This section is meant to present a broad brush overview of several aspects of the BSM Program:

  • Who participates?
  • What is the basic calendar?
  • What are the classes?
  • Who teaches the students?
  • How do students receive credit?

Participant Profile

Participation in the BSM Program has tripled since its inception. The mean home school grade point average of a participant is just over 3.7 on a scale of 4, with mathematics grade point slightly higher. Other than the fact that participants are talented and motivated in mathematics, they are the most heterogeneous group I have ever been associated with. In general BSM students are an adventurous lot who tend to engage their chosen activities with spirited determination and energy. Several recent participants have used their “spare time” to play in one of the Liszt Academy’s orchestras, others have served Hungarian relief organizations aiding refugees from Romania and countries of the former Yugoslavia, several have joined sports teams in swimming, soccer, fencing; all have taken the opportunity to investigate various parts of Hungary and the surrounding European countries. Most of our students attend their first opera in Budapest and many become devotees of the classical musical and intellectual culture which is still vibrant and affordable. Although the BSM Program does not organize outings we do post information concerning cultural events and show students where they can purchase tickets, but little encouragement is needed. These students are competent and engaged!

Academic Calendar

Two semesters and an eight-week summer term are offered each year; each semester comprises fourteen weeks of teaching and one week of comprehensive examinations. Fall Term begins the first week of September and ends in mid December, the Spring Term begins the first week of February and ends in May, the Summer Program begins the third week in June and ends first week in August. There are midterm breaks in each semester. The aforementioned intensive Hungarian language course offered by the Babilon School of Languages begins about two weeks prior to the beginning of each semester. Although this course is optional, students who attend emerge from the non-credited eighty hours with a solid survival Hungarian. A shorter session is offered during the summer.

Students receive orientation materials from the North American Office and both an orientation packet and lecture/discussion at the beginning of each term in Budapest.

Academic Program

Students normally take three to four mathematics courses and one or two intercultural courses each semester. The BSM Program offers Beginning and Advanced Hungarian Language, Central European History and a Hungarian Culture course each semester. About twenty additional nonmathematics courses are available to BSM students through other American programs taught at the College International. A complete listing of these can be found at our website. For the Summer Program, students are expected to take two of the four courses that are offered.

The mathematics courses offered by BSM vary slightly from semester to semester depending on what preregistration choices the students have selected and also which instructors are in Hungary at the time. BSM classes are held at the College International, a Hungarian-based educational institution.

BSM Core Courses Mathematics

Course Code Course Title
AAL Advanced Algebra
AN1 Introductions to Analysis
ANT Topics in Analysis
CLX Complex Functions
CO1 Combinatorics 1
CO2 Combinatorics 2
C&P Conjecture and Proof
GEO Topics in Geometry
GTT Topics in Graph Theory
NUA Number Theory A
NUB Number Theory B
PRO Probability Theory
RFM Real Functions and Measures
SET Set Theory
STA Statistical Methods
THC Theory of Computing


Course Code Course Title
HIS European History
HL1 Hungarian Language 1
HL2 Hungarian Language 2
HUC Hungarian Culture

Each course meets three to four hours per week for the fall and spring semesters and two hours per day for the summer program. Classes are taught in English by eminent Hungarian professors, most of whom have had teaching experience in North American universities. In keeping with Hungarian tradition, teachers closely monitor each individual student’s progress. Considerable time is devoted to problem solving and encouragingstudent creativity. Emphasis is on depth of understanding rather than on the quantity of material.

The imprint of the Hungarian tradition is particularly prominent in some of the courses. “Combinatorics” and “Topics in Graph Theory” concentrate on combinatorial structures and algorithms, a stronghold of Hungarian mathematics. These courses, along with “Theory of Computing”, are a valuable introduction to Theoretical Computer Science. “Number Theory,” especially the advanced course “Number Theory B,” displays the mark of Paul ErdÅ‘s’s profound influence on the subject. “Conjecture and Proof”, even more than other courses, introduces the student to the excitement of mathematical discovery. Concepts, methods, ideas and paradoxes that have startled or puzzled mathematicians for centuries will be reinvented and examined under the guidance of enthusiastic and experienced instructors. The topics covered range from ancient problems of geometry and arithmetic to 20th century measure theory and mathematical logic.


Upon completion of program, students receive an American style transcript which lists courses taken and a grade (A, A-, B+, etc.). Official transcripts are sent directly from St. Olaf College as the School of Record to the student’s home institution. Course materials are designed so that credits will be easily transferable to North American colleges and universities.