Studying in Germany A Practical Guide for International Students - 7th Edition - DAAD

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Studying in Germany A Practical Guide for International Students - 7th Edition - DAAD
Studying in Germany
A Practical Guide for
International Students

7th Edition
Studying in Germany A Practical Guide for International Students - 7th Edition - DAAD
The Most Important Questions at a Glance

 9   Timeline
     What do I have to do and when?

16 Degree programmes
   How do I find a suitable degree programme?

22 German skills
   How much German do I have to know?

15 English-language degree programmes
   Where can I study in English?

30 Applications
   How do I apply for admission?

28 Scholarships
   What funding opportunities are available?

25 Living expenses
   How much does rent, food etc. cost?

68 Part-time jobs
   How can I earn money during my studies?

26 Health insurance
   How do I get health insurance?

36 Visa
   When do I need a visa?

40 Accommodation
   How do I find a room or flat?

42 Checklist
   What do I have to take care of and when?
Studying in Germany A Practical Guide for International Students - 7th Edition - DAAD
Studying in Germany
A Practical Guide for
International Students

7th Edition
Studying in Germany A Practical Guide for International Students - 7th Edition - DAAD
Publisher DAAD
Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst
German Academic Exchange Service
Kennedyallee 50, 53175 Bonn

Section Information on Studying in Germany

Project Coordination Esther Kirk, Julia Enke

Publishing House Dr. Dagmar Giersberg, Bonn

Translation Robert Brambeer, Titisee-Neustadt

Layout and Typesetting DITHO Design GmbH, Cologne

Printed by W. Kohlhammer Druckerei GmbH + Co. KG, Stuttgart

Print run July 2019 – 25,000


Photo Credits Thomas Bergmann (Cover), Norbert Hüttermann (p. 7, 67), Christian Lord Otto
(p. 34), Peter Himsel/David Ausserhofer (p. 39), Ikhlas Abbis (pp. 46, 50, 74),
Doerthe Hagenguth (p. 59), other pictures: private.

This brochure is also available in German.

This publication was funded by the Federal Foreign Office.
Studying in Germany A Practical Guide for International Students - 7th Edition - DAAD
Studying in Germany   3


       Studying in Germany? A Good Idea!                                           6

1.    Preparation                                                                  8

1.1   Degree programmes and universities                                          10
	Types of universities | Public or private? | Programmes and degrees |
  International degree programmes | Information and advice |
  Map: Universities in Germany

1.2   Admission requirements                                                      19
       Higher education entrance qualification | Qualification assessment
       examination | Demands | German language proficiency

1.3   Financing                                                                   24
       Costs | Proof of financial resources | Funding opportunities

1.4    Applying for admission                                                     30
       Subjects with centrally restricted admission | All other subjects |
       Application fees | Documents | Deadlines
Studying in Germany A Practical Guide for International Students - 7th Edition - DAAD
4     Studying in Germany

1.5     Entry visas and residence permits                                     36
        Visa requirements | Types of visas | Application

1.6     Looking for accommodation                                             40
        Student hall of residence | Private accommodation | The first nights

1.7     Checklist                                                             42

2.      The first steps in Germany                                            44

2.1     Student advisory services                                             45
        International Office | Support services | Student organisations |
        International student groups | Departmental student representatives

2.2     Finding accommodation                                                 51
        Assistance | Apartment listings

2.3     Enrolment                                                             52

2.4     Registering with the authorities                                      53
        Residents‘ Registration Office | Residence permit

2.5     Scheduling and organisation                                           55
        Courses | Programme structure | Examinations | Timetable
Studying in Germany A Practical Guide for International Students - 7th Edition - DAAD
A Practical Guide for International Students   5

3.    Tips for a successful stay 60

3.1   Making contacts                                                         61

3.2   Learning German                                                         64

3.3   Gaining work experience	                                                68
      Part-time jobs | Restrictions | Internships | Payment

3.4   Career opportunities after graduation                                   72
      Legal requirements | Job search | German skills

      Good luck!                                                              76

      Appendix                                                                77

      Facts and figures – International students in Germany                   78

      About the DAAD – Goals, tasks, programmes                               80

      Addresses and related links                                             82

      Index                                                                   84
Studying in Germany A Practical Guide for International Students - 7th Edition - DAAD
6   Studying in Germany

Studying in Germany?
A Good Idea!

So, you’re interested in studying in Germany?
That’s fantastic! We’re happy to hear that!

Studying abroad – especially in a country      any additional information, feel free to
very different from your own – is an           contact the DAAD staff in your country and
exciting challenge. You will be influenced     they will be happy to assist you. Or simply
by the surge of new impressions and            post your questions on
points of view you encounter here. Study-
ing in Germany – in the heart of Europe –
will certainly have a long-lasting impact      We wish you success and a wonderful,
on your life.                                  unforgettable stay in Germany!

There are diverse opportunities in Germany
for learning and researching. German            Who are we?
universities have an outstanding reputa-
                                                The German Academic Exchange
tion throughout the world. Each year
                                                Service (DAAD) is a joint organisation
they produce significant, internationally       of German institutions of higher
recognised advances and innovations.            education and student bodies. Our
Here you will find ideal conditions for         task is to support academic coopera-
gaining a successful university education.      tion around the world, especially by
By the way, you are one of many talented,       promoting the exchange of students
young individuals who wish to study in          and academics.
                                                You can find more information about
Germany. There are almost 360,000 young
                                                studying and living in Germany in our
people from around the world studying and       info brochures and on our websites
researching at German universities.    and
At present, they comprise 12.9 percent
of all students in Germany. In fact, there
are very few countries that can boast a
higher percentage of international students.
And you are not alone as you travel to
Germany. This brochure will help you
prepare for your studies here. If you need
Studying in Germany A Practical Guide for International Students - 7th Edition - DAAD
Studying in Germany A Practical Guide for International Students - 7th Edition - DAAD
8   Studying in Germany


This chapter tells you how to
plan a successful study visit
and what you should take care
of before you leave home.

Studying abroad is like turning over a new
leaf in an unknown world. There are many
things to consider, plan and organise. The
following timeline will give you an over-
view of each step you will take on your way
to Germany.

On the following pages you will find
detailed information about each step on
the timeline.

