Studying in Germany offers distinct benefits that can significantly enhance your future career prospects. With an exceptional variety of educational avenues tailored specifically to meet the demands of the global workforce, Germany presents an environment where you can focus intensely on your aspirations and grow unrestrained.
Choosing to study in Germany is an excellent step towards carving a niche for yourself in the international job market. German universities command considerable respect globally, and the qualifications obtained in Germany are highly regarded in corporate circles, adding to your marketability and competitive edge.
Why You Should Consider Studying In Germany
German universities exhibit stellar international networking, forging bonds with myriad partner universities across the globe. Thousands of German students are granted the enriching opportunity to experience and learn in a foreign country each year. Reciprocally, German universities and applied science institutions are committed to ensuring adequate positions for international students while also providing support for other aspects of their overseas stay.
So, what does Germany bring to the table for global students? Despite its relatively compact geographical size, Germany’s historical legacy and contemporary role in the global community are distinctly unique. It wields considerable influence within Europe and is recognized as a crucial trade ally and participant on the international stage.
Globally, there is a high demand for professionals across all fields trained in Germany, and they often secure positions in international corporations across various countries. Furthermore, Germany itself stands as a promising and appealing future workplace.
These conditions are primarily attributed to Germany’s robust education system, which lays a strong foundation for comprehensive learning and career advancement.
Study in Germany: Your entry into the German Labor market
The integration of academics and practical work is a distinctive characteristic of Germany’s educational system. Institutions like the universities of applied sciences promote a harmonious blend of theoretical learning and practical application. They frequently offer ‘dual studies,’ an innovative educational model that facilitates the concurrent acquisition of comprehensive theoretical knowledge at the university and hands-on experience in industry settings. Specific variants of this model provide a unique opportunity to attain a bachelor’s degree while also completing vocational training, seamlessly bridging the gap between formal education and professional readiness.
The practical focus of education in Germany allows students to acquaint themselves with the professional world early in their academic journey. This approach not only offers significant insights into potential career paths, but also facilitates the initial steps towards your career during your studies. Upon graduation, you have the option to apply for a residence permit that allows an 18-month job search period in Germany. This country, seeking to fortify its economic prowess for the future, is progressively relying on young, skilled professionals, thereby offering promising career opportunities.
Whether you find yourself in bustling cities or tranquil countryside locales, you can enjoy freedom of movement and a sense of safety in Germany. The country’s image on the world stage, as well as domestically, is shaped by its stability. Living in a parliamentary democracy, where the state’s power is derived from its citizens, you can rely on equitable elections and legal security.
Given their nation’s eventful past, Germans deeply appreciate their country’s stability. Being the fourth-largest economy in the world, Germany also nurtures diverse international relations. Currently, the country is home to 10.6 million residents from various countries worldwide. This secure environment also extends to international students, providing them with a safe living experience, whether in a bustling city or a tranquil village.
German universities and their awarded degrees garner worldwide recognition, demonstrating to potential employers that you’ve received a robust foundational education and possess in-depth specialized knowledge. Emphasis on practical learning is a distinctive trait of the German education system. Many degree programs mandate internships, and they are universally recommended. The expansive industrial landscape, particularly within the urban centers, provides myriad opportunities to gain exposure to a diverse range of companies and industries during these internships.
Germany offers a multitude of recreational activities and travel opportunities based on your chosen region. For those with the time and budget, Germany serves as an ideal springboard for exploring the broader European continent, allowing you to experience multiple countries without incurring exorbitant travel expenses.
Within Germany, you can experience the coastal allure of the North and Baltic Seas, visit culturally rich and historically significant cities, admire architectural marvels, or even partake in winter sports in the southern regions. There’s certainly no room for monotony alongside your academic pursuits.
German academic structure underwent a significant change with the Bologna reform, transitioning to the Bachelor and Master system. The initial degree is a Bachelor’s, after which one may choose to pursue a more detailed or supplementary Master’s degree. Both qualifications are recognized as independent degrees.
