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Pre-Studies & Studienkolleg in Germany

Expatrio 2024-02-15
A german student reading a book


Germans are huge believers in preparation, and that's especially the case in the higher education sector. German universities welcome international students, but they require them to pass certain examinations before they can begin their courses. And that usually means spending some time at a Studienkolleg.

This article explains what a Studienkolleg provides, how to apply, and what the process will cost.

What is a Studienkolleg?

Studienkollegs in Germany are schools designed for international students, which provide a link between different academic cultures.

If you're worried about fitting into German universities, or your German language skills aren't brilliant, a Studienkolleg will provide the solution. These schools are generally divided into two major classes. University Studienkollegs provide courses for students applying for humanities, business, science, medical, or language degrees.

Applied science Studienkollegs are oriented towards arts courses, sciences, design and technical courses with hands-on components.

Studienkollegs can also either be private or public. Public schools are free to attend, and offer general courses. The degrees they provide can be used anywhere in Germany. Private Studienkollegs offer courses with tuition fees. These courses are often focused on specific needs or university courses, so may be suitable for some students.

In private schools, there are state-recognized (staatlich anerkannt) and state-approved (staatlich genehmigt) ones. The difference lies in that, state-recognized Studienkollegs are allowed to issue FSP (Festsellungsprüfung) certificates, but state-approved Studiekollegs are not allowed. Therefore, students who study in state-approved Studienkollegs should take the FSP exam externally, in either a public or a state-recognized school. 

Private Studienkolleg

The degrees private schools provide aren't always valid at all German universities. It's advisable to check before applying.


Is Studienkolleg compulsory?

You may be required to attend a Studienkolleg if your qualifications from your home country don’t meet the necessary criteria. You can check if your qualifications are accepted on the Uni Assist website. You can also elect to attend in order to give yourself a headstart on studying in Germany.

When does the Studienkolleg start?

Students begin their Studienkolleg courses one year before entering full German universities. As with normal academic courses, the deadline for applications will be July 15th for fall/winter entry. However, if you need to take an external entrance exam, a March 15th deadline applies.

How long does Studienkolleg take?

Studienkolleg generally takes one year which is split into two semesters. If you achieve excellent results the course may be reduced to just one semester. If, however, your results are not up to standard it is possible to repeat each semester once in order to try to improve the outcome. There is usually a final exam at the end of the year, known as a Feststellungsprüfung (assessment test).

To attend a Studienkolleg, you will need a student visa. Expatrio can assist with opening a blocked bank account and securing health insurance coverage which are both required as part of your visa application.

Can I work during the Studienkolleg?

Generally, students won't be allowed to work during semesters when they study at a Studienkolleg. However, if you need some extra cash, breaks between semesters can be used to take part or full-time work. Despite this, it's a good idea to set aside a year of financial reserves, and a blocked account is the best way to do so.


Pre-Studies Programs

Many Studienkolleg courses fall into the category of pre-studies programs

These preparatory courses for university degrees allow students to hit the ground running when they arrive at university. They tend to be recommended for international students and may actually be compulsory for those with poor German language skills.

A prep institute for a University degree will usually provide preparatory courses along the following lines:

  • T-course - Aimed at technical subjects, including mathematics and the natural sciences
  • M-course - Suitable for medicine, biology, and pharmacy applicants
  • G-course - Designed for German language and history students
  • W-couse - For economics and students of the social sciences
  • S-course - Exclusively for language students

A prep institute for a university of applied sciences degree offers courses along with the followings: 

  • TI-course - Aimed at technical and engineering degrees 
  • WW-course - Suitable for economics and business degrees 
  • GD-course - For applicants of design and art degrees
  • SW-course - Suitable for applicants of social science degrees

Some Studienkollegs also offer language courses to prepare students for the DSH exam (Deutsch Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang) and they are eligible to host DSH exams. For example, Studienkolleg at Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-WittenbergStudienkolleg at TU-Darmstadt, etc. 

Preparatory Course Program

There may be slight variations in how these courses are defined, and finding one that suits the needs of your university is important. Instead of wasting money and time on a course that isn't quite right, check with your university admissions department for courses that they recommend.

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Studienkolleg courses may confer a "degree", but they aren't nearly as long as BA or MA degrees

Generally speaking, a Studienkolleg qualification can be obtained in 1 year. Courses will start in the fall, and conclude before the onset of summer, giving students the space required to complete their university preparations.

The year will be divided into semesters, as in regular colleges. There's also a certain amount of flexibility. For instance, if you are an exceptional student, it may be possible to shorten the study period and take your Feststellungsprüfung examination early. Conversely, students can extend their studies until they pass.

If you are worried about struggling with the Studienkolleg program, get up to speed with some online German tuition or audio assistance before arriving. Learn German is easily the most important component of the course, and a little preparation will help with understanding teachers as well.


The Feststellungsprüfung (FSP)

Students at a Studienkolleg will usually have to pass two important exams: an entrance exam and a final assessment

Places aren't unlimited at these institutions, so schools have to put in place selection procedures. To do so, they operate entrance exams, which separate promising students and prevent overcrowding.

What is the Studienkolleg entrance exam?