Using the checklist at the end of this
chapter, you can make sure that you have
completed all of the important steps and
obtained all the necessary documents for
your trip to Germany (see pp. 42–43).
Preparation   9

!   Timeline

      About 15 months before your planned trip to Germany
    ■ S tart gathering information about study opportunities
       in Germany either online or from a DAAD office
       (see pp. 10–18).
    ■ Find out whether you fulfil the requirements for
       studying in Germany (see pp. 19–23).
       – Is your school-leaving certificate sufficient?
       – Will you have to take a language test?
    ■ Determine how you will finance your study visit in
       Germany and whether you are eligible for a scholarship
       (see pp. 24–29).

      About nine months before your trip
    ■ D ecide on a degree programme and university
       (see pp. 10–18).
    ■ Contact the International Office at the university of
       your choice (see p. 16).

      About four to five months before your studies begin
    ■ P repare and submit your application of admission
       (see pp. 30–35). Note the submission deadlines!
    ■ Would you like to live in a student hall of residence?
       Then apply for a room now (see p. 40).

      When you receive your notification of acceptance
    ■ D o you need a visa? If so, then apply for one now
       (see pp. 36–38).
    ■ Do you have a health insurance policy which is recognised
       in Germany? Then request a statement confirming your
       coverage from your provider now. For more information
       on health insurance, see p. 26.

      About one month before your trip
    ■ M ake sure you have collected all the necessary
       documents (see p. 43).
    ■ Plan where you will spend your first nights in Germany
       (see p. 41).

      Your trip to Germany!
10 Studying in Germany

Degree programmes and universities
This section provides you with an overview of the
German university system and the degree programmes
you can choose from.

The more choices you have, the harder          What kind of colleges and
it is to choose. This especially applies       universities are there?
to your situation, as there are so many
opportunities to study in Germany.             Deciding on a college or university is
                                               somewhat easier as there are only three
There are 430 officially recognised institu-   types to choose from in Germany:
tions of higher education in around
170 towns and cities throughout Germany.       ■ Universities
The map on page 18 shows the location of       ■ Universities of applied sciences
these institutions. In total, German uni-      ■ Colleges of art, film and music
versities and colleges offer around 20,000
degree programmes. And from all of these,      Studying at a university is a good idea if
you will have to choose one. We’ve put         you are interested in a scientifically-oriented
together some information to help with         education. Universities offer a broad range
your decision.                                 of courses and subjects. Some schools
                                               specialise in certain disciplines, such as
                                               advanced technology, medicine and edu­
                                               cation. If you would like to enter a doctoral

  The academic year in Germany

  The academic year is divided into            Semester schedule at most universities:
  two semesters at German universities
  – winter and summer semester.                Universities
                                               Winter semester: October to March
  A semester is comprised of the lecture       Summer semester: April to September
  period, during which students attend
  seminars and lectures, and the lecture-      Universities of applied sciences
  free period when the university is closed    Winter semester: September to February
  for holidays. The semester schedule          Summer semester: March to August
  varies depending on the type of univer-
                                               Important: Some degree programmes
  sity you attend. Therefore, enquire about
                                               only begin in the winter semester
  the exact dates at the university of your
Degree programmes and universities 11

                                                 A perfect match!
                                                 I was thrilled when I stumbled across a
                                                 degree programme in cognitive science while
                                                 looking for computer science programmes
                                                 online. This bachelor‘s degree programme,
                                                 offered in Osnabrück and Tübingen, offers a
                                                 combination of computer science, psychology
                                                 and biology. It was perfect for me!
                                                 What I especially like is that they give you
                                                 a lot of freedom to design your programme
                                                 according to your interests. And the students
                                                 are very, very motivated.

                                                 Alona Sakhnenko comes from Ukraine where she
                                                 studied applied mathematics. She is now complet-
                                                 ing bachelor‘s programmes in cognitive science and
                                                 computer science at the University of Osnabrück.

programme in Germany, then a university          technicians and producers for film and
is the perfect place for you.                    television. Potential candidates must pos-
                                                 sess a high degree of artistic talent which
Universities of applied sciences are ideal       they are asked to demonstrate in an apti-
if you are looking for a more practice-          tude test. Therefore, you can expect spe-
oriented education. These institutions pro-      cial admission requirements if you wish
vide students with a scientifically based        to apply to a college of art, film or music.
education, tailored to the demands of
professional life. The degree programmes
generally include internships (see p. 71) and      Facts and figures
a practical module. This enables students to
apply their knowledge on the job at compa-         A total of more than 2.9 million
                                                   students were enrolled around 430
nies and businesses.
                                                   officially recognised universities
                                                   and colleges in the winter semester
If you wish to study an artistic or design­        2018/2019.
oriented subject, you may be the perfect
                                                   ■ 1 ,778,737 students at
candidate for a college of art, film or music.
                                                      128 universities,
There you will find courses in the Fine            ■ 1,003,402 students at 218 uni-
Arts, Industrial and Fashion Design,                  versities of applied sciences
Graphic Arts, Instrumental Music, Per­             ■ 36.834 students at 53 colleges
forming Arts, Voice, etc. Colleges of                 of art, film and music
modern media train students to become              Source: Federal Statistical Office
directors, camera operators, screenwriters,
12 Studying in Germany

What is the difference                         What kind of degree programmes
between public and private                     are there?
                                               Each course prepares you for a particular
Most universities and colleges in Ger-         university degree. When you choose a
many are public, i. e. they receive funding    degree programme, you’re not only
from the federal government. Some are          choosing a subject, but also the degree
also financed by the Protestant or Catholic    you wish to ultimately attain.
Church. In addition to these subsidised
institutions, there are 120 private            German universities offer a wide range
universities and colleges which                of degree programmes to suit your needs
confer officially recognised degrees. The      and educational level.
majority of these are universities of
applied sciences.                              ■ You can attend university in Germany
                                                  as a beginner (undergraduate studies).
Most students in Germany are enrolled          ■ You can gain international experience
at public universities. Only 7.4 percent of       at a German university for a couple of
all students attend a private institution,        semesters to supplement your degree
the reason being that private colleges often      programme at home.
charge high tuition fees while public          ■ You can enter a postgraduate programme
universities generally do not (see p. 27).        in Germany, if you have already
The quality of instruction at both types of       ­completed your undergraduate studies.
universities, however, is comparably high.     ■ You can study as a doctoral candidate.

