Germany has become one of the most favourite destinations for both EU and non-EU students to pursue their master studies. With over 430 institutes of higher education, Germany offers over 9.500 master programs to local and international students. While majority of these programs are taught in German, a growing number of study programs are being offered in English. Currently around 1300 study programs (around 15% of total offerings) are taught fully in English.
Receiving your master’s degree 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 residence permit 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.
What are your chances of admission to a master study program in Germany?
In order to evaluate your chances of admission to master’s study programs in Germany, it is important to understand the admission criteria. Lets get to understand these criteria together:
1. Recognition of your bachelor degree in Germany
In order to be able to get admission to master study programs in German universities, you need to make sure the following 3 criteria are met:
1.1. Is your previous university recognised?
The first step in the recognition process of your previous academic degree is to make sure that the university from which you have received your bachelor’s degree is recognised in Germany. You can check this here. Please note that it is important that your university is listed as an H+ institute in Anabin. If your university is not listed at all or it is listed as a H+/- university, it is possible that your degree will not get recognised in Germany. If your university is listed as H- then it is highly likely that your degree won’t get recognised in Germany.
1.2. Is your academic title recognised?
Once you are sure that your university is recognised in Germany, you should make sure that your academic title is recognised in Germany. If you want to enter master programs in Germany, your highest academic degree must at least be equivalent to a bachelor’s degree in Germany. In order to check this please visit this page. Click on “Suchen nach Abschlüssen” and select your country and the name of your degree. Recognised bachelor degrees are usually classified as A3, A4, or A5. Please click on your academic title in Anabin and read the verdict carefully.
1.3. Is the whole duration of your studies recognised?
Once you are sure about the recognition of your previous university and your academic title, you need to figure out to which degree your credit points are recognised. This is highly important in the admission process. Please check the recognition page mentioned in page 2. Recognised bachelor degrees in Germany are divided into 2 categories:
3-years-long (equivalent to 180 credit points) – Bachelor 3j
4-years-long (equivalent to 240 credit points) –Bachelor 4j
Please note that some master programs only accept applicants with a bachelors degree equivalent to a 4-years-long bachelor program in Germany (Bachelor 4j).
2. Language Requirements
In order to receive a non-conditional admission to a master program, you need to prove sufficient command of the language of instruction. 85% of master programs are taught in German. The rest in English and a small minority contain some coursework in English and some in German.
master programs taught in German
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. 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.
master programs taught in English
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.
If your previous studies were taught in English or you are from an English speaking country, we suggest that you ask your university of choice whether you are exempted from a language test.
It is possible to learn German in Germany prior to starting your master studies. Those nationals who need a visa to enter or live in Germany can obtain a study-applicant-visa to learn German for up to two years prior to the start of their master studies.
3. Further admission requirements
Master programs take into account the curriculum of your bachelor degree and make sure that you have passed a certain number of credit points in various subjects. Majority of master’s programs list the required bachelor degrees and the accepted degrees . Furthermore, you can find a more exact list within a legal document called “Studienordnung” which translates to “Study Regulations”. This documents can usually be found at the website of the study program of choice. Please note that the “Studienordnung” is usually to be found only in German language.
Another important point is whether a study program has admission restrictions (NC) or not:
3.1. No admission restriction
German speaking programs with no admission restriction admit all of the applicants who meet the conditions stated above. This means that as long as you fulfil all of the minimum requirements you will receive an admission. Around 60% of master programs in Germany have no admission restriction (known as Zulassungsfrei /ohne NC). 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.
3.2. Admission restriction (NC)
A program with local admission restriction has far more applicants than the available spots. Thus, the university sets in place its own criteria system to rank and admit applicants. Such study programs are known as “örtlich zulassungsbeschränkt” (restrictive admission) or have an “NC” which stands for “numerus clausus“, which 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 or study programs in popular cities. The most important benchmark for admitting an applicant who meets all of the minimum requirements into a study program with an admission restriction are the bachelor grades, but also sometimes an entry test, an interview, a motivation letter, GRE exam results, or letters of recommendation are required.
Step-by-Step approach to the application process for master programs
1. Make sure you meet the criteria pointed out above under 1.1 and 1.2. and 1.3.
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 master 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 can be so long that it dominates the timing of 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.