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This guide was created to help you navigate the different aspects of travelling abroad as a UCEAP student. All important aspects of attending university in your host country are addressed here, including academic information, extension of UCEAP participation, cultural awareness, orientation, transportation, finances and much more.
Remember to also visit the Participants
section of the UCEAP website for important information and deadlines.
Click a heading below to see section content.
Liaison Office Abroad
Phone Number Codes
U.S. international code .........011
(dial this to call from the U.S.)
Israel country code.............. 972
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Ben-Gurion University is a leader in sustainable development, environmental studies, global health, and Israel studies. It is the #1 university choice for Israeli undergraduate students. You will have access to the Center for Bedouin Studies and to the archives of David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel. The university enrolls almost 20,000 students and is located in Beersheva, a multi-cultural city in the heart of the Negev desert, only one hour from Tel Aviv.
Graduate students have access to the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research and the Ben-Gurion Research Institute, both located on the Sede Boqer campus one hour south of Beersheva.
Students on this program must be able to accept restriction of movement. Travel to specified areas in Israel must be avoided and students are expected to closely follow all safety and security regulations and guidelines established by UCEAP, Ben-Gurion University, and the U.S. Department of State.
As an OSP student, you are exposed to many of the top instructors at BGU through a variety of courses taught in English. OSP courses are small, and BGU professors know their students by name and are happy to spend time working with you beyond the weekly lessons, sometimes meeting with you after class to continue a discussion. In addition, they might provide field trips outside the classroom. Small OSP classes also give you the opportunity to interact and learn from your peers – many of whom have diverse backgrounds and come from universities around the world. Through networking with peers, many international students find themselves learning or becoming involved in projects with their roommates or other Israeli students.
Be prepared to find OSP courses are academically rigorous. You will be given assignments and exams similar to your UC home institution, and during the final exam period you will find study groups all over campus and in the dorms, as most students live near the university.
BGU is unique because academics and world-renowned research are integrated with community involvement. Throughout your stay, you will be encouraged to experience Israel outside the classroom and join BGU students who are known for their involvement in research and community outreach. Contact the OSP office and talk with professors to experience for yourself that BGU is indeed the link between academia and industry as well as Israel and the developing world.
While studying at Ben Gurion University during the academic year, you are required to take a full-time course of study and enroll in a minimum of five courses (four coures + a Hebrew language course) for a total of 18 UC quarter units each term. Note: Units per course range from 3 to 6 UC quarter units. UC quarter units are calculated by multiplying BGU semester units by 1.5.
Pre-term language study
Ulpan (Intensive Hebrew Language Program)
The program begins for all students with a required 6-week Hebrew language program, known as an Ulpan. The Ulpan is an intensive, immersive Hebrew language course that incorporates a traditional curriculum of foreign language instruction to build reading, writing, and conversation skills, but also includes exposure to Israeli news media, music, movies, TV and radio, and field trips.
The “summer Ulpan” precedes the fall term for fall semester and year participants. The “winter Ulpan” precedes the spring term for spring semester participants. Year participants who want to repeat the Ulpan may pay for the winter Ulpan directly to BGU but cannot receive UC credit for the repeat course.
The program meets for four hours daily, Sunday through Thursday. Based on current skill level, students are placed in one of the many levels of Hebrew offered in the Ulpan, from very basic to extremely advanced.
The Ulpan may be taken for a letter grade or P/NP.
Ulpan Language Level Placement
You will receive from BGU the Hebrew placement exam (via email) as part of your online pre-departure packet. You have the option of completing the exam or checking the box that says that you do not have previous Hebrew language instruction. Once you arrive at BGU, you will meet with the Hebrew language coordinator who speaks with you to ascertain your Hebrew level. The oral exam is brief but must be taken upon arrival.
Course opportunities during the term
Ben-Gurion University enjoys an outstanding international reputation in multidisciplinary academics and research. Overseas Student Program (OSP) students will be exposed to many of the top faculty at BGU through a variety of courses taught in English. Students can design an academic program from four distinctive tracks of study, or from a rich variety of general course offerings.
Courses taught in English are taught through the Center for International Academic Affairs, Ginsburg-Ingerman Overseas Student Program (OSP). Students who speak Hebrew can also take courses taught in Hebrew at BGU.
The OSP calendar and the regular BGU calendar differ significantly in the fall semester, but not as much in the spring semester. Students taking BGU courses in Hebrew during the fall semester must remain at BGU through the end of February and will also pay more for housing.
Note: Hebrew language study is required during the fall term for fall and year students and during the spring term for spring students. Hebrew courses are scheduled at times when no other courses are scheduled to avoid conflicts.