                                               Degrees conferred by
  Did you know …                               German universities

  University education in Germany is           You can attain the following degrees at
  not centrally coordinated. Each of
                                               German universities:
  the 16 states (see p. 18) has its own
  higher education laws and guidelines.
  German universities are largely self­        Bachelor’s degree (B.A., B.Sc., Bachelor
  regulatory, which means that not             of Engineering, etc.): This is the first-
  all rules apply to every university.         level academic degree recognised on the
  Therefore, always enquire about              international job market. Bachelor’s
  the particular regulations at the uni­       degree programmes teach students the
  versity of your choice.
                                               fundamentals of their subject of study in
                                               six to eight semesters. Once you have
                                               received your bachelor’s degree, you can
                                               ­enter professional life or continue studying
                                                for the second-level academic qualification
                                                – the master’s degree.
Degree programmes and universities 13

Master’s degree (M.A., M.Sc., Master of        Doctoral degree: A doctoral programme,
Engineering, etc.): This is the second-level   which involves the completion of a
academic qualification you can receive         research paper (dissertation), concludes
from a German university. If you wish to       with the conferral of a doctoral degree.
enter a master’s degree programme, you         The duration of doctoral programmes
are required to have a bachelor’s degree       depends on the candidate’s particular area
(or equivalent academic qualification).        of research. However, most programmes
Master’s degree programmes last two to         generally take two to five years to complete
four semesters and allow you to deepen         (see p. 14).
and expand your knowledge in a certain
subject. After you receive your master’s       In recent decades the academic programmes
degree, you can enter professional life or     at German universities have undergone
continue studying for the next academic        major reform as mandated by the Bologna
qualification – the doctoral degree.           Process. Meanwhile, the bachelor’s
                                               and master’s degree programmes have
State examination (Staatsexamen): The          all but replaced the traditional German
state examination is not an academic           Diplom and Magister Artium programmes
degree, but rather a state qualification.      at most universities.
This means that the examination regula-
tions are stipulated by the German states,     As you look into more universities and
not by the university. Another difference      their programmes, you may still encounter
is that the examinations are administered      these types of degrees. A Diplom is gener-
by state invigilators. Those who wish to       ally conferred to students who study the
work as a medical doctor, lawyer, pharma-      Natural Sciences, Engineering, Economics
cist or teacher in Germany have to pass a      and Social Sciences, while students in
state examination. Students are permitted      the humanities are awarded the Magister
to take the first state examination after      Artium (M.A.) degree. Both degrees are
successfully completing their studies in       comparable to a master’s degree.
Medicine, Law, Pharmaceutics or Teacher
Education. Afterwards, they can begin a
professionally oriented, practical training
phase to prepare themselves for the second
state examination and/ or enter a doctoral
programme. Passing the state examination,
however, does not guarantee the candidate
a job. If you wish to attain this qualifica-
tion, you should enquire whether the
German state examination is recognised
in your home country.
14 Studying in Germany

 Doctoral degrees

 There are many opportunities for you    Some states in Germany have es-
 to attain a doctorate from a German     tablished English-language graduate
 university.                             schools which, in contrast to research
 Basically, you can take two routes –    training groups, are permanently estab-
 either research independently and       lished at their respective universities.
 write a dissertation under professorial This is where young, highly qualified
 supervision, or enter a doctoral pro-   researchers can receive intensive and
 gramme that provides a fixed structure. individual advising.
 Option 1: You first have to find a univer-   There are also a wide range of interna-
 sity professor (Doktorvater or Doktor­
                                              tional doctoral programmes (see p. 15).
 mutter) to supervise your dissertation.
                                              For more information about these
 Since instructors are not obliged to
                                              international structured doctoral pro-
 take on every candidate, your research
 idea must be compelling. Find out in         grammes, visit
 advance which university and professor       tional-programmes.
 would be best suited for your research
 project. For more information, visit     Please note: The information in this
 the HRK website www.higher-educa-        brochure – especially pertaining to the and the information      admission requirements and the struc-
 portal GERiT (German Research Institu-   ture of the academic programmes –
 tions) at                 primarily applies to the bachelor’s and
                                          master’s degree programmes. If you
 Option 2: You can enter a structured     are interested in entering a doctoral
 doctoral degree programme in Germany. programme, you can find more relevant
 The most significant of these include:   information at www.research-in-
 ■ Research training groups      Our “PhDGermany”
 ■ Graduate schools                      database ( con-
 ■ International doctoral programmes     tains an extensive collection of doctoral
                                          positions especially suited to interna-
 Research training groups are university
                                          tional candidates. Once you have found
 programmes that promote young
                                          a position that interests you, you can
 scientists and researchers. These train-
                                          apply directly via the DAAD portal by
 ing groups allow doctoral candidates to
                                          clicking the link provided in the job offer.
 embed their dissertation in a compre­
 hensive research programme. Such
 programmes are generally interdisci­
 plinary and are supervised by several
 scientists. Visit the webpage of the
 German Research Foundation (DFG)
 for a list of the research training
 groups which it is currently funding:
Degree programmes and universities 15

        International degree
  !     programmes
                                             Double degree programmes have an
                                             international or bilateral orientation. They
                                             are usually offered by a German university
German universities currently offer around   in cooperation with one or more partner
1,530 internationally-oriented degree pro-   universities abroad. Students who partici-
grammes. These well-structured, high-        pate in such degree programmes usually
level “International Bachelor, Master        study at the partner university for several
and Doctoral Programmes” feature inten-      semesters. Students receive full credit for
sive student counselling and academic        completing pre-approved courses from
advising. Most courses are taught in Eng-    their university at home. Some of these
lish, though German language courses         degree programmes require students to
often supplement the programmes.             spend approximately half their time at
                                             the partner university. When completed,
More information?                            students receive a double degree – one         from each university.