The superb international reputation of German universities is also bolstered by their high research focus. State-funded research grants enable students to explore novel areas and gain hands-on learning experience. The academic rigor is often considered more challenging than in other countries, a factor that naturally enhances the institution’s reputation.
Digitalization: online learning in Germany
The appeal of distance learning in Germany continues to grow annually. A majority of German universities now provide a broad array of online learning programs. Unlike traditional on-site programs, online learning allows students to bypass the need for physical presence in lecture halls. Instead, students can engage in academic pursuits from the comfort of their homes, tailoring their study schedules to seamlessly integrate with their daily routines.
This trend has been particularly amplified in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as learning shifted from classrooms to virtual platforms, embracing a new normal in education. This transformation has further solidified the importance and acceptance of distance learning, promoting educational continuity amidst unprecedented challenges.
Bachelor’s Degree in Germany
A Bachelor’s degree, typically achieved after 6-8 semesters of study, provides students with an academic qualification that facilitates entry into the job market. This degree forms the initial phase of the two-stage Bachelor-Master degree system, with the subsequent Master’s degree pursued by those seeking to deepen their specialized knowledge.
The layered degree structure aims to enhance professional qualifications, promote student mobility, and reduce the duration of academic study. The system of assigning credit points for academic accomplishments further enables easy recognition of coursework completed at different universities, whether within Germany or elsewhere in Europe. This feature significantly simplifies the process of transferring credits and recognizing academic progression.
Master’s Degree in Germany
Germany offers a remarkable breadth of academic choices. This land of innovation hosts over 400 universities, collectively offering more than 8,000 Master’s programs. While Master’s programs are a relatively newer addition to German higher education, numerous states have already restructured their teacher training programs. State examination programs, though not under the purview of individual universities, also provide avenues for professionals such as lawyers and physicians to further their education through certain Master’s degree programs.
A Master’s program in Germany typically spans three to four semesters. Furthermore, full-time study isn’t the only pathway, as many universities also offer part-time Master’s programs. This flexibility allows you to simultaneously acquire valuable work experience and continue your educational journey, crafting an academic experience that aligns with your professional aspirations.
English language study programs in Germany
Germany continues to be a top choice for over 370,000 international students, partly due to the opportunity to study in English.
If you aspire to earn a degree from Germany but are apprehensive about having to learn German from scratch, rest assured, there are alternatives.
German universities are exceptional, consistently striving to create the best possible conditions for incoming students. Their globally-informed approach ensures a comfortable and conducive learning environment. Among these favorable conditions is the increasing number of degree programs offered in English.
Admittedly, because degree programs in German tend to be more prevalent, identifying those taught in English can pose a challenge. An exhaustive online search can be time-consuming and may sometimes lead to inaccurate results. We are here to guide and support you if you’re struggling with this.
Where can I study in an English-language program in Germany?
While seeking an undergraduate degree at a public university in Germany, it’s crucial to note that finding English-taught courses might be difficult since the vast majority are instructed in German.
A fundamental question many prospective students ask is, which universities offer higher education in English? Certainly, the availability of English programs is a consideration, but the quality of education provided is equally, if not more, critical.
A suggested approach is to conduct thorough online research by exploring university websites to determine if they offer programs in English. To simplify this process for you, we’ve curated a list of universities that offer the opportunity to study in English in Germany.
Here are some of the most esteemed universities in Germany offering degree programs in English:
- Munich University of Technology
- University of Göttingen
- Max Planck Institutes
- Free University of Berlin
- Dresden University of Technology
- Munich University of Applied Sciences
- University of Bonn
- RWTH Aachen University
- HTW Berlin
- Bremen University of Applied Sciences
- Mannheim University of Applied Sciences
- Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
- Berlin International University of Applied Sciences
- Saarland University
- Frankfurt School of Finance & Management
- University of Kaiserslautern
- University of Hamburg
- University of Ulm
- HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management
- University of Bayreuth
- WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management
- University of Stuttgart
- Technical University Berlin
- TU Darmstadt
- University of Hohenheim
- University of Erfurt
- University of Freiburg
What is the university entrance qualification (HZB)?
