Discover Studying Abroad

7 things you need to study in Germany

Use our handy checklist to draw up your plan of action!
BY BrainGain Magazine Staff Writer |   27-10-2016
Humboldt University, Berlin (photo by Tilemahos Efthimiadis, used under CC BY 2.0 license)

Germany is home to some of the world’s best universities, and – unlike the US or Australia – tuition fees are low (read more about it here). So if you’re considering studying there, here’s a quick overview of pretty much everything you need to know.

  1. University entrance qualification

    The German word for it is very long (Hochschulzugangsberechtigung, or HZB for short). Basically, this is a secondary school certificate that qualifies you for study at a university, such as a high school diploma or A-levels.  If you come from a European Union country, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway or Switzerland, your school certificate is accepted. For other countries, here is a resource to help you determine whether your certificate will be accepted (but you should always confirm it with the university you plan to attend). If your school certificate is considered insufficient, you may be required to attend a foundation course (Studienkolleg) for one or two semesters before you can enroll.
  2. German language skills

    These are usually not required if you enroll in an international degree program. But for other degree courses, you will need to know German. You can prove your proficiency by taking a test such as the TestDaF or DSH (the latter can be taken only in Germany). Once in Germany, if you need to, you can improve your German skills on campus – many universities offer language course during the summer months (June to September) and at other times.

  3. Aptitude test

    International applicants to German undergraduate degree programs should take the Test for Foreign Students (TestAS). This standardized test lets universities compare the aptitude of prospective students. Its recognition varies depending on the university. It has three parts: a language test, the core test, and subject-specific modules for the humanities and social studies, engineering, maths and natural sciences, and economics. It tests cognitive skills rather than subject-specific knowledge. It can help you choose a field that matches your abilities, and compare yourself with other test-takers. It is administered three times a year in 76 countries, and costs €80. You can take it in German or English.

  4. Application for admission

    Apply early! Typically, applications for the winter term are received from May through July, and acceptance letters go out in August or September. For the summer semester, the application period is usually December-January, and acceptance letters go out in February or March. However, you should always check with your particular university about deadlines. The application procedure depends on your subject and where you come from. Requirements and deadlines can vary from one degree program to another. Always check with the International Office at the university you are applying to, about how to submit your application. You may also need to submit a fee, additional certified documents (with translations, if needed – certification details here), and standardized test results.

  5. Proof of financial resources

    To apply for a visa to study in Germany, you will need a document called Finanzierungsnachweis (proof of financial resources). Generally, you need to prove that you have approximately €8,700 for one year. This could be proof of your parents’ income and assets, a guarantee from a permanent resident of Germany, a deposit in a blocked account (meaning you cannot use the money until you reach Germany), a bank guarantee, or official proof of a scholarship.

  6. Health insurance

    You should take care of this before arriving in Germany, as you will need to present proof of insurance when you enrol at your university and apply for a residence permit. The public health insurance plans of some countries are valid in Germany. Some private health insurance policies from other countries may also be recognized – check with your provider. If your policy is not recognized in Germany, you will need to sign up for coverage in Germany. Expect to pay €80/month until you reach the age of 30 or complete your 14th semester. After that, the premium jumps to €160 a month.

  7. Visa

    Basically there are two types of visa – student visa, and student applicant visa. You need the latter if you have not yet received admission to a university or foundation course. It is valid for three months, extendable to six months. If you get admission during this time, you can apply for a student visa. The student visa is also usually valid for three months, during which you must apply for an extended residence permit in your university town. Residence permits are typically valid for two years, and are extended based on your academic need and progress. For the visa application, you need proof of health insurance, proof of funding, academic certificates, and proof of language proficiency or intention to attend a language course. For a student applicant visa, you need the university entrance qualification, and of course for a student visa, you need a notification of admission.

    Well, now you’re ready to start looking for the best program for you – start your search here. Viel Glück!


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