                                             There are also a number of programmes
 Online degrees                              especially tailored to the needs of inter­
                                             national doctoral candidates. The most
 You don’t have to live in Germany           prominent of these include the Graduate
 to benefit from the degree pro-
                                             Schools in the Excellence Initiative and
 grammes at German universities.
 Both public and private universities        the International Max Planck Research
 offer free and tuition-based online         Schools (IMPRS). They offer especially
 and distance-learning programmes            talented German and international gradu-
 in numerous subjects. You can               ates the opportunity to pursue their doctor-
 find these bachelor’s and master’s          ate at some of the most excellent scientific
 programmes at www.hochschulkom-             centres in Germany. In addition to inten­sive (under the menu tab “Dis-           expert advising, most of these pro­grammes
 tance learning”) and internationally        feature English-language courses and, in
 oriented programmes at www.daad.            many cases, special funding opportunities.
 de/international-programmes (under
 the menu tab “Study online“).
                                             More information?
16 Studying in Germany

        What is the right degree                Where can I get academic advice?
  !     programme for me?
                                                Get as much advice as you can! There are
Now you have a general idea of the oppor-       also academic consulting and advising
tunities offered by German universities. It’s   services in your home country to help you
up to you to find out which degree pro-         plan your study visit in Germany. If you
gramme best suits your needs.                   need advice, please contact the following
                                                people or agencies:
As you look for a suitable degree pro-
gramme, we recommend using the search           ■ The DAAD-Information Centres (ICs)
engine on It                and the DAAD branch offices (see p. 82)
offers extensive information about all pro-     ■ DAAD-affiliated instructors and
grammes currently offered at state-recog-           l­ecturers at foreign universities
nised universities in Germany. You will also    ■ Goethe-Institut or Goethe-Zentrum
find important information provided by the      ■ T  he German diplomatic missions –
HRK database on admission requirements,            i. e. embassies and consulates
application deadlines and contactaddresses.

We also recommend visiting www.univer- This site ranks the degree
                                                 Self-assessment tests
programmes at 380 German universities in
                                                 If you’re having a hard time deciding
37 popular subjects.                             on a major, you might want to take
                                                 the “Study Interest Test”, or SIT, for
For more on international bachelor’s,            short. The test is free and only takes
master’s and doctoral degree programmes,         15 minutes (www.hochschulkompass.
see                   de/studium-interessentest).
programmes.                                      For more links to other self-tests, visit
If you need further assistance with choos-       selbsttests.php and
ing a programme, you can find extensive
information on the DAAD website and at           gree-programmes/choosing-                              a-programme/higher-education-
                                                 If you’re interested in technical sub-
                                                 jects, the consultation service “Self
                                                 Assessment international” is right for
                                                 you. Visit the service at
                                                 If you’d like to find out whether you
                                                 can meet the demands at German
                                                 universities, the TestAS will help as-
                                                 sess your ability (see p. 21).
Degree programmes and universities 17

                                             You’re the focus ...
                                             in everything we do! At the University of
                                             Bremen you can design the programmes for
                                             international students. We at the Inter-
                                             national Office welcome your ideas and
                                             involvement. We are happy to help you
                                             integrate your strengths in developing a
                                             multifaceted programme for international
                                             students. In addition to orientation events
                                             at the beginning of the semester, we also
                                             provide concrete academic assistance, such
                                             as thesis-writing workshops and a learning
                                             tandem programme. We also invite students
                                             from around the world to get together and
                                             participate in recreational activities. Per-
                                             haps you have some other ideas about how
                                             we can network the numerous cultures on
                                             our campus!
                                             Dr. Annette Lang is the director of the Internation-
                                             al Office at the University of Bremen.

Your most important contact in Germany       And, of course, our staff at the DAAD
is the International Office (Akade­misches   head office in Bonn are happy to answer
Auslandsamt) at the university of your       your questions regarding your study visit
choice (for a list of addresses, visit       in Germany (for contact info, see p. 82). The International          You can also post your questions on
Office provides information about study
opportunities in specific disciplines and    Remember, you are not alone. We’re here
degree programmes, admission require-        to help you!
ments, study preparation, languages tests,
internships, financial aid and assistance
with planning your studies.
18 Studying in Germany

Universities in Germany


                                                   Heide                                    Stralsund
                                                           Schleswig-                     Rostock
                                                           Holstein                                 Greifswald
                                                     Elmshorn           Lübeck
                                               Wedel         Hamburg          Mecklenburg-  Neubrandenburg
                Willhelmshaven            Bremerhaven          Hamburg
                                                                              Western Pomerania
                                                 Ottersberg        Lüneburg
                                          Bremen                                     Brandenburg
                                                               Hermannsburg                      Eberswalde
                                                 Lower Saxony                              Wustermark Berlin
                                                            Hannover                           Potsdam
                                Osnabrück                                                                  Frankfurt/O.
                                                    Hameln                             Friedensau     Wildau
                                         Herford                       Wolfenbüttel
                         Bielefeld                            Hildesheim            Magdeburg
                 Münster                  Lemgo
                               Detmold                         Wernigerode
      Kleve                                                                                                Cottbus
                             Hamm                           Clausthal-Zellerfeld        Saxony-
     Gelsenkirchen                                                               Köthen Anhalt
                     Bochum             Paderborn
   Mülheim                                                    Nordhausen
                         Dortmund                                             Halle
                Essen Witten                          Göttingen
 Krefeld        Hagen       Iserlohn                                       Merseburg
                                           Kassel                                          Leipzig
Düsseldorf     Wuppertal                                                                                 Moritzburg
                     North Rhine-             Bad Sooden- Thuringia                       Saxony
                     Westphalia                 Allendorf                                            Dresden
                                           Hesse                         Weimar                                     Zittau
                 Köln    Siegen                                                       Mittweida         Freiberg
AachenBrühl                      Dietzhölztal                                    Jena   Gera       Chemnitz
       Alfter      St. Augustin          Marburg
          Bonn                           Gießen                 Schmalkalden
                                                                      Ilmenau              Zwickau
           Bad Honnef Hachenburg                     Fulda
             Koblenz           Idstein
                                         Bad Homburg
       Rhineland            Oberursel Frankfurt a. M.
       Palatinate                                                       Coburg Hof
                             Wiesbaden Offenbach
Bernkastel-Kues Geisenheim                  Aschaffenburg
                    Bingen              Darmstadt                               Bayreuth
         Trier               Mainz                   Würzburg Bamberg
                    Ludwigshafen                                 Erlangen
       Kaiserslautern            Mannheim
                                  Heidelberg                        Fürth          Amberg
       Saarland        Speyer                                Ansbach      Nürnberg
                                                 Heilbronn              Neuendettelsau
                         Pforzheim                                 Eichstätt      Regensburg
                     Bad Liebenzell       Stuttgart                       Ingolstadt        Deggendorf
                                            EsslingenSchwäbisch Gmünd
               Offenburg     Tübingen        Nürtingen                                       Passau
                         Rottenburg        Reutlingen              Bavaria            Landshut
                                                  Ulm Neu-Ulm
                                             Riedlingen                      Freising
                             Trossingen                         Augsburg
             Furtwangen                           Biberach                     Ismaning
                                   Sigmaringen                    München
             Freiburg     Baden-                                             Neubiberg
                          Württemberg                                               Rosenheim
                    Weilheim                     Isny      Kempten
                                  Konstanz Friedrichshafen
Admission requirements 19

Admission requirements

In this section we outline the requirements you must fulfil
before you can be admitted to a German university. In particular,
these requirements concern your school-leaving certificate,
your prior knowledge of the subject you intend to study and
your language skills.