The Hochschulzugangsberechtigung (HZB) is a pivotal document for admission to German higher education institutions. It verifies that your foreign educational qualifications are equivalent to the German Abitur, which is the diploma received upon graduation from a Gymnasium (German high school).
If your prior education isn’t deemed equivalent to the HZB, you must take a recognition test. However, passing this test is beneficial only if you fulfill the other prerequisites for university admission. Understanding the various admission criteria is important to ensure your eligibility and enhance your chances of securing a spot at a German university.
When are the application deadlines for German universities?
German universities’ application deadlines are similar for EU and local German students. Predominantly, degree programs in Germany commence in the winter semester. For degree programs coordinated through Hochschulstart—such as Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Pharmacy, and Dentistry— the deadline for “older high school graduates” is May 31. Hochschulstart.de is responsible for managing the application process for degree programs with nationwide admission restrictions.
The deadline for courses subject to internal university admission conditions is typically around July 15. For unrestricted admission programs, applications are usually accepted until mid-September. Remember that these dates serve as general guidelines and could vary between universities or programs.
Recognized Language Certificates for Studying in Germany
German universities recognize the following language proficiency certificates:
- TestDaF Level IV: This certification is awarded upon successful completion of the TestDaF, a German language proficiency test specifically designed for foreign students.
- DSH Certificate II or III: This certification is granted upon successful completion of the DSH test, a German language exam for prospective foreign students.
- Institutional Preparation Courses Placement Test: The certificate is awarded at the end of institutional preparation courses.
- DSD Level II Certificate: This is a language diploma conferred by the Standing Conference of Ministers of Education and Culture at Level II.
- Goethe Certificate C2: This certificate validates that you have successfully passed the Goethe Level C2 test.
- Telc Deutsch C1 or B2 Higher Education Certificate: Awarded upon passing the Telc C1 or B2 college exams.
For proof of English language proficiency, you can submit one of the following certificates:
- Official TOEFL Test Score Report: The required scores are IbT-88 or Pbt-66.
- Official Score Report of the IELTS Test: The required group score in IELTS Academic should be 6.5 or higher.
- Certificate of Advanced English from Cambridge: An A, B, or C grade.
- Cambridge Proficiency English Certificate: An A, B, or C grade.
Exceptions to these certifications can be made on a case-by-case basis.
Please note that individual universities might have specific language requirements, and not all language tests and grades may be accepted. Always check with the specific university or course for detailed language requirements.
University access for EU citizens
Generally, to study in Germany, you must hold a school-leaving certificate recognized as equivalent to the German Abitur, which would grant you university admission in your home country. If you are an EU citizen, you don’t need a visa or residence permit to study in Germany. Nevertheless, given that staying in Germany for more than three months necessitates registration, you’ll need to register at your local Residents’ Registration Office upon arrival.
Further, you are required to demonstrate financial stability to cover your study and living expenses and have valid health insurance. Additionally, despite being an EU citizen, sufficient German language skills are typically mandatory to pursue education in Germany. Nationals from the EEA states – Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway, enjoy the same access rights as EU citizens when it comes to studying in Germany.
University access for Non-EU citizens
Universities in Germany are open to students from around the world, including non-European Union citizens. Thanks to the Bologna Process, individuals within the EU should face no significant hurdles. For those from countries outside the EU, it is vital to secure recognition for your prior academic accomplishments. After this step, your qualifications will be assessed and categorized within the respective degree program.
To streamline this process, we recommend reaching out to the International Office at your prospective German university. They can guide you to the appropriate department responsible for the recognition of academic achievements. This way, you can ensure your previous studies are adequately evaluated and contribute towards your continued education in Germany.
What does it cost to study in Germany?
While Germany’s state universities do not impose tuition fees, the associated living expenses can still add up. The semester fee, ranging from €150 to €250, is merely the start. You’ll also need to budget for travel, relocation expenses, meals, the initial deposit for a shared accommodation, and the first month’s rent.
According to the German Student Union, a course of study spanning ten semesters can total between €36,000 and €75,000. This means you can expect to spend around €596 to €1,250 per month for living and studying. If you’re an unmarried student venturing out into your first independent living situation, you’ll need an average of €918 per month, or approximately €55,000 over ten semesters.
