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Study in Germany: Frequently Asked Questions

Study in Germany: Frequently Asked Questions main image

Click any of the questions below to get impartial information about studying abroad in Germany, from the admissions process at German universities, tuition fees in Germany (or lack thereof) and German student visa applications, to scholarships to study in Germany and more.

If we haven’t answered your question, please either ask us in the comments at the bottom of this page or post your question in our international student forum.

1. Can I study in Germany free of charge?

2. What qualifications do German universities offer?

3. How can I study medicine in Germany?

4. What are the entry requirements to study abroad in Germany?

5. Do I need to speak German?

6. How do I apply to universities in Germany?

7. Do I need a German student visa to study abroad in Germany?

8. Where can I study in Germany?

9. What’s the difference between a university and a ‘Fachhochschulen’?

10. Are scholarships available to cover living costs?

11. What is studying in Germany like?

12. Where will I live during my studies?

13. Can I work in Germany during my studies?

14. Can I stay in Germany when I complete my studies?

15. Further questions?

 

1. Can I study in Germany free of charge?

This will depend on your study level, country of origin, and which state you study in. Tuition fees at all public universities were originally axed in 2014, but it’s been announced that universities in the south-western state of Baden-Württemberg will reintroduce tuition fees for non-EU/EEA students, commencing from autumn 2017. This will not affect current non-EU students or students from , including non-EU countries such as Turkey and Iceland. The fees will be set at €1,500 per semester – therefore coming to €3,000 per year (~US$3,300). Students obtaining a second degree will pay a reduced rate of €650 per semester, or €1300 per year (~US$1,400).

It’s possible that non-EU/EEA tuition fees will be reintroduced to other states in the coming years, but, as of May 2017, undergraduate-level tuition at all other public universities in Germany remains free of charge for all students, both in and outside the EU. You will, however, need to pay a nominal administration fee per semester, which is typically no more than €300 (~US$330).

For postgraduate students, however, tuition fees still exist.  These fees may be avoided (or cut dramatically) if you have already graduated from an undergraduate program in Germany in the last few years. If you studied in another country at undergraduate level, you are classed as a non-consecutive student and will need to pay tuition fees, which will vary between universities and courses.

For more information about tuition fees in Germany, see the following:

2. What qualifications do universities in Germany offer?

Under the Bologna reform, all universities in Germany offer internationally recognized degrees. A BA or a BSc (Bachelor of Arts / Bachelor of Science) will usually take six semesters (three years) to complete, and these are the most common undergraduate degrees. For postgraduate studies, an MA or MSc (Master of Arts / Master of Science) will take two-four semesters (one-two years) and a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) will last four-six semesters (two-three years).

More specialized degrees are also available at certain German universities. If you’d like more information about gaining an MBA (Masters in Business Administration) in Germany, visit  on our sister site TopMBA.com.

3. How can I study medicine in Germany?

You can study medicine for free at any public university in Germany, but will need to have a strong knowledge of both German and English, among other requirements. Medical training programs in Germany are not split into bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and will take at least six years and three months to complete. Spaces are very competitive, with many more applicants than places. You can read more about the requirements, application process, program structure and more in our article How to Study Medicine in Germany

4. What are the entry requirements to study in Germany?

To study abroad in Germany you need to hold a higher education entrance qualification or Hochschulzugangsberechtigung (HZB). This qualification can come in many formats, particularly for international students who have gained their school-leaving qualifications in a different country.

For prospective undergraduate students, a high-school diploma, school-leaving certificate or university entrance exam result is usually sufficient. For postgraduate programs, students need to provide an undergraduate degree certificate. Usually, if your qualification would allow you entry into higher education in your home country, it will also be sufficient to allow you to apply to German universities. To check whether your current qualifications are recognized for study in Germany, use the form on .

If you find that your qualification is not recognized, you are also able to take a preparatory course at a before taking a compulsory assessment test known as a Feststellungprüfung. This assessment will cover areas that are relevant to the program you wish to study and will prepare you for university.

If you wish to undertake a program being taught in German (the teaching language of most undergraduate programs in Germany), you will also need to prove your German proficiency (see question five below for more information).

In addition to German-language proficiency and an entrance qualification, you may also need to meet the specific entry requirements of your chosen university program. These requirements depend on the reputation of the school and of the program, and can be found by looking at the program information in the university’s prospectus or online.