Those who wish to study at a German             The database will then inform you whether
university require a Hochschulzugangs­          your certificate:
berechtigung or higher education entrance
qualification. Although the term is daunt-      ■ is recognised as a qualification for
ing, the idea behind it is simple – it is a        direct university admission,
school-leaving certificate confirming that      ■ is only recognised as a qualification for
you are qualified to begin your university         subject-restricted study (i. e. only for
studies. In Germany, after students graduate       admission to a certain range of subjects),
from secondary school, they receive a           ■ is only recognised in combination with
general university entrance qualification          proof you have successfully completed
(Abitur) or qualification for a university of      one or two academic years in your
applied sciences (Fachhochschulreife).             home country, or
                                                ■ is not recognised as a higher education
Will they recognise my                             entrance qualification.
higher education entrance
qualification?                               Your school-leaving certificate is usually
                                             recognised as a university entrance qualifi­
How can you determine whether your           cation in Germany if you come from an EU
higher education entrance qualification will country, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway or
be recognised in Germany? A good place       Switzerland and your certificate is also rec­
to start is the DAAD admission database at ognised as a university entrance qualification Simply enter the there. This also applies to those who
country where you received your school-      have received their Abitur from any of the
leaving certificate.                         140 German Schools abroad.
20 Studying in Germany

                                                A wonderful time!
                                                I spent one year in a foundation course pre-
                                                paring for my bachelor’s degree programme
                                                – with students from all around the world
                                                who were also new to Germany. It was super

                                                My language skills were actually pretty good
                                                when I arrived in Germany. But during the
                                                foundation course, I was able to really im-
                                                prove my speaking ability - and acquire a lot
                                                of subject-related knowledge. After I
                                                completed the course, it was great for me to
                                                see that I had reached the same level as the
                                                native speakers in my degree programme.

                                                Ana Cristina Arango comes from Colombia.
                                                She is pursuing her master’s degree in Romance
                                                literature and cultural studies at the Goethe
                                                University Frankfurt.

The DAAD online admission database only         specific requirements and whether you
provides a general overview. The database       meet the prerequisites for admission.
at can give you detailed
information with a more extensive list of       What if my school-leaving
countries and school-leaving certificates       certificate is not sufficient?
(select “Schulabschlüsse mit Hochschul­-
zugang” – “Suchen”, German only).               If your school-leaving certificate is not
                                                sufficient for university admission, you
In some cases, especially gifted applicants     will have to take a qualification assess-
may be admitted into artistic degree            ment examination in Germany, called a
programmes without a higher education           Feststellungsprüfung.
entrance qualification. Depending on the
university, candidates must either submit       You can prepare for this examination in
a work portfolio or pass an aptitude test.      a foundation course (Studienkolleg) in
                                                Germany. These are special programmes
Ultimately, the university you apply to has     offered at universities and universities of
the final say concerning your admission.        applied sciences. They include modules
Therefore, before submitting your applica-      with a focus on certain subjects.
tion, be sure to enquire at the International
Office at the university of your choice about
Admission requirements 21

The examination assesses a student’s            is help available – the Test for Academic
proficiency in several subjects that are        Studies and/ or propaedeutic courses.
crucial to the degree programme. One
component of the qualification assessment    With the Test for Academic Studies
examination is a language test. However,     (TestAS), you can assess your ability to
students must have some basic German         cope with the demands that German uni­
language skills to even participate in a     versities place on their students. The
foundation course – approximately the        result could also help you narrow down
B1 level based on the Common European        your choices for a degree programme.
Framework of Reference for Languages         After taking the test, you will be able to
(see infobox on p. 23). In the examination,  more realistically assess the likelihood
you must demonstrate that you possess        of completing a degree programme at a
the language skills necessary for your       German university. Furthermore, passing
intended course of study.                    the TestAS significantly increases your
                                             chances of gaining admission to the uni­
Subject-specific foundation courses usually versity of your choice. Please find out
take two semesters to complete. Students     whether your university requires the
who demonstrate above-average achieve-       TestAS and what advantages it has for you.
ment may be permitted to take the qualifica- The TestAS is administered several times
tion assessment examination after only       a year at TestDaF testing centres around
one semester. Foundation courses provide     the world and possibly in your country as
about 30 hours of instruction per week.      well. For a list of testing centres and infor-
                                             mation about TestAS examination fees,
Participation is usually free of charge at   visit
public universities in Germany. However,
like normal students, foundation course      Propaedeutic courses are another way to
participants are also required to pay the    prepare for the demands of university
semester contribution (see pp. 24–25).       study. These university preparatory courses
If you wish to attend a foundation course,   are offered to international applicants by
you must apply in advance.                   some universities. They provide students
                                             the language and academic skills they
More information?
                                                 Prerequisite: Internship

                                                 For some degree programmes –
What are the demands of                          prima­rily at universities of applied
university study?                                sciences – internships are a pre-
                                                 requisite for university admission.
You might fulfil the formal prerequisites for    Therefore, enquire at the university
admission, but can you meet the demands          of your choice whether an internship
                                                 is obligatory for admission to your
of university study in Germany? If this is
                                                 degree programme.
something you are concerned about, there
22 Studying in Germany

require for studying in Germany. They
often include an introduction to the           Language certificate
German university system and scientific
                                               At, you can
working methods.
                                               find out the German proficiency level
                                               required for your degree programme
These courses are usually aimed at appli­      at the university of your choice. The
cants who have a recognised higher educa-      website also offers a helpful over-
tion entrance qualification, but wish to       view of the tests that you can take to
prepare themselves for the degree pro-         prove your German language skills.
gramme. A preparatory semester can help
them complete their degree programme          The language proficiency required for uni-
in a successful and timely manner. The        versity admission can be certified by two
International Office at the university of     different tests – the DSH Test (“Deutsche
your choice can tell you whether such pro-    Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang”)
paedeutic courses are available. For a gen-   and the “TestDaF” (Test Deutsch als Fremd-
eral overview, visit the DAAD database at     sprache).
(select “Prep Course” in the section          You are not required to take either of
“Degree / Level”).                            these tests, if one of the following cases
                                              applies to you:

