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How to Apply to Study in Germany

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Germany is one of the most popular non-Anglophone study destinations in the world, and with its trendy student cities and low (or no) tuition fees, it’s not hard to see why.

If you’re planning to study in Germany at postgraduate level, check out our dedicated guides for master’s degrees in Germany and PhDs in Germany.

If you’re planning to study your first university degree in Germany, read on…

1. Choose a university 

So, you’ve decided on Germany as your study abroad destination – now it’s time to choose the right course and university for you. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has a database of almost 2,000 programs available to search from, including 1,389 programs in English.

Unfortunately opportunities to study in Germany in English at undergraduate level are currently fairly limited, though there are some courses taught in both English and German (typically starting with English for the first two to four semesters and then changing to German). This allows you to study in English while improving your proficiency in German, particularly as your university may offer German language classes.

You may also like to consider the latest rankings of the top universities in Germany while making your decision, or check the latest QS World University Rankings by Subject to find the top German institutions in your field, using the compare tool to help you narrow down universities.

Read more tips on how to choose a university.

2. Check the admission requirements 

Before applying, check that your current qualifications are recognized by your chosen university. To study in Germany you need to have a recognized Hochschulzugangsberechtigung (HZB), meaning ‘higher education entrance qualification’.

For prospective undergraduate students, a high-school diploma, school-leaving certificate or university entrance exam result is usually sufficient, and the DAAD has a database of information on admission requirements for selected countries. Students with qualifications from outside Europe may have to sit the Feststellungsprüfung entrance examination after attending a preparatory Studienkolleg, although high-achieving students may be able to bypass this.

You’ll also need to check the language requirements. Most courses are taught in German, requiring international applicants to submit proof of proficiency in the German language. Two main tests are available for this purpose: the Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang (DSH, meaning “German language examination 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 need to prove your knowledge of the language with a test such as IELTS or TOEFL. Universities will usually state the score/s they require on their websites.

3. Get your finances in order 

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

If you’re concerned about costs, there are scholarships available to support students studying in Germany at various study levels.

4. Apply!

For most subjects, you can apply directly to the international office of the university. Alternatively, you can use the website www.uni-assist.de, a centralized admissions portal for international students, run by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), although not all universities use this. You may wish to apply for numerous courses and universities separately to increase your chances of being admitted.

At many German universities it’s possible to apply for admission twice a year – to commence studies either in the winter or summer semester. 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 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. You should expect to receive a formal acceptance or rejection approximately one to two months after the deadline has passed.

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

  • A certified copy of your high-school diploma or previous degrees, and any other relevant qualifications in the original language
  • A translated overview of your course modules and grades
  • A passport photo
  • A copy of your passport (personal information and photo ID page)
  • Proof of language proficiency (a test certificate or online equivalent)

You may also need to pay an application fee.

For some subjects, there is a nationwide cap on the number of students who can enroll. For these subjects (mostly life sciences), students from the EU (plus Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein) need to apply through the Foundation of Higher Education Admission. Students from outside the EU should apply as normal.

5. Take out health insurance 

Before you leave your home country you should ensure you’ve purchased health insurance to cover you during your stay in Germany. This is required both before you enroll and before you get a student visa and/or residence permit. If you’re a resident of a country within the EU or EEA, there should be a social security agreement in place between your country and Germany. This means that if you have public health insurance in your home country, you should be covered in Germany as well. You will generally need to get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to take advantage of this (free to obtain).

If your health insurance is not valid in Germany, expect to pay between €80 (US$92) and €160 (US$176) per month to cover this. The cost is higher if you’re over 30, and if you’re over 29 when starting your course you can only obtain private insurance.

6. Get a German student visa 

The requirements 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 isn’t required on the Foreign Federal Office’s website. You can also read this article to find out how to get a German student visa and a residence permit.

7. Find accommodation 

Once you’ve gained a place on a course and your student visa (if applicable), it’s advisable to start looking for accommodation, as unfortunately most German universities do not offer accommodation to enrolling students. Rent is likely to be your biggest monthly expense, and will vary depending on which part of the country you live in. In big cities within Western Germany (i.e. Dusseldorf, Cologne etc.) and smaller, student-oriented cities such as Heidelberg and Freiburg, you should expect to pay slightly more than if you were living in eastern Germany (i.e. Berlin).

Once you’ve found a place to live, you need to register at the ‘residents’ registration office’ (Einwohnermeldeamt) or the ‘citizens’ bureau’ (Bürgeramt).

8. Enroll 

You must enroll before you can start your course and use university facilities such as the library.  You’ll also need to re-register before the start of every semester. This 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 expenses for six months.

