Study in Germany - How to Apply as an International Student

by ashmita.tamta

Academic Year and Application Dates 

The academic year in German universities is bifurcated into winter and summer semesters. Most degree programs start in the winter semester.

Summer Semester

The summer semester runs from March to August at Universities of Applied Sciences and April to September at universities. 

Applications need to be made by January 15.

Winter Semester

The winter semester runs from September to February at Universities of Applied Sciences and October to March at universities.

Applications need to be made by July 15.

Admission Requirements

  • A photocopy of your passport
  • An officially certified copy of your higher education entrance qualification (a school-leaving certificate stating that you are qualified to commence your university studies.)
  • Summary of your subjects and grades
  • Attested copies of your previous higher education certificates, if applicable
  • Attested copies of language certificates
  • Letter of motivation
  • Passport (valid till the end of your stay in Germany)
  • A valid Hochschulzugangsberechtigung or higher education entrance qualification. If your school-leaving certificate is not enough, you will have to take a Feststellungsprüfung - a qualification assessment examination in Germany.
  • Qualifying the Test for Academic Studies (TestAS) greatly increases your chances of getting admission.
  • Internships are a prerequisite for some degree programs especially at Universities of Applied Sciences. Hence, enquire at your prospective university whether an internship is mandatory for admission to your degree program.

All documents, especially related to required exams for studying in Germany (language and/or aptitude tests), must be in German or English. If not, then they must be translated either in German or English.

Language Proficiency in either German or English

International students are required to provide:

  1. Test of German as a foreign language (TestDaf) or Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang (DSH) score - For courses taught in German
  2. TOEFL or IELTS score - For courses taught in English

Exemptions

You are not required to take either of the German proficiency tests if you have received any one of the following:

  • Abitur from a German-language school
  • “Goethe Zertifikat C2: Major German Language Certificate”
  • “telc Deutsch C1 Hochschule” examination
  • German Language Diploma (Level 2) from the German Standing Conference of Ministers of Education and Culture

Application Process for German Universities

  • Choose your course and university. Visit the official website of DAAD for a comprehensive list of courses and universities.
  • Apply through Uni-assist at www.uni-assist.de. uni-assist reviews your application. It is mandatory for some universities.
  • If your university does not have a tie-up with uni-assist, then apply directly to the International Office at your prospective university.
  • Depending on the university, documents can be submitted online or sent by post.
  • Apply for a student visa as soon as you receive your acceptance letter.

Processing time for uni-assist universities

Central and Eastern EuropeAround 2 weeks
Asia, North America, and OceaniaAround 2 weeks
Western Europe, Turkey, and Latin AmericaAround 1 week
Africa, Middle East, and IranAround 3 weeks

The region is the origin of your school leaving certificate.

Application Process for Universities Requiring VPD 

Some universities such as Technical University of Munich and Heidelberg University have a special procedure. In such cases, you will need a preliminary review documentation or Vorpüfungsdokumentation (VPD) issued by uni-assist.

How to apply? 

  • Check if the university of your choice requires a VPD.

  • Create an application for the university at the uni-assist online portal.

  • If the university needs a VPD, your uni-assist application is a request for a VPD.

  • Apply directly to the university with your VPD before the application deadline expires.

Processing time of a VPD application: 4 to 6 weeks after receipt of your application

Validity of VPD: One year after the date of issue

Admission Timeline

One year before you plan to study in Germany 

  • Collect information about courses and universities in Germany either online or from a German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) office.
  • Check the requirements for studying in Germany including:
    - Is your school-leaving certificate valid in Germany?
    - Will you have to take German/English language proficiency tests?
  • Plan how you will fund your study trip to Germany. Also, look for grants and scholarships offered by German universities.

Ten months before your study visit

  • Select a degree program and prospective universities.
  • Contact the International Office of the university via email.

Five to six months before your study visit

  • Prepare and submit your application of admission. Take care of the application deadlines for German universities.
  • If you want to live in a student hall of residence, then apply for a room now.

When you receive your university acceptance letter

  • Check whether if need a student visa. If yes, then apply for it at the German consulate in your home country.
  • Is your health insurance policy recognized in Germany? If no, then apply for it online and request a proof confirming your coverage from the insurance agency.

Two months before you arrive in Germany

  • Ensure that you have gathered all the required documents.
  • Decide where you will spend your initial nights in Germany.

Your study trip to Germany begins!

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