"Studying in Germany helped me a lot with my further career. Especially in dealing with different kind of people and coping with new challenges" (John, 27 years)
A lot of high school students dream of studying abroad for one semester or even their whole university period. Countries like Great Britain or the USA might be the most popular among students, but commencing a study in Germany presents a great and affordable chance to every young person. About 300,000 international students choose to study in Germany every year. With over 400 higher education institutions, Germany has a lot to offer.
The country lies in the heart of Europe and is one of the most important economic players in the world. Universities in Munich, Berlin and Stuttgart rank among the best in the world. Most universities have a strong focus on research and practical application of theoretical knowledge. Additionally, German universities are very well-connected with companies from all over the world; students can gain valuable work experience at an early stage of their study. Many lectures have an international focus and it’s therefore easy to study in Germany in English . English is often the language of instruction at German universities.
In Germany, most degree programs are either Bachelor or Master programs. Following the “Bologna standards” most degrees and credit points earned while studying in Germany are internationally accepted. This is a huge plus if you’re thinking of coming to Germany for only one or two semesters. Your study achievements will most likely get acknowledged all over the world.
But it’s not only great study chances that make a stay in Germany so attractive: the country’s rich heritage, friendly people and numerous leisure-time possibilities create a top destination for students. Additionally the country is very safe. Germany has a very good social security system. Every student is therefore required by law to have a valid health insurance By taking up your study in Germany, you will make great new friends, experience a new way of life, soak up the German language and set sails for the future.
Luckily, studying in Germany is affordable even for international students. Education is a state affair and funded by the government. There are no study fees at all state-run universities. Wonder about how much it costs to live in Germany? Read on in our finance section.
Graduates from Germany – especially those with degrees in technology, engineering and science – have a world class reputation and are in great demand. But even if you seek to study in another field - with a strong and growing German economy you still have realistic chances of getting a job after graduation.
Even if you don’t have a European passport, you are allowed to stay in Germany up to 18 months after graduation, in order to look for a job.
On the following sites, we’ve collected information about visa and entry requirements, admission requirements, insurances you need, and much more to help you with your first steps towards your journey to Germany.
It is vital to have valid health insurance when you come to study in Germany.
This is not only because you can get ill or have an accident any time, but also because you need to have proof of valid insurance when you apply for your student visa, residence permit and enrol for university.
Should you be privately insured in your home country and should the insurance be valid in Germany you need confirmation that you are exempt from mandatory public health insurance coverage in Germany in order to be able to enrol.
DAK-Gesundheit is one of Germany's biggest statutory insurers, with comprehensive service and quality. You can book your insurance easily online Should you bring your whole family with you, your kids and spouse not currently employed, they will be insured under your statutory insurance as well at no cost.
But note: once you've opted for private health insurance you won't be able to switch to the statutory scheme at a later date.
If you decide to come to Germany to study you don't always need a visa.
There are three main visa groups. You belong to the first group if you are a citizen from a member country of the European Union, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Iceland or Norway. Citizens from those countries don't need a visa. After you've arrived in Germany and moved in you just need to get registered at the local registration office. After you've done that, there's nothing that stops you from studying.
Germany has made visa agreements with several countries from a second visa group that
make the organizational effort for students seeking permission to study a lot easier. If you hold a passport from Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand or the USA you don't need a special visa to travel into the country. If you are from Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco or San Marino you don't need a visa if you only come to Germany to study and don't intend to work before or after your study. As soon as you are in Germany you need to apply for a residence permit at the local Alien's Registration Office (Ausländeramt) if you are planning on staying more than 90 days.
Citizens with passports from other countries make up a third group and need to apply for a study visa at their home country's German Embassy or consulate before coming to Germany. Note that you need to enrol for your desired course before you apply for a visa. You will need an enrolment letter as well as proof of sufficient financial resources and health insurance. Some embassies might also require a medical certificate and proof of language ability. Even if you hold a valid student visa, you will still need to apply for a residence permit at the local Alien's Registration office once you are in Germany.
If you are only looking at attending a summer course, language course, foundation course or don't hold an enrolment offer yet, you will still need a visa but won't be able to apply for a study visa yet. You therefore need to apply for a study application visa. This visa is valid for up to three months and can be converted into a normal student visa later on if desired.
To take up any course or degree program you first have to apply to a university. In Germany, every study course has its own application rules. One study year in Germany consists of the winter semester that starts in October and finishes in March and the summer semester beginning in April and finishing in September. You can apply till January 15th for taking up you studies in summer and until July 15th and enrol for the winter semester. If you are on exchange and only want to spend one semester abroad, these guidelines don’t apply to you. Contact your home university to apply for a study exchange place.
