Germany’s higher education institutions enjoy an excellent reputation. Teaching and research provide key impulses for innovation and progress. German universities combine research and studies and have been the scene for ground-breaking discoveries such as the printing press, computer and mp3 that have become an inseparable part of our modern lives.
Every year, thousands of young men and women from abroad decide to begin or continue studying at a German university. There are very good reasons for this, which include among others International Programmes taught in English medium, excellent quality of education, low or no tuition fees, career opportunities after graduation and above all social security.
There are mainly two types of institutions of higher education in Germany:
Universities (including Universities of Technology, abbr. TU) are research-oriented and offer a wide variety of subjects. These can award doctorate degrees.
Universities of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschulen, abbr. FH), on the other hand, are practice-oriented and offer courses mainly in engineering, business administration, social sciences and design. These have strong links to the industry and offer possibilities like joint supervision of the professor and a company for a master thesis. Fachhochschulen do not award doctorate degrees, however as a master degree holder from a Fachhochschule, one is in principle eligible to apply for a doctoral position at a University.
Your interest and inclination should define which of the two kinds of institutions you choose!
The German answer to this question is: There is no "best university", neither in one subject and certainly not across all subjects.
What Germany offers instead is a multidimensional ranking, considering various criteria like student and staff judgments on quality of teaching, atmosphere at the university, library and other equipment, student numbers, average study duration, number of graduations, third party funding etc. Several tables based on these considerations give you a detailed picture of the strengths and weaknesses of each university on university-ranking.de. Here you can find your programme by selecting a subject, a university or even a city in Germany!
In Germany, every university is autonomous. This means that every university / study programme has its own set of criteria for admitting students. So please check the university website, and specifically the programme you are interested in to find out the exact admission requirements.
In principle you are eligible to apply for a bachelor programme if you fulfill one of the following criteria:
- Passing the qualification assessment examination in Germany, called Feststellungsprüfung.
The Feststellungsprüfung is an examination conducted by universities that assesses your proficiency in subjects that are crucial to your chosen degree programme and also in German language.
A foundation course (Studienkolleg) in Germany can help you prepare for this examination. This is a full-time course with about 32 hours of instruction per week and usually takes up to two semesters to complete. The two components of the course are German language and subjects relevant to the study programme you want to register for later.The minimum eligibility criteria for enrollment in a Studienkolleg are a valid school leaving certificate (12th) with relevant subject combination and proficiency in German language (approx. B1 level based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). Your subject knowledge and if applicable German language proficiency will be tested in an entrance exam (Aufnahmeprüfung) by the course coordinators before you enroll yourself in foundation course.On successfully taking the Feststellungsprüfung, which has a written and an oral component, you are eligible to apply for a bachelor degree course. Please remember that success in this examination does not automