Germany has become a favourite destination for both EU and non-EU students to pursue their bachelor studies, but what makes studying in Germany so special?

Studying Bachelor’s in Germany, why?

Low Tuition Fees and living costs

The Majority of higher education institutes in Germany are public and thus, (almost) free of charge. Even private universities cost far less that that of many other countries, usually between 5000€ to 15000€ per year. Students who are enrolled in a higher education institute need to cover their living costs through private sources (parents, savings, etc.) or by doing part-time student job or by receiving a scholarship. Total living costs vary between 700€ to 900€ per month, depending on the city where you live. In order to meet their living costs, international students who require a visa need to secure 10.236€ per annum in a blocked account in Germany in order to receive a visa.

High Quality of Education

The ultimate goal of educating the youth is to provide them with the necessary know-how and knowledge for joining the job market. In Germany, and mostly due to its vibrant job market, students need to get through a very rigorous course of studies to ensure that they would be capable of handling the demanding tasks on their prospective career path. Finishing your education in Germany is a big boost for your future career in Germany. Thanks to its global fame, graduating from a German university will also pave your way towards further studies or joining the international research community or global job market.

Facilitated Access to the Job Market

Thanks to its very successful economy, Germany offers its local and international university graduates the same work rights upon graduation. Regardless of whether they are German, from EU, or are non-EU nationals, the chance to enter the job market related to their field of studies upon graduation from a recognised university in Germany. Visa is not going to be an issue for international graduates of German universities who find a relevant job or start their own business within 18 months after graduation.

Job Seeking Visa after Graduation 

Almost unique in its length and possibilities, a job seeker visa for international graduates of German universities allows its holders to look for a job position in their profession for 18 months after graduation. Furthermore, during this period, international graduates are allowed to take up non-relevant jobs and fulfil their financial needs until they find their desired professional job. As an International graduate of a German university you are also allowed to jump start your own business in the realm of their field of study in Germany.

How does the admission process work?

Direct vs indirect University Entrance Qualification

In order to be allowed to start your bachelor studies in Germany it is important that your academic background entitles you to a direct entrance to the university in your desired field of study. In general, you need to have a direct entrance qualification (HZB) in order to be able to enter universities in Germany. Sometimes, however, you might have an indirect admission, meaning that you will first need to pass an exam (FSP). Preparation for this exam is done within a foundation year of studies at a preparatory program known as Studienkolleg. Some international applicants thus need to attend Studienkolleg before joining their bachelor program of choice. This has been explained in detail here.

General vs. Subject-specific University Entrance Qualification

Once you are sure that you have direct entry qualification to the German universities then you need to also evaluate whether your desired field of study is among the courses for which you have an entrance qualification. Your study background either enables you to join any study program at a German university (General HZB) or only in specific fields of study (subject-specific HZB). This has been explained in detail here .

Language proficiency

To study in a German speaking study program at a German University you usually need to have a command of academic German language at C1 Level. There are several tests that you can use to prove your German skills. However, not all of the certificates are recognised by the admission centres. Each study program or university can differ from the others in terms of accepted language certificates. Some of the most widely recognised language certificates are: DSH (“Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang ausländischer Studienbewerber“), TestDaF (“Test Deutsch als Fremdsprache“), and Telc C1 Hochschule.

For English speaking programs, you need to prove your English language skills through a test score. The two most common test types are IELTS and TOEFL. A certain point minimum needs to be reached in order to be eligible for admission. The minimum point range for IELTS Academic is 6.0 – 7.0 and for TOEFL iBT is 80 -100.

You need to consult your desired study program coordinators and choose the right language test based on the certificate requirements of the study program of your choice

What are my chances of admission to bachelor programs in Germany?

1. No admission restriction vs. local/national admission restriction

No admission restriction

German speaking programs with no admission restriction admit all of the applicants who meet the minimum conditions and also have the university entrance qualification, stated above. This means that as long as you fulfil all of the minimum requirements you will receive an admission. Around 60% of bachelor programs in Germany have no admission restriction. In contrast to this system, programs with an admission restriction usually require you to get selected by a committee and to be among the top applicants. Getting admission to study programs with no admission restriction is usually easier as the number of available seats exceeds the number of qualified applicants. Please, however, note that receiving admission to a study program with no restriction is not necessarily less challenging than a study program with restricted admission as the minimum requirements might already be very hard to meet.

