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How to Apply to Study in Germany

How to Apply to Study in Germany main image

Germany is the most popular non-Anglophone study destination 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 17,000 programs available to search from, including 88 programs in English. Unfortunately opportunities to study in Germany in English at undergraduate level are currently quite 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. When choosing a university and a course you should also make sure the course content suits you. Check the information provided on the official websites of universities you’re considering, and get in touch to request more detail if needed.

You should also consider the location. Are you interested in living in cool capital Berlin, immersed in the traditional Bavarian culture of Munich, amidst the skyscrapers of financial hub Frankfurt, or in a quieter student city such as Göttingen?

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’. This can come in many formats, particularly for international students who have gained their school-leaving qualifications in a different country.

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 (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. Both are equally well recognized, but you should check the test you intend to take is accepted by the universities you want to apply to.

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 €7,908  per year (US$8,722) or €659 (US$727) per month to cover your living costs, although you may find you need more, depending on your lifestyle and spending habits (the average student spends €800/US$877 a month). Living costs vary depending on the location; according to Mercer’s Cost of Living Survey, Munich is currently Germany’s most expensive city, followed by Frankfurt am Main and Berlin.

If you’re concerned about costs, there are scholarships available to support students studying in Germany at various study levels including undergraduate level, despite the tuition itself being free.

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. The summer semester runs from March to August at Fachhochschulen (Universities of Applied Sciences) 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 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)

To ensure the best chances of acceptance, take care to provide all the documentation requested, make sure all your documentation is certified (copies of documents also need to be certified by the awarding school), and check that you’ve filled out all your information correctly before submitting your application. An application fee may be charged.

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 (full list here).  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$88) 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 this 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).

When looking for accommodation in Germany, you should consider student residences, shared accommodation or an apartment. An unshared apartment is the most expensive choice, and this will generally cost in the region of €350-400 (US$386-441) a month. Shared accommodation is the most popular form of accommodation and would be cheaper at around €280 (US$309) a month, while student residences are cheaper yet again at around €240 (US$265) a month.

If you struggle to find suitable accommodation there are many temporary options available, such as hostels.

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 

Enrolment turns applicants into students – 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$165-275), depending on the university. There may be an additional charge of around €100 (US$110) for a “Semesterticket”, which covers public transport expenses for six months.

Depending on the university, you may need to enroll in person or simply email or post the necessary documents before a certain deadline – if in doubt, check with the university for details of the enrollment process.

The usual documents you need for enrollment are:

  • Your passport with visa or residence permit
  • A passport photo
  • 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 allows 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. You should open this account as soon as possible and ensure you have enough money in the meantime.
  • If you’d like to find a part-time job while you study, you can do so if you are a full-time EU or EEA student (excluding students from Bulgaria and Romania), with no restrictions on where or when you can work. If you are a full-time student from outside of the EU (or from Romania and Bulgaria), you will be limited to working up to 90 days full time or 180 days part-time per year before you must apply for a work permit. Upon gaining paid work in Germany you should contact the German employment office to learn about the legal conditions. Click here for tips on finding a student job in Germany.
  • Make sure your studies are organized. Students need to put together a timetable themselves – your Kommentierte Vorlesungsverzeichnis (KVV), or Annotated Course Catalogue, course schedule and examination regulations should help you with this, or you may be able to compile it online. You may well also need to decide on what course modules you’d like to attend.

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.

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Mohin H, Stanley I & 32 others saved this
Sabrina Collier's profile image
Written by Sabrina Collier
The Assistant Editor of TopUniversities.com, Sabrina edits and publishes articles which 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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87 Comments

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?

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?
Thanks

Hi i am usman from pakistan
I want to study computer science in Germany.
My qualification is i have passed matriculation from Dhaka secondary school
And now i want to study in germany
Tell me how to apply

Hi, I am a student in faculty of nursing in Egypt , may I know if it's possible to reeducate in faculty of medicine in Germany after finishing studying nursing here ,while I learn German and other skills , regardless the age I will be when I will be ready to apply to German university (approximately 25 years old )

Hi sabrina
Can you help me how can I apply in Germen University

Hi
I am youssef from Egypt. I am a high school student in the IGCSE. I need your help, i want to know what subjects am i supposed to take if i want to study mechanical engineering.?
I am waiting for your reply. Vielen Dank ;)

hi
i am abdul basit from kashmir....i just cleared my intermediate and now looking for admission in MBBS program in Germany......i want to know the fee structure and the whole procedure to apply....waiting for your immediate help...thank you

I heard that, Germany is providing free education??
Please tell me how to apply for that

Hi, You can find universities with no/very low tuition, but you will still need to have about 9000euro/year in the bank to get your student visa and pay for books, food, healthcare, rent, etc. Find more on https://www.reddit.com/r/germany/wiki/studying/general

Hi Pawan, that's right - you can study for free at any public universities in Germany excluding those in Baden-Württemberg, where tuition fees have been reintroduced for non-EU students. You can read more about studying in Germany in our complete guide

I am planning to take B1 exam on 9th December. Can I have enough time to apply for bachelor degree

Hello,
Myself Aashish.i want to know if my high school percentage is lower than 70% (62% ).will i have free tuition fees in my bachelor education in Germany.As the agents, here are asking high tuition fees. Please assist. Thank you

If you get accepted, it is all free.

hi

hi, i need your help i am from Pakistan but i have Resident Permet of GREECE as i am living in greece with my family .... i had completed my MATRIC in pak and now i am studying in greece in school level ... i am under 18 can i go to german or sweden for studies
plz reply

Hi, does this process applies the same even if I already started doing a dreegre in my home university and I want to transfer?

