Information about AIT-Budapest for Dartmouth Students

For information about AIT that is not on this page, visit the AIT website.

General Information About AIT-Budapest

AIT-Budapest was founded in 2007 by Gábor Bojár, “the Bill Gates of Hungary.” Bojár is a physicist and entrepreneur who founded Graphisoft in the early 1980s. Graphisoft made software for computer-aided design, targeting 3D architectural design. The company did very well after communism fell, and Bojár sold the company in 2007 to open up AIT.

Although AIT is affiliated with the Budapest University of Technology and Economics (BUTE), it does not grant degrees. AIT offers individual courses for U.S. and Hungarian students in Computer Science, Mathematics, Design, Entrepreneurship, and Hungarian Culture (such as language, cinema, and music). The instructors come, for the most part, from BUTE. Transcripts come from BUTE with grades on a scale of 1 to 5. Letter grades map to numbers; a 5 could mean A-, A, or A+.

All instruction is in English, and the quality of instruction varies. Because Bojár has free rein to run AIT as he sees fit, subpar instructors either improve or are replaced. Our students who have been to AIT report that several of the courses have been excellent. Classes are small, typically 10 to 20 students. The two largest classrooms hold about 40 students. Only 90 to 100 students are present in each semester. U.S. students come from top universities and liberal-arts colleges.

One course of note is the Design Workshop course, in which students make physical objects from simple materials. The founder of this course, who occasionally still stops by, is Ernő Rubik, the inventor of Rubik’s Cube.

AIT operates out of its own building in Graphisoft Park, a research park on the west bank of the Danube River in the northern section of Budapest. Graphisoft Park tenants include Microsoft and SAP. The AIT building has classrooms, a kitchen, a shower, and a student lounge. There are cafeterias in the park where you can get meals.

Dartmouth has sent several students to AIT, including 10 in Fall 2017. The AIT academic staff, headed by Andras Recski, has been eager to work with Dartmouth. For example, they modified the syllabus for their Algorithms course so that we could approve it for transfer credit. The non-academic support staff is superb.

AIT will help you arrange for housing in an apartment. AIT tuition does not include rent.

The Official Stuff

If you attend AIT, it is on a transfer term. AIT is not an FSP. Dartmouth has no official connection with AIT, other than that Professor Cormen is on the AIT Advisory Council.

Along with applying to AIT, you need to apply to Dartmouth for a transfer term. Transfer term requests are decided by the Committee on Instruction. They do not approve all transfer term requests and normally limit the number of students going to the same school in the same term to five. Although the COI has recently been more lenient about AIT, do not count on them approving more than five transfer requests for AIT at a time. Dartmouth charges a fee for taking a transfer term, but the fee is currently $0 for the fall term. Dartmouth limits the number of post-matriculation courses for transfer credit to four, lifetime. Transfer courses may count toward graduation and major requirements, but grades in transfer courses do not affect your Dartmouth GPA. In order to receive transfer credit for each course, it must be approved in advance. Below is a table of AIT courses and the corresponding Dartmouth courses for which transfer credit will be approved. You still must get the appropriate faculty members to sign off on each course, however. In Computer Science, these faculty members are the Undergraduate Advisers.

AIT Course Title Our Equivalent
Advanced Applications
Applied Cryptography COSC 69
Mobile Software Development COSC 65
Structure and Dynamics of Complex Networks MATH 76
Creative Design and Entrepreneurship
Design Workshop COSC 29
Foundational Courses in Computer Science
Algorithms and Data Structures COSC 31
Combinatorial Optimization COSC 84
Computer Graphics COSC 77
Data Mining 1: Models and Algorithms + Data Mining 2: Applications COSC 74
Graph Theory MATH 38
Quantum Probability and Quantum Logic PHYS 75
Semantic and Declarative Technologies COSC 69
Theory of Computing COSC 39

Note that AIT will charge you tuition directly. No financial aid is available.

AIT operates on a semester system. AIT’s fall semester overlaps only our fall term, beginning very shortly after our summer term ends, and ending in December. AIT’s spring semester overlaps both our winter and spring terms. Therefore, most Dartmouth students who attend AIT do so during the fall of their junior year.

Because AIT operates on a semester system, you must take courses on a semester system. You must take at least four courses at AIT, for at least 16 credits. Not all four need to be technical. If you want to drop a course, Professor Cormen must approve it, and if dropping takes you below 16 credits, he will deny your request.

Applying to AIT

You can find the application on the AIT website. Although AIT’s deadline for fall-semester applications is in March, there is an internal Dartmouth deadline of February 1 of the year for which you are applying, starting with applications for Fall 2019. (If you are applying for a semester other than the fall, the AIT deadline is the Dartmouth deadline.)  When you apply, you need to list a contact at Dartmouth who verifies that you are eligible for AIT; that contact is Professor Cormen (not the Registrar). If you are considering applying, please let Professor Cormen know; a simple email suffices. Starting with Fall 2019 applications, if you apply after February 1, he will not verify that you are eligible.

You will need two recommendation letters. They should be from professors in Computer Science, Mathematics, or Engineering Sciences who know you and can write good things about you.

Admission decisions are made by the AIT North American office, based at Harvey Mudd College. They are made on a rolling basis, which is why we want all applications in by February 1.

You must have taken COSC 50 before arriving at AIT. (You may take it after applying, however, as long as you have taken it before going.) You will need to know how to code in C on UNIX systems at AIT. We recommend that you also have taken COSC 30 before arriving at AIT, though that is not required.

Budapest and Hungary

Budapest (pronounced as if it were spelled “Budapesht”) is a beautiful city with a rich history. It was formed when two cities on opposite sides of the Danube River merged. Pest, on the eastern side, is flatter and skews younger demographically. It’s where most of the student apartments are. Because you’ll be crossing the Danube and then going north to get to AIT, your commute on trains and/or buses could take up to an hour. Pest is also where you’ll find most of the nightlife, including the ruin pubs (bars built in bombed-out building ruins). Buda, on the western side of the Danube, is hillier and skews older demographically. The old castle sits on the Buda side, overlooking the Danube. Several majestic bridges cross the river.

You will find many marks of Budapest’s history throughout the city. Remnants of communism and Soviet occupation persist, including the House of Terror, now a museum. Harking back further is Heroes Square, with statues of Hungarian heroes going back over 1000 years. Budapest is built on hot springs, and the city contains many public baths.

The Hungarian language, though it uses the Roman alphabet with unusual accent marks, is not Indo-European. You will not find many words that are cognates to English words. Fortunately, most people under 30 in Budapest speak English. Even if you don’t learn any Hungarian, you’ll want to learn the place names.

Vegetarians, be warned: the Hungarian diet is heavily meat based. We’ve had vegetarians who went to AIT and survived, but finding food was a bit of a challenge. To everyone: if you see a vegetable, eat it, because it might be a while before you see another one.

Although Hungary is in the EU, it is not in the Eurozone. Hungary has its own currency, the forint (like the start of a loop in Java or C++). The exchange rate is approximately 250 forint per U.S. dollar.

Hungary currently has a rightist government. Our students report that the political situation in Hungary has little impact on U.S. students.

Because Hungary is centrally located in Europe, if you plan your time well, you will be able visit many other European locales easily and inexpensively. Get your homework done before the weekend, and head to Prague, Vienna, or Berlin!

Further Information

For further information about AIT-Budapest, visit the AIT website or make an appointment to see Professor Cormen.