OSP courses cover a wide range of subject areas and majors. Of particular interest may be courses in anthropology, ecology, global health, history, industrial engineering and management, literature, linguistics, political science, sociology, and sustainable development.
Students may also focus on one of three concentrated tracks of study – Global Health, Sustainable Development, and Israel Studies – or select courses from a range of these tracks.
- The specialized Global Health Track offers an interdisciplinary program of classes ranging from individual illness to environmental health factors. Guided tours to places that actually practice or demonstrate aspects of Global Health are part of this learning experience. Among the planned tours, for example, are visits to a clinic in a Bedouin town, a large Israeli hospital, and to an open clinic for migrant workers and refugees in Tel Aviv. There is also a unique opportunity to take a credit-bearing practicum of hands-on field work in local clinics.
- The Sustainable Development Track presents a holistic and comprehensive viewpoint on Israel's and the region's environmental challenges. The track requires a research seminar that presents a unique opportunity for students who are interested in conducting research that can be done only in Israel such as working with particular communities or dealing with an issue specific to Israel and the Middle East. The required Field Study Course offers students the opportunity to make site visits and engage in field observations.
- The Israel Studies Track is aimed to go beyond disciplinary contours and delve into the themes it examines: a state, a society, its cultures, beliefs, political structures, and critical historical events though a multidisciplinary approach. The track allows students the chance to be engaged in research and internship programs in the world-renowned archives of David Ben-Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel, while also participating in present day field research.
Browse all courses
taught in English. This search includes OSP courses and BGU courses taught in English.
You will pre-register before departure, but a couple of weeks after the Ulpan begins, you will register in Israel.
Note: While OSP staff will be able to help you with the registration process at BGU, OSP staff cannot answer UCEAP-related questions. Direct those questions to the UCEAP Systemwide Office. At the same time be advised that the UCEAP Systemwide Office cannot assist you with questions about fulfilling home department requirements. You will need to contact your home UC department advisor.
UCEAP course registration: Entering your courses into your MyEAP Registration Study List
- In the first month of the program, you’ll receive detailed instructions from the UCEAP Systemwide Office. It's critical that you read and respond to all e-mails regarding the registration process.
- Search the MyEAP course catalog to select courses taken by previous students and enter course information for new course offerings
- Include the correct number of UC units in UC quarter units (even for semester campus students).
- The Systemwide Office reviews courses (especially subject areas and division) and finalizes Study Lists. Check your final Study List carefully, as it determines how your courses will appear on your transcript.
Internship and Volunteer Opportunities
Internships for UCEAP students are available and arranged by the Internship Coordinator at OSP. You can earn 2-4 units and are expected to work 4-8 hours per week at your internship location. You will complete an internship report every two weeks. Some placements have been at the Institute for Desert Research, the units for Youth Education and Youth Activities, and the research institutes for Water or Dryland Environment.
Ben-Gurion University is unique in that in addition to advancing education and research, community outreach is enveloped in its core mission. More than 40 percent of the student body engages in community service, supported by the University’s popular Community Action Unit. OSP encourages you to take advantage of a wide range of volunteer opportunities as a way to broaden and deepen your experience of Israel and to explore your personal and career interests. OSP staff works with you to find a project that meets your interests or needs.
Students have interned and volunteered at the following sites:
- BGU’s community outreach programs or local non-governmental organizations that work with children, at-risk youth, Bedouin communities, family centers, high schools, etc.
- Ayalim Student Movement (students live, work and volunteer in desert communities)
- Beer-Sheva’s government offices
- Beer-Sheva District Court
- The Israel Ministry of Housing
- Soroka University Medical Center
- Local art institute
- Newspapers and media organizations
- Engineering and architecture firms
- Ben-Gurion University research institutes and centers
Please note: Fall volunteer opportunities are sometimes limited due to the autumn holiday season in Israel and the general BGU schedule. Details will be available upon arrival in Israel.
Extending UCEAP Participation
Official Start Date & Mandatory Orientation
Travel to Your Host Country
UCEAP Travel Restriction While in Israel
Travel around Israel
Apply the same principles of personal safety that you use while in Jerusalem. You are prohibited from visiting the West Bank or Gaza, whether or not the borders are open.
The UCEAP Student Budget does not include funds for recreational travel.
