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Vienna Diplomatic Program

About the Program
Nuts and Bolts
Student Comments
International Organizations in Vienna

About the Program

VDP Contacts:
Robert Pahre (pahre@illinois.edu, 217-333-2851)
Fall 2012 office hours: Wed. 9-11 am or by appointment.

VDP Application: Please visit the Study Abroad website to complete the online application. The application deadline for the Spring 2013 semester is October 1, 2012.

The Spring Semester Vienna Diplomatic Program (VDP) is designed primarily for students interested in international organizations and diplomacy. Students must have completed two semesters on campus prior to studying abroad. Most participants major in economics, history, and/or political science. Vienna is a United Nations city, and many international organizations have their headquarter there.

Though Vienna is a German-speaking city, no knowledge of German is required. Illinois partner universities offer numerous courses in English. It's relatively easy to live and study in Vienna with English because English generally is the second language of the European Union and many Austrians speak it routinely.

Because students write a major research paper that entails original research, good academic preparation is important. Student preparation will vary with specific interests, but successful students likely will have taken courses in some mix of the following: comparative politics, European history, European politics, the European Union, international economics, international law, international organizations, and international relations. PS 280 and PS 283 are particularly recommended. A GPA of 3.2 or strong evidence of previous research experience is expected.

All students in the VDP will take Political Science 393, "Diplomatic Studies Practicum." Students complete an online module for the course and meet twice in Urbana-Champaign before departure. The pre-departure component includes work with academic material, advising, and program orientation. Students conduct a research paper on a Vienna international organization and submit it by the end of the semester. In addition to PS 393, students are required to take basic German and two approved VDP courses, to be selected in consultation with Professor Pahre. Students can take any electives they desire in addition to these requirements.

The University of Vienna (UV) and Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU) offer many courses in English on topics in international law and diplomacy, international business and economics, as well as on European integration and current relevant issues. (See course descriptions on these UV and WU pages.)

The UV and WU courses in English vary considerably from semester to semester. Spring 2012 offerings in English included Drafting International Agreements, Genetics and Politics in Times of Globalization, Information Society and E-Government, International Civil Procedure, International Diplomacy, International Strategy and Organization and Old and New Cold War: Vietnam and Iraq.

Nuts and bolts

This Spring Semester program begins in Urbana-Champaign with two weeks of Political Science 393, followed by two weeks of orientation in Vienna, and the second Viennese university semester. The second semester in Vienna runs from 1 March to 30 June and includes a two-week Easter break.

Students live in local dormitories with a mix of Austrian and other foreign students.

Students are affiliated with the Austria-Illinois Exchange Program (AIEP), which provides the following support:

  • on-campus and on-site orientation
  • assistance with travel and travel transfers
  • assistance with accommodation arrangements
  • on-site academic, bureaucratic, and personal advising
  • excursions to several international organizations
  • semester-long mentoring with German language and culture

VDP students may participate in AIEP field trips and other social activities.

On-site administration for the program, including housing arrangements and on-site advising, is managed by the AIEP. For more information, please contact Bruce Murray (bmurray@illinois.edu) and/or Robert Jenkins (jenkinrj@illinois.edu).

Student Comments

The benefits of the VDP came from a number of things. The structure of the program itself was wonderful due to the open-ended classwork schedule. Having the freedom to work on PS 393 on our own time allowed us to get the most out of our time in Europe . . . Vienna was such a beautiful city to spend a semester in and I do not believe I would have had the same experience in another place.

- Joe Benz (participant, Spring 2011)

I teach at the Friendship Academy of Science and Technology. In order to get my spot in Teach for America in Baltimore, I heavily leveraged my time abroad. A big part of interviewing was discussing if we were capable of adapting to new environments and managing time. I was able to discuss the VDP program extensively in this interview.

I am also enrolled in a Masters of Science program at Johns Hopkins University, which I will hopefully be graduating from in May 2013! The program focuses heavily on data, research, and urban education policy. This is where my second thanks is in order, the research skills and advice provided during the VDP process was very helpful. I feel like I came into this masters program more prepared than most because of the experience with VDP. Thanks again!

- Chris Renno (participant, Spring 2010)

Participating in the first semester of the Vienna Diplomatic Program was an amazing experience. This program assumes that students have a high level of motivation, are able to manage their own semester-long research project and are able to represent themselves and their university professionally to diplomats from various international organizations. Throughout the semester, there were many lectures that VDP students were encouraged to attend at the American Embassy, the Renner Institute and the Vienna Diplomatic Academy, just to name a few.

Though a working knowledge of German is not required, I felt personally motivated to learn as much of the language as possible in the semester I spent in Vienna. Now that I have returned to Illinois, I am continuing with my German language studies. Though I feel I gained more linguistic experience just being in a German-speaking country for 5 months than I would have in a classroom setting in the United States, there is still a lot I don't know, and I am looking forward to being able to communicate well in German as well as English and French.

The academic aspect of the VDP was amplified by being in Vienna itself. Just walking through the streets of the city, you are exposed to more history and culture than most people have ever seen. Every district has something exciting to offer -- you just have to figure out what it is. Vienna is an incredibly cosmopolitan city. Just walking down the streets, it's not uncommon to hear dozens of different languages being spoken all around you. The cultural side of Vienna is certainly comparable to if not richer than the lures of places like Paris and Berlin. I heard Vienna once described as the "best city in Europe that no one knows about" and I think this is definitely true. I enjoyed my 5 months so much that I am seriously considering returning to Vienna after graduation.

- Faith Swords (participant, Spring 2006)


Please visit the Study Abroad website and find the box labeled "Budget Sheets" at the top of the program page. Then click the link that corresponds to the term you are interested in. You should also consider your eligibility for LAS study abroad scholarships. Note the significant savings on tuition may offset your other costs.

International Organizations in Vienna

Most UN-affiliated organizations are located at the Vienna International Center (VIC). Vienna is the third UN city, after New York and Geneva. It serves as headquarters for some UN-affiliated organizations, and many others maintain offices there.

Security and related issues

Energy-related organizations

Regional economic organizations

Social Policy

Drug policy


United States Missions in Vienna

European Union offices in Vienna