The usual documents you need for enrollment are:

  • Your passport with visa or residence permit
  • Several passport photos
  • Completed registration form
  • Proof of higher education entrance qualification, either original certificates or officially certified copies and translations
  • Notice of admission
  • Evidence of adequate knowledge of German (or English)
  • Evidence of statutory health insurance in Germany
  • Payment receipt for the semester fee

Once enrolled, you will receive a registration certificate which acts as a provisional student ID, allowing you to apply for your residence permit and register for classes.

9. Settle in to student life in Germany 

Congratulations, you should now be (mostly) all set to begin your studies in Germany! Don’t forget to pack all the essentials, as well as arranging a few more important affairs:

  • If you haven’t already, once you’ve found accommodation you must register with the local registration office of your city (Einwohnermeldeamt or Bürgeramt). Once registered, you’ll receive a document confirming your registration at that address, which you can then use for the next step…
  • Get a student bank account. Most banks offer these for free, and it will make managing your regular payments (such as accommodation) much easier.
  • If you’d like to find a part-time job while you study, you can find out how this works for EU and non-EU students here.

If you’re worried or unsure about anything, ask for help from the advisory service offered by the student committee (Fachschaft) or your university’s international office. Alternatively, if you have any questions, feel free to ask us in the comments below or view our frequently asked questions article.

This article was originally published in November 2015. It was updated in April 2020.

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Sabrina Collier's profile image
Written by Sabrina Collier
The former Assistant Editor of TopUniversities.com, Sabrina wrote and edited articles to guide students from around the world on a wide range of topics. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and grew up in Staffordshire, UK. 

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I'm abdul. I would like to apply for bachelors degree of mechanical engineering in germany. I have acquired A1 level of the German language. I am currently studying in Hungary but I would like to transfer to Germany and continue my studies there by February.

i m Raman . i m 28 yrs old masters degree holder in Tourism Management in 2019 after that i am working as a visa counselor. i want to pursuing my study in Phd in germany Scholarship. am i eligible?

Im a 34 years old bachelor degree holder in Marketing with over 10 years work experience in multiple regions.
Im seeking MBA or a masters degree in real estate related majors based on my real estate work experience.
I have 2 issues, I need to know if there is a solution so I can pursue my studies in Germany.
First is that Im 34 years old.
Second is I have a low gpa in bachelor which is 69.4 ( satisfactory ).

Hi Rami, You might want to take a look at our sister website, Top MBA. The website has a wealth of information about MBA courses you will find answers to your questions and more. You can find out more about studying in Germany here

Hello, my name is Ahmad and I am a Lebanese student. i just finished high school and I am looking forward to continue my studies in Germany. If anyone can please give me more information about the requirements and if they need my school grades. Thank you in advance!

Hi Ahmed, You can find out more information about studying in Germany here. The university's requirements will vary from university to university, so take a look at their individual websites for more information on this. Good luck!

Is the scholarship available for those wanting to study in english language too ?

hello I am actually studying in china and would like to study interior design in Germany if possible on scholarship and want to be able to work during my studies. is it possible for you to help me with the details and informations I need for me to apply there ?

hello! thank you for all the information, but I'm wondering if there are universities with low or no fees that international students who cannot speak German at all, can register.. I know that there are private schools with English courses, but they have expensive fees.

After getting your student visa and finishing your desired degree, can you apply for residency?

Hi Jimena, You can find out how to live and work in Germany after your degree has finished here.

Hello there, I looking to study Automotive design or industrial design in Germany, It would be great if I can get a scholarship. Can you guys please help me with the necessary information. Thank you very much..

Hi Hisura, here's a link to our list of scholarships to study in Germany

Hi there I have one question, my bro wants to study in germany, now he is finishing 13year of studies in Poland what he is required to apply? Please?

Hi Javlonbek, You can find more information on how to study abroad in Germany in our complete guide here.

I would like to study dentistry in Germany.However,my family cannot afford my life cost ,in this case I need to get an scholarship or find a good job there.I would become happy if you can give me some information about getting a scholarship or finding a job.

Hi Shagheyegh, You can find out about the scholarships available for international students wishing to study in Germany here. I hope this helps and good luck with your application!

Chole ,I want to study Germany,I need scholarship,can you help me

I'm a British citizen. I also have Canadian citizen ship. How will brexit effect me if I had already enrolled by the time the transition period ends. Some of my main questions are - Will I still be able to work or will i have to obtain a permit? What will happen relating to my EHIC? Will I be considered not an EU citizen and go through the same process as Australians and Americans or will there be some kind of middle ground?
- thanks, im struggling to find much information about this and any i do find out seems to change from one source to another.

I want to do master in dentistry in one of the best college of Germany could you please suggest me ? Moreover with scholarship.

