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Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Minimum GPA (Undergraduate): 2.5 Language of Instruction: English
Housing: Flat/Apartment Number of Credits Offered: 12-15
Eligible Population: 02 Sophomore, 03 Junior, 04 Senior, Graduate Type of Program: Internship
Click here for a definition of this term Area of Study: Political Philosophy, Public Policy and Management, Russian and Eurasian Studies, Social Justice, Sociology, Government and International Policy, Conflict Analysis and Resolution, Criminology Law and Society, Anthropology, Global Affairs, Health and Social Policy, History, Immigration Studies, Integrative Studies, International Security, International/Comparative Studies Click here for a definition of this term Study Abroad Host: Global Education Office
Minimum GPA (Graduate): 3.0 Open to non-Mason Students: Yes
Program eligible for VA Benefits: Yes
Program Description:

The Budapest Semester: Europe at a Crossroads: The EU, War, Democracy, and the Rise of Ultra-Nationalism - Internships and Classes

Budapest, Spring 2023




The idealized vision of a united, democratic and pluralist Europe is coming under assault. Migrants and refugees challenge Europe’s “open-door” policy; ethnic minorities demand equality while others seek independence; and ultra-nationalist groups and populist parties are bursting into the political mainstream. The COVID pandemic has exposed the fragility of democratic traditions and norms in several European countries, including Hungary and Poland.
This distinctive semester, launched in 2017, in association with Global Knowledge, LLC, equips students with a unique lens to closely examine the myriad challenges facing the vision of a united Europe. Can it remain a borderless Union, or rather, should new veiled borders be erected to keep out foreigners who do not share Europe’s religious and racial identities? How can the European Union maintain its democratic and pluralistic ethos in light of these challenges?

Why Budapest?
Hungary’s capital has been voted in 2019 as the “best travel destination in Europe.” The city offers a multitude of venues for visitors, including a mixture of old and modern world architecture, a richly textured history and culture, and a welcoming ambiance.
Hungary’s self-proclaimed illiberal-democratic government is playing a distinctive role in this European debate given its opposition to allowing asylum-seekers unrestricted entry into the continent. The Hungarian government’s highly restrictive media law and the limitations imposed on the judiciary’s freedom have also placed the country on a collision course with most members of the European Union. Hungary’s highly vibrant civil society, however, where our students work as volunteer-interns, is attempting, albeit with limited success, to moderate the regime’s unrelenting policies by promoting human rights, equality, and democracy. Spending a semester in Budapest, therefore, offers students an unparalleled opportunity to closely examine contemporary European society and politics.
The program revolves around three distinct but interrelated themes: nationalism and national identity; history and politics of the European Union; and challenges to liberal democracy in the 21st century.

Further, existing tensions between sovereignty and local nationalism on the one hand, and transnationalism on the other, as well as the growing controversy over the future viability of the European Union form the intellectual foundations of this academic program.

Program Details

This semester program is based in Budapest, Hungary, one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and a perfect location for studying the history and politics of the EU; current challenges to liberal democracy; and nationalism and national identity as perceived in East-Central Europe. The program, open to undergraduate and graduate students, includes three academically challenging courses taught by senior Hungarian professors and a supervised professional internship. The internship enables students to work 20 hours per week throughout the semester at non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Budapest with missions related to the program’s academic objectives. Students are housed in modern, fully-furnished apartments, located in the heart of downtown Budapest with easy access to public transportation, restaurants, groceries, and shopping. Classes and the internship are held on Monday through Thursday while the three-day weekend can be devoted to study and leisure.

During the past three years, the program visited refugee camps, Roma communities, and other minority groups. Future field trips will be held in Hungary or elsewhere in the region.

Students with majors or minors in the social sciences (government & politics, sociology, global affairs, and conflict resolution) are highly encouraged to apply!  

