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How to study in Germany?

By Jan von EasyDeutsch

Juni 5, 2016


How do I apply for a study place in Germany?

Studying in Germany is an interesting opportunity to students of all parts of the world. For years, the number of foreign exchange students in German auditoriums has been rising. Today, more than eleven percent of all students are from foreign countries. Requirements to be met in order to study at German universities vary. If you want to study in Germany, please inform yourself concerning requirements for application requests. In this article, we will provide you with an overview of prerequisites for and procedure of an application. Further information on everything concerning your studies can also be found here: lerntippsammlung.de.

Admission to a university

Each university decides on its own which students it wants to take. In order to be able to study at a German university or a technical college, you need a university entrance qualification, meaning, a school diploma (Abitur or comparable) that enables you to take college courses. As a citizen of any EU country as well as Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, any diploma making it possible to attend a university in your home country will be valid for German universities as well. This includes a diploma acquired at a German school abroad. In this case, no further exams will be necessary to start your studies. An exception has to be made for study programs with artistic courses. Here, universities will often make their decision based on work samples or aptitude tests. If you are not a citizen of an EU country, you have to have your diploma evaluated beforehand. We recommend making a request at the International Office of the university in question. If your diploma does not meet requirements, you will be able to attend after successfully completing an assessment test. A general university entrance qualification applies to all study programs while a subject-related entrance qualification is only valid for specific programs.

Grade point average and limited admission to study programmes

Universitätsbibliothek in Hamburg
University Library in Hamburg

Next to study programs with free admission, you will find certain programs that only have limited admission. The numerus clausus (NC) applies to specific subjects across all of Germany. Among them are veterinary courses, medicine and dentistry as well as pharmacy. Here, the number of applicants is significantly higher than the number of available places. Some universities offer subjects with locally restricted admission requirements. In those cases, prerequisites like a particular grade point average change from one year to the next. In individual cases, completed professional trainings or internships can have a positive influence as well. An inquiry at the university in question will give you information on the accepted methods.

German language certificates

Most courses are held in German. Good German skills, oral and written, are important in order to study in Germany. If you want to participate in a study program held in German, you will have to provide proof that you have the necessary language skills. Approved language examinations are “TestDaF” (a standardised German as a foreign language test) and “Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang ausländischer Studienbewerber (DSH)” (a language skill test for foreign students wishing to study at a university). You will not need to pass a language test if you graduated from a German speaking school. This is also the case if you can prove your German proficiency with one of the following diplomas:

Studenten vor der Uni Freiburg
Students in front of Freiburg University
  • Goethe-Zertifikat C2 (Großes Sprachdiplom) [Goethe Certificate C2 (Language Diploma)]
  • Deutsches Sprachdiplom der Kultusministerkonferenz (Stufe II) [German Language Diploma from the German Standing Conference of Ministers of Education and Culture (Level II)]
  • Zentrale Oberstufenprüfung des Goethe-Instituts (ZOP) [Central Advanced Language Test of the Goethe-Institut]
  • Großes Deutsches Sprachdiplom (GDS) [Major German Language Diploma]
  • Kleines Deutsches Sprachdiplom (KDS) [Minor German Language Diploma]

If you only want to study one or two semesters, several universities do not insist on a German language certificate.

Meeting deadlines

Your application is acceptable if all required documents are included. Please consider varying deadlines. Usually, those deadlines will be set to several months before the beginning of the semester. In the winter semester, they will usually be in the month of May until the middle of June; in the summer semester, from the beginning of December until January. Please make sure you ask the university in question early on to get the exact dates. If an application is submitted late, it will not be considered.

General and specific scholastic aptitude tests

Some study programs require a scholastic aptitude test. This usually applies to programs that are restricted with a numerus clausus. Here, students have to pass a general or specific scholastic aptitude test. The general test will examine cognitive prerequisites, including the power of concentration, for example. A specific scholastic aptitude test will validate certain skills that are necessary for study programs like medicine or sport studies.

An overview of necessary documents

The university will supply you with an application form. You will fill it out thoroughly and, together will all other required documents, hand it in before the deadline. The educational facility and the study program in question will determine which documents you will need for your application. Normally, the following documents will be requisite besides your application form:

1. Officially authenticated copy of school diploma

Your diploma certifies that you have graduated (Abitur or comparable diploma) and hereby verifies your authorization to study at a university. It needs to be translated by an approved office and authenticated. Exceptions will be made for international diplomas.

2. Documents on professional training or internships

Proof of completed professional trainings can possibly enhance your chances of getting into a university. The documents need to be in German and authenticated.

3. Proof of existing health insurance

Each student needs to add proof of an existing health insurance to his application.

4. Proof — who will pay for it?

Many universities request foreign students to provide proof that the costs of studying will be covered. This could be a documentation of the parents’ income, a bank guarantee or a scholarship, for example. 

5. Student’s visa (for non-EU citizens)

Citizens of an EU and EEA country do not need a visa. Non-EU citizens are required to apply for a visa before entering Germany. Citizens of particular countries like the USA, Israel, Canada and some others are able to apply for a visa after entering the country.

6. Proof of German language skills and other tests

As mentioned before, examinations by the Goethe institute are valid, next to the DSH exam and TestDaF. If previous to your application you are unsure whether your German language skills will suffice, you can test them with TestAS (a test for foreign students).

Application process

If you apply for a study program with centralised limited admission, you need to send your application to the University Admission Foundation, if you

  • are an EU or EEA citizen.
  • have a German school diploma.

Non-EU citizens need to send their application form and documents directly to the university in question. Study programs with free admission require a direct application to the university in question or the International Office.

The amount of time required to process applications varies from one university to the other. It usually takes between three and five months. After receiving a letter of admission, you need to accept before a certain deadline, otherwise you forfeit your chance of studying there.

Studying in Germany

Possibilities for taking up studies in Germany are manifold. All in all, you can choose between 427 tertiary institutions, 107 of them universities. Detailed information on particular study programs is provided by the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD, German Academic Exchange Service) and can be found on the institutions’ respective websites.

Better chances of success

uni-viadrina-frankfurt
Frankfurt Univerity

A good grade point average is a terrific starting point for a successful application. The following tips will significantly increase your chances of getting into particular study programs and universities:

  • acquaint yourself with the criteria that need to be fulfilled
  • provide proof of completed internships, professional trainings or jobs in the social sector
  • provide proof of language skills, good or outstanding
  • good results in the scholastic aptitude test
  • a motivational letter justifying your choice of study program

Scholarships: A list of the most important organisations

We recommend you apply to several institutions for a scholarship. Some of the most important organisations are:

  • Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
  • Bayer Science & Education Foundation
  • Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (Federal Ministry of Education and Research)
  • German Academic Exchange Service
  • Friedrich Ebert Foundation
  • Friedrich Naumann Foundation
  • Heinrich Böll Foundation
  • Konrad Adenauer Foundation

That will be interesting for you as well:


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Wishing you success and happy learning,

Jan

Jan von EasyDeutsch

Wer schreibt hier?

Deutsch ist einfach! Wird nur oft zu kompliziert erklärt! In der Schule habe ich nie verstanden, was meine Lehrer mit Dativ, Akkusativ & Co. von mir wollten! Als ich 2013 in Brasilien angefangen habe Deutsch zu unterrichten, musste ich mir daher alles selbst beibringen! Mein Wissen über die deutsche Grammatik war gleich Null! Ich habe alles im Selbststudium gelernt und habe festgestellt, dass es eigtl. gar nicht schwer ist und (fast) alles klaren, strukturierten Regeln folgt! Meine Mission ist es, allen die diese Strukturen noch nicht erkannt haben, zu zeigen und zu beweisen, dass Deutsch einfach ist, nur oft zu kompliziert erklärt wird!

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