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How to Apply for a Masters in Germany

Masters in Germany: International Student Guide main image

Considering a master’s in Germany? Read on for a quick guide to types of master’s degree in Germany, language requirements, how to apply, and how to get a student visa.

Types of master’s degrees in Germany

Master’s degrees in Germany are usually categorized as either “consecutive” or “non-consecutive”. Those in the first category are designed to build on the academic knowledge gained during a related bachelor’s degree. Non-consecutive programs tend to have a greater focus on professional development, often requiring applicants to have both an undergraduate degree and some relevant work experience. Most master’s in Germany take four semesters (two years) to complete, though some are shorter or longer.

Language requirements

Most courses are taught in German, requiring international applicants to submit proof of proficiency in the language. Two tests are available for this purpose: the Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang (DSH, meaning “German language examination for university entrance”) and the TestDaF (formerly Test Deutsch als Fremdsprache, meaning “Test of German as a foreign language”). The DSH is offered only within Germany, at various universities, while the TestDaF can be taken at centers in more than 90 countries worldwide. As always, check the test you intend to take is accepted by the universities you want to apply to.

While German remains the main language of instruction overall, a growing selection of English-taught programs is available – particularly at master’s level and for students participating in short-term exchange programs. A searchable database of English-taught courses is provided by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

Applying to study a master’s in Germany

To apply to study a master’s in Germany, the first word to get to grips with is hochschulzugangsberechtigung (abbreviated to HZB), meaning “higher education entrance qualification”. An undergraduate degree completed in another country is usually accepted as a suitable HZB for admission to a master’s in Germany, but specific requirements will vary depending on the course, institution and where you’ve previously studied. For some master’s degrees, applicants are required to have earned a minimum number of credits in specific fields of study. These conditions are set by the department offering the program.

Applications for master’s programs are either submitted directly to the university, or via the online portal Uni Assist. This is a centralized service, which screens applicants and passes on those which meet all the requirements to their chosen institutions, for further assessment. Not all German universities use this service, and those that do may require applicants to complete their own application process as well.

The specific documents required and application process will be set by each institution, but you’ll typically be asked to submit an official copy of your academic qualifications, a passport photo, a copy of your passport and a copy of language proficiency exam results (if applicable). An application fee may be charged.

When to submit your application

At many German universities it’s possible to apply for admission twice a year – to commence studies either in the winter or summer semester. The summer semester runs from March to August at Fachhochschulen and April to September at universities; the winter semester is from September to February and October to March respectively.

In general, applications for winter enrolments need to be made by 15 July, and applications for summer enrolments by 15 January. However, application deadlines vary between institutions, and the same institution may set different deadlines for each master’s program – be sure to carefully check the specific dates for your chosen course. It’s recommended to submit applications at least six weeks before the deadline, to ensure time for corrections or additions if any information is missing.

Student visas to study in Germany

Students from countries within the EU, EEA or Switzerland do not need a visa to study in Germany. These students simply need to register at the nearest registry office on arrival, to obtain a residence permit. This also applies to students coming from a number of other countries, including Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, South Korea and the US. Students from Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco and San Marino can also follow this path, as long as they don’t intend to work during their time in Germany.

Students from elsewhere will need to apply for a visa before arrival in Germany, via the nearest German embassy. Those already accepted onto a program can apply for a student visa, while those awaiting confirmation or sitting entrance exams will need an applicant visa. It can take several months for visas to be issued, so apply as early as possible. Visa applicants will be asked to submit a valid passport; confirmation from a German university that an application is in process or completed; health insurance; and proof of adequate funds to cover living expenses.

This article is adapted from the QS Top Grad School Guide 2015/16. For more information, including details of tuition fees, living costs and post-graduation employment opportunities, the full guide can be accessed online free of charge.

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This article was originally published in October 2013. It was updated in November 2015.

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Written by Laura Bridgestock

The editor of, Laura oversees the site's editorial content and student forums. She also edits the QS Top Grad School Guide and contributes to market research reports including How Do Students Use Rankings?

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hello, i would like to inquire about studying for Masters in Engineering related to industrial and management studies,I am currently studying Industrial Engineering and i am in my last year.Please do assist me on which university in Germany will be most suitable to study in and how i can be enrolled for the masters program taught in English,

Hi Tino, we don't currently rank industrial engineering, but it might be helpful to view our latest rankings by subject for manufacturing engineering, with the results narrowed down to show only German universities. You can search for English-taught programs here and our complete guide on how to study abroad in Germany should help to get you started on applying. :) 

hi ;
i would like to ask about a scholarship to study deutch ,could you help ?

Hi there,
I wonder if German universities recognise professional qualifications such as ACCA and CFA for their Masters (Finance/ Management) admissions. Thank you.


Is there any difference between MSc and MS in Germany?

Hi Nikhil, as far I'm aware they both stand for Master of Science and therefore there shouldn't be any difference between the two, but you could always check this with the German universities you're interested in. 

what is the difference between Masters and Research.

Hi!! I am in my final mbbs from india!! I would like to know the procedure to get in for a postgraduation programme for germany in clincal subjects !! Please.
Thank you!!

