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Application Process to Study in Germany

Expatrio 2024-02-15
Application Process to Study in Germany


Germany is one of the world's greatest academic centers. Famous for producing a stream of Nobel prize winners, the country hosts some of Europe's best universities. So it's no wonder that it attracts huge volumes of international students. 

This quick guide will give you insights into the application process for international students.
With Expatrio's help, anyone can get the application process started. In no time, you'll be enrolled and ready to hone your skills at world-class educational institutions!

Expatrio Value Package

Simplify your move to Germany with Expatrio's Value Package! Get your mandatory Health Insurance, Blocked Account, free German Bank Account, plus other free benefits!

Get Value Package

Application requirements

What are the requirements to study in Germany?

In 2023, Germany became the third most popular study destination for international students, with more than 458,000 foreigners studying at the nation's higher education institutions.
If you're ready to join them, go right ahead! However, there are a few things to know before applying, so keep reading to learn more!

All international students in Germany must obtain some type of Hochschulzugangsberechtigung which essentially proves that you have reached the educational level required to handle degree courses i.e., a university entrance qualification. 
You may need to complete an entrance exam (Feststellungsprüfung) before being accepted into some courses.

Most non-EU students will also need a student visa (Visum zu Studienzwecken) before arriving in Germany. Depending on your choice of course, there might also be language requirements.
Degrees vary, but some will require moderate German proficiency, whereas some may be taught through English.

Tip: Preparatory courses are available to get up to the required level.

How much does it cost to study in Germany?

Germany is one of the cheapest EU countries for international students to study in. Most public universities do not charge any tuition fees, even for non-EU students, but the administrative fees are around €300 per semester. Even some private universities can still be quite manageable, but some can be as much as €20,000 per year. 

However, one of the biggest costs for students is funding your blocked account, a German visa requirement that proves you have sufficient financial resources and funds for your stay in Germany. As of 2024, the blocked account amount is €11,208 per year, or €934 per month.

To help get your visa as fast as possible, you can open a blocked account with Expatrio, completely online. 

Expatrio Value Package

Simplify your move to Germany with Expatrio's Value Package! Get your mandatory Health Insurance, Blocked Account, free German Bank Account, plus other free benefits!

Get Value Package

How to prepare

The application process for German university courses varies slightly from course to course. However, the process will generally go something like this:

Choose your university and study program

Firstly, you should know what you would like to study, and where you would like to do so.

What can I study in Germany? Germany has more than 20,000 higher education study programs, so you have plenty of choice.

German universities are among the best in the world for certain subjects, such as natural sciences (LMU Munich), physics (Heidelberg), and the humanities (Freiburg).

Germany is home to excellent technical universities, universities of applied sciences, and much more. Three of Germany's universities are in the top 50 of the 2024 worldwide rankings, and another 5 are within the top 100. So no matter your choice, you can be confident in the quality of education you will receive.

Tip: If you're unsure about where to study, check out our list of universities, and choose a German institution that ranks well for your favorite subject.

Admission restrictions

All German degree courses will have some form of admission restrictions (or numerus clausus). The best institutions are quite strict about enforcing quality standards for applicants, but if you meet the academic level demanded, there's no discrimination against international students.

Restrictions vary, but will typically require a Hochschulzugangsberechtigung (or equivalent). There may also be other entrance examinations and interviews.

Check the Requirements

German universities don't have one system for applications, and admission requirements differ between courses. This means that you'll need to check every website or prospectus carefully to understand the admission rules.

There may be hefty amounts of paperwork and translations involved in overseas applications, and no-one wants to spend time applying for courses that aren't appropriate for their skills or needs. So make sure you do your research.


Learn German

The most important restriction for most international applicants is regarding language. German universities offer a mix of exclusively German language courses and courses incorporating English teaching.

There are many programs that are taught in English. If you don't have a good grasp of German, it's important to find universities that let you study in English. However, it's still advisable to learn some German as part of the application process.

Which university in Germany is the best for international students?

Finally, some German universities are known for being more suitable for international students. For instance, the University of Heidelberg actively seeks international applicants and has strong support systems to help with housing, finances, and teaching.


Germany application process

When you've chosen your course and university, it's time to start the application. In Germany, applicants have to pass through several stages in their application, and it's important to get them all right.

Fill out the application form

Each course will have its own application form, and filling it out can be a time-consuming process. Forms can be obtained from university websites and posted to foreign addresses.

However, institutions usually offer online forms, which is probably the best way to go.

When filling out application forms, you will probably be asked for a set of passport photos and a clearly legible copy of your passport.

At this stage, you will also need to submit evidence that you meet the university's admissions criteria, so make digital certified copies of any relevant exam certificates and diplomas.

Submit your application

Tip: When the form is done, submit it as soon as possible. If there are any mistakes on the form or bureaucratic hurdles, you may need time to sort them out. 

It's important to note here that certain application deadlines apply. If you are applying to begin studying in winter, applications must be submitted by 15 July, while the deadline for summer enrollment is usually 15 January. Keep those dates in mind.

Receive the admission letter

If you are successful in your application - that's great. But we're not done yet. Successful applicants will receive a letter of confirmation. Don't discard this or file it away. You'll need it to complete the application process.

Tip: It's a good idea to make a few copies of the letter, just in case, as it is vital for the next stage.


Get your student visa

Your student visa grants you access to Germany. Here are some of the mandatory requirements for your visa application, all of which can be applied for at one time with the Expatrio Value Package.

Health insurance

Firstly, you'll need to have comprehensive health insurance before the visa is granted. The German government recommends getting a policy that covers the entire period of study, as well as repatriation in case of illness. This means all international students in Germany must be covered by one of the country's health insurance schemes. We've covered this in more detail in guides to arranging health insurance.

Tip: Get your incoming (travel health) insurance, and your blocked account all at once with Expatrio.

Always choose an affordable provider, preferably one with excellent English language support. Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) is a good option to go for.

Blocked account

Secondly, you'll need to prove that you have enough money to support yourself. Students will also need to prove that they have the resources to fund their studies. You can prove this with a bank statement, scholarship award letter, or similar document. The best way to do so is to set up a blocked account (Sperrkonto) which is a type of bank account specifically for this purpose.

This account is partially locked, and will disburse funds on a monthly basis. Applicants for universities must add at least €934 per month to their account (€11,208 per year).

Value Package

At Expatrio, our Value Package makes things as easy as possible for international students. This package bundles together your health insurance and blocked account, and adds extra perks to the mix. There's no better way to minimize the stress involved in starting your studies in Germany, and it can save you time and money.

When your blocked account and health insurance have been arranged, you should be able to obtain a student visa and a residency permit. This will allow you to accept your place at university and rent accommodation, so it's an important step.

With those two things taken care of, you can apply for the visa at a German embassy or consulate in your home country. The application process is fairly straightforward, but you may have to provide more documents, such as evidence of your ties to your home country (to show that you don't intend to stay in Germany permanently).

Once the visa has been granted, you're free to move to Germany and begin your studies! After all that work, it's time to enjoy student life in one of the best countries in the world for higher education.

We hope this guide has been helpful. If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact us. And if you're looking for more guidance on studying in Germany, check out our other articles about studying and life in Germany.

Expatrio Value Package

Simplify your move to Germany with Expatrio's Value Package! Get your mandatory Health Insurance, Blocked Account, free German Bank Account, plus other free benefits!

Get Value Package

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