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How to Apply to Study in Germany? - Study in Germany for free

How to Apply to Study in Germany? - Study in Germany for free

How to Apply to Study in Germany? - Study in Germany for free


Germany is one of the most popular non-English speaking study destinations in the world, and with its trendy student cities and low (or non-existent) tuition fees, it's not hard to understand why.

If you plan to study in Germany at the postgraduate level, consult our dedicated guides for master's degrees in Germany and doctorates in Germany.

If you plan to study your first university degree in Germany, read on ...

1. Choose a university

So you've chosen Germany as your study abroad destination - now is the time to choose the course and university that's right for you. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has a database of nearly 2,000 programs available, including 1,389 programs in English.

Unfortunately, the possibilities for studying in Germany in English at the undergraduate level are currently quite limited, although some courses are taught in English and German (usually starting with English for the first two to four semesters, then moving on to German). This allows you to study in English while improving your German skills, especially since your university can offer German courses.

You can also take into account the latest rankings of the best universities in Germany when making your decision, or consult the latest rankings of QS world universities by subject to find the best German institutions in your field, using the comparison tool to help you refine universities.

2. Check the admission conditions

Before applying, check that your current qualifications are recognized by the chosen university. To study in Germany, you must have a recognized Hochschulzugangsberechtigung (HZB), which means "entry qualification to higher education".

For prospective undergraduates, a high school diploma, a graduation certificate, or a university entrance exam is usually sufficient, and DAAD has a database of information on admission conditions for certain countries. Students with qualifications outside Europe may have to take the Feststellungsprüfung entrance exam after attending a preparatory Studienkolleg, although high-performing students may be able to work around this.

You will also need to check the language requirements. Most courses are taught in German, requiring international applicants to present proof of proficiency in German. Two main tests are available for this purpose: the Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang (DSH, which stands for "German exam for university entrance") and the TestDaF.

Likewise, if your course is taught in English, unless you are a native speaker or have previously studied in English, you will have to prove your knowledge of the language with a test like IELTS or TOEFL. Universities generally post the score (s) they need on their websites.

3. Put your finances in order

In order to meet the student visa requirements, you will need to prove that you have, or have access to, around € 8,700 per year (~ US $ 10,000) to cover your living expenses, although you can find more, depending on your lifestyle and spending habits (the average student spends € 850 / US $ 975 per month). Living expenses also vary by location; according to Mercer's Cost of Living Survey, Munich is currently the most expensive city in the country.

If you are concerned about the costs, scholarships are available to support students studying in Germany at different levels.

4. Apply!

For most subjects, you can contact the university's international office directly. You can also use the website www.uni-assist.de, a centralized admission portal for international students, managed by the German University Exchange Service (DAAD), although not all universities use it. You may wish to apply separately for many courses and universities to increase your chances of being admitted.

In many German universities, it is possible to apply for admission twice a year - to start studies in the winter or summer semester. In general, winter registration requests must be made before July 15 and summer registration requests before January 15. However, application deadlines vary by institution, and the same institution may set different deadlines for each program - be sure to carefully check the specific dates for your chosen course.

It is recommended to submit applications at least six weeks before the deadline, to allow time for corrections or additions in case of lack of information. You should expect to receive formal acceptance or rejection approximately one to two months after the deadline.

The specific documents required and the application process will be set by each institution, but you will usually be asked to submit:

  • A certified true copy of your high school diploma or previous diplomas, and any other relevant qualification in the original language
  • A translated overview of your course modules and your grades
  • An identity photo
  • A copy of your passport (personal information and photo ID page)
  • Proof of language proficiency (test certificate or equivalent online)
You may also have to pay an application fee.

For certain subjects, the number of students who can register is capped nationwide. For these subjects (mainly life sciences), EU students (plus Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein) must apply via the Foundation of Higher Education Admission. Students outside the EU must apply normally.

5. Get health insurance

Before leaving your country of origin, you must ensure that you have taken out health insurance to cover you during your stay in Germany. This is necessary both before registering and before obtaining a student visa and/or a residence permit. If you live in an EU or EEA country, there should be a social security agreement between your country and Germany. This means that if you have public health insurance in your home country, you should also be covered in Germany. You will generally need a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to benefit from it (free to obtain).

If your health insurance is not valid in Germany, expect to pay between € 80 (the US $ 92) and € 160 (the US $ 176) per month to cover this. The cost is higher if you are over 30 and if you are over 29 at the start of your course, you can only get private insurance.

6. Get a German student visa

The conditions for obtaining a student visa for Germany depend on your country of origin. You can find an overview of the countries for which a student visa is or is not required on the website of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs. You can also read this article to find out how to get a German student visa and a residence permit.

7. Finding accommodation

Once you have obtained a place in a course and your student visa (if applicable), it is advisable to start looking for accommodation, because unfortunately, most German universities do not offer accommodation to registered students... Rent is likely to be your biggest monthly expense and will vary depending on the part of the country you live in. In the big cities of West Germany (for example Düsseldorf, Cologne, etc.) and small student cities like Heidelberg and Freiburg, you can expect to pay a little more than if you lived in the east from Germany (i.e. Berlin).

Once you have found accommodation, you must register with the "resident registration office" (Einwohnermeldeamt) or the "citizens office" (Bürgeramt).

8. Register

You must register before you can start your course and use university facilities such as the library. You will also need to re-register before the start of each semester. It usually costs between € 150 and € 250 (~ US $ 170-290), depending on the university. There may be an additional charge of around € 180 (~ US $ 205) for a "Semesterticket", which covers public transport costs for six months.

The usual documents you need for registration are:

  • Your passport with visa or residence permit
  • Several passport photos
  • Registration form completed
  • Proof of qualification for entry into higher education, original certificates or officially certified copies and translations
  • Notice of admission
  • Proof of adequate knowledge of German (or English)
  • Proof of statutory health insurance in Germany
  • Semester fee payment receipt

Once registered, you will receive a registration certificate which acts as a provisional student card, allowing you to apply for your residence permit and register for the courses.

9. Settling into student life in Germany

Congratulations, you should now (mostly) be ready to start your studies in Germany! Don't forget to pack all the essentials, as well as organize a few more important things:

  • If you have not already done so, once you have found the accommodation, you must register with the local registration office in your city (Einwohnermeldeamt or Bürgeramt). Once registered, you will receive a document confirming your registration at this address, which you can then use for the next step…
  • Get a student bank account. Most banks offer them for free, which will make it easier to manage your regular payments (such as hosting).
  • If you want to find a part-time job during your studies, you can find out how it works for European and non-European students here.


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