  !     How good does my
        German have to be?                    ■ You have received an Abitur from a
                                                 German-language school.
For most degree programmes, the language      ■ You have received the “Goethe
of instruction at German universities is         Zertifikat C2: Major German Language
German. Therefore, you will have to prove        Certificate” or the “telc Deutsch C1 Hoch-
you have adequate knowledge of German            schule” examination.
to be admitted to the university.             ■ You have received the German Language
                                                 Diploma (Level II) from the German
The exception to the rule applies to students    Standing Conference of Ministers of
who participate in international degree          Education and Culture.
programmes (see p. 15) and special postgrad-
uate programmes.                              You can take the German as a Foreign
                                              Language Test (TestDaF) in your home
Some universities do not require applicants country even before you arrive in Germany.
to prove their German language skills, if     The test is administered in Germany and
they only intend to study there for one or    almost 100 other countries around the
two semesters. However, this rule does        world six times a year, and in the People’s
not apply everywhere. Therefore, enquire      Republic of China, three times a year. Visit
about the specific admission requirement for information about test-
regarding language ability at the university  ing centres, dates, application procedures
of your choice.                               and much more.
Admission requirements 23

The DSH Test (“Deutsche Sprachprüfung für
den Hochschulzugang”) is mainly offered        The Common European
by universities and foundation courses         Framework of Reference for
in Germany. Enquire at the International       Languages (CEFR)
Office at your university for the upcoming
testing dates.                                 Language skill levels in Germany
                                               correspond to the three level groups
                                               as defined by the CEFR: Basic User
The TestDaF and DSH assess several             (A), Independent User (B) and Pro-
levels of language proficiency. Those who      ficient User (C). These are divided
pass all the sections of the tests at the      into six subgroups which range from
intermediate level (TDN 4 for the Test-        absolute beginners (A1) to almost
DaF, or the DSH-2 for the DSH) are             native speakers (C2).
eligible for unrestricted admission to
uni­versity. Depending on the specific
regulations at your university, a lower
mark in one of the sections will not
necessarily disqualify you from regular

You are required to pay an examination fee
if you wish to take the DSH or TestDaF.
The cost of the fee depends on the
administering authority and the country in
which you take the test.

Of course, learning German is not only
important for gaining admission to univer-
sity. Keep in mind that your German
language skills will significantly determine
how comfortable you feel in Germany
and how easily you make German friends
(see pp. 64–66).
24 Studying in Germany


In this section we outline the expenses you can expect
during your study visit and the funding possibilities that
are available to you.

Your financial resources are an important         cilities and administrative services. In some
aspect of your plans. Before you leave your       states students are charged an administra-
home country, you must secure sufficient          tive fee which can range from 50 to 75 euros
funds to finance your stay.                       a semester.

What expenses will I have?                        The semester contribution at many uni­
                                                  versities also includes the cost of a public
Be prepared to pay for the following              transportation ticket. This semester ticket
expenses during your stay in Germany:             allows you to use all modes of public
                                                  transportation in and around your univer-
■ Semester contribution                          sity town for six months free of charge.
■ Basic living expenses (rent, food,             Depending on the city and the range of the
   clothing, books, telephone, etc.)
■ Health insurance coverage
■ Tuition fees (if applicable)                    Example: Semester contribution
                                                   at the Freie Universität Berlin
Semester contribution
                                                   Summer semester 2019
All university students are required to pay
                                                   Enrolment fee                    € 50.00
a semester contribution, the amount of
which can vary depending on the services           Social contribution              € 54.09
it includes. The amount can range between
130 and 390 euros. Most universities charge        Student union contribution         € 9.10
around 290 euros on average.
                                                   Semester ticket                 € 198.80
One part of the semester contribution
                                                   Total                           € 311.99
covers social services and fees. This helps
finance, for example, the student dining
halls, student halls of residence, athletic fa-
Financing 25

ticket, you can expect to pay between 25 and      Students are eligible for numerous price
160 euros per semester for the ticket.            concessions. Theatres, opera houses, cin­
                                                  emas, museums and other cultural venues
  !      Living expenses                          frequently offer concession rates to stu-
                                                  dents who show their student ID at the
Compared to other European countries,             ticket counter.
Germany is not overly expensive. The price
for food, accommodation, clothing, cultural
activities, etc. is slightly higher than the EU
average. The approximate cost of living is
relatively low compared to that of Switzer-
land and the Scandinavian countries.               How much does it cost?

It is difficult to say exactly how much
money a student in Germany needs per
month. The cost of living varies from
                                                   1 kg potatoes                      € 0.75
city to city. Generally students can live
                                                   1 kg rice                          € 2.70
on less money in smaller cities than in
                                                   500 g spaghetti                    € 0.75
large cities. Of course the amount of
                                                   1 loaf of bread (ca. 500 g)        € 2.00
money you will need greatly depends
                                                   1 l of milk                        € 1.00
on how economically you live.
                                                   1 bottle of mineral water (1 l)    € 0.60
Students in Germany require an average of          1 frozen pizza                     € 2.00
almost 920 euros per month to cover their
living expenses. Those who have inexpen-           Café or restaurant:
sive accommodation and live modestly can           1 cup of coffee or tea  € 2.80
probably get by on about 720 euros per             1 glass of cola (0.3 l) € 2.30
month.                                             1 glass of beer (0.3 l) € 2.70
                                                   1 glass of wine (0.2 l) € 4.50
Renting a flat comprises the largest               1 pizza / pasta dish€ 7.50
portion of one’s monthly expenditures.             1 small salad           € 3.50
However, the rental prices in Germany
vary greatly. Depending on the city, students      Student dining hall:
pay between 259 and 373 euros per month            1 lunch                            € 2.20
for accommodation. The rental prices are           100 g salad from buffet            € 0.75
comparatively higher in cities like Munich,
Cologne, Frankfurt am Main, Hamburg and            Admission prices:
Berlin. If you are looking to live cheaply,        Cinema                             € 8.00
it might be a good idea to take a room in          Theatre                           € 15.00
a student hall of residence or a shared flat       Art museum                         € 7.50
(see pp. 40–41).                                   Swimming pool                      € 4.00
26 Studying in Germany

