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International students in Germany: Forget the US! More people want to study in Germany – 2022 tips

International students in Germany: Forget the US! More people want to study in Germany – 2022 tips

Higher education in Germany is internationally attractive. It is the most important non-English-speaking host country for foreign students. The proportion of students from abroad among all students is over 11.1%.

International students in Germany: Study in Germany, but how? There are a number of hurdles to be overcome before the time has come and foreign students have found their place in German lecture halls. The proportion of foreign students at German universities is at least 11%. study.de has compiled the most important information on admission.

Do you want to study in Germany? Here are some tips from international students in Germany

Which higher education entrance qualifications are recognized?

To study in Germany, you need a higher education entrance qualification that would also allow you to study in your home country. Secondary qualifications include High School Diploma, Matura, A-Levels, to a Bachelor’s degree. This applies to applicants from EU countries. The database of the Conference of Ministers of Education (anabin) can be used to find out whether the Germans’ own higher education entrance qualification is equivalent. 

Applicants from non-EU countries should contact the International Office of the university where they would like to study to check their university entrance qualifications. If the certificate from the country of origin is not recognized, the path at German universities is via a so-called assessment test. Preparatory colleges all over Germany can help you prepare for this exam.

If you want to avoid this exam, you can start your studies in your home country and then, for example, apply to a German university after completing your basic studies and start directly.

It is also possible to complete a preparatory college in Germany.

When do I need a visa?

All applicants from non-EU countries need a visa (there are a few exceptions such as Switzerland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA). A student visa is different from a tourist visa and must be applied for separately. The German representations (embassy/consulate) abroad are responsible.

The following types of visas are available for international students and applicants:

  • a language course visa (caution, this is not a visa for study purposes and cannot be converted later)
  • a student applicant visa for three months (this visa is given to an applicant who has not yet been admitted to the university. If admission has been successful, this visa must be converted into a visa for study purposes at the immigration office at the university location)
  • a visa for study purposes, which is valid for one year (this visa is only available to those who can prove admission to a course of study or preparatory college and sufficient financial security)

Do I need knowledge of German to study in Germany?

In order to study in Germany, sufficient knowledge of German must always be proven. This does not apply to applicants who have completed their Abitur at a German school abroad.

There are three ways of demonstrating sufficient language skills.

  • successful participation in the DSH “German language test for university admission for foreign applicants”. After admission to a degree, foreign applicants take the DSH, which usually takes place about three weeks before the start of the semester. The DSH is taken on-site at the university that has been chosen for the course.
  • a successful TestDaf exam. The TestDaF is a central, standardized test for German as a foreign language that can be taken at many test centers in Germany and abroad.
  • successful participation in the ” central upper-level examination ” of the Goethe-Institut.
  • The ” telc Deutsch C1 Hochschule ” test is also recognized by universities and colleges in Germany as proof of language ability to study. This means that the test is equivalent to the DSH exam, the TestDaF exam, and the Goethe Institute test.

Is it possible to study in English?

Yes, most universities and colleges have individual courses that are offered in English. This applies in particular to internationally oriented master’s degree programs.

An international degree program is also conceivable  – well listed on our Study Search. Knowledge of German is acquired here parallel to the course of study.

What is there to say about the admission restrictions at German universities?  

As an approximate guide to the application deadlines, the same applies to applicants from EU countries as to German prospective students: most courses in Germany start in the winter semester. The application deadline for “old school graduates” is May 31st, this applies to courses that are awarded via Hochschulstart. hochschulstart.de coordinates the allocation of courses that have nationwide admission restrictions: medicine, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, and dentistry. Courses that have admission restrictions within the university usually have July 15 as the “deadline”. For non-admission-restricted courses, one can assume mid-September.

Non-EU citizens apply directly to the universities or via uni-assist.

Can I take a postgraduate course in Germany with a foreign degree?

Theoretically, it is possible, that within the EU there will be no problems as a result of the Bologna process. If you have a degree from a non-European country, it is important to have your previous academic achievements recognized. Once this has been done, a classification within the degree program is carried out. The best thing to do is to ask the International Office at the new university which office is responsible for recognizing academic achievements.

What is the best way to proceed if I want to do a doctorate?

