sitting for the exam at the end of the semester without having attended classes. Health issues and other serious reasons for missing lectures are, of course, another matter. Please keep your teacher and/or the IUSP staff informed if you are unable to attend lectures.
*Conversion and transfer of credits varies from one institution to the other. The actual recognition and transfer of credit at the home institution is subject to the regulations there.
Things to Keep in Mind
Independent, self-directed study is heavily emphasized at German universities. There are usually no set reading assignments of a certain number of pages from textbooks. At a German university, 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.
A common practice is the "akademische Viertel": Classes are scheduled on the hour, but do not actually begin until 15 minutes past the hour. This is denoted by a "c.t." (cum tempore) after the listed time of a class 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 your particular instructors.
German universities typically do not have central campuses and the classrooms, libraries and administrative buildings and offices are usually scattered throughout the town. Students are housed in some university-owned dormitories, in privately owned or church-affiliated student dormitories, or with private families, while many continue to live with their own families or join fellow students in jointly rented accommodations (Wohngemeinschaft).
A sort of "school spirit" that is virtually always present on U.S. campuses does not exist at German universities, and it is largely for this reason that U.S. students may feel a lack of community and comradeship. This may, in part, be due to the fact that German universities do not have official university sports teams. There are, however, many intramural sports opportunities available through the University such as aerobics, basketball, volleyball, soccer and swimming. You may want to check out what the Zentrum für Hochschulsport has to offer. International students who are interested in joining a sports team can also do so by joining a local private club (a "Sportverein" or a "Fussballverein", for example).
While often friendly and helpful to foreign students, professors may be far more formal and less easy to approach than their U.S. counterparts.