If you’re wondering about what you need to do to study in Germany, and you’re confused by the amount of information available on what steps you need to take, you’re at the right place.
We have simplified the process of studying in Germany as an international student into 8 steps you need to go through. Follow these 8 steps one by one to keep track of where you are right now and what you need to do to make your dream of studying in Germany a reality.
The application process to study in Germany:
- Find a Study Program.
- Meet All Requirements.
- Learn The German Language.
- Find Financial Resources.
- Apply For Admission.
- Get Your German Student Visa.
- Find Accommodation.
- Enroll At Your University.
1. Find a Study Program
(Start researching at least 3 months before deciding)
Finding a university and choosing a study program that suits your interests is the first step to planning your studies in Germany.
This is not supposed to be a major problem because there are many universities and countless study programs available – and their quality is undoubtedly world-class. Regardless of what direction you want to go in life, there will certainly be a study program that will match your studying aspirations and future plans.
But, finding a university and a study program may take time if you haven’t given much thought to this matter before starting your application process to study in Germany. The high number of available courses could be one of the reasons you haven’t made a decision yet.
We suggest you think about the study program at least 3 months before making a final decision. This period of time is enough to allow you to scan all German universities that offer courses related to your professional field.
Once you find those German universities, you can focus on a smaller list of universities that seem ideal for you. You can either decide to focus on just one university or apply to several that you like best to increase your chances of securing admission.
Finding a university and study program is very important because it determines everything.
Here is the list of universities in Germany.
Here is a guide on how to choose the right university for you in Germany.
2. Meet All Requirements
(Two weeks before the application is opened)
Now that you have decided what university and what study program you want to attend you must check out all the requirements. For this purpose, you check the university website and their admission requirements section. If there are things you don’t understand never hesitate to contact the university directly.
Entry requirements are different depending on the university and the type of course you choose, so it’s recommended to read the requirements section multiple times.
Bad timing and missing documents are the most common issues that happen at this stage and both can lead to delayed admission or even rejected applications. To avoid such possibility you must prepare these documents early enough.
For example, sitting for a German language proficiency standardized test you need to take a language course for at least three months. If you start learning German from scratch it takes way longer than this.
Further legalizations of your documents may have a similar processing time until they’re issued to you. Taken any occasional delay originating from the nature of the process, you must start preparing your documents at least 4 months before applying for your place at the university.
3. Learn The German Language
(Start learning it 6 months before the application or the course commencing)
Your success at university highly depends on your skills in the German language, even if your program is in the English language. Having a solid-rock knowledge in the German language guarantees you will comprehend study materials, understand what is taught in lectures while being able to express your thoughts properly.
In Germany, most undergraduate courses are taught in the native language, whereas many study programs at higher academic levels are taught entirely or partially in the German language. Other than at university, you will often have to speak German with locals.
Learning German from scratch can be difficult, but if you start early, by the time you come to Germany you’ll be speaking German perfectly. We recommend starting at least 6 months ahead of the commencing of your course (or before the application if German language proficiency is a requirement) to gain a basic comprehension of the German language.
You can also check out our list of the top language schools in Germany.
4. Find Financial Resources
(at least two weeks before you apply for a German student visa)
The next step is making sure you have the required financial means to live and study in Germany. Under the current law, every foreign non-EU or non-EEA student must have proper financial means to finance their stay in Germany during their studies.
An international student in Germany must possess a minimum of €11,208 which is estimated to be enough for a student to cover the cost of living for the first year of his studies. This amount of money needs to be deposited into a German blocked bank account.
Important Tip: To Maximize Your Chances of Getting Your German Student Visa You Should Use a Blocked Account as Proof of Financial Resources.
A blocked account is a special type of bank account, to prove you have enough funds to live in Germany for one year.
As of 2022, as a foreigner in Germany you need a minimum of €934 euros per month for living expenses. So, you are required to have a total of €11,208 in your bank account before you apply for a German internship visa.
Click here to learn more about the German Blocked Account
Naturally, for a student, this a large amount of money and takes time to collect. It’s highly recommended you start saving money a long time before you initiate your university application, except when you’ve been granted a scholarship and use it as proof of your financial means.