Hungary is located in the heart of Europe with perfect access to Western and Eastern Europe, convenient for weekend trips and spring break trips.
Internship Credit Course Credit
6 credits (Undergraduate)
3 credits (Graduate)
9 credits (George Mason University Resident Credits)
Internship Class 1 Class 2 Class 3
The European Union: History, Policy, & Politics Nationalism and the Politics of National Identity in Europe Challenges to Liberal Democracy in the 21st Century
3 credits 3 credits 3 credits
Internship course taught in English by Mason Professor Yehuda Lukacs, PhD in Budapest Taught in English by Dr. Boglárka Koller Taught in English by Prof. Szabolcs Pogonyi Taught in English by Professor Frank Zsigó
Offering credit for the following undergraduate courses:
  • Integrative Studies (INTS) 390 - International Internship in Budapest (6 credits) - default
  • Global Affairs (GLOA) 495 - Internship in Budapest (6 credits)
  • Conflict Analysis and Resolution (CONF) 370 - Internship in Budapest (6 credits)
  • Government (GOVT) 480 - Internship in Budapest (6 credits)

Offering credit for the following graduate courses:
  • Integrative Studies (INTS) 595 - Internship in Budapest (3 credits) - default
Offering credit for the following undergraduate courses:
  • Conflict Analysis and Resolution (CONF)*
  • Global Affairs (GLOA)*
  • Government (GOVT)*
  • Sociology (SOCI)*
  • Economics (ECON)*
  • History (HIST)*
*credits are tentative 

Offering credit for the following graduate courses:
  • Integrative Studies (INTS)
  • Sociology (SOCI) 
Offering credit for the following undergraduate courses:
  • Government (GOVT) 329: Issues in Political Theories/Values
  • Government (GOVT) 339: Issues In Politics of Adv. Industrial Societies
  • Conflict Analysis and Resolution (CONF) 397 - Global Migration
  • Global Affairs (GLOA) 480: National Identity in Europe

Offering credit for the following graduate courses:
  • Government (GOVT) 741: Adv. Sem in Int'l Politics
  • Anthropology (ANTH) 655: Nationalism, Transnationalism, & States 
Offering credit for the following undergraduate courses:
  • Sociology (SOCI)*
  • Global Affairs (GLOA)*
  • History (HIST)*
  • Government (GOVT)*

Offering credit for the following graduate courses:
  • Sociology (SOCI)* 
  • Integrative Studies (INTS)*
*credits are tentative 


The semester in Budapest offers students a combination of a 2.5 day per week professional internship, and three high level, academically challenging courses. The three courses are taught by three senior Hungarian professors who are experts in these fields. The program is hosted by Eötvös Loránd University’s Faculty of Social Sciences (ELTE). Founded in 1635, ELTE is one of Hungary’s largest and most prestigious public institutions of higher education.


Undergraduate students take a 6-credit internship course taught by a Mason professor in Budapest. Students should speak to their academic advisor and their undergraduate program director about applying internship credit to their degree. Some undergraduate programs have independent research and special topics credit that may apply to this program. Some departments have specific requirements for receiving internship credit. Students are responsible for initiating the conversation with the academic department and communicating said requirements to Mason Study Abroad. Students must comply with department requirements in order to receive internship credit. Undergraduate students also take three 3-credit courses taught in English by Hungarian professors. See table above for more information.


Graduate students must seek approval from their graduate program advisor prior to applying to the program. Graduate students take a 3-credit internship course taught by a Mason professor in Budapest. Some graduate programs have practicum, independent research, and special topics credit that may apply to this program. Departments are likely to have specific requirements for receiving credit for the international internship; the student is responsible for initiating the conversation with the academic department and communicating said requirements to Mason Study Abroad. Students must comply with department requirements in order to receive internship credit. Graduate students take three 3-credit courses taught in English by Hungarian professors. See table above for more information. 


This program is open to all graduate and undergraduate students who meet the GPA requirement. Undergraduate students should have 45 undergraduate credits completed by the start date of the program. Graduate students should have completed at least one semester of graduate work by the start date of the program. Students from all universities are eligible to participate. 

Students participating in the program are required by the internship sites to be fully vaccinated prior to arrival in Budapest. Students can find more information about study abroad during COVID-19 here: COVID-19 Travel Updates.


Internship Placements:

Budapest Semester Internship Application Checklist

The internship component involves students working 20 hours per week for four months at NGOs. Students are individually placed and contribute to the work of these organizations with missions directly related to the program's theme. Students may be placed in organizations that focus on providing services to minorities (especially the Roma) along with refugee integration, conflict resolution, human rights, housing and medical services, intercultural communication, research, and more.

Learn more about the Internship Placement Process.

