The main goal of studying abroad is to create new paths of career opportunities. This is why international students prefer to study at a reputed university, gain qualifications that are recognised globally, and stand a better chance of getting a higher pay package. Among the many developed countries that offer these opportunities, Germany stands out as well.

At Expert Education, we provide reliable advice on the requirements to study in Germany for international students. You can rest assured with the latest information on education in Germany for international students, reputed universities, the courses provided, scholarships, the admission process, and more.

Universities and courses available

Germany is home to some 20,000 varied courses across more than 400 state-recognised higher education institutions. When you choose to Study in Germany, you have the opportunity to select between private and state-driven institutions for higher education.

Different types of Universities in Germany include Schools of Art, Film, and Music, and Universities of Applied Sciences. International students can look forward to studying for a bachelor’s or master’s degree, spending a semester abroad, completing their first degree, pursuing a doctorate, and even studying for a Diploma and Magister Artium.

Germany’s education system is slightly different when compared to other countries. Let’s explore the variance in each degree.

  • Bachelor’s Degree – The Bachelor’s Degree is part of undergraduate university studies. An academic degree is not required to begin a bachelor’s degree. This program takes three to four years to complete where the basics of a subject matter are taught and a degree is obtained upon successful completion. Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) is obtained in Science subjects. Similarly, a Bachelor of Arts is obtained in humanities. Earning a Bachelor’s degree permits you to enter the job market at a lower level. However, students can continue their studies by applying for a master’s degree.
  • Master’s Degree – A Master’s degree refers to obtaining a post-graduate university qualification. This program comprises one or two years of learning and expanding knowledge on a given subject, and specialising in one to two fields of interest. A Master’s degree is obtained upon the completion of this program. For instance, Master of Science (M.Sc.) after completion of the study of Science subjects. Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) is obtained in Engineering.
  • State Examinations – There are certain academic subjects like lawyer, doctor, or pharmacist that require the student to take an official state examination. These subjects are not part of the bachelor’s or master’s degree. This means that the student has to undergo professional training in their chosen area of work before they can take the second state exam. Upon passing, the student will carry the respective title of the profession and work in that specific field.

The state exams have certain federal regulations that must be followed regardless of where the student studies in Germany.

  • Doctorate – After obtaining a Master’s degree, the student can pursue their academic career by applying for a doctorate or PhD program. This program can take two or more years to research, write, and publish their dissertation. Doing a PhD consists of finding a professor who may be willing to accept the student as a PhD student. Only after finding a professor, can the student apply to join a PhD program at the university.
  • Dual Vocational Degree – A dual vocational degree is a special program that integrates higher education studies and on-the-job training in a company. The courses included in this program are common to business and engineering and do not primarily focus on academic studies. Furthermore, students undergo paid on-the-job training at a designated company to gain necessary work experience and career opportunities going forward.

The dual vocational degree program covers a minimum of two years for vocational training to give enough time for academic studies. Overall, the program lasts between three to five years, and this degree program only permits students to enroll based on their entrance qualifications for German universities. Firstly, the student has to apply to a company that is willing to take responsibility for practical training. Thereafter, the student can enrol for a degree course at the university in cooperation with the company.

Some of the courses offered extensively at German Higher Education Institutions:

  • Natural Sciences and Mathematics
  • Medical Studies and Specialist Training
  • Agriculture, Ecology, Forestry, Veterinary Medicine, Nutritional Sciences
  • Humanities, Linguistics, and Cultural Studies
  • Law, Economics and Social Sciences
  • Engineering
  • Art and Music

Some of the popular and reputed universities in Germany include:

  1. University of Munich
  2. Ruprecht Karls University Heidelberg
  3. Humboldt University of Berlin
  4. Technical University of Munich
  5. Free University of Berlin
  6. University of Bonn
  7. University of Hamburg
  8. University of Gottingen
  9. University of Freiburg
  10. Eberhard Karls University of Tubingen

Fees, scholarships, and cost of living

Cost of Tuition   

Regarding the Tuition Fee, as a rule in Germany, the student does not have to pay a fee for the Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree Course if they study in a state higher education institution. However, in a few German states, the student may be charged a specific fee amount for a second-degree course, or if the study program is not completed within the specified period. Of course, there are exceptions to this fee. For instance, the state of Baden-Württemberg introduced tuition fees of 1,500 euros per semester for non-EU citizens in the winter semester of 2017/18. The fee was introduced for students pursuing a Bachelor’s, Master’s, Diploma, or State Examination in and after the winter semester of 2017/18. Students who came before this fee introduction were not charged. This fee does not apply to doctoral students.