Hi, I'm from India and pursuing my BE in Mechanical engineering. I want to clear a doubt that can i get into German university as i got an year back in my academy, does that effect in my admission. And is GRE required for German or Just TOEFL is Fine? Thank you:)

Hii Laura. A friend of mine just completed a bachelor's degree in Botany from the University of Nigeria Nsukka. She graduated with a second class lower and wants to pursue a masters in public health in a German university. Please,I want to know what her chances of getting admitted are and the best universities she can apply to and also how to go about the application. Thanks

Hi Laura. I have bachelor's degree in criminology and justice which i obtained in 2012 from Edith Cowan University in Perth, Western Australia. I want to pursue a masters in public health in a tuition free university that can offer the course in English in Germany. Which one can you suggest i apply to?

Will I still have to write IELTS for me to be given a letter of offer?

Hello, I've replied to your comment here. :)

Hi, i have recently completed my biomedical engineering I've been looking for full bright scholarships for ms program in Germany and funding as well for higher studies as it is not affordable for me otherwise so kindly help..

I would like to know if Germany has 4-year MD programme
(for graduate students with B.Sc diploma) ?
If so, what universities lead such programme ?
Thank you in advance!

I have a BSc in Architecture and want to do Master in the same course in any tuition free university in Germany please can help with relevant information.

Hi Gabriel, I'm afraid master's degrees in Germany aren't usually free unless you previously studied in the country - you may be able to find a scholarship, however. To help you to choose a university, you may like to view our rankings by subject for architecture, with the results narrowed down to show only German universities. Hope this helps! 

Hi. I am doing my final year B.E. mechanical engineering in India. Are there German universities offering postgraduate Aviation courses? What are the pre-requisites for them? I would be glad if I get an answer. Thanks.

I just finished my Masters degree in computer and communication engineering from my country and I'm planning to continue my study in Germany, so if you can please help me in making a good choice to which university may I apply, and if there is any tuition free universities in Germany for international students>

Hi Hussein, here's a link to our rankings by faculty for engineering and technology, with the results narrowed down to show only German universities. I'm afraid most masters degrees in Germany are not free unless you've studied your bachelor's degree in the country, but you may be able to find a scholarship to help with costs. Hope this helps! 

Hi Laura,

This might have been better served as posted here, so I apologize for the double post.

I am from the USA and completed by undergraduate degree (double major in Film Studies and Media Studies from Queens College - CUNY) in 2011. My GPA was 3.5. Since graduating 5 years ago I have been working to save money. My plan is to go back for a graduate degree next year (Fall of 2017) and my desired destination is Germany (no specific city). 3 questions I am hoping you can answer that will help put my mind at ease.

1) Are my odds of getting accepted to a program fairly decent?
2) Will it likely be held against me that I will have taken 6 years in between studies?
3) When does the window usually open for applications for the Fall 2017 program?


Hi Adam, I'm not sure about your chances of being accepted - you will need to check the official websites of the German institution/s you're interested in for details on entry requirements. I wouldn't have thought the 6 year gap between studies would be a problem. You usually need to have your application in by the 15th of July for programs which start in Autumn. Hope this helps.

Hello,Laura! I am studying a Bachelor degree on Business but I want to pursue a master degree in other subjects like philosophy, politics or history. Will I have a chance to get admitted to a master degree program in these subjects in Germany?

Hello, i have a DDS Doctor of dental surgery degree from the UAE, to continue to studying Masters degree, what are the paper work that has to be done before being able to start studying Masters degree in Germany and also working there, in terms of accreditation and related systems.

I want to apply for master in electrical engineering so if i have to apply for university before 15 July then for applicant visa when I've to apply ?
let's assume it takes several month to be issued and winter semester already started then what's the solution?

Hello. I am from Pakistan I wish to continue my higher studies (Masters) in Electrical/Electronics Engineering, kindly recommend a good university & Germany & if they offer free of cost studies?

Hi Umar, please take a look at our rankings by subject for electrical engineering, with the results narrowed down to see only German universities. I'm afraid tuition at master's level is not usually free unless you've studied your undergraduate degree in Germany, but you may be able to find a scholarship. Hope this helps! 

hello my name candy from South Africa. I have degree in Social work and would like to study a Masters in public health. Please help me understand how i can find a University that offers the degree at no tuition or with a fully funded scholarship.

Please assist

Hi Candy, you may like to use this search tool from to find the right masters degree for you, and we have a list of scholarships to study in Germany here. Hope this helps!


Hi my name is candy. I have a degree in social work and i am interested in studying a masters in public health. May i ask about how true or possible it is to study in Germany for free or with a fully funded scholarship..
Please assist. Thank you

This is Kayum from Bangladesh.I want to do my masters degree from any reputed German University in Devolopment Studies/Social Science/Management.
Now suggest me some university and also let me know about the free tution,required IELTS score and job opportunities.

Hi Kayum. The newly updated QS World University Rankings by Subject should help you choose a few universities. For example, if you check the development studies ranking, you'll find there are two German universities ranked among the world's best in this subject area. For more general information, take a look at our guide to studying abroad in Germany.