Accommodation costs vary widely based on whether you live in a major university city or a smaller, less crowded town. A room in a dormitory typically costs between €200 and €400, while a room in a shared apartment will set you back between €300 and €500. A personal apartment can cost at least €400.
Aside from rent, you’ll also need to account for living expenses, from food and clothing to university books and leisure activities, including sports, cell phone contracts, and social outings. You can expect to add another €200 to your budget depending on your lifestyle. Additionally, you should factor in an average of €100 for transportation and €200 for meals.
Living in a city with over a million inhabitants can be significantly more costly. In such a city, you might spend more than €500 a month on rent alone. If you opt for extra private courses for the university or decide against regular canteen food, your monthly costs can easily exceed €1,000. Remember to plan accordingly and make budget adjustments as necessary.
For a detailed break-down of the average monthly cost of living in Germany, please consult our article here
Tuition and semester fees
While no German state imposes general tuition fees for first-time students, some states—such as Lower Saxony, Saarland, Saxony, and Thuringia—do charge fees for long-term students or those who accrue excessive study credits. If you exceed the standard study period by two years or go beyond a credit limit set by state law, you may be required to pay up to €500, depending on the state.
Fees may also be levied for second degrees, meaning another bachelor’s degree, and in some cases, for part-time study programs, as seen in Bavaria, for example. Private universities often impose higher tuition fees, as these institutions are directly financed through these payments.
Moreover, all students are required to pay compulsory contributions, often referred to as semester or social contributions, either upon initial enrollment or when re-enrolling for the subsequent semester.
These fees encompass the administrative contribution, the student representation fee, the student union contribution, and the cost of a compulsory semester ticket, which offers discounted or even free access to public transportation. Please note that the types and amounts of these obligatory contributions can vary from one university to another.
Studying with a scholarship in Germany
The merit-based Deutschlandstipendium provides €300 monthly to exceptionally gifted students, irrespective of their income. This funding is split equally, with €150 provided by the federal government and the remaining half sourced by the university from private contributors such as corporations, foundations, or individuals. Even if you are a first-year student, you can apply directly to any university that offers the Deutschlandstipendium.
In addition to the Deutschlandstipendium, numerous other scholarships are available in Germany for both domestic and international students. These scholarships come in a variety of forms and are provided by various organizations, including the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), political foundations, and several universities. These scholarships can cover a range of areas such as academic excellence, social commitment, or specific fields of study. Moreover, many scholarships are designed to support international students and include financial aid, language courses, and cultural immersion programs. To identify the most suitable scholarship, students should thoroughly research the different options, understand their eligibility criteria, and adhere to application deadlines.
Nationwide organizations and foundations that support gifted students
- Heinrich Böll Foundation Recognizes students with exceptional academic achievements and socio-political commitment, particularly those engaged with ecology, sustainability, democracy, human rights, self-determination, and justice. You can contact them at [email protected].
- Friedrich Naumann Foundation Offers support to German students from their 3rd semester onwards and international students post their intermediate academic examination. Applicants pursuing doctoral or postgraduate studies are given priority.
- Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung e.V. Supports German students and students from developing countries for their first degree and doctoral studies. Participation in the foundation’s seminars is encouraged.
- Study Foundation of the German People Supports German students at universities of science and the arts, including study abroad and doctoral studies. Students can apply directly or through nominations by their teachers or instructors.
- Rosa Luxemburg Federal Foundation Awards scholarships to students and doctoral candidates committed to social justice, living democracy, and freedom of critical thinking.
- Konrad Adenauer Foundation e.V. Supports German and international students and graduates, offering an interdisciplinary exchange of ideas through a seminar program.
- Hanns-Seidel-Foundation e.V. Provides support for students at all universities.
- Otto Benecke Foundation e.V. Focuses on integrating ethnic German immigrants, asylum seekers, and contingent refugees into German society.
- Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich Student Union Contact: Tel. 030 / 319 981 70-20
- German Sports Aid Foundation Supports top athletes who are members of one of the performance squads A, B, or C.