Normally, 6 months before your application would be early enough to start collecting this money and two weeks before applying for your student visa you must have them deposited. Here are some ways you can finance your studies in Germany.
5. Apply For Admission
(As soon as you complete requirements)
After double-checking your application documents, it’s time for you to submit the application. The application can be carried online, but there may be universities that receive only applications in person or by post.
Contact your university to see you which way you can submit your application. Most German universities are part of the national university online application platform known as UniAssist. In addition to this, there are universities that run their own online admission platform on their website.
Keep in mind that universities in German are a hub for international students and admission committees are heavily loaded with foreign applications. Going through all the applications takes time and you need to submit your application as soon as possible to take advantage.
You must submit your application once the call for application is opened and then wait for the admission letter.
Depending on what level of studies you’re pursuing in Germany, the application procedures vary slightly.
Here are our detailed guides on how to apply for university in Germany:
- Bachelor’s Degree
- Master’s Degree
- PhD Degree
6. Get Your German Student Visa
(As soon as you receive the admission letter)
If you’re a student coming from a non-EU and non-EEA country you must get a German student visa.
For detailed guidance on how to get your student visa, please read our article “German Student Visa Requirements“.
By the time you are collecting the documents we suggest to contact the German embassy/consulate in person and make a visa appointment.
Make sure you have secured proper financial means for studying in Germany. One of the easiest and the best way to convince the authorities that you have enough money to cover your study and living cost is by opening a so called Blocked bank account.
We suggest to open a blocked bank account with Expatrio. Expatrio is a German company and is officially approved by the German Federal Foreign Office.
Along with other documents, the German embassy/consulate in your home country will also require you to get a health insurance policy before granting you a student visa.
Most international students in Germany prefer to get health insured with DR-WALTER.
The health insurance tariff EDUCARE24 by DR-WALTER is suitable for the following groups of people:
- Foreign exchange students, language students and students participating in university preparatory courses (Studienkolleg)
- University students
- Participants in exchange programmes (e.g. ERASMUS, DAAD, SOKRATES)
- Accompanying family members
Still have questions about health insurance? Learn more about health insurance in Germany from experts.
7. Find Accommodation
(As early as possible. Start researching at least 3-6 months before arrival)
Now that you’re officially an admitted student in Germany and you have your student visa you must think of a place to stay in. Accommodation in Germany for international students is not that expensive but is normal that as a foreign student you should strive to find the most financially suitable place for you to live.
Keep in mind that finding accommodation in Germany is getting harder every year because of the limited number of student halls and shared apartments. Because of this many students are having a very stressful time.
We recommend you give the deserved priority to this issue because it may cost you a lot of time and money to find a solution if you don’t find accommodation early. With that in mind, you can try to find accommodation online before landing in Germany and pay the initial deposit to lock in your place.
8. Enroll At Your University
(First week after arriving in Germany)
The final step to officially be given a place at the university of your choice is to enroll in the course at which you have been admitted. In this sense, the enrollment process takes you from a successful applicant to a registered student in Germany.
The public higher education in Germany is offered for free, but you will still have to pay a registration fee which ranges somewhat between €150 and €250. Additionally, you will have to pay for your Semester ticket to use public transportation free of charge for 6 months.
To enroll at your university course in Germany you need to personally appear at the administration office of your university and submit the following documents:
- Your valid passport
- A passport photo
- Your Visa or Residence Permit
- Completed and signed Application Form
- Degree qualifications (original documents or certified copies)
- The Letter of Admission
- Proof of health insurance in Germany (You can get your health insurance here.)
- The payment fee receipt
Following your enrollment in the university administration will issue you a registration document (ID card) which can later be used for residence permit application and attendance of your classes.
An important note: You need to re-register each semester following the completion of the previous one and again you will have to cover the same registration costs.
Make sure to also read our article about the first things you need to do after you arrive in Germany.
For a more in-depth guide to studying in Germany as an international student and everything you need to know check out The Complete Guide to Studying in Germany for Free.
Last Updated on January 21st, 2021