5. Do I need to speak German?

The language of instruction at most universities in Germany is German. All students undertaking a German-taught program will need to be able to demonstrate a firm knowledge of the language, either by means of a language test result or by taking a preparatory course. Accepted proficiency tests are the  (German Language University Entrance Examination for International Applicants),  (Test of German as a Foreign Language),  (Goethe Institut German Language Diploma) and the  (German Language Diploma of the Standing Conference of the Minister of Education and Cultural Affairs, Level II). If you are only studying in Germany for one or two semesters you may not need to provide this evidence.

If you have a limited knowledge of German, you could consider taking an English-language program. There are a growing number of English-taught programs at universities in Germany, particularly at postgraduate level. If you are a non-native English speaker, you may be required to provide proof of your English-language proficiency with a TOEFL or IELTS result. If your chosen school requires this, they will list proof of English-language proficiency as an entry requirement.

However, even if you do study in Germany in English, it’s advisable to learn the basics of the German language to enable you to communicate more effectively with the local residents.

6. How do I apply to universities in Germany?

Admissions processes vary between institutions, so make sure you check the information given by your chosen university before applying. If you’re unable to find the entry requirements of a program you want to apply for, or you aren’t sure how to apply, visit the university’s International Office (Akademisches Auslandsamt) and either read the information provided online or contact the office directly. There should be staff members available to provide support and advice on any topic relating to international student applications.

Generally, you’ll be asked to provide the following documentation with your application:

  • A certified copy of your higher education entrance qualification (e.g. a high-school diploma) and any other relevant qualifications in the original language
  • A translated overview of the subjects and grades of your qualifications
  • A passport photo
  • A copy of your passport (personal information and photo ID)
  • Proof of language proficiency (a test certificate or online equivalent)

For most public German universities, the application period for the winter semester begins in early May and ends mid-July. For the summer intake, the application period is between early December and mid-January. You should expect to receive a formal acceptance or rejection approximately one to two months after the deadline has passed.

To ensure the best chances of acceptance, take care to provide all the documentation asked for, make sure all your documentation is certified (copies of documents also need to be certified by the awarding school) and check that you’ve filled out all your information correctly before submitting your application.

For more information on how to apply, see this article.

7. Do I need a German student visa to study in Germany?

Whether you need a German student visa depends on your country of origin. If you are from a country within the  or from Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, you do not need a student visa. If you are from the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Japan or South Korea you still do not require a student visa, but you will need to register for a residence permit upon arrival in Germany. If you are from Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco, San Marino or Taiwan, you only need a visa if you plan on working in Germany before or after your studies. If your home country hasn’t been mentioned above, then you will need to apply for a German student visa at least three months before you are due to travel.

For detailed information on how to apply for a German student visa or a residence permit, check out this article:

8. Where can I study in Germany?

A total of 42 German universities currently feature in the QS World University Content®, meaning that you have a great selection of world-leading universities to choose from. If you want to study in a world-renowned student city, you might consider Munich or Berlin, both ranked among the world’s top 10 cities for students in the QS Best Student Cities index.

However, there are lots of regions of Germany with something to offer, including North Rhine-Westphalia (home of cities such as Dusseldorf and Cologne), Baden-Wurttemberg (home of Stuttgart), Bavaria (home of Munich), Hesse (home of Frankfurt am Main), Lower Saxony (home of Hannover), Saxony (home of Dresden) and Hamburg (a state which is also a city).

To help you choose a university, the QS World University Content by Subject has rankings for 46 subjects as of 2017 – simply narrow the results down by country to select only German institutions. You can also use the compare tool to further narrow down your choices on factors such as international diversity and rankings history.

9. What’s the difference between a university and a fachhochschulen?

While all degree programs in Germany lead to a recognized bachelor’s or master’s qualification (or the German equivalent), there are some institutions, named fachhochschulen, which are more geared towards practical learning. Fachhochschulen or universities of applied sciences, typically offer degrees in fields such as engineering, natural science and business administration. Attending a university of applied science may give you a closer relationship with industry contacts and offer more opportunity for practical learning, including internships. If you wish to pursue an academic career, on the other hand, fachhochschulen may not be the best option, as there is less focus on theoretical work and they do not award PhDs.

10. Are scholarships available to cover living costs?

Although tuition fees in Germany are non-existent at public universities, you still need to consider how you’ll cover living costs. If you don’t have a sponsor or supporting family member, there are countless opportunities to gain scholarships to cover these costs.