In some cases, master’s and online degree programs have high tuition fees of more than 10,000 euros per semester. Generally, Private Higher Education Institutions charge higher tuition fees. However, it is important to note that higher costs are in no way a reflection of the quality of education provided. Degree programs that do not incur costs to students can also provide high-quality education.

In Germany, students have to pay the semester contribution, which refers to paying to the body providing student support services and the AstA or the Students’ Representative Body. The semester contribution fee can vary depending on the institution, which is between 100 to 350 Euros. This contribution fee will provide the student with a semester ticket, which is a travel pass, allowing the student to use public transport in the area for free. These tickets typically cost 25 to 200 euros based on the area covered. However, not all higher education institutions cover the semester ticket cost in the semester contribution fee.

Health Insurance Costs

If the health insurance applied from a foreign country is not valid in Germany, the international student has to apply for insurance in Germany. Public Health Insurance in Germany costs nearly 110 euros per month. This applies to the individual under 30 years of age. This may also apply to those who have not exceeded 14 semesters of study, after which the insurance cost can rise up to 166 euros per month.

Scholarship Programs for International Students in Germany

Generally, in Germany, it is rarely possible to get funded from institutions as the selection criteria are particularly narrow. That said, Germany does offer various ways to study program funding. For instance, the DAAD offers scholarship programs for German as well as undergraduate, postgraduate, and research students. Political, business-linked foundations or religious organisations also offer significant funding.

You may receive funding for 12 months for each academic stage of Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctorate. This applies if you are an exchange student through the Erasmus+ special exchange program. Also, you must be a student from any of the 27 European States, including Iceland, Turkey, Macedonia, Norway, and Liechtenstein. This project supports study-abroad students or those looking for an internship in Germany. The study placement period lasts from three months to a year. The student can receive a grant on a monthly basis, the amount of which will be decided by the home university of the student, based on European Commission Guidelines. If you become an Erasmus+ student, you get exempted from paying the tuition fees at higher education institutes.

Living Expenses in Germany

For international students, the rent is going to make up a sizable proportion of costs, while varying from one location to another. The cost may range from 290 euros to 560 euros for accommodation and can go as high as 867 euros in cities like Munich, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Cologne, and Düsseldorf.

The accommodation options for students are student halls, sharing a flat, or renting an apartment individually. Renting an apartment individually can become expensive, plus making sure to pay the deposit upfront. The deposit amount can sometimes go up to several hundred euros.

When it comes to cutting down on expenses, students can opt for bicycles for cheaper transportation, eat in the university canteen, and move into shared accommodation.

You may connect with our Expert Counsellor to help you with more information regarding your requirements to study in Germany.

Admission process

Germany offers a fairly straightforward admissions process based on whether the international student is an EU or non-EU citizen.

If the international student is from a non-EU country

While applying for admissions, you must check whether your type of university entrance qualification is recognised or not in Germany. The DAAD admissions database can help you find out by entering the country in which you graduated from school. Going through this database can assist you in finding out whether your degree is:

  • Enough or not, for subject-specific university entrance
  • Enough or not, for direct general university entrance
  • Enough or not, with one or two successfully completed years of study in the home country 

If you need a more comprehensive look at the sufficiency of foreign educational qualifications, use the Anabin Database. This database allows you to search results by your country and degree to give you all the information you need on the sufficiency of your degree, and whether you qualify for other requirements.

Since the Anabin Database is only available in Germany, you might not be able to access it. In that case, reach out to our Expert Counselors who can help address the right information for your requirements to study in Germany. 

The University you apply to will have the final say about your admission. So, it’s crucial to know the requirements specific to that university. Visit their website and find out more about the conditions and eligibility for you to successfully gain admission.

What happens if your school leaving certificate is not enough to get you admitted into a German University? In that case, you will have to take up preparatory college, which entails an entrance exam. You must have a good knowledge of the German language to take this exam. Once you’ve concluded at the preparatory college, you will undergo an assessment test in the subjects relevant to your field of interest. Part of this assessment test also involves a language test.

Foreign students can also take an aptitude test or TestAS which has a mixture of language tests, cognitive skills tests, and technical questions. This test can help you assess your chances of studying at a university in Germany.

If the international student is from an EU country

If you are from a European country, including Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein, the conditions are slightly different. Given that your certificate permits you, you are likely to enter into a university in Germany. If you have completed your Abitur at one of the German schools abroad, you get the status of an education resident. This gives you an equal chance when it comes to University Entrance Qualifications.

University Admission Requirements

A school leaving certificate proves that you have studied at the university of your home country. This secondary qualification, including the high school diploma, Matura, A-Levels, and Bachillerato are evaluated by the concerned authority. Students from European countries do not need a visa or residence permit to study in Germany. However, if the EU-based student is going to live in Germany for more than three months, they will have to register with the student’s registration office in their university town.