For all courses taught at university, you do however definitely need a school leaving certificate. You can check online if your certificate is sufficient. If you would like to study a subject like medicine, psychology, mechanical engineering or law, there usually is a restricted admission. In order to get accepted your school-leaving certificate needs a certain average grade (Numerus Clausus), because usually there are more people applying for a certain course than places available at the university. While you usually need to apply directly to the university you wish to take up your study at, there are exceptions. If you wish to study medicine, dentistry, animal health and pharmaceutics in Germany, you need to apply to the ‘Foundation for Higher Education Admission’. If your application is accepted they will offer you a place at university.
If your desired course taught in German, you will probably need proof of language competence. The TestDaF is accepted by most universities. There are several TestDaF test centres all around the world. If your German is not that good yet, you can prepare and take a German course at your local Goethe Institute.
For more details on the admission process and in order to find out which application and enrolment guidelines apply to you individually, we recommend contacting your chosen university’s International Office. In the end, it is the university that decides if you are offered a place or not.
Confused by different guidelines, requirements, deadlines and regulations? Consult uni-assist
The question of how to afford studying abroad is certainly one of the most important ones.
It is good to set a budget and calculate costs before you go, so there won’t be any nasty surprises on arrival.
Generally speaking, studying in Germany is cheaper than in countries like the USA or Great Britain. This is mostly due to the fact that state-run universities don’t charge study fees. You can virtually study in Germany for free. However you will still have to pay a small ‘semester fee’ after enrolling at most universities. Varying from one university to another, the fee is usually no higher than €300 per semester and mostly includes a ticket for unlimited public transport.
The cost of living highly depends on the area you will study in. While living costs in big cities like Berlin, Hamburg or Munich are very high, life in small university cities is quite affordable and still fun. How much you will need every month doesn’t only depend on the town you live in but also your lifestyle. But based on experience, 600 – 800 Euros will realistically get you through the month.
A lot of universities have very active student unions which organise cool parties and other activities. Most of them are completely free or at low-cost so you can go easy on the budget. Additionally your student ID gives you many opportunities to save as well. You get concessions at theatres, cinemas, opera houses and even retail shops.
A good option to fund your studies and take the financial weight off your shoulders is a scholarship. The main institution that awards scholarships to international students is the German Academic Exchange Service DAAD Additionally, you can ask the International Office of your host university for more scholarship options and funding programs.
Many international students work while studying to make a bit of extra money. If you come to Germany on a student visa you are allowed to work 120 full days or 240 half days a year. As a citizen of the European Union there aren’t any restrictions at all. Gaining work experience in Germany is also a good chance for you to polish your CV. Nevertheless you still shouldn’t work more than 20 hours a week during the semester, to balance out your study and work life. Typical jobs for students are waiting, babysitting, office or promotional jobs. You can easily find one on noticeboards, online or with the help of special job agencies that are associated with your university.
Once you live in Germany, you will hardly get far without your own bank account.
You will need to transact semester fees, pay your rent and settle bills.
A good option is to get a student ‘Girokonto'. This is a current bank account that also includes an EC-Card (debit card). You can pay cashless when using an EC-Card and usually don't get charged any fees when using it in shops, except in small shops, where you might need to pay small amounts in cash. In Germany it is more popular to pay with a debit card instead of a credit card.
Bank accounts can be opened online or by going to a bank branch and asking one of the consultants to open one for you. Make sure you take your passport and university enrolment letter with you since they are mandatory for opening a student bank account. If you would like to open a German bank account while you're still at home, it's best to consult a bank with international branches like the ‘Deutsche Bank'. Student bank accounts are free with some banks, so just make comparisons before opening an account.
Once you have enrolled it's time to look for a new place to live.
In Germany, you are responsible for finding a flat yourself. Depending on the city you want to study in there are different costs for different housing options.
The most popular choice among international students and probably the cheapest option as well is renting a room in a residence hall. It is easy to get in contact with other students here, there are a lot of activities organized in the halls and they are usually really close to the campus. Because the rooms are so popular, you should apply early to get one. In contrast to other countries, you don't automatically get a room in a student hall once you've enrolled. Some universities offer a ‘Welcome Package' to international students; it guarantees a place in a hall of residence. These packages can be booked online, but they are usually limited and therefore gone quickly so it's advisable to look at some other accommodation options as well.