Understanding Your Finances
Your MyEAP Account & Budget
Numerous scholarships are available from Hebrew University and other organizations. After acceptance, contact both Hebrew University as well as the following organizations:
MASA Grant/Scholarship & Rothberg Fund/Scholarship
These two awards are not money disbursed to students at any time. After arrival in Israel, you will be required to complete an application, and the award will be disbursed directly to Rothberg International School to decrease the cost of what you would otherwise be charged for the program. Completing the application is mandatory for all UCEAP students. (Your UCEAP fees are already reduced by the amount of the award.) Receiving one of these awards does not affect the availability of any other MASA need-based scholarships or funding from any other sources.
Other Outside Agency Scholarships
Students who receive Outside Agency Scholarships (such as MASA need-based or AJLI)
Please note these awards are usually paid directly to the student and typically come very late in the program or after the program has ended.
These scholarships are not the same as the MASA Grant awarded by BGU, which is applied directly to your UCEAP BGU account.
In order to avoid a block being placed on your UC student account or grades being held, you will need to pay all UCEAP fees (less other UC campus financial aid of grants, campus scholarships, loans, etc.) by the final payment due date, regardless of receipt of the scholarship by the student.
UCEAP does not coordinate with these outside agencies, so the student must coordinate with them directly.
If you are a recipient of one of these Outside Agency Scholarships, you are required to report the award to your home UC Financial Aid Office.
UCEAP students are required to live in BGU dormitories for security reasons. The dormitory complexes are one block from campus and across the street from the Beersheva train station and the BGU sports center. The apartment suites have single and double bedrooms, with full-year students having priority for the single bedrooms. Each suite has two or four bedrooms plus a bathroom and kitchenette where you can prepare your own complete meals if you wish. Kitchenware and bedding is not provided, but can be purchased at a reasonable cost. Often, your Israeli roommates will already have brought in cooking equipment which you can share. There are on-campus cafeterias and nearby restaurants with authentic Israeli cuisine. The dorms are both heated and air-conditioned. The complex includes a mini-market, laundry facitlities, 24-hour computer lab, student lounges, and other amenities. Supermarkets and other services such as hair salons and dry cleaners are close by the campus.
Housing during the Ulpan is paid by UCEAP, but you are responsible to reserve your own term housing and pay for it directly to BGU. You will also submit a security deposit and BGU will send full details.
The BGU Housing Department will assign rooms upon students' arrival on campus; the OSP office does not assign rooms. International students are assigned to an apartment with Israeli students, the best way to become immersed in Israeli student life. Most students will have the same room during the Ulpan and the term, but sometimes a shift is necessary after the Ulpan. All students are expected to keep their apartments clean; there is no additional cleaning service.
You are responsible for your own meals. While there is no meal plan, the kitchens are equipped with stove burners and refrigerators for preparing light meals and snacks. You can find moderately priced kosher cafeterias and snack bars in addition to small supermarkets in or near each student housing complex. Some students eat at least one meal per day in the university cafeterias although most cook for themselves. Kitchen utensils are not provided in the dormitories; however, you can purchase them in Israel. Since fish can be expensive, most Israelis eat a lot of meat and dairy products, fruit, and vegetables. A typical lunch usually costs $5-8 and includes chicken, rice or potatoes, a vegetable, dessert, and a drink.
One of the most important topics discussed during on-site orientation will be personal safety while using local public transportation. You are expected to understand and follow whatever guidelines you receive.
Public transportation is widely available in Israel. Buses, taxis and trains are readily available. The preferred method of transportation is the taxi. When possible, call a taxi by phone rather than hailing one on the street. Students are advised to avoid bus stations and buses in Israel, as they have historically been targets for terrorist attacks.
In order to integrate more fully into the Israeli community, you are encouraged to participate in cultural and other activities. The Overseas Student Program (OSP) office organizes various extracurricular events and excursions. Join clubs, sports teams, or music/theater/art groups; provide volunteer services to social organizations; participate in athletic events and religious activities; and attend lectures, discussions, and receptions in academic and community circles.
The BGU sports center offers lots of opportunity to be as active as you want. There are swimming pools, tennis courts, a soccer field, aerobics and other classes, and much more.
Places of worship for Jewish, Christian, and Muslim students offer not only religious services and classes, but also numerous social and cultural events. Movies are shown on-campus nightly and are a popular venue to meet with your new friends.
Local families open their homes to international students, for meals and social interaction. When you arrive, let the OSP know if you wish to take advantage of this exceptional chance to become familiar with an Israeli family and their thoughts and opinions. The OSP will assign a family for you to visit throughout your time abroad.
More than 40% of BGU students actively participate in volunteer activities. OSP staff will help you find volunteer work that will enrich your own experience in Israel as well as help others. Some jobs have been at the national emergency center, humanitarian aid providers, the Negev Museum of Art, and the Jewish-Arab Education for Equality organization.