The student must also prove that they are well able to finance their studies and that they have health insurance. This also applies to nationals of EEA states of Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein.

Documents Required to Study in Germany

While submitting documentation for applying to study in Germany, you must provide officially certified copies of German translations. Some universities also accept English and French documents. You can issue them at the German diplomatic missions in your home country if needed.

Submissions required from your end during application include:

  • Your passport photo
  • Copy of your passport that shows your name and photo
  • Certified copies of language certificates
  • A copy of your university and college entrance qualification (officially certified)
  • An officially translated and certified transcript of your classes and grades
  • Officially certified copies of all previous university certificates that may be available with you.

Life in Germany

Germany offers a safe environment to its citizens including those who visit for purposes of studying and working. Around 10.6 million people from outside Germany live in the country. This land of poets and thinkers is also the land of freedom. Those who live in Germany have the right to freedom of belief and equality, expression and press, and freedom to be who you are, regardless of your gender, sexual orientation, religion, and origin.

The country is known for its research and innovation but also for its remarkable places. For instance, international students can visit the CheckPoint Charlie Museum which symbolizes the cold war. Then the Citywest District’s Charlottenburg Palace and Park amidst stunning gardens and outdoor sculptures, the 18th century Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin’s Jewish Museum, and the German Museum of Technology, located in the grounds of the former Antiller train yard.

Germany offers so much more than the simple study and work scenario. It’s an adventure you don’t want to miss!


There are several international program options of education in Germany for international students that are offered in cases of:

  • If the student is not well-versed in the German language but is fluent in another language, including English.
  • If the program entails a double degree, that is, the degree received is from both the German University and the second institution that together hosts the study program.
  • If the university offers subject supervision or extracurricular services for international students.
  • If the study program has elements specific to the international curriculum, or the course requires time spent studying abroad.

University Entrance Qualification or Hochschulzugangsberechtigung is a school-leaving certificate. This certificate qualifies you for studying at a university in Germany.

In this case, you must attend a foundation course or Studienkolleg before enrolling in a study program in Germany.

You must submit proof of your parent’s income, a bank surety, a deposit made to a blocked bank account (Sperrkonto), or a recognized scholarship. The sum to displace is set at 851 euros per month or 10,332 euros per year. You must provide proof of this during your visa application.

This depends on your study program and financial abilities. There are several DAAD scholarships, including:

  • Study Scholarships – Master Studies for All Academic Disciplines
  • Research Grants – Short-Term Grants
  • Research Grants – One-Year Grants for Doctoral Candidates
  • Graduate School Scholarship Programme (GSSP)
  • Study Visits for Academics – Artists and Architects
  • University Winter Courses in Germany for Foreign Students and Graduates

The above scholarships do not encompass a comprehensive list. You may consult us at Expert Education to know more.

Yes, you can work and study in Germany, but this depends on your country of origin. Students from the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) are permitted to work up to 20 hours per week. On the other hand, non-EU/EEA students can work for 120 full days or 240 half days per year. Taking up a job as a student assistant or research assistant at your university may not be counted in the work limit, and the Alien Registration Office must be notified if you take up this sort of work.

If you wish to study at a university in Germany, you will need a general university qualification which should be recognised as a higher education entrance qualification. However, in some cases like studying at a university of applied sciences, you will need a restricted university entrance qualification. Alternatively, a second school-leaving certificate obtained abroad may be considered equivalent. There are some cases where applicants may need to complete an internship or pass an admission test. 

You can use the Database on admission requirements to check whether your higher education entrance qualification is recognised in Germany.

If your school leaving certificate is not recognised, you will have to take up a foundation course. This course is held at certain facilities at universities and universities of applied sciences. It lasts for two semesters (classes of up to 28 to 32 hours per week), preparing you for your degree programme, and it requires that you have a good command of level B1 German language. Once the course ends, you must take a higher education entrance examination consisting of several subjects relevant to the later degree programme and a language test. Once cleared, the student can begin their degree programme.

To study in Germany, you will have to provide proof of proficiency in the German language. You can take the German Language Test based on the country you are from or the level you are applying for studying. For instance, the Test Deutsch als Fremdsprache (TestDaF) is offered in nearly 100 countries and can be taken in the home country. The Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang (DSH) is offered by many higher education institutions and should be taken in Germany. Higher education institutions also recognise The Goethe-Zertifikat C2, the Telc Deutsch C1 Hochschule examination and the Deutsches Sprachdiplom (level II) of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs.

You will not be required to take a German language test  If you completed your school leaving certificate giving you the right of entry to higher education at a German-language school abroad.

If you have enrolled in an international degree program, you will need to provide proof of other language skills, typically English. Some exchange students may not be required to prove their language skills as per some higher education institutions if the study program only includes one or two semesters.

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