If you didn’t know Germany is the most popular non-Anglophone study abroad destination, and the third most popular combined-interestingly, only the US and the UK attract more international students each year. Read on to discover what motivates thousands to study on low tuition in Germany, and how to choose and apply to a German university.
Germany is a country of varieties. Fancy and modern Berlin can seem a world away from the traditional and conservative Munich. The fascinating skyscrapers of Frankfurt is a stark contrast to quaint Heidelberg.if the bustling and fast-paced live at Hamburg is too much, feel free to relocate to the peaceful and picturesque Middle Rhine region.
Tuition fees in Germany
If you decide to study in Germany at undergraduate level, we have great news for you! There are no tuition fees at public tertiary institutions in Germany for undergraduate students, and this includes local, EU and international students across all states, except Baden-Württemberg, where non-EU students are expected to pay tuition fees of €1,500 (~US$1,700) per semester (€3,000 (~US$3,450 per year).Note that refugees and PhD students are exempted from this, and those undertaking a second degree pay reduced tuition fees of €1,300 (US$1,500) per year.
Although tuition costs are (mostly) free, students on the other hand are required to pay a nominal fee per semester. This fee will cover the cost of administration, exam fees, and is usually no more than €350 (~US$400).
If you intend to study in Germany at master’s level, you will be required to pay tuition fees. This is the case for students who did not complete a related bachelor’s program at a university in Germany within the past few years – usually classed as “non-consecutive” students. Please note that tuition for non-consecutive master’s degrees vary, but can amount to as much as €10,000 (~US$11,500) per semester.
If you intend to progress from undergraduate study in Germany straight to a master’s program at a public university, fees would likely remain low or non-existent. To discover more, read our article about the costs of studying in Germany.
Applying to universities in Germany
The application process for universities in Germany varies depending on a number of factors. If you possess a European qualification, such as a baccalaureate or A-levels, then you will only need to prove you can speak German fluently (unless you’re enrolling on a course taught in English) and you can then apply directly for a university-level program.
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Students who have qualifications from outside Europe may be required to sit for the Feststellungsprüfung entrance examination after attending a preparatory Studienkolleg. Excellent students may be able to bypass this.
For most courses, you are able to apply directly to the international office of the university. Alternatively, feel free to use uni-assist, a centralized admissions portal for international students. This is one of the services rendered by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the world’s largest scholarship organization supporting international student and academic mobility.
For a number of courses, there is a limit on the number of students who can enroll. For these courses (mostly life sciences), students from the EU (plus Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein) are expected to apply through the Foundation of Higher Education Admission. Students from outside of the EU should apply as normal.
- If you hail from Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Switzerland or the US, you will not require a visa to enter the country, but you have to register at the local Residents’ Registration Office and the Aliens’ Registration Office (Ausländeramt) inorder to obtain a residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis).
- If you hail from Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco, San Marino or Taiwan you will only require a student visa for Germany if you intend to work before or after your degree. You will equally need to apply for a residence permit.
- Suppose you come from any other country, you will have to apply for and obtain a visa from your nearest German embassy before you enter Germany, as well as a residence permit. Make sure that you apply for a National Visa for the purpose of study rather than a Schengen Visa, which will only allow you to stay in Germany for about 3 months.
- For you to get a residence permit you will need to submit confirmation that you’ve registered at the Residents’ Registration Office, proof that you have health cover (your university will help with this), proof of your financial means (see above), your passport (with visa if you need one) and a tenancy agreement which shows you have found a place to live. It will be valid for two years, after which time you must have it renewed.