Students with Disabilities
The Student Psychological Service Unit aims to provide solutions for personal, relationship and family problems, and for consultation regarding choice of profession or studies. The Unit staff consists of senior clinical psychologists, resident clinical psychologists, a psychiatrist and an occupational psychologist.
Consultations can be obtained for urgent problems and treatment for problems of a lasting nature. The Unit operates under strict observation of medical confidentiality.
The Unit is situated on the second floor of the Zlotowski Student Center
Taking pictures of military facilities or security around major government facilities is prohibited. Guards may question people taking pictures of such locations and confiscate the media.
Traffic & Transportation Safety
Public transportation is widely available and efficient in Israel. Buses, taxis, and trains are readily available. The preferred method of transportation is the taxi. When possible, program participants should call a taxi by phone rather than hailing one on the street.
Students are advised to avoid bus stations and buses in Israel, as they have often been targets for terrorist attacks. U.S. citizen employees of the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv and the U.S. Consulate General Jerusalem and their families have been prohibited from using public buses and light rail networks. Buses do not operate on Shabbat.
Shared taxis (sherut) drive on bus routes within Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Beer Sheva. They also run between many cities at a fare that is about the same as bus fare. They seat between four and ten passengers and cost less than normal taxis. The intercity sherut drivers will wait until the vehicle is full before departing. Intracity sherut taxis stop near bus stations and function like small buses. Sherut service is safe and secure in the major cities.
Taxis are readily available in all of Israel. Taxis operate 24 hours a day, though many do not run during the Shabbat. All taxis are equipped with a meter. Drivers are required to use the meter for all short duration trips.
Passenger rail travel in Israel operates from Nahariya in the north to the coastal city of Ashdod in the south; from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in the east; and to Beer Sheva in south-central Israel.
Trains are usually on time, air conditioned, and comfortable. Standing is commonly required on the busy routes, especially trains heading to Tel Aviv during rush hour. Soldiers travel for free on trains, so Sunday morning and Friday afternoon trains tend to be full. To ensure a seat on the train, arrive 15 minutes prior to departure and board the train early. If boarding in the middle of the route, board the train when it pulls into the station. Train stations are often in proximity to central bus stations, making transfer to buses easy.
All students will receive detailed security and emergency information and training upon arrival.
The BGU Security Department is responsible for the security of students, faculty and guests.Among its tasks is the responsibility for preventing terror activities, crime and property damage, maintaining law and order, managing on-campus parking areas and parking spaces, preparing for emergency situations and providing the initial response. All Department officials have completed full military service and undergone training suited to their security role according to the definitions and instructions of the Israeli Police. The Security Department operates a security center that works around the clock and responds to any security or other problem related to students and faculty. BGU has an Emergency Management Plan (initial response procedures) in accordance with its commitment to the safety and security of its personnel, students, visitors, residents and site users in the event of an emergency that might occur on any of the campuses.
Defining an "emergency situation" is the task of the national bodies: the Israeli Government, Home Front Command, and National Emergency Authority. The University maintains direct, uninterrupted contact with these bodies and with local authorities. The University administration and/or emergency staff is authorized to declare a state of emergency resulting from a local incident in one or more of the University's facilities that obstructs the routine functioning of the University.
In case of an emergency, information will be transmitted to the public on the University's home page, and via text messages, email, circulars and telephone hotline. Information will be issued in Hebrew and English. The University's Security Department is responsible for transmitting messages.
New York Office in an Emergency Situation
Students' parents residing outside Israel can rely on an information center that will be set up in the offices of OIAA (Office of International Academic Affairs) in New York. This office will maintain real-time contact, in English, with concerned parents. OIAA will be in regular direct contact with the program’s administrators in Israel. This center will be of invaluable assistance in an emergency.
BGU Security Department 24/7 Hotline in Israel
UCEAP Contingency Planning
In the Event of a Local Emergency
At Ben Gurion University:
Dial 61555 or 61888 for BGU emergency services.
The University of California, in accordance with applicable
Federal and State law and University policy, does not
discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, religion,
sex, gender identity, pregnancy,* disability, age, medical
condition (cancer-related), ancestry, marital status,
citizenship, sexual orientation, or status as a Vietnam-era
veteran or special disabled veteran. The University also
prohibits sexual harassment. This nondiscrimination policy
covers admission, access, and treatment in University programs
and activities. Inquiries regarding the University’s
student-related nondiscrimination policies may be directed to
the campus Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action
* Pregnancy includes pregnancy, childbirth, and medical
conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.