Hi Sabrina Collier

I am kc debnath and from bangladesh.I completed bachelor of dental surgery in 2015.Now i want to study in MPH in Germany.can i apply in MPH WITH FREE tuition.

Hi Kc,  I'm afraid masters degrees in Germany are not usually free unless you previously studied your undergraduate degree in the country - but you may be able to find a scholarship - fully funded scholarships are rare but not unheard of. Good luck!


Hello dears, please help! I have just completed my bachelor's degree in Pharmacy from Uganda (Makerere university). I am sincerely looking for a scholarship to further my studies in the same field of specialty. I grateful for any genuine and helpful information.
Thank you!

Hi Odipiyo, please take a look at our list of scholarships to study in Germany. :)

Hello, I study Geology (earth sciences) at the UBA university (Argentina). Where is the best place for a phD/Masters of this career? Is it Australia (ANU), Germany (TUM), Switzerland (ETH), the U.K. (University of Manchester) or another country? It is recommended to visit fields during the phD, Is this a problem for any of these countries? And finally, how much it costs (approximately)? Thank you, I really appreciate the work you do on this page.

Hi guys. I am Malvin from Zimbabwe. Please provide true information if you can. Where can i apply for Masters with free Tuition. Masters in Law (LLM).

Please help.

Hi Malvin, I'm afraid masters degrees in Germany are not usually free unless you previously studied your undergraduate degree in the country - but you may be able to find a scholarship - we have lists of scholarships to study in Germany, scholarships for African students and law school scholarships. To help you to choose a university, you might like to take a look at our rankings by subject for law, with the results narrowed down to see only German universities. Hope this helps! 


Hello! :)
I'm Rishiraj from India, holding bachelor degree of Electrical Engineering and currently working as an QA Engineer in Symphony Limited
Please suggest university list of Italy and Germany where I want to do post graduation in "Travel & Hospitality OR Travel & Tourism". Since I cannot afford much money, kindly guide me how to get scholarship and also admission procedure.
(If possible, tell me approximate fees of this course which will help me to act on further line of actions)
Waiting for your reply!

Have a splendid day!

this is praveen jeedi from gujarat,India pursuing bachelorette in civil engineering,I want to know whether which state university would be best in, to pursue M.S in structural engineering.could you please guide me through some of TUs in Germany,thank you.

Hi Praveen, please take a look at our rankings by subject for civil and structural engineering, with the results narrowed down to see only German universities. You can find out more about each university by clicking on its profile on the rankings. Hope this helps. 

This Ravi from Hyderabad, India.
Currently I'm pursuing my bachelor degree in computer science,
I interested to study ms in Germany.
As for now I want to know is that real some popular institutes in Germany offering free tution because my parents can't afford me as we are from low income background.
Please help me out. Thanks

Hi Ravi,  I'm afraid masters degrees in Germany are not usually free unless you previously studied your undergraduate degree in the country - but you may be able to find a scholarship. For advice on finding scholarships, please take a look at our new guide on how to find scholarships to study abroad. Hope this helps!

this is jelil from Nigeria, currently waiting to defend my masters thesis in the next two month inshaAllah in analytical chemistry, can apply for a phd programe.pls advice.thanks

Hi Jelil, yes you can! Please take a look at our article on studying a PhD in Germany. :)

Hi ,
This is Nadeem from Chennai , India.

i am currently working in Groupon Ind.
Experience 1 and 5 months.
I have secured 81 % 77 % and 66% in class 10 ,12 and in BE Computer science Engineering respectively and my IELTS score is 7 . Can you please tell me my Score converted to german grading system and what possibilities i hold of getting a good College?

I am Jitin Kumar from Hyderabad , India .
Currently working as a software engineer in Thomson Reuters .
Experience : 3 years and 6 months
GRE Score - 324
Toefl Score - 103
Educational qualification :
Bachelor in technology in computer Science with 70%
12 th - 73%
10 th -84%
I am looking for MS in computer science . Can you suggest few universities based on my profile that offer MS in CS in ENGLISH(as I don't know German). Also, do I need to take any other tests?(Like German Language Proficiency Test?)

Hi Jitin, please take a look at our article on studying in English in Germany. You won't need to take a German proficiency test if you study in English, and you shouldn't need to take any other tests, as you've already taken the GRE. You might also like to view our rankings by subject for computer science, with the results narrowed down to see only German universities. Hope this helps!

Hi ,
This is Anu Priya from Chennai , India .
I am currently working as a software developer in an IT firm , Mindtree Ltd .
Experience : 1 year and 9 months
My educational qualification are as follows :
Bachelor in technology in computer Science with 8 CGPA .
12 th - 70%
10 th -80%
The medium of education was English .
I am looking for MS in computer sciences . Can you guide me through the university lists and the criteria's for selection . Do I need appear for ILETS ?

Hi Anu, here are the top universities for Computer Science (I've narrowed down the results to see only German universities). From there, you can find details on entry requirements on the official websites of the universities you're interested in. If you'd like to study in English, you will need a test like IELTS to prove your proficiency - again, universities will outline on their websites what test and test score they'd prefer. Hope this helps!