Studying in Germany is popular. Germany is the most sought-after host country for foreign students outside of the English-speaking world.
Useful Information and Insider Tips to help you Study in Germany: Get an overview of student life in Germany and all you can expect when you finally land in the country
Studying in Germany: facts and figures
According to the German Student Union, German colleges and universities rank fourth in an international comparison after the USA, Great Britain, and Australia. The proportion of foreign students in Germany is slightly more than eleven percent. Most of them are from China. According to the most recent survey by the Federal Statistical Office, more than 43,000 Chinese students were enrolled at German colleges and universities in the winter semester. The second most common country of origin is Turkey with around 37,000 guest students, followed by India with almost 29,000 enrolments.
With more than 15,000 enrolled students, a particularly large number of Austrians study in Germany from EU countries. Germany is also a preferred option when choosing a course in Italy, France, Spain, Poland, Greece, and Bulgaria. However, most foreign students do not come from the EU.
Studying in Germany: Tips for foreign students
To be able to enroll in a degree program in Germany, you usually need proof of academic achievements, language skills, and, depending on your country of origin, a visa or residence permit.
Recognition of foreign school qualifications: Studying in Germany is possible with a foreign school qualification if the qualification is equivalent to the German Abitur. Do you come from an EU country and have a school-leaving certificate that allows you to study in your home country? Then you can also study in Germany with your degree. If your country of origin is outside the EU, you can use the Conference of Ministers of Education portal to see whether your qualifications are accepted at German colleges and universities.
If your school-leaving certificate is not recognized in Germany, you can attend a special course that prepares you for studying in Germany – the so-called preparatory college. The preparatory college is offered at numerous state and private universities in Germany and sometimes also at organizations abroad. At the end of the preparatory college, you will take a final exam. Part of this exam is also a language test, in which you have to prove that you have the necessary knowledge of German for your studies.
Language skills: Studying in Germany generally requires a good knowledge of German. If you would like to enroll in a German-speaking degree program and do not have a degree from a German-speaking school, you must prove your language skills. The following are accepted as language certificates:
- Certificate of the assessment test of the preparatory college
- German language test for the university course (DSH) – can be obtained at universities and preparatory colleges
- Test German as a Foreign Language (TestDaF) – can be taken at licensed test centers around the world
- Goethe Certificate C2 – can be obtained at Goethe Institutes around the world
- telc Deutsch C1 Hochschule certificate – is offered at test centers throughout Germany
- Completion of German-language or German studies abroad
Visa and residence permit: If you do not come from an EU country, you can only study in Germany with a visa or a residence permit. If you still have to take exams before studying in Germany, you need a student applicant visa, which is valid for three months and which you can later convert to a student visa. If you already have confirmation from your university, you can apply for a student visa directly. For the visa and the residence permit you usually need the following documents:
- Confirmation of health insurance
- Certificate of university entrance qualification or assessment test
- Possibly language certificates
- If applicable, a letter of admission from the university
- Proof of financing, which proves that you can finance your studies in Germany (more on this under How much does studying in Germany cost?)
At many German universities, students from abroad are also supported and supervised through special programs. Information on this is available from the International Office of the respective university or college.
Overview of degree programs in Germany
Studying in Germany offers countless opportunities. In total there are more than 20,000 different courses at German colleges and universities. It is therefore advisable, especially for foreign students, to visit a study and training fair for orientation when choosing a course. Representatives of the student advisory service will inform you there on-site or at online fairs digitally how you can apply for the course, what course content you are dealing with and what professional opportunities your bachelor’s degree opens up for you.
You can also find current degree programs throughout Germany on the Expaturm student portal. All state-recognized courses in Germany from public and private colleges and universities are also included in the hochschulkompass database of the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK).
How much does studying in Germany cost?
Studying in Germany is free of charge. There are no tuition fees at public colleges and universities in Germany. But students must be able to finance their living expenses during their studies. International students who do not come from EU countries must therefore provide proof of financial resources when applying for their student visa or residence permit.
Authorities assume that a monthly amount, which is based on BAföG, is needed for study financing for rent, food, internet, and other everyday necessities. Currently, 861 euros per month are earmarked for this. Proof of financing is usually provided via a blocked bank account in your home country. At least 10,332 euros must be deposited in this account for each academic year, from which up to 861 euros can be withdrawn each month.