In this article, we will answer a few of the most frequently asked questions about studying in Germany. You can find answers to your questions about the admission process to the universities, the tuition fees of the German universities, the student visa to study in Germany, scholarships and more.
1- ARE THERE TUITION FEES FOR GERMAN UNIVERSITIES?
The answer to this question depends on your level of education, where you are from and in which city you want to study. Actually, in 2014, the tuition fees were completely removed from all public schools in Germany. However, in 2017, in Baden-Württemberg, the southwestern province of Germany, these fees came into effect again for students who are not from the European Union countries.
These fees in Baden-Württemberg are about 1,500 euros per semester (3,000 euros per year), while for the students who will do their second degree, it is about 650 euros per semester and 1,300 euros annually. Erasmus+ program member countries are exempted from these fees. Although it is no longer tuition fee free, Germany still provides cheaper education opportunities compared to many other countries.
These tuition fees are likely to come into force in other states of Germany in the coming years. But as of now, undergraduate education at public schools is free of charge for all students. There is no tuition fee; however, all students are required to pay for student services and for the“semester ticket” each semester, which is in total around 250 euros.
For graduate students, the tuition fees still apply as it is mentioned above. But of course, if you have completed your undergraduate studies in Germany, you can be exempted from these fees or you might need to pay a smaller amount.
If you have completed your undergraduate studies in another country, you are not subject to sequential education; therefore, you will need to pay the tuition fees according to the university you will attend and the courses you will take.
- WHAT TYPE OF OPPORTUNITIES DO THE GERMAN UNIVERSITIES PROVIDE?
As part of the Bologna Process, all universities in Germany are awarding an internationally recognized diploma. Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees usually take six semesters to complete (three years). On the other hand, graduate programs of these departments vary between two to four semesters (one or two years) and doctoral programs usually take six semesters to complete (three years).
- HOW CAN I STUDY MEDICINE IN GERMANY?
In Germany, you can study Medicine at any public university where it is offered. But you need to have a great knowledge of both English and German. Medical education in Germany is not divided into undergraduate and associate degrees. That’s why if you want to study medicine in Germany, you should keep in mind that it takes six years and three months to complete and the application process is quite competitive.
- WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS TO STUDY IN GERMANY?
In order to be able to study in Germany, you must have the qualification for higher education (Hochschulzugangsberechtigung). This qualification may vary for foreign students, depending on the educational system in their homeland.
This qualification for foreign students, who are candidates for undergraduate studies in Germany, can be a high school diploma, school completion certificates or university entrance exam scores held in their own country. For those students who would like to get into a master’s degree program in Germany, it would be a bachelor’s degree diploma. If you are qualified to study in your own country, it usually means that you have the competence to study in Germany as well.
If Germany does not recognize your qualification, you need to take a compulsory exam (Feststellungprüfung), which will give you the chance to get into the program you want to study. Before taking it, you can study for this exam in Studienkolleg preparatory courses.
Apart from these, as the language of education in most universities is German, you need to prove your proficiency in German before you start studying at a university. There are also German courses that the foreign students can take before they start their studies in case they are qualified enough to study at a particular program but only lack the required level of German language skills.
In addition, there might be other requirements depending on the university you choose to apply to. These requirements may vary depending on the reputability of the university or program that you would like to attend. You can get detailed and specific information about what you need for your application on the website of the university of your choice.
- DO I HAVE TO BE FLUENT IN GERMAN?
The language of instruction in most universities in Germany is German. Foreign students are required to prove their knowledge of German with the results of a recognized German language exam or by taking a preparatory course. The recognized and widely accepted tests in Germany are: DSH (German Language Examination for University Entrance), TestDaf (German Language Test), GDS (Goethe Institute German Language Certificate) and DSD (German Language Diploma, Level 3).
If you do not have a sufficient level of German, you can also take a look at the programs that are offered in English. There are plenty of them but mostly master’s degree programs. Needless to say, if your mother tongue is not English, you have to prove your language proficiency with an exam such as TOEFL or IELTS to get accepted into these programs.
However, even if you choose a program that is taught in English, you may need to learn German for the everyday life in Germany.
- HOW CAN I APPLY TO THE UNIVERSITIES IN GERMANY?
Since the application process to the universities in Germany will differ from university to university, you should check all the requirements from the website of the university of your choice before applying. If you cannot find any information, you can get some information by visiting the university’s international office or by simply by calling them. In this way, they can tell you all the requirements specific to the program of your choice and provide tips on the application process.