Entrance exams tend to be held in the spring before students take their places on Studienkolleg courses. These examinations aren't difficult, but they can be challenging for students who lack basic German skills. Papers won't be provided in your native language, which makes some basic German proficiency absolutely essential.

Language skills aren't the only component of the exam. Students will also need to sharpen their mathematics skills, as math plays a core role in the entrance examination.

What about the Feststellungsprüfung?

Also known as the FSP, this examination concludes Studienkolleg courses. This will include questions based on every module included in the course, from German language to math, or whatever specialist components your course featured.

Samples for the FSP

To get a feel for how it works, check out this selection of sample papers from the Studienkolleg Berlin. it's a very useful resource for anyone thinking about attending a Studienkolleg.


How to Apply for a Studienkolleg in Germany?

Students won't usually apply for Studienkolleg places on their own, so don't worry about having to navigate a complex admissions process. Instead, admissions will be arranged via the university you intend to study with.

How do I apply for a Studienkolleg in Germany?

The best way to apply is via the International Office at your chosen university. Staff there may require that you apply before allowing you to matriculate, and they should make the process very clear.

Alternatively, you can apply directly to some schools.

If you choose to use the independent route, it's a good idea to use, as it provides help for international applicants.

During that process, students are required to submit a range of documents. For starters, there will be an application form. Students will also need to provide evidence that they have been admitted to a German university, as well as a valid school leaving certificate.

A CV will usually be requested, and some courses will actually require evidence that applicants have attended an intensive German course already. That might sound strict, but it's the best way to ensure that students don't fall behind.

When those documents are supplied, the Studienkolleg will either reject the application or allow you to take the entrance examination.

It's usually necessary to obtain a student visa following acceptance. The letter of acceptance from your Studienkolleg can be used to do so. After that, students are ready to get started.

How much does the Studienkolleg cost?

Finally, a word about finance. At a public Studienkolleg, there will be no tuition fees. However, that doesn't mean studying is free. Students will normally have to pay an administrative fee of €100-400 per semester.

Fees can be much higher at a private Studienkolleg, often well over €1,000 per semester. So double check before choosing your institution. Moreover, students will need to support themselves during their course. As a rule, setting aside €700-800 per month for living costs is a sensible idea.


Studienkollegs in the north of Germany

Studienkolleg at the TU Berlin

A university-based Studienkolleg in Berlin that offers M, T, TI, WW and W courses. You can also complete a Propädeutikum (pre-course) in order to improve your German skills. Specialized vocabulary is taught relating to math and physics. The entrance exam, course, and assessment test are all free of charge, you only need to pay the enrollment fee for each semester that you attend.

Studienkolleg at the University of Hamburg

The Studienkolleg at Hamburg University runs courses G, M, T, W, and a propaedeutic course to help international students prepare for their studies in Germany. There are introductory units for economics, engineering, humanities and cultural studies, and mathematics, informatics and natural sciences. The courses are free and only a semester fee is required for the use of the university facilities.

Niedersächsisches Studienkolleg at the University of Hannover

Studienkolleg for international students applying to any university in Lower Saxony. All courses require a German language entrance exam, courses T, M and W require a math exam, and courses G and S require a humanities exam. Students must pay the Niedersächsisches Studienkolleg and Lower Saxony semester fees.

Sachsen Studienkolleg at the University of Leipzig

Students can study the T, M, W, G, and S courses free of charge. The DSH German language course costs €2,200 and the examination fee is €150. All courses require a German entrance exam, plus a math exam for courses T, W, and M.

Staatliches Studienkolleg at the University of Applied Sciences Nordhausen

This Studienkolleg requires students to pass a German exam to begin a course. An additional math exam is needed for certain courses. After the two-semester course, a written and oral final exam is taken to complete the assessment.


Studienkollegs in the south of Germany

Studienkolleg at the University of Heidelberg

Courses G, M, S, T, and W are available. Courses are full time and include 20 hours of German language instruction per week plus 12-16 hours of course specific topics in the first semester, followed by a German assessment. In the second semester, the course covers 30 hours of topic work per week ending in an assessment.

Studienkolleg of the Universities of the Free State of Bavaria in Munich

More simply known as Studienkolleg Munich, students planning to attend one of the 11 universities in Bavaria can prepare for their studies here. Students must be enrolled at either Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich or the Technical University of Munich. Courses T, M, G, and W can be taken here.

Studienkolleg at the Johannes-Gutenberg University Mainz

Preparatory courses take just one semester, classes are 32 per hours per week and taught in German. You must prove your German language abilities meet a B2/C1 level and pass an entrance exam to be eligible for the Studienkolleg. Courses S, G, T, M, and W are taught.

Studienkolleg of the Universities of Applied Sciences of the Free State of Bavaria in Coburg

This Studienkolleg prepares students for studying at a Fachhochschule (university of applied science) in Bavaria or another part of Germany. Known as Studienkolleg Coburg, it offers FSP courses for the Feststellungsprüfung and DSH courses, Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang (German language for university entrance).

Studienkolleg at KIT (Karlsruhe Institute for Technology)

The Studienkolleg at KIT prepares students for university entrance with a focus on STEM subjects, as well as the German language. Students can apply at the International Office at KIT or the University of Stuttgart. The entrance examination for the T courses includes a German and math test.

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