Scholarships to study in Germany can be obtained in several ways. The German government offers some funding to international students through the  or the European Commission’s Erasmus+ scheme, but many opportunities are offered independently by German universities or external funding bodies. Browse the funding options on your chosen university’s website to see if they offer any international scholarships –these are often awarded based on merit, subject of study and/or country of origin.

For a selection of general and subject-specific scholarships to study in Germany, see this list:

    11. What is studying in Germany like?

    To learn more about the lifestyle, student cities and the leading universities in Germany, take a look at the following resources.

    Guides:

    Articles:

    Blog posts:

    12. Where will I live during my studies?

    Unfortunately, most German universities do not offer accommodation to enrolling students. This means that finding accommodation is up to you. With little to no tuition fees in Germany, rent is likely to be your biggest monthly expense, and this will vary depending on which part of the country you live in. In big cities within Western Germany (i.e. Dusseldorf, Cologne etc.) and smaller, student-oriented cities such as Heidelberg and Freiburg, you should expect to pay slightly more than if you were living in eastern Germany (i.e. Berlin).

    When looking for accommodation in Germany, you should consider student residences, shared accommodation or an apartment. An unshared apartment is the most expensive choice, and this will generally cost in the region of €350-400 (~US$300-340) a month. Shared accommodation would be cheaper at around €250-300 (~US$210-250) a month, while student residences are cheaper yet again at around €200-250 (~US$170-210) a month.

    If you struggle with finding accommodation, you can also look for somewhere temporary to cover your first few days or weeks in the country. In these instances, emergency housing may be provided by the university or you could try couch-surfing, staying in a hostel, B&B or hotel.

    For more information on finding accommodation visit  on the DAAD website. You could also use the Study-in-de’s , which includes information, addresses and application details on a large selection of student residence halls in Germany.

     

    13. Can I work in Germany during my studies?

    Yes, you can. If you are a full-time EU or EEA student (or from Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland) you can work for up to 20 hours per week. If you are a full-time student from outside of the EU, you will be limited to working up to 120 full days or 240 half days per year before you must apply for a work permit. Upon gaining paid work in Germany you should contact the German employment office to learn about the legal conditions.

    Read more about gaining work in Germany during your studies:

    14. Can I stay in Germany when I complete my studies?

    Yes. After completing your studies in Germany as an international student, you’re able to apply for a residence permit to stay in the country and seek work for an additional period of 18 months. If you gain work in Germany within this time you should make sure that you extend your visa, residence or work permit to ensure you are living in the country legally. Find out more here.

    15. Further questions?

    If you have any further questions, please ask them in the comments below or in our international student forum.

    This article was originally published in December 2014. It was updated in May 2017.

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    Makuete R, abinash S & 63 others saved this
    Laura Tucker's profile image
    Written by Laura Tucker
    Laura is a former staff writer for TopUniversities.com, providing advice and guidance for students on a range of topics helping them to choose where to study, get admitted and find funding and scholarships. A graduate of Queen Mary University of London, Laura also blogs about student life.

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    110 Comments

    after doing. my hsc from sscience background now I m doing degree from commerce university.. so can I apply for
    bachelor in n German unive from science background

    I hv been completed ma hsc from Science background. now I m studying degree from a commerce university.. can I apply in German university for a sscience background subject??plz help me

    I've completed diploma in civil engineering and I want to pursue my bsc in physics does German universities allow admissions on diploma course.

    Hi Laura, my son is in Grade 12 and planning to study in TUM in Germany next year. He will hold IB Full Diploma and his predicted score now is 43.
    To study in Germany, does he still need to enter studienkolleg? Does he still require IELTS test though he will have IB Full DP?

    Do I need to pass a test before joining my chosen university

    Hi Ali, this will depend on your study level and program - if you're studying at undergraduate level you probably won't need to sit an admissions test, but at master's level (particularly for a business degree) you may need to provide a test result such as the GMAT or GRE.

    Please tell me how many band require in Ielts when I will study in Germany

    Hi Manav, for most courses you will need at least a 6.0 score overall, with no less than 5.5 in each module.

    What should be the age of foreign student to study bachelor's in Germany?
    If the student is under aged what should be done?

    Hello, I just completed my first year university study in New Zealand, can I transfer to Germany University?