In general, if you want to do a doctorate, you need a professor as a supervisor for your doctoral thesis. This contact must be made in person. The best way to do this varies from person to person. However, more and more universities are now also offering doctoral programs and graduate schools to which you can apply for a doctoral project.

Find out the list of Research Training Groups funded by the DFG (German Research Foundation) here.

Facts about international students in Germany to help you prepare

How many international students are there in Germany? And where do they come from? 

Where do I have to apply for the “Visa for the purpose of studying”?

The visa must be applied for in your home country. If you do not yet have a letter of admission, you must apply for a student applicant visa.

Under no circumstances should you travel to Germany on a tourist visa – you cannot stay longer than three months on it, you cannot enroll at a university and you will not be given a residence permit.

Students who need a visa to enter Germany must convert this into a residence permit. The immigration authorities in Germany are responsible for this.

Those who study in Germany usually have to prove German language skills. Can I take the language test for this in my home country?

As a rule, you have to take the DSH or the DaF test in order to be able to study in Germany. The DSH is only tested in Germany, you can take the DaF test in your home country.

However, there are a few other exams that you can already take at home and that are equivalent to the DSH and the DaF test : the language diploma of the Conference of Ministers of Education Level II, the “Zentrale Oberstufenprüfung” of the Goethe Institute, as well as the large or small language diploma of the Goethe Institute.

What percentage of international students live in student residences?

41% of international students live in halls of residence. Students in mobility and cooperation programs as well as students from developing countries are particularly common. Student halls of residence are usually the cheapest form of accommodation. But rental prices vary: the larger the city, the more expensive the rent is. In general, rents and the cost of living are lower in eastern Germany than in the west.

Are there tuition fees in Germany?

Until 2007 there were no tuition fees at German universities. Several federal states now charge tuition fees.

Irrespective of this, there are various fees at German universities that students have to pay – such as the semester fee.

How many international students receive a scholarship?

Comparatively few scholarships are awarded in Germany.

Only 25% of international students receive a scholarship. Of these, 46% are supported by a German scholarship provider. Graduates generally have better prospects for funding. An important scholarship provider is the German Academic Exchange Service ( DAAD ). It has numerous branch offices and lecturers worldwide who can inform you about funding opportunities in your home country.

How many international students want to get a degree in Germany?

92% of international students want to finish their studies with a German degree. In the meantime, the Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees have overtaken the university diploma on the popularity scale of international students.

Which subjects are chosen most frequently by international students?

Linguistics and cultural studies and engineering are equally popular: 22% each.

Economics and law follow closely behind: 20% and mathematics/natural sciences: 19%

11% of international students are enrolled in social sciences and 6% in medicine.

Students from developing countries study engineering more often, students from emerging and industrialized countries study languages ​​and cultural studies more often.

What is the proportion of international students in Germany?

The proportion of international students at German universities is 11.5%.

At US universities, the proportion of foreigners is 3.4%, at Australian universities 20.6%.

How many international students come from Europe?

48.5% of all international students come from Europe.

(Africa: 11.1%, Asia: 32.5%, America: 6.8%)

How much money do international students have on average?

International students have around 725 euros per month at their disposal. But there are big differences: Students from industrialized countries are covered in a similar way to German students (845 euros). With an average of around 646 euros, students from developing countries have significantly less money at their disposal!

How many students come to Germany on exchange programs?

A total of 19% of international students come to Germany as part of a mobility, partnership, cooperation or exchange program.

What do international students have the most trouble with?

40% of the students have difficulties orienting themselves in the study system, closely followed by financing problems (39%) and contact with German students (37%). About 28% have problems communicating in German, 25% have problems with performance requirements in their studies.

How much time do international students invest in their studies?

The weekly time commitment is about 36.6 hours (17.1 lectures/19.5 self-study). But there are differences in the subjects: Medicine is the most time-consuming (47 hours).

Technical college or university: how do international students decide?

Overall, 78% of the international students choose the university and 22% a university of applied sciences.

German students are much more frequently enrolled at a university of applied sciences (29.5%).

How many international students come from developing countries?

49% of international students come from developing countries and about 37% from emerging countries. Only 23% come from countries with a similarly high per capita income as Germany.