Study Tour FAQ
1. Am I Eligible to Apply?
Eligible applicants include the following from the United States and Canada: Social Studies teachers (grades K-12), Social Studies methods professors, curriculum coordinators, principals/assistant principals and applicable States’ Department of Education employees.
2. How do I apply?
This FAQ, along with the 2014 study tour application form, will be updated in the fall of 2013. The deadline for 2013 applications has passed.
3. When is the application deadline? How long must I wait to be notified?
The 2013 deadline is February 1. Application packets must be postmarked on or before this date. Notification letters will be mailed by April 1.
4. How much does the study tour cost?
TOP pays for most expenses through the support of its partners. TOP pays for most domestic and international transportation fees, hotel accommodation fees, two meals per day while abroad (usually breakfast and dinner), and any mandatory study tour related fees, such as museum entry fees, bicycle rental fees, etc.
- TOP pays neither for domestic nor for international airline baggage fees when incurred.
- TOP does not pay for passport/visa renewal fees.
- TOP does not pay for expenses incurred during free time.
- TOP does not pay for incidental hotel costs, including but not limited to long-distance telephone service, Internet service (WiFi), Pay-Per-View, laundry service, mini bar, etc.
Each participant will be provided with her or his own hotel room.
A refundable deposit is required upon acceptance. The deposit amount for 2013 participants is $350.00 USD.
Deposit refund depends on the successful completion of the items listed in question 8 of this FAQ.
5. When do the study tours take place?
The study tours are two weeks in length and take place during the summer months. The specific tour dates are listed at the top of the application form. Applicants are encouraged to select as many of the applicable dates as possible.
6. Is knowledge of the German language a requirement?
Since TOP caters to American and Canadian educators of Social Studies, knowledge of the German language is NOT a requirement.
German language educators wanting to travel to Germany are encouraged to contact their nearest Goethe-Institut for scholarship opportunities. (Please visit www.goethe.de/usa or www.goethe.de/canada.)
7. How can I improve my chances of being selected?
While not a specific requirement, applicants with documented workshop leadership experience are preferred. We ask that applicants document the workshops they have led on the resume (CV) portion of their application form.
Applicants who lead a “TOP” workshop with TOP teaching materials between May 1, 2012 and the application deadline will receive additional preferential treatment. (Those interested in leading a TOP workshop may request materials at no charge. Refer to the Workshops section of this website for more information.) Such workshop leaders must return their completed attendee forms to receive credit for their workshop.
The application review committee reads applicants’ essays very carefully. Have someone proof read your essay before submission. It is recommended that you reference current events in your first essay. It is also recommended that you be as thorough as possible when describing how you will follow through with your post-tour responsibilities in the second essay.
8. What is the catch?
This is a study tour. In fact, there is not much free time during the two weeks abroad. We ask that all participants come willing to engage, to learn, and to be able to absorb a lot of information during a fun, yet mentally and sometimes physically intense two weeks in Germany.
Upon returning from Germany, each participant is required to 1) write a “unit of learning” consisting of one or more lessons and 2) conduct one TOP workshop at the local, district, state, regional, or national level by May 1, 2014. The “unit” may consist of any “Germany-related” lessons of your choosing.
Those participants who conduct a workshop as part of their study tour application (refer to question #7) must still complete one workshop following their return from Germany.
9. Just how "physically intense" are the study tours?
While groups travel long distances by plane, train, or bus, participants must often walk distances of several miles per day; for example, from a train station to a hotel or between scheduled events. Punctuality is paramount, so walking rather briskly is sometimes necessary.
Participants must also be responsible for their luggage at all times. This can be especially challenging when embarking/disembarking trains. Elevators and escalators are also not omnipresent, so navigating stairways with luggage can be problematic for even the most experienced travelers. In addition to walking, groups often take at least one (optional) bicycle tour. Alternative arrangements will be made for participants with disabilities.
The fickle nature of summer weather in Germany can pose unique challenges.
10. What will the travel itinerary look like?
The emphasis will be on modern German issues, relating especially to the political system, economy, culture, education, and environmental sustainability. Additional themes of note include the legacy of the Holocaust, German unification, and European integration.