I want to do mechanical.or electrical engineering in one of the best college in Germany.i would like to know the steps and procedures to make .
Allwin joseph
Kindly please reply as soon as you can.

hello sir
my brother wants to do architecture in geany could you please suggest me which is the best college in germany and what was the process
reply soon

Hi Chirag, our new ranking for top universities for architecture could help your brother with that - just narrow down schools to show only the ones in Germany, by selecting it from the 'By location' dropdown menu on the table. With regards to the admissions process, this will depend on the university your brother wants to apply to, so it's best to check the official websites of any of the universities he's interested in applying to. You might also find some general information about applying to universities in Germany in our study abroad guide, here. All the best. 

Hey there!!
this is Vaibhav .I want to my UG in computer science in Germany . so for this course do I need the German language proficiency.
Please reply soon.

Hello Vaibhav. Currently, there are only a limited number of English-taught undergraduate programs in Germany, so you might want to check the official websites of the universities you're interested in applying to. We also have an article about studying in Germany in English which you may find useful.  

My son wants to do his under graduate programme in finance in Germany. Is learning German language mandatory to study in Germany. Kindly assist.

Hi Adarsh, your son won't be required to know German in order to study in Germany - though there are a limited number of English-taught bachelor's degree programs, as highlighted in this article

Good Topic

Hello sir
I am called Nanko Morel still doing upper sixth in Cameroon.Since am doing 'bio,chem,math,f-math' and i wanted to do médical studies after my A-level, I wanted to know if it will be possible without physicphysic because i want to becom a doctor

hi , sabrinacollier
My wife Rida Yaseen get Batchular of Science degree and now she want study Master in Botany subject , tell me what I do?

Am Sarah from Nigeria I have a bachelor's degree in Environmental management but I wish to do my masters in any course relating to the Environment please I need assistance.

I want to do maters in Germany and I speak English a little bit and I have financial problem also then how should I do? How can I get scholarship and get admission for masters? Please suggest me.

Hi Swati, you can read about how to apply to study in Germany at master's level here, and you can find a range of scholarships to study in Germany here

I want to study geology in Germany please I need your assistant to get my desires course

Dear Sabrina,

Thanks for all the details and relevant links. I am from India. My son is pursuing his final year (4th Year) Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Engineering and is extremely interested to do his Master's Degree specializing in Automobile Engineering. As Germany is reckoned for its expertise in automobiles, I am sure there will be good options for the same. Would appreciate your input and guidance on the same. It would be nice if you can share the estimated time requires to complete the course and the expenses involved as well.

Thanks and regards,

Hi Krishnendu, master's degrees in Germany normally take two years to complete, and your son can read about the costs involved in our article 'How much does it cost to study in Germany?'. He might also like to check our latest rankings by subject for mechanical engineering - the results can be narrowed down to show only German universities. 

Hi there!
Myself Adnan.currently I'm working in Emirates call centre at Dubai Airports since 2015 till now but I'm still want to continue my study which I left 2014 .I'm still want to take admission in Business management course.
Will u guide me please.

Hiiii I am asif nawaz I m from pakistani I want to stydy in german.I have a degree of law and I want to get degree of llm kindly inform me about llm master degree

Please am a Nigerian, finished and got a higher diploma certificate in software engineering from aptech computer education, i want to transfer to a university in Germany, please what are my options? How do i go about it?

Sir Is there any kind of entry test?

Hi Waleed, this will depend on your course and study level, but you will likely not need to take an entry test. I would recommend checking the official websites of the institution/s you're interested in to find out more about the entry requirements for your course.

Hello my name is Emily, I’m actually german but have been growing up in a military family. I was borin in Germany making me a citizen in Germany, but the thing is I’m not confident with the way i speak but i can speak german. I have been looking in going to a international but i just need more information in how I can and what I can do. Like can I do some college in America then come back to Germany to do the rest. I have been wanting to study dental. Help me please!!

Hello! I'm Gulziya from Kazakhstan and I wanna to study in Germany next year. I just finished school, can you help me and write what I should do? I want to study finance, bisness and managment.

Hello, next year I want to study in Germany. what should I do?

Hi i am Md Tabrej from India now i want to admission in Germany How can apply for free M tech

Hi, i am Bilal from Pakistan...How can i apply for free MASTERS in Civil Engineering in berlin germany ?

Hi Bilal, go to daad websiye and search for your course the courses will be given every information and most of them with no tution fees but just with a per semester fees which is quite low (50-700) euros.

hi how can i apply for free study for young daugther here in berlin germany ? tankyuo somuch in advace for information

hi I'm sundus I'm trying to get scholarship admission in medical universities of germany.Can anyone guide me for this and what will be the expense if i got scholarship?

Hello, I am Abhilash
I am applying for Automation and Robotics in TU Dortmund,
The deadline is March 31st but the application portal only open on March 15th and closes on June 15th. My friend had already applied earlier but since March 1st the application portal was down. Should I just apply on March 15th since thats the only option left or is it too late?