    Hello, I'd recommend contacting the admissions offices of the German universities you're interested in, and inquiring on whether they accept transfer students and what the process would be.

    Hello, I wish to do MA German in Germany n i'd like to know if there are any entrance required for that?

    I wanna become a primary school teacher. Would it be possible to study for 2 years in Australia and move then to Germany and finish my studies there?

    I have a foundation in science degree from Malaysia can I start a bachelors degree in Germany?

    Hi Mukhtar, I don't see why not, but you could contact your preferred German institution/s to check you have an applicable higher education entrance qualification.

    Hi!

    Have you heard of the M.A. Master "Management of Creative Industries" at the bbw Hochschule in Berlin, Germany? I was so glad to have found this course and can only imagine that others out there might feel the same way. In fact, this degree is the first of its kind in Germany!
    What is special about this course is that you can study non-consecutively, which means that you don't have to possess a Business-Bachelor and still become qualified for working in the economic field.
    Courses are taught in English and only on Fridays and Saturdays, which enables you to work while studying.

    Here's the link to the program:
    https://www.bbw-hochschule.de/studium/studiengaenge/master/management-of-creative-industries.html

    Hi, is there an age limit studying in Germany? I have a bachelors degree from australia and was hoping to do a masters in germany. I am currently 28yo. Thanks in advance.

    Hi,
    I want to ask that.. Does German accept 3 years Diploma in Mechanical engineering after matric ?
    I'm doing 3 years Diploma after Matric and after that i want to Study in Germany?? Can you answer this question please
    Thanks in advance
    Dankeschön

    Hi Laura,
    I really got a lot of info from your article , really appreciate your work. I want to pursue MS in Energy sector from Germany and would like to know if there is any age limit to apply for such courses. I am Masters in petroleum already and have 8 years of work ex in the same field. Help me please.
    Thanks in advance

    Hi Yogesh, as far as I'm aware, there's no age limit for studying a master's in Germany, but you could always check this with your desired university.

    Hi, Laura your articles are so help full and I really appreciate your work. I want to know detail information about studying in Germany. I have some questions which I want to ask you personally. I have some queries to ask please help me.

    Hi Bikek, I'm afraid we're unable to respond to individual enquiries via email, but if you reply back with your questions I'll do my best to help. :)

    If any one have student visa of Austria and now he wants to study in Germany which process he should follow?
    Please give Information about it.
    Thank you.

    Hi Mitul, you'll need to apply for a new student visa - you can find out how to apply for one here. :)

    Hello everyone.
    Is there any age limitation for undergraduate programs in Germany?

    Hi there, as far as I'm aware there is no age limit for studying a bachelor's degree in Germany. 

    Hi guys,
    I have this plan of graduating around july next year, this is my first BA. What i'd like to know is if i can apply to study in germany to get a new BA in another area or not, since i'll be graduated. Thank you!

    Hello Laura
    I just completed my first Bachelor degree this year 2017, and I will love to further to the Masters degree in one of the Universities in Germany... will be pleased if you can guide me through. Thank you

    Hi Iyeesha, please take a look at our article 'How to apply for a masters in Germany'. Hope this is helpful.

    I'm an O level passed student from Bangladesh and I'm loving here in Germany.
    I like to enter a School for further education.
    Where what I can?
    plz. Advice me.

    Hello,
    My mother insists that foreign students are not able to study in Germany for a duration of a full bachelor's degree, only one or two semesters as an exchange student. I have not been able to find a statement online that explicitly confirms or denies her claim. Is what she said true? I wish to study English and math to teach at a Gymnasium in germany.

    hello,
    I want to know that if anyone has IELTS certificate nd he wants to go to Germany for studing bachelor's degree nd he also completed A1 nd preparing himself for B1. so can he go?
    or only having IELTS certificate can he go for bachelors degree in Germany

    I want MD from Germany and I'm qualified Pharm.D

    Dear Laura
    I am shomaila from Pakistan. I have done my MSC in genetics and doing MPhil in Total quality management from Hamdard university. I have 12 years of experience of Blood bank technologist and in Quality assuarnce. Kindly suggest me the university in Germany with low cost. I want to do Masters in Total quality management.

    Hi, I am from Pakistan. I'm studying bsc civil engineering. I'm in 4th semester. My Cgpa is 2.8 . So can I study rest of my semesters in Germany in good universities in burlin or munich with tuition free with my maximum credit hours transfered. Waiting for someone's help thank you.

