After my article “Being a Foreign Student in Germany” I received plenty of questions about what are the requirements to study here, how much does it cost, how long does it take to learn German, where to stay, how to find an apartment, etc. That’s why I decided to make a Q&A.
1. What are the requirements to study in Germany?
I came to Germany after I graduated from high school. If you graduated from a 4 yeared-high school, you can directly use your high school finishing exams to be able to get a place at a German university. The German grade system is a bit different than we got used to it. 1 is the best note and 6 is the worst. After I applied for a university so that they could convert my grade to the German system, they told me that I have a 2,1 Abitur grade. Abitur is the German high school finishing exam. If you want to study medicine or go to law school, this grade should be better than 1,5.
There are different kinds of language exams that the universities accept. DSH, TestDaF, Telc, Goethe Institute. For all of these exams, you need to achieve at least a B2 level to be able to get accepted from the universities.
For the ones who graduated from a 3 yeared- high school, they have to attend Studienkolleg. Studienkolleg is a place where you practice your German with German high school subjects. But to be able to attend Studienkolleg, you need to be at least the B1 level. If you attended a Studienkolleg, instead of attending to the German language exams that I mentioned above, you write a different kind of exam and then you can apply for the universities.
2. How long does it take to learn German?
In my case, 9 months. But I was in an intensive course, where we learned 5 hours of German grammatic every weekday. It can also take 2 years. You just need to take it seriously.
3. How to apply for a university?
Different universities have different requirements. For 180 universities in Germany, as an international student, you have to use a platform called “Uni-Assist”. If the university that you want to apply is not on the list, then you have to check the webpage of the university to be able to apply there.
Important: You can not apply for universities whenever you want. There are limited time tables to apply for them, so follow the dates!
4. I got the acceptance from a university and now what?
How can I find a place to accommodate?
Unfortunately, it is not the easiest thing to find a place to stay in Germany. There are more and more students every year and not that many apartments to stay. But what you can try is applying for the dormitories from your university. Most of the time, there are long lists and sometimes it can take 3 semesters till you get a room from a dormitory, but still, it worths giving it a chance.
If it doesn’t work for you, you can search for a room in a shared flat or a single apartment on WG-Gesucht.
5. Why are German universities hard?
There is one rule that makes everything challenging. You only have 3 options to pass an exam. If you can’t then you have to do an oral exam and if you pass, you pass, if you can’t, then you are not allowed to study at this university anymore and also you are not allowed to study your subject at another university in Germany. It doesn’t matter if it is your first or the last exam ever. In Germany, rules are rules.
And also there is only one exam from a subject, no mid-terms, no finals. Let’s take the subject Microeconomics as an example. In one semester you get the whole Microeconomics classes and at the end of the semester, you write only one exam. If you fail, you have to write your second chance in a maximum of 2 semesters. It goes like this.
Unfortunately, universities in Germany are hard. I am not telling this to scare you off but you should be aware of this fact if you really want to come here. You need to work hard, be dedicated, and motivated. Also, one important thing that you should keep in mind is, there are not many people who are graduated exactly in the standard period of studies. It might be a long journey.
6. How much does it cost to study in Germany?
In Germany, universities are free. You only have to pay the semester fees, which varies from 200 to 400 Euro (approximately). But if you want to study at a university in Baden-Württemberg, and you are not a European Citizen, you have to pay 3000 Euros per year.
About the living costs, I can’t give you a specific number, because every city is different. If you want to study in big cities like Munich or Hamburg, you need to spend way more than Kaiserslautern.
7. I have already a university degree from my country, what
should I do?
If you already have a university degree from your country and it is valid in Germany, you can directly start to apply for a job. But if it is not valid, then you need to study again in Germany.
8. Can I change my subject after I start to study?
Yes. But for a limited time. You can change your subject AND your university for once. Then you, as an international student, are not allowed to do it.
9. I want to study my masters in Germany, should I do anything
different than this bachelor’s process?
Yes and no. The only thing is you need to add your bachelor’s degree to your applications and have a better German level. But the good news is, there are a lot of English masters program in Germany, so that you may not have to learn German at all!
10. I am not in my twenties / I have already children. Can I still
Of course! I have a lot of foreign friends who are in their thirties and/or have children. You are never late to start a brand new life. Let’s say you are 30 and you think it is too late. But hey, before you get 35, you will be able to learn a different language, have a German university degree and lots of memories.
If you have children, Germany is the best country to study for parents. They have a huge support system for the parents with kids and you become money from the government for your children.
If you have more questions, please write down to the comments below!