Students

Application Process to Study in Germany

Germany is one of the world's great academic centers. Famous for producing a stream of Nobel prize winners in all of the sciences, 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 introduce 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.

Application & Requirements

What are the requirements to study in Germany?

Germany is one of the most popular destinations in the world for international students, with around 350,000 foreigners studying at the nation's higher education institutions. If you'd like to join them, go right ahead! However, there are a few things to know about before you apply.

All international students in Germany must obtain a Hochschulzugangsberechtigung which essentially proves that they have reached the educational level required to handle degree courses. You may need to complete an entrance exam (Feststellungsprüfung) before being accepted on some courses.

Many non-EU students will also need a Student Visa (Visum zu Studienzwecken) before arriving in Germany. And then there are language requirements. Degrees vary, but most will require moderate German proficiency.

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

How much does it cost to study in Germany?

Germany isn't the cheapest place in the world to study, but the investment is generally worthwhile. Students must prove that they have at least 8.700 EUR per year as a bare minimum (or their visas will be declined). To get your Visa as fast as possible you can open a Blocked Account with Expatrio!

Many undergraduate degrees come without tuition fees, but administrative fees of around 250 EUR per semester will apply. And Masters and PhD courses will have hefty fees, often as much as 20,000 EUR per year.

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Preparations

The process of applying for a German university course varies slightly from course to course. However, the process will generally go something like this.

Choose a university and a study program

Firstly, applicants have to know what they wish to study, and where they would like to do so.

What can I study in Germany? Well, there are plenty of possibilities. German universities are among the best in the world for certain subjects, such as natural sciences (LMU Munich), physics (Heidelberg), and the humanities (Freiburg).

Tip: If you're unsure about where to study, check out international rankings, 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) but there may be entrance examinations or interviews.

Check the Requirements

German universities don't have one system for applications, and 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 involved in overseas applications, and no-one wants to spend time applying for courses that aren't appropriate for their skills or needs.

Learn German

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

If you don't have a good grasp of German, it's important to find universities that let you study in Germany 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.

Application Process

When you've chosen your course and university, it's time to make 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 them out can be a fairly time-consuming process. Forms can be obtained from university websites and posted to foreign addresses. However, most of the time, institutions offer online forms, which is probably the best way to go.

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

At this stage, you will also need to submit evidence that you meet the university's admissions criteria, so make digital 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 deadlines apply. If you are applying to begin studying in winter, applications must be submitted by 15 July, while the deadline for summer enrolment 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 a Student Visa

The confirmation letter is important because it allows you to obtain a student visa, and without the visa, you won't be able to matriculate at German universities. A few things need to be arranged before the visa will be granted.

Health Insurance

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, so consult those pages for more information.

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

Blocked Account

Students will also need to prove that they have the resources to fund their studies. The best way to do so is to set up a blocked account (Sperrkonto).

This account is partially locked, and will disburse funds on a monthly basis. Applicants for universities must add at least 720 EUR per month to their account (around 8,700 EUR per year).

Tip: We've prepared a handy guide to choosing blocked accounts, so feel free to consult those pages if you aren't sure how to proceed.

Value Package

When your blocked account and health insurance has 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.

At Expatrio, we've made things easier for international students via our Value Packages. These packages bundle together the best health insurance and blocked accounts, and add liability insurance and a student identity card to the mix. There's no better way to minimize the stress involved in starting your German studies, and it can save you more than EUR 230 compared to if you pay for these services separately.