    Hello Sikandar, I am from Pakistan and facing the same situation. I want to complete my remaining MS degree semesters from German university. Did you get any positive response from any German university for credit hour conversion?

    Hi, I've decided to take a leap year to learn the German language and build up my portfolio. Will I be granted entry into the university with my qualifications(GCE O and A Level)? Given I have gotten passes and above for my results. Thank you.

    I would like to study in Hamburg, at a university that doesn't require a basic knowledge of German language at first. So the class is first taught in English, where do I find unniversities without that requirement? I would like to learn German while studying. I'm an American/Russian student. Thanks for the help in advance to whoever may help me

    Hi, I'm looking into colleges in Hamburg, Germany. Unfortunately, I lack German. I was wondering if you could help me find colleges that start out being taught in English in Hamburg that do not require a prior knowledge of German. I would be willing to learn German during the first years if the course changes from being taught to English to german

    Hello Laura, my daughter is currently attending UC Santa Cruz and we cannot afford the tuition. We are a US Green Card Holder. If she got accepted in one of Germany University, will her green card status got impacted ? We are interested in Free Tuition University and plan to register.
    Thanks !

    Hi,
    I am looking to study the language german in germany just woundering if i need my HSC to do so?
    If anyone could answer my question that would be a great help
    Thanks
    Lily

    Hi, I want to study physical therapy I want to know if I will take exams after the university accepts me to determine if the college of physical therapy or any other programs I want to join accept me or not something like competition to determine the student they will accept. if there something like that in Germany . and please can you tell me how they choose the student to study in the college

    Hi Laura,
    My name is Nikita and i am from India.
    I completed my Gradution in the year 2009 and have done IATA course.
    I have around 5 years work experience in the Airiline industry for Ticketing / Reservation/ Fare filing.
    I am working currently in India .
    I intent to do a Postgraduation course , which will help me to go ahead in career in the Aviation field.
    Well, i did check for many universities online , but i am still not sure.
    Would you be able to guide me on the university.
    I am looking out for Postgradution in Management with a specialization in Aviation.
    I did check IUBH - Germany , but not very sure .
    I will be taking a education loan.Even though i am able to take a education loan i am not sure if will be able to survive in germany as the stay seems to be expensive.
    Any guidance that you can provide will be highly apprecaited.
    Looking forward to your reply.
    Thanks and Regards,
    Nikita

    Hi , please anyone can tell me if its possible to go study The german language in germany before applying for mastere in an university ? if yes any details will help me thank you in advance

    Hi Mohamed, it is possible - you can read about pre-study German language courses here. Hope this helps!

    Hi there, hoping you can help me. I am from Australia and looking to study in Berlin at a private university. From what I understand I do not need to apply for a student visa (and cannot as I will be studying at a non-recognised school) and is it true that getting a residency permit for the purpose of study sufficient? Are there any circumstances? I wish to study part time over the course of 24 months. Am I allowed to work in this time? Just casual/part time employment to cover living costs. I have written to the German embassy in my city but was hoping for a quicker reply and any guidelines will be great!

    Hi Danielle, that's right, you don't need a student visa - however you will need to register at the local Residents’ Registration Office and the Aliens’ Registration Office (Ausländeramt) to obtain a residence permit within two weeks of arrival in Germany.

    As a non-EU student, you can work part-time for up to 120 or 240 half days a year - I wouldn't recommend relying on part-time work to fund living costs however, and you will need to prove you already have enough money to support yourself during your stay (8,700 euros per year) when you get your residence permit. You can find out more about how to get a residence permit here. Hope this helps! 

    Hi
    I am fawad khan from pakistan . Does there any age limit for undergraduate admission in germany.

    Hello

    I got admission letter from a german university and I applied for the visa and till now I got no answer from the embassy it's been 2 months and 1 week. Does that mean I got rejected?

    I didn't enroll completely in the university since I need to submit some necessarily documents before they enroll me officially but as I mentioned previously I got the acceptance letter. Do you think guys that's why I didn't yet get the answer from the embassy.

    Cordially yours all

    Hi
    My name is Bongiwe Siso.
    I am a Zimbabwean but I live in Germany now.I want to study nursing but unfortunately I dont have academic certificates I only have one academic certificate with a Science subject.Can you help me in what I am suppose to do for me to fullfil my dream.