Information on BU
The BU campus stretches along the Charles River. Unlike many other American universities, however, it is not a traditional campus: the main buildings of the university are all along one street, Commonwealth Avenue. All the important buildings of the university are located on this street: all lecture rooms, food court, libraries, the university’s own bookstore, fitness center, etc. Approx. 30,000 students study at the BU.
The semester at the BU starts with an orientation day for all exchange students. At this, the students are introduced to university life in America and familiarized with all the important buildings and customs at the BU. The ISSO (International Students & Scholars Office) is responsible for all other concerns of Exchange Students.
The semester of the BU usually lasts from the beginning of September to mid-December. During Thanksgiving, there is a short break of four to five days of lecture-free time. Graduate students must take at least four courses, each with 4 American units. Depending on the master’s course, these units are converted into 5 – 8 ECTS.
According to ehuacom, the BU has a dozen colleges, including its own college for business administration and economics. As an exchange student, however, you are not admitted to this college, but to the ” Metropolitan College “. This was founded with the intention of offering employees the opportunity to attend university evening courses. In the meantime, however, almost only foreign students study in this college.
The courses each last three hours (not lessons) and generally take place between 11:00 and 14:00 or 18:00 – 21:00. As part of the “Graduate Certificate”, you have to take two of a selection of around eight courses; you are relatively free to choose the other courses. The courses are arranged with numbers according to the level of difficulty. Graduate students can only take courses in 600 or 700.
The courses can be chosen before the semester starts and you usually get the courses you have chosen. It is also possible to change courses during the first 2-3 weeks.
The academic level of the BU resp. of the Metropolitan College does not correspond to that of the HSG. In my opinion, however, the effort during the semester is the same, if not greater, than at the HSG. Almost every week you have to hand in a paper, hand in homework or give a lecture. The course is more case study-based and much more practical than the course at the HSG. The student’s own opinion is valued much more and there is no wrong answer in class, so to speak.
I have registered for the following 4 subjects:
AD 643 Project Communications Management
As the name suggests, this course is about project management and communication during projects. Overall, the course content is exciting and covers all the important points of project management. Although there is a participation grade in this course, it is purely frontal teaching. The course instructor usually gives a three-hour monologue, bringing in a lot of his practical experience and just as happy to digress from the topic.
The examination consists of two small written papers, two group presentations and a final group paper. The effort of the course is limited. However, according to the professor himself, it is almost impossible to get a better grade than an A-. In addition, the grading criteria are sometimes somewhat opaque.
AD 648 e-commerce
The course should deal with e-commerce, but the first part of the course is more about the development and technology of the Internet and the second part is more about marketing and social media. The professor structures his lecture very well and the content is nevertheless very interesting. The exam includes active participation in the class, four online discussions, a midterm, a final, programming a website (with Dreamwaver) and a small presentation on this website. The effort of the course is rather high, because you have to read a lot every week and also have to take care of the ongoing assignments. However, the effort is also rewarded with corresponding grades.
AD 737 Innovative Marketing Techniques
The course is basically about creating a marketing concept for a real or fictional company and designing a suitable website (with WordPress). After creating the website, the main focus is then on search engine optimization, social media marketing and general online marketing. The course is very practical because everything you learn in the course has to be implemented on the basis of your company.
The examination performance comprises 5 “milestones”, each about 10-15 pages long, a midterm, a final as well as participation and peer review grades. The effort is rather great, but it is worthwhile because the grades also reward the effort.
AD 741 The Innovation Process: Developing New Products and Services
As the course title suggests, it’s about the innovation process. This was by far the most exciting course, because within the course you analyze current companies such as Aribnb, UBER, Spotify, Dropbox etc. The effort is correspondingly large: Every week you have to read several cases and chapters and prepare for the class. As good as the course content submitted and discussed is, the instructor is unstructured and unable to lead the course.
Examination achievements include two individual papers, two group presentations, a group work, a final and participation grade. Unfortunately, neither the effort nor the quality is adequately graded. The grading criteria are opaque, incomprehensible and in some cases contradictory. Nevertheless, I would recommend the course, as the course content and the materials given are very interesting.
The application at the BU is a little more demanding than at other free mover universities. Like many others, I signed up for the exchange through MicroEDU. The advice and assistance during the application process is first class. For an application at the BU you have to have at least a 5. 0 grade in the first master’s semester or in the bachelor’s level (Swiss grading system !!). In addition, the BU requires the following documents:
- Motivation letter
- Recommendation letter
- Application for Enrollment BU
- Certified bachelor’s certificate and certified transcript of the grades at the master’s level
- TOEFL iBT Score Report (copy is sufficient) (at least 84 points)
- Original financial confirmation
- Copy of the passport
- Contact form semester MicroEDU
- Signed “Terms and Conditions” form from MicroEDU
At the end of May I received the written confirmation from the BU by mail to my home. The next step is to apply for a visa. This was relatively easy to do. The appointment can be booked online and the waiting time in the embassy is also limited.
As a graduate student, you are not allowed to live on campus. It is therefore up to the student to find an apartment. However, the BU offers help in finding accommodation. Depending on where you live, you pay between $ 800 and $ 1,600 for a room per month. I was lucky and got a room in an apartment from a colleague. The apartment was in the Fenway neighborhood and was $ 1200 a month for a small room.
One option that many exchange students chose was the ESL Townhouse in the Fenway area. These accommodations cost up to $ 1,600 per month per room (mostly four-bedroom apartments). However, you can rent the rooms by the week. Apartments and houses in other regions are of course available for significantly fewer members. However, I would advise everyone to live as close to the university as possible. The university can be reached by subway (or the “T”), but the Green Line is very unreliable and slow, which can make commuting an ordeal.
The tuition fee including the mandatory health insurance amounts to approximately $ 14,000. The general cost of living is comparable to Switzerland. In my opinion, there is no need to open an American bank account. Mastercard and American Express credit cards are accepted everywhere and you can withdraw money with the Maestro card at all ATMs.
Depending on where you live, it is either worth buying a Semester Charlie Card (all public transport) or buying a bike. However, the subway system can be a little unreliable at times. The city is pretty bike friendly. Uber is very popular and inexpensive, especially among the young. In addition, cars are available at any time of the day or night, so you hardly have to wait longer than five minutes.
The climate is also rather mild, the summer of 2015 was also rather hot in Boston, so you could walk around in shorts and shorts until mid-October. In the four months I was in Boston, it rained a maximum of five times.
Boston and all of New England are just indescribably beautiful, especially during Indian Summer. On weekends it is therefore a good idea to go on road trips through Massachusetts or the neighboring states (see pictures). NYC is 4 hours away by bus, buses run every half hour and cost between $ 10 and $ 30.
Exchange experience overall
Overall, the exchange at the BU was a great experience. Boston is a great city with always something going on. In order to come into contact with local students, however, one has to make an effort, as one is assigned to a separate college for exchange students. Nevertheless, I can only recommend an exchange semester at the BU or in Boston in general!