Many students live in private flat-shares (‘Wohngemeinschaften'). Either an existing flat-share looks for a new flatmate or several people team up and look at renting a flat together. Flat-shares are a good way to get in contact with the locals quickly, improve German language skills, make new friends but also save money. You split the rent and bills but also have a shared bathroom and kitchen. In contrast to a room in a residence hall, a flat-share will usually offer a little more privacy. You can look online for suitable flat-shares in your area.
If you are in need of a lot of private space, a flat-share might not be the best option for you. Then you can rent out an apartment by yourself. Note that this is probably the most expensive housing option. Depending on the city you study in, flats will start at 250 Euro and prices will go up to 700 Euro rent per month. You can start looking at apartments online from abroad, but it's possibly easier to find a nice flat once you have arrived in Germany.
The capital of Germany is also the country’s biggest and most vibrant city.
Berlin is a melting pot of cultures, languages and people from all over the world. With 41 institutions of higher education Berlin is not only a good place to live but also a perfect place to study. Berlin has got something for every student: You can choose from hundreds of different courses offered by the numerous universities. With beautiful lakes, cosmopolitan shopping malls, world-famous clubs and bars, rewarded operas and theatres you won’t ever get bored here.
The Hanseatic city is Germany's trading hub.
With Europe's second biggest port, located at the heart of the city, there's always something happening here! Hamburg is located between the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. Want to dip your toes in sand after a long week of studying? This is definitely the right place for you! Hamburg has a very vibrant nightlife with the infamous ‘Reeperbahn', small scene clubs and bars. Choose from 25 universities the one that suits you best. Courses with an excellent reputation are logistics, marine biology and mechanical engineering.
Munich is Germany's star of the south.
It is an excellent choice to study in Munich because two of Germany's top universities are situated here. The world-famous event and two-week-long party ‘Oktoberfest' takes place in Munich and makes the city go mad. If you need a break from the big city life head to the beautiful English Gardens. With the Alps nearby you can also go for hikes and mountain bike rides in summer and head to the skiing fields in winter. If you are a football enthusiast you definitely have to watch Munich's world class soccer team take on Europe in the brightly illuminated Allianz Arena.
If you are looking at studying a business course – head to Cologne!
Year after year Cologne University is taking the top places at university rankings. But Cologne has more to offer: With two major television companies having their studios here, the city is very popular among media students. The German Sport University Cologne is the largest sports university in Europe and has interesting and unique courses. People from all over Germany come to Cologne to watch the annual crazy and colorful carnival parade. In summer, get some friends together and enjoy the sun on the large Rhine river banks!
Stuttgart lies within one of Germany's strongest industrial regions.
Especially science, technology and engineering courses are popular and universities have established strong bonds with global-players like Porsche, Daimler and Bosch. Students have excellent opportunities to gain work experience and take part in a number of research projects. Stuttgart itself is a charming town with a mild climate and lots of leisure time possibilities. Highlight of the year is the festival ‘Canstatter Wasen' with many live-bands and a huge fun fair.
Dresden is an upcoming city that is getting more and more popular among students.
It is affordable and the city's university has a very good reputation. With its beautiful baroque architecture and the river Elbe running through the city center Dresden's nickname is ‘Florence on the Elbe'. The strong student community also organizes a number of festivals, concerts and open-air cinema screenings. Additionally they pride themselves with having the highest number of student pubs in Germany. If you decide to study in Dresden you will feel ‘at home' in no time.
The city of Frankfurt is Europe's banking capital.
A lot of businesses have their headquarters here and it is rather easy to get a student job or gain work experience while studying. Frankfurt has an impressive skyline with a number of skyscrapers and is therefore called ‘Mainhattan'. The city lies on the banks of the river ‘Main'. By the river you can relax, meet up with friends or take a drink in one of the chic bars. The city has a very cosmopolitan feel and provides one of the highest living qualities in Germany.
Leipzig is a small student city in the East of Germany.
Cool artists, musicians and students moved here in the past years because the rents are low and the clubs and bars always full.Students love the relaxed down-to-earth atmosphere and social vibe. Not only famous philosopher Nietzsche but also Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel studied at the University of Leipzig. So if you decide to spend some time in Leipzig, you will certainly be in good company!
Münster is Germany's bike capital
The old city centre, bikes everywhere and a university with top reputation make this town in the west of Germany a student gem. Münster is Germany's bike capital - with more than 459 km of bike paths, you can explore the city at the push of your pedals. In summer you can cycle to the Aalsee in the middle of the town and have barbecues and drinks at the water's edge. About 20 per cent of Münster's inhabitants are students – this town has an old shell but a very young core.