HI,
I am Safoora from Pakistan. I am a pharmacist. I want to apply to study Masters in Pharmacy in any university in Germany. Can you guide me which university i should apply with minimum fee. please reply

Hi Safoora, to help you decide on a university, you could view our latest rankings by subject for pharmacy (the results can be narrowed down to show only German universities), and you can search for affordable master's in pharmacy programs here. :)

Well am Lamin fadera from Gambia but now in Italy I have a certified in nursing so what do I need to get entrance

Hi dear sabrina
My name is raed from Jordan
I am an igcse studant with a high school diploma and i just wanted to ask u if there are any extra requirements needed or its the same as a high school diploma without igcse

Thank you

Can anyone tell me the minimum criteria of high school records?

Hello Dear Sabrina !
Can you please tell us about the minimum wages for student part time work ?
and is there German Language is necessary for gettimg part time jobs in Germany or English Language certificate is well enough for getting part time job :)
Thank you

Hello my self manjunatha reddy, completed BE now,& trying to do masters in germany.please help me to get masters in germany. &now hw i can apply to masters in germany and what are all requirements needed.please help me....

Hello, please take a look at our article on how to study a master's in Germany, which includes advice on the typical entry requirements. To find out the exact requirements for your course, you should check the official website of the German institution/s you're interested in. For more advice, please download our free guide on how to study abroad in Germany

Hi Luqman, the minimum wage in Germany is currently €8.84 per hour. There may be some roles where it's not required, but in most cases you will have a much higher chance of finding work if you speak German. You can find out more about how to get a student job in Germany here

Hi Sabrina,

I am Shyam from India.

I would like to study Ms in Germany in English oriented Universities.

Questions:
1. Could you suggest or provide list of universities which provide Ms in English in Germany.
2. I do have 3 years of experience in Information Technology and I would like to be employement as part time in IT field only.

Please clarify my queries.

Thanks,
Shyam

HI im Irfan from pakistan looking for bachelor study in germany on Inofrmation Technology Field suggest me university for IT field And the Eligible criteria for This Field
I've done my three years diploma in mechanical equvalient to intermidate with 1st divison Am i eligible for IT feield in germany universties
waitiing for your Reply
Regards:- Raja Irfan

Hi,
I'm AQ, I would like to ask that, is there any scope for those who wants to study in Germany but they do have limited resources to carry on the expenses of living ..Is there any way to earn money(jobs)or scholarship scheme for the same.
Pls let me know soon

Thanks and regards
AQ
--India

Hi AQ, you can indeed get a part time job whilst studying in Germany - you can work 120 full days or 240 half days a year. You can find out more about finding a student job in Germany here, and we've listed a range of scholarships to study in Germany here. Hope this helps!

hii i am tushar looking for the masters study in germany. i want to get details of expenditure with general life stile in berlin till completion of my masters..is it affordable for middle class indian student...?? plzz rply

Hi Tushar, Berlin is a relatively affordable place to study - you can read about the average costs of studying in the city here, and we have more detailed information on the costs of studying in Germany here. Hope this helps! 

Am from Nigeria I want to apply for master degree in Germany. Please must I pay all the 8,000 euro for financial due

Hi there, I hope you can help me. I am from Australia and hoping to enrol into a private university in Berlin. From what I understand I do not need a student visa (and cannot apply for one as I will be enrolled in a non-recognised school) so I only need to apply for a residency permit for the purpose of study? is that correct? do you know if there are any restrictions, i am interested in a only applying part-time. Will I be able to undertake employment as well? Just casual part time employment to cover my student fees. I have written to the German Consulate in my city but I was hoping for a quicker reply and any help will be appreciated!

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

I am undergoing my BE mechanical engineering 8th semester. i will get my 8th sem certificate only after the deadlines given by some universities. so is it possible for me to apply for universities with certificates that i have in my hand now

Hi ich bin imran waris, und ich bin 17 Jahre alt, und ich habe von der Schule graduiert und ich will nach Deutschland zu kommen für meine Universität. Ich studiere im goethe institut und am 18 dezember bekomme ich mein a2-zertifikat und meine frage ist, dass kann ich dort ankommen und mehr studieren deutsche sprache wie bis b1 und dann bewerben sich für die universität?

please, Will I have to pay for my accommodation should I get admission into a tuition free university in germany for my masters program?

Hi Derrick. Yes, you will need to pay for accommodation, though you may also be able to apply for a scholarship to help cover your costs. For more information, take a look at our complete guide to studying in Germany.

from which list do i choose the uni and how do i apply the school am ready

Hello, I'm an international student doing my A-levels. My grades come out in August but application deadlines for winter semesters are in July. So, in Germany, can universities give conditional acceptances like in UK while waiting on the grades for my third and final A-level, while other two are out ?

Hi Baraa, I'm not sure on this one! I'd recommend getting in touch with the universities you're applying to and/or checking their official websites for information on whether they would give you a conditional acceptance offer.