The documents required for an undergraduate program application in Germany are:
– High school diploma or a document that is proved to be sufficient for university entrance. (In the original language)
– Translation of high school transcripts, diploma or a document that will ensure the equivalence of these documents
- Passport photo
– Photocopy of the passport (Personal information and ID photo)
– Foreign language certificate
At many universities in Germany, the winter period application process begins at the beginning of May and lasts until mid-July. The results are announced within one or two months of the application deadline. In order to have a successful application, you should make sure that all the required documents are provided in the application process and that the application form is filled in completely with necessary information.
- DO I NEED A STUDENT VISA IN ORDER TO BE ABLE TO STUDY IN GERMANY?
Whether you need a visa to study in Germany or not depends on where you are from. European Union countries and Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland are exempt from this visa. If you are from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Japan and South Korea, you do not need a student visa, but you still need to apply for a residence permit when you come to Germany. If you come from Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco, San Marino, Taiwan and want to work in Germany, you need to apply for a visa before and after your education. If you are not from one of the mentioned countries, you must apply for a student visa at least three months before you go to Germany.
- WHERE CAN I STUDY IN GERMANY?
45 universities in Germany are on the list of the top universities of QS. So this is also a proof that many of the universities in Germany are reliable. If you want to study in a world-renowned city, you can choose Munich and Berlin, which are also included in the list of QS Best Student Cities.
Apart from these cities, you can also consider studying in North Rhine-Westphalia (including Düsseldorf and Cologne), Bavaria (Munich), Hessen (Frankfurt), Saxony (Dresden), and Hamburg, which will provide you with opportunities for a good education in Germany.
To help you choose a university, you can review the QS list of best universities in Germany by programs. You can also speed up your selection process with the comparison option on this site.
- WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN UNIVERSITIES AND „FACHHOCHSCHULEN“?
When you think about studying in Germany, the first thing that comes to the mind may be undergraduate or graduate programs offered by universities. But there are also institutions called “Fachhochschulen” where you can get more practical training in Germany. Both the applied science departments of universities and the Fachhochschulen focus more on engineering, natural sciences and business programs. However, if you are pursuing an academic career, Fachhochschulen may not be the best option for you because they provide less theoretical training.
Enrolling in applied sciences at universities and the applied trainings and internships there, on the other hand, will provide you with the opportunity to get to know the area you study more closely.
- DO SCHOLARSHIPS COVER THE LIVING COSTS IN GERMANY?
While most public universities in Germany are free, you may need some financial support for the living expenses. If you do not have a sponsor or someone who can support you financially, you can benefit from numerous scholarships to cover these expenses.
Scholarships in Germany can be obtained by various ways. The German Government provides financial support to foreign students under the name DAAD or through Erasmus + European Commission. Apart from that, you can benefit from the scholarships of universities or other institutions. For these scholarships, you can check the university website of your choice whether they provide such scholarships for foreign students or not. Usually these scholarships are given based on your success, the program you will study or where you are from.
- WHERE CAN I RESIDE DURING MY STUDIES?
During your stay in Germany, the most money you will spend monthly is probably on your rent. The rents vary according to where you live in Germany. If you live in smaller student cities like Heidelberg and Freiburg, you may pay a little less for your accommodation compared to living in cities like Düsseldorf, Cologne in West Germany or in Berlin in the East.
When it comes to the accommodation opportunities for students in Germany, there are many two options: student dormitories or private apartments that can also be shared with other students. Rental fees are usually around 350 euros for a small, private flat. When you share a flat with others, it is usually around 280 euro. Dormitories are the cheapest option and they cost around 230 euro monthly. However, these prices may vary greatly according to the city you want to live in.
Please note that not all universities in Germany offer accommodation for registered students. So you might need to find yourself a room or a flat where you can reside.
- AM I ALLOWED TO WORK DURING MY STUDIES?
Yes, you can work. If you are from a European Union country or from Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, you can work a maximum of 20 hours a week. If you are not from a European Union member country, you can work 120 full days each year and 240 days part time without applying for an extra work permit. When you are done with your studies and have a work permit, you can talk with the authorities in Germany and learn more about your legal obligations.
- AM I ALLOWED TO STAY IN GERMANY AFTER MY STUDIES?
Yes. After completing your studies as an international student in Germany, you can apply for a residence permit to look for a job for 18 months. If you find a job during this period, do not forget to extend your visa, residence and work permit as a proof of your legal stay in Germany.