  !     Health insurance                       If your health insurance policy from home
                                               is not recognised in Germany, you are
Everyone who studies in Germany must           required to take out a policy in Germany.
have health insurance. When you officially     Public health insurance policies cost around
enrol (see p. 52), you will be asked to show   90 euros per month. However, if you are
proof of health insurance coverage. You        older than 30 or haven’t completed your de-
will also need confirmation of coverage to     gree programme by your 14th semester, you
obtain a residence permit (see p. 54).         are no longer eligible for the inexpensive
                                               student rate. Some public health insurance
It is possible that your health insurance      providers offer a less expensive interim
policy at home is also valid in Germany.       rate for one semester (so-called “graduate
This is usually the case for public health     student rate”) before raising the premium
insurance policies in EU member states,        to about 180 euros per month.
as well as Bosnia, Herzegovina, Iceland,
Liechtenstein, Morocco, North Macedonia,       For students who are 30 or older, it might
Montenegro, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland,       be less costly to take out a policy with a
Tunisia and Turkey. Germany has signed         private health insurance provider. The
social insurance agreements with these         Deutsches Studentenwerk has made an
countries to ensure cross-border coverage.     agreement with a provider for such cases.
With your European Health Insurance            For more information, enquire at the Stu-
Card (EHIC), you are also insured in Ger-      dentenwerk office at your university or visit
many. In some circumstances, domestic (“VELA Optimal” plan).
and international health insurance policies
from private foreign providers may also be     Whatever the case, be sure to clarify your
recognised in Germany. Enquire at your         health insurance status before you come
health insurance provider for more infor-      to Germany. In order to enrol (see p. 52),
mation before coming to Germany. If your       you have to provide proof of health insur-
insurance policy from your home country        ance coverage to your university. Your
is recognised (be it private or public), you   health insurance provider at home and the
will have to provide a statement at en-        International Office at your German univer-
rolment confirming that you are indeed         sity will be happy to help you. At many
exempt from mandatory German public            universities, the Studentenwerk offers
health insurance coverage. To do this, visit   service packages for international students
the branch office of a German insurance        which include accommodation, meal
provider before you enrol and request this     vouchers and a health insurance policy
statement confirming your present coverage.    (see p. 45–47).
Financing 27

Tuition fees                                    term study. Students enrolled in certain
                                                master’s and online degree programmes
Most students in Germany attend public          are also required to pay tuition – in some
universities where tuition fees are rarely      cases, up to 10,000 euros per semester or
charged for undergraduate programmes            more. The cost of study at private universi-
and many master’s programmes. The only          ties is relatively high as well.
exception are the public universities in the
state of Baden-Württemberg. There, inter-       Tuition fees – no matter how high – say
national students from non-EU countries         very little about the quality of education in
may be required to pay tuition to attend. For   Germany. Tuition-free degree programmes
more information, contact the International     also offer very good quality.
Office at the respective university.
                                                More information?
In some states, universities charge fees
for second degree programmes and long-          Gebuehren

 Students’ monthly expenses (not including tuition fees)
                                   average      Example: Rent and utilities

 Rent and utilities               € 323.00                                       average

 Groceries                        € 168.00     Room in a student hall
                                                of residence                     € 271.00
 Clothing                          € 42.00
                                                Room in a shared flat            € 310.00
 Learning materials                € 20.00
                                                Own apartment                    € 389.00
 Car and/ or
 public transportation             € 94.00

 Health insurance, medical
 costs, medicine                   € 80.00

 (Telephone, Internet, TV)         € 31.00

 Recreation, culture, sports       € 61.00
                                                Source: Deutsches Studentenwerk,
 Total                            € 819.00     21th Social Survey
28 Studying in Germany

How can I prove that                             What kind of funding can
I can pay for my studies?                        I apply for?

Before you begin your studies, you will have     You now have an idea of the costs you
to show how you intend to finance your           can expect. But you might not have to pay
stay. You must provide what is called a          for everything yourself. There are numer-
Finanzierungsnachweis or “proof of finan-        ous scholarships and funding possibilities
cial resources”. In most cases, you are          that can help students pay for their study
required to include this document with your      visit in Germany.
visa application. At the latest, you will need
it when you apply for a residence permit
(see p. 54). At present, foreign students
                                                   !     Scholarships

must prove they have about 8,640 euros           International students can apply for scholar-
per year at their disposal.                      ships from numerous organisations, such
                                                 as the DAAD, politically-affiliated founda-
Proof of financial resources can be              tions, religious institutions and businessre-
provided in various ways. As a rule, the         lated organisations. You should find out
following forms are accepted:                    whether you are eligible for scholarships
                                                 and financial aid from organisations in
■ Your parents submit documents                 your home country, as well.
      certifying their income and
      financial assets.                          The DAAD offers an extensive scholarship
■   A resident in Germany provides the          programme for students, academics and
     Aliens’ Registration Office a guarantee     researchers.
     to cover your expenses.                     Please note: Most funding organisations –
■    A security payment is deposited into       including the DAAD – do not finance entire
      a blocked account.                         degree programmes from the first to last
■    You submit a bank guarantee.               semester.
■    You receive a scholarship from a
      recognised funding organisation.           Funding for
                                                 European students
Be sure to enquire at the German embassy
in your country as to which form of finan-       There are special exchange programmes for
cial proof is required.                          students from EU countries and Iceland,
Please note: International students are          Liechtenstein, North Macedonia, Norway,
only allowed to work in Germany under            Serbia and Turkey.
certain conditions. A part-time job may
supplement your budget, but it almost            For example, Erasmus+ promotes the ex-
certainly won’t be able to cover all your        change of European students in bachelor’s,
living expenses (see pp. 68-71).                 master’s and doctoral programmes. Students
                                                 receive grants to study abroad for a period
                                                 of three to twelve months. The exchange is
Financing 29

arranged on the basis of bilateral university
agreements. This means that if you would           Scholarship Database
like to study in Germany with Erasmus+,
                                                   With the DAAD Scholarship Data-
you enrol as a visiting student at the German
                                                   base, it’s easy to research various
university with which your home university         types of scholarships online. The
cooperates. Erasmus students usually don’t         database includes scholarships of-
have to pay tuition fees in the host country.      fered by the DAAD and other funding
                                                   organisations, as well.
Internships are also funded during or even         More information?
after one’s degree programme for a period of
two to twelve months.

