Study in Germany

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Studying in Germany puts you at the heart of Europe so you'll never be far from all that this culturally rich continent has to offer

Germany is the third most popular country worldwide for foreign students after the USA and UK, perhaps the relatively low tuition fees offered by German universities has something to do with this.

No doubt students are also attracted to studying in a country which is home to one of the ten most widely spoken languages in the world, learning such a language through experiencing it's culture will look great on future CVs.

Speaking of culture, there is plenty on offer in a country renowned for its writers and musicians. Book lovers and culture vultures will find everything they need to be entertained within Germany's many museums, libraries, theatres and festivals.

The German education system

There are almost 400 officially recognised universities in Germany with more than 15,000 study programmes to choose from.

In Germany, higher education institutions are referred to as Hochschule. This term covers:

  • universities (Universitäten) - where there is a strong research element;
  • technical universities - strong focus on engineering and technology courses;
  • colleges of art, film and music - these require special admission, usually via an entrance examination;
  • universities of applied sciences - for students who prefer a practical approach to study.

It's important to note that the German education system is not centralised, this means that each of the 16 federal states in the country has it's own government and higher education laws. It's therefore wise to check at particular institutions about the regulations that may apply to you.

Entry requirements

If you wish to attended a German university you will need a higher education entrance qualification, referred to in Germany as the Abitur. This is simply a school leaving certificate. To determine if your certificate is recognised in Germany you should first contact the international office of your chosen university.

If you are applying for an undergraduate course, generally you will need four A-levels, one being a second language and another being either a natural science or mathematics.

Admission for postgraduate courses is not centralised so you will have to enquire with individual institutions regarding their requirements.

To study courses in German, you will need to sit an exam to prove you have an adequate grasp of the language. There are two tests that you can take:

  • The Test of German as a Foreign Language (TestDAF), which is held six times a year in test centres throughout the world. You can save yourself time and money by taking the test beforehand in your home country.
  • The German Language University Entrance Examination (DSH), which is administered only at German universities and will test your proficiency and suitability for university study.

Some universities offer TestDAF, other institutions the DSH both are recognised at all universities.

You will have to pay an examination fee when registering for the TestDAF. The fee differs in each country. In Germany, the test costs between €150 to €175. The cost of the DSH varies with each university.

International degree courses are taught primarily in English, so you won't need any prior knowledge of the German language.

Course fees

Universities in Germany are split into public and private. Most are public and funded by the government making them free to attend. While these institutions usually waive bachelor's and master's tuition fees some master's programmes can be charged so check with your individual university.

Private higher education institutions will charge considerably higher fees for their courses.

Regarding tuition fees, German, European Union (EU) and non-EU nationals all pay the same at each university.

Funding to study in Germany

In Germany, there are substantial funding options available for all students seeking support while they study. The programmes and scholarships are diverse and offered by many institutions. Research all possibilities available and visit your international office for further assistance.

A comprehensive site to begin your research can be found at DAAD - Scholarship Database. This database is not exhaustive, however, and you can obtain other funding and scholarships through individual institutions.

German exchanges and placements

Students attending a UK university can take part in the EU's education, training and youth support programme Erasmus+. The scheme replaces its predecessor 'Erasmus' and offers study, training, work experience and voluntary placements to millions of young people, students and adults. Opportunities last from three months to one academic year in EU countries.

Financial support is available through the Erasmus+ initiative to any UK public, private or not-for-profit organisation actively involved in education and training.

Your university must have a formal agreement with a partner university in another EU country. Check that your university is involved in the programme and offers the Erasmus+ scheme in your subject.

It isn't always necessary to speak the language of your host country, but you can arrange intensive language courses before you go. Speak to the Erasmus+ coordinator at your university about available opportunities.

Student visas

As an EU citizen, you are permitted to live in any EU country while studying as long as you:

  • are studying for more than three months;
  • are enrolled at an approved university/other educational institution;
  • have sufficient income (from any source) to live without needing income support;
  • have comprehensive health insurance cover.

Some countries require you to register with the local authority after three months. Find out how to register at Europa - Rights, Conditions and Formalities and Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany - Study and Scientific Research.