- Absolventa e.V. Promotes students and graduates of all fields and universities through the assignment of the 1st democratic scholarship.
- Cusanuswerk Supports Catholic students of all disciplines.
- Hans Böckler Foundation Supports co-determination, research, and study. It’s primarily for students in the second stage of their education.
- Villigst Protestant Student Union Supports Protestant students, expecting them to engage in interdisciplinary contexts.
- Foundation of German Business at the House of German Business Supports around 1,000 students and doctoral candidates from all faculties and types of higher education institutions.
- Stiftung Begabtenförderung berufliche Bildung Offers advancement scholarships and government scholarships.
Remember, when considering these organizations and foundations, research their specific requirements, offerings, and application deadlines to find the best fit for your needs and aspirations.
Is it possible to work and study?
Absolutely! As a student, you have several options to balance work and study. You can find employment within the university itself, work as a working student in a company, or pursue an internship. However, there are certain considerations regarding social insurance obligations, which depend on factors like your marital status, income, and employment type. Here are some important tips to keep in mind:
Working as a student in a company related to your field of study offers numerous advantages. Firstly, it allows you to apply your knowledge in a practical setting. Secondly, you can gain additional insights and expertise from working in a professional environment. Thirdly, it provides an opportunity to establish valuable connections with the company, which may lead to potential job offers upon graduation. Fourthly, working as a student enables you to gain valuable work experience and enhance your resume. Additionally, it exposes you to a demanding application process, preparing you for future job applications. Moreover, you’ll have the chance to network and learn from experienced professionals in your field. Working student positions often offer better pay compared to service jobs like babysitting or waitressing. Lastly, as a working student, you are considered a regular part-time employee and entitled to corresponding vacation benefits.
Many students choose to pursue mini-jobs. With a mini-job, you can earn up to 450 euros per month, often at minimum wage. To reach the maximum amount, you need to work approximately eleven hours per week or around 47 hours per month. As a full-time student enrolled at a university, you are exempt from paying taxes and social security contributions on your income. This exemption makes mini-jobs attractive for employers as well. If you are under 26 years old and covered by family health insurance as a student, you can work a mini-job without paying additional contributions.
A midijob falls between a mini-job and full-time employment. The primary difference is that health, nursing care, and unemployment insurance contributions must be paid, with the employer covering a portion above half. With a midijob, you can earn between 450 and 1,300 euros per month. Similar to average part-time employees, you are entitled to vacation time, continued payment of wages in case of illness, and contribution to the pension insurance scheme.
When it comes to internships, it’s important to distinguish between compulsory, voluntary, and international internships. Compulsory internships are mandatory components of many study programs, and employers are not obligated to pay a minimum wage for these internships. This means that during a compulsory internship, you may earn little or no income. However, the situation is different for voluntary internships lasting longer than three months, where you are entitled to receive the minimum wage. Both bachelor’s and master’s degree programs often include internships, providing students with valuable work experience and the opportunity to apply their knowledge in real-world settings. Companies highly value practical work experience when hiring new employees.
Study in Germany with Children
International students with children have the opportunity to study in Germany. In addition to financial support, universities and student organizations provide various resources to support students who are balancing their studies with parenting responsibilities.
If you are considering bringing your children or partner with you to study abroad, it is important to be aware of the conditions and available support in advance.
The German Student Union offers advice, assistance with childcare, and financial support specifically tailored to students with children. They can provide valuable guidance and resources to help you navigate the challenges of balancing family and studies.
The Studentenwerk at your university is another valuable resource that can address any questions or concerns you may have regarding managing family responsibilities while pursuing your studies. In some cases, universities may have dedicated counseling services and information centers that specialize in supporting students with families.
Additionally, certain universities or student services offer financial or material support, such as providing essential newborn equipment or a welcome allowance. To learn more about these specific offerings, it is advisable to contact your respective student union, which can provide detailed information on the available support programs.
Studying in Germany with children is a possibility, and with the support and resources provided by universities and student organizations, you can effectively balance your academic pursuits while caring for your family.