Local admission restriction

A program with local admission restriction has far more applicants than spots available, which is why the university sets in place its own criteria system to rank and admit applicants. Such study programs are known as “örtlich zulassungsbeschränkt” (restrictive admission) and/or have an “NC” which stands for “numerus clausus“, which in Latin means that there are only a limited number of seats available in the program. 
Study programs and universities with an NC are usually the popular universities in popular cities. As of 2019 around 65% of study programs in Berlin were study programs with admission restriction (NC). The most important benchmark for admitting an applicant who meets all of the minimum requirements into a study program with an admission restriction is the university entrance grade, known as “HZB Note”.

National admission restriction

A national admission restriction is applied to very popular and highly competitive programs such as medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and pharmaceutics. These subjects have an admission restriction at every university that offers these programs. Application to such programs are governed centrally via Stiftung für Hochschulzulassung.

2. Admission quota

The whole capacity of a study program with admission restriction is divided into two main categories: Main quota and advanced quota.

Main quota refers to the distribution of a majority of total available seats between different groups of local applicants. A typical example is the medicine program at almost any university:

+ 20% of the seats are allocated to the applicants with the best Abitur grades

+ 20% of the seats are allocated to the applicants with the longest waiting-time, known as “Wartesemester”. This allows those who tenaciously love to enter a certain study program to overcome the tough admission conditions by their long waiting time for their desired study program.

+ 60% of the seats are then allocated to applicants through university’s own criteria, which in this case is weighted point system that takes into account the final Abitur grades, most importantly the grades in certain subjects and also prior work experience that is relevant to the subject you want to study.

Advanced quota refers to a certain percentage (usually a small proportion) of all seats which get allocated to special applicant groups. Usually this includes people who:

+ already have a bachelor degree or a professional qualification

+ applicants with health issues

+ Non-EU/EEA citizens

usually around 5% of total seats are allocated as advanced quota.  This means that if you are an applicant with foreign educational background, you will be competing with other applicants within the advanced quota over this 5% seats. Its interesting to note that it is actually not a disadvantage as the number of applicants in this group is usually far less than the number of local applicants. Furthermore, the admission process usually starts by allocating the seats within the advanced quota to the applicants and then the remaining spots will be allocated within the main quota. 

Application procedure

Step-by-Step approach to the application process for bachelor programs

1. Make sure you know your university entrance qualification type (explained here) and that you have a direct admission qualification for your desired study program.

2. Select your desired university and study programs based on the admission criteria and make sure you fulfil the minimum academic and language requirements. One of the best sources for finding the right bachelor program in Germany is here.

3. make sure you know whether you need to apply online or send your documents per post or both. If not sure, contact the international office of your selected university.

4. Check whether you need to send your documents to uni-assist or directly to the university. Please note that there is no general rule for this. While a university might have outsourced the admission process of some of its study programs to uni-assist, some other study programs at that very university might have to be applied for directly to the university itself and not via uni-assist. Check the admission procedure at the website of your targeted study program and university carefully. A possibility for checking whether uni-assist collaborates with a university or not can be found here.

5. make sure if/which documents need to be certified, translated, and/or notarised before application. Please note that usually simple copies or scans of documents are not accepted and certified copies of documents are usually necessary for your application.

6. If you need more than one set of original documents in order to apply for a number of universities, you can get certified copies at the German embassy in your country or if in Germany, at the Notaries in any German city. Please note that you only need one set of documents when applying through uni-assist, regardless of the number of study programs and universities that you apply for via uni-assist.

7. If you are a non-EU Citizen, plan your visa application accordingly. Sometimes the waiting time for a visa application at German embassies overshadows your whole application process.

8. If you are a non-EU Citizen, sort out the fundings, at least the initial value of 10.236€ for your blocked account.

9. and lastly, please make sure to go through the application procedure of each study program/university following their recommendations. Bear in mind that each university and study program sets its own requirements, deadlines, and application procedure and avoid generalisation as admission criteria of each study program can differ from another.

Application deadlines

There are two intake periods for bachelor programs: 

Winter semester – starts at the beginning/middle of September/October each year.

Summer semester – starts at the beginning/middle of March/April each year.

The application period and application deadlines vary from university to study program to the intake semester.

A general rule of thumb for application period of bachelor programs

Admission type Winter intake application period Summer intake application period
No Admission Restriction Beginning of June until 15th of July (sometimes until 31st of August) Beginning of December until 15th of January (sometimes until end of February)
Local Admission Restriction  Beginning of June until 15th of July Beginning of December until 15th of January
Nationwide Admission Restriction usually until 15th of July usually until 15th of January
Please note that the above dates are just a general guideline and cannot represent every study program and university.