Each student may receive funding multiple
times during his/her studies. However,
the total funding period may not exceed
36 months. In certain cases, students may
apply for a low-interest loan to finance their
master’s degree programme.

You can obtain more information and advice
concerning Erasmus+, the application
process and submission deadlines at the In-
ternational Office at your university, or at the
National Agency in your home country.

More information?
30 Studying in Germany

Applying for admission

In this section we tell you the most important things
you should know about applying for admission to a degree
programme at a German university.

There are different ways to apply for
admission to a German university. The            Numerus clausus …
form of application depends on which
subject you wish to study.                       … is Latin and means “limited
                                                 number”. It indicates that there are
                                                 only a limited number of spaces free
We distinguish between two categories            at the university or in Germany in the
of subjects in Germany:                          respective course of study. In most
                                                 cases, there are more applicants than
■ Subjects with a centrally restricted          spaces available which means that
  admission policy (nationwide Numerus           special selection criteria and condi-
                                                 tions for admission apply to appli-
   clausus). These subjects are so popular
                                                 cants in these courses of study.
   that there are far more applicants
   than available places at the university.
   At present, these subjects include
   Medicine, Pharmacology, Veterinary
   Medicine and Dentistry.                      How do I apply for a subject
■ Subjects with no or a locally restricted     with a centrally restricted
   admission policy (Numerus clausus            admission policy?
   implemented by the university).
                                                A nationwide Numerus clausus (NC)
The following information only serves as        applies to those subjects for which there
a general guideline and applies only to         are more applicants in Germany than
­public universities. To be on the safe side,   the university system can absorb. If you
 enquire about the application procedures       wish to study one of these subjects,
 pertaining to your degree programme at         there are special conditions that pertain
 the International Office at your German        to your application.
                                                                  On the m
                                                                            a ny  –
                                                                  in Germ
                                                                         it wo rks:

”Go on a voyage of discovery.
 Study in Germany.“
 Thu from Vietnam and Harshvardhan from India are studying
 in Berlin and enjoying a trip in the snow-covered Harz region.
32 Studying in Germany

Where you submit your application                  choice or contact the university’s Interna-
depends on:                                        tional Office.

■ the country you come from, and                  A list of over 180 uni-assist member uni-
■ whether you have a German higher                versities is available at
   education entrance qualification                tools/uni-assist-hochschulen.
   (see p. 19–20).
                                                   But as mentioned above, please enquire
The following applicants are required to           about the application procedures at the
submit their application for admission             International Office at the university of
to degree programmes with a local or               your choice.
national Numerus clausus to the Foundation
for University Admission (Stiftung für              What is uni-assist?
                                                    The Working Service Point for Interna-
■ Applicants from EU member states,                tional Student Applications, or uni-assist
                                                    e.V., is an organisation responsible for
   as well as Liechtenstein, Iceland and            previewing the documents submitted
   Norway                                           by international applicants. Uni-assist is
■ Applicants who have received their               commissioned by member universities
   secondary school-leaving certificate in          to determine whether submitted certifi-
   Germany or at a German School abroad             cates qualify the applicant for admission
                                                    to university in Germany. Most uni-
                                                    versities also commission uni-assist to
More information?                                   review additional documentation, such                               as language certificates.
                                                    You can apply to several universities at
All other applicants should submit their            one time via uni-assist. You only have
applications directly to the university of          to submit your transcripts and language
their choice, or apply through uni-assist.          certificates once. Uni-assist quickly
                                                    reviews your application materials and
                                                    informs if you have forgotten any
How do I apply for                                  important documents. If everything ap-
other subjects?                                     pears to be in order, uni-assist forwards
                                                    your applications electronically to the
If you wish to study a subject with no              universities of your choice. For selected
                                                    universities, uni-assist will send you a
centrally restricted admission policy, you
                                                    certificate called the preliminary review
should submit your application to uni-              documentation (VPD). With this docu-
assist (see info box). If the university of your    ment, you may apply to the respective
choice does not work together with uni-as-          university directly.
sist, then send your application directly to        Important: The university (not uni-assist)
the university’s International Office or the        makes the final admission decision.
Student Administration Office. For more
                                                    More information?
information about ­application procedures,
visit the website of the university of your
Applying for admission 33

How much does it cost                          What must I submit with
to apply?                                      my application?

You are required to provide a number           You can obtain an application form from
of documents and certificates with your        the university of your choice, uni-assist,
application for admission to a German          the DAAD website or the Foundation for
university. In most cases, you will also       University Admission (Stiftung für Hoch-
be charged a processing fee. Be prepared       schulzulassung).
to pay the following charges and fees:
                                               Additional documents are also required,
■ Fees for notarising copies and              such as:
■ Examination fee for the TestDaF             ■ Notarised copy of your secondary
   or DSH                                         school-leaving certificate
■ Processing fee for the application          ■ Notarised copies of all previous
   (see below)                                    university degree certificates
                                               ■ Passport photo
The cost of the processing fee depends         ■ Photocopy of your passport
on where you apply.                              identification page (the page with
                                                 photo and personal info)
Through uni-assist: The evaluation of the      ■ C
                                                  ertificate of language proficiency
certificates and preliminary review of the       (see pp. 22–23)
application documents costs 75 euros for
the first university and 30 euros for each     Please note: Copies of documents will
additional university in the same semester.    only be accepted if they have been
Some universities cover the processing fees    notarised and are accompanied with a
for their applicants. You can find a current   notarised translation in German. The
list of these universities at                  German mission in your country, for                             example, can notarise copies and trans­
kostenuebernahme.html.                         lations of your certificates. Some univer­
                                               sities also accept copies of documents
Directly to a university: Some universities    in English or French.
charge a processing fee for reviewing
your application and supplementary             Your application will only be processed if
documents.                                     you have submitted all the necessary docu-
                                               mentation and paid the processing fee.
Please remember that your application
will only be processed after you have paid
the fee!

Directly to the Foundation for University
Admission: No application processing fee.
You can also read