Past internship sites have included but are not limited to: Center for European Neighborhood StudiesTom Lantos InstituteOpen Society ArchivesMinority Rights Group, and Zachor. Students can anticipate being placed in internship sites of similar caliber and directly related to the program's theme and focus while also taking into consideration the individual's personal and professional aspirations. 


Student housing for the semester is in shared student apartments in downtown Budapest. Apartments are centrally located and near public transportation, fully furnished, and have wi-fi included. Housing assignments will be made and communicated before departure.

Visa Information

An entry visa is not required for US citizens, but visa requirements may vary for non-US citizens. Learn more about Hungary's visa and entry requirements here. Non-US citizens should speak with the On-Site Director prior to submitting their visa application. All students will be required to obtain a residence permit once the program has begun. Dr. Lukacs will assist all students in this process.


Spring 2023 Program Dates:
January 11 - May 12, 2023

January 11 Arrival to Budapest and apartment check-in
January 12-15 Orientation – student IDs; apply for resident card; “survival” Hungarian mini-course, and sightseeing
January 14 Welcome Dinner
January 16 First day of Monday class (10AM-1PM, 2PM-5PM)
January 17 First day of internship
January 18 First day of Wednesday class (9AM-12PM)
March 15 National Holiday
TBD Field Trip
May 1 Last Monday class
May 3 Last Wednesday class
May 4 Last day of internship
May 8 Final exams (Monday)
May 10 Final exam (Wednesday) & Farewell dinner
May 12 Check out and travel home

*Two classes are held on Monday and one class on Wednesday morning. Internship days are Tuesday, Wednesday (half-day) and Thursday.

Program Cost

Spring 2023: Coming Soon!
Fall 2022: $12,200
(applies to in-state and out-of-state students)

Please note: the cost of living in Hungary, such as food and transportation, is significantly lower than in the U.S. 

The Program Cost for study abroad courses is assessed separately from Mason tuition and fees. This means separate charges will be put on your student account for this course, a study abroad tuition charge and a study abroad program fee charge which together equal the published Program Fee for this course. 

  • Application deposit
  • Tuition (15 credits - undergraduate; 12 credits - graduate) & mandatory fees
  • Housing - shared student apartment for the semester
    • *Single rooms are available at the request of the student for an additional cost of $2,650
  • Internship placement and on-site support
  • Guided sightseeing tours, including entrance fees to museums
  • Guest speakers and professional site visits
  • Hungarian University ID entitling students to significant discounts for public transportation (Eötvös Loránd University)
  • Three-day field trip including guides, transportation, accommodations, and two daily meals
  • Pre-Departure Orientation
  • International Emergency Insurance

Not included:
  • Airfare*
  • Passport 
  • Visa application fee (if applicable)
  • Personal expenses
  • Most meals
  • Residence Permit
  • Housing Deposit - Students should anticipate having to submit a housing deposit at the start of the semester (on average USD$350)
  • In-country transportation (to classes and internship site)
  • COVID-19 testing
  • Vaccinations 
  • Required textbooks and/or course materials 

*Note: This program does not include a group flight. Information regarding arrival times and location will be sent out to all participants after the application deadline. Do not purchase airfare until you receive the "Green Light for Flights" notice from the Global Education Office via email.

The notice will include information on the arrival/departure airports, flight times, and where to go upon arrival. Students who fail to follow the guidelines GEO sends out will be responsible for applicable costs of changing their flights. When the time comes to purchase airfare, GEO will be recommending the purchase of Flight Interruption and Cancellation Insurance. The “Green Light for Flights” email will provide additional information about this insurance.  


Program Payments

The full program fee is charged to your Mason Student Account. Students pay the Global Education Office (GEO) Program Fee as advertised in two payments (Application Deposit + Final Payment). 

Application Deposit: $200 non-refundable Application Deposit must be received by the application deadline. This fee is paid online through the MasonAbroad application system and is included in the program fee.
Final Payment: The final balance payment is made through the Mason Bill+Payment system. Payment is due according to the Mason Payment Schedule. The amount due is the difference of your Program Cost minus the $200 you will have already paid, the Application Deposit.

Note: You can make your final payment in the Mason Bill+Payment system even if you do not see the GEO program charge on your student account. George Mason University applies payments to outstanding charges first. If you have an outstanding balance from a previous semester your payments will first go to paying that charge. You will still be responsible for the GEO charge.

Financial Aid: 
In most cases, financial aid (federal, state, institutional financial aid, scholarships, grants or loans) can be used to finance study abroad. It is the student’s responsibility to check with the Office of Financial Aid to review their financial aid package. The Office of Financial Aid is the only office that can determine your aid eligibility.

Meeting with your financial aid officer prior to applying to study abroad will help you understand if, how much, and when your aid can be used to study abroad.

Confirmation of your financial aid award may not be available until registration and billing for the term in question is final. If aid eligibility changes, or the amount of aid disbursed is lower than anticipated, students are responsible for all remaining account balances or risk late fees, holds on their accounts, and program dismissal.

To assist students in the processing of their financial aid, GEO will communicate with the Office of Financial aid those students who plan to utilize financial aid for their specific study abroad program through their application with GEO.  Please note there is no guarantee to students that their aid can be utilized for their specific study abroad program.

If you plan to use federal, state, institutional financial aid, scholarships, grants or loans to finance your study abroad you must: 
  • Mark "Yes" to "Do you plan to use Financial Aid to finance your program (federal, state, institutional financial aid, scholarships, grants or loans)?" in your profile in

After Acceptance:  *Students must be enrolled at least half-time for federal loans and the majority of grant funds. Please refer to the Financial Aid Website for a definition of half-time for undergraduate and graduate students:
VA Benefits: This program is ineligible for VA Benefits. 

Withdrawal and Refund Policy: All participants are bound by the Mason GEO Withdrawal and Refund Policy.

Tuition Exemptions
If you plan to apply for a tuition exemption (for example VMSDEP or senior citizen exemption) to cover a portion of the total cost of the Study Abroad program please contact GEO immediately. Not all exemptions are eligible for use on study abroad courses. When an exemption is eligible for use, only tuition charges are covered. The participant will be required to pay program fees, which may include housing, meals, and direct payments to our overseas partners.
Employee Tuition Exemption Benefit
Global Education Office (Study Abroad) courses and trip fees are ineligible for tuition waivers under this policy. For more information please see the Employee Tuition Exemption Benefit for details.

Payment Instructions

For more information on payments, financial aid, and information for non-Mason students:



GEO offers a number of need- and merit-based scholarships. All Mason students are welcome to apply:


Application Deadline

October 10th

Students participating in the program are required by the internship sites to be fully vaccinated prior to arrival in Budapest. Students can find more information about study abroad during COVID-19 here: COVID-19 Travel Updates.

Application requirements:*

Program Deposit: $200 for all applicants.

Course Selection Questionnaire: You will choose the course(s) you would like to be receive credit for on this program. Check the "Academics" tab to see what courses are offered on this program. If you need help selecting your course, check with your academic advisor.

Passport Status Questionnaire: You do not need a passport to complete this questionnaire or the application. However, if you do not have a valid passport, you should begin applying for one now. The Global Education Office offers Passport Grants to help.

Personal Statement:Your personal statement is a letter given to a potential internship host along with your resume. A personal statement is your chance to describe and give examples of the skills you possess and to give a potential internship host a better idea your goals and interests. As you are writing your statement, think of your audience - your potential employer abroad. 

Resume/CV: Your resume (Curriculum Vitae or CV) is given to a potential internship host along with your personal statement. 

Signature Documents: Read and electronically "sign" the documents regarding the acknowledgement of risk, the pre-departure orientation, and your financial responsibility.

Additional requirements for non-Mason applicants:

  • Official transcript: To be mailed or emailed to the Global Education Office at George Mason University.
  • Non-degree Contract Course/Admission Form: Please complete the form and upload it into the questionnaire.
* Additional application requirements may apply to individual programs. Once you open your application, you will see all application requirements.

Application instructions:

Links and Resources

Program Links

Travel & Visa Links

Mason Links

On-Site Director

Yehuda Lukacs, PhD
Associate Professor Emeritus, Global Affairs, George Mason University

GEO Program Administrator

Name Brittany Harris (she/her)
Phone 703-993-2154


Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Spring Semester 2023 10/10/2022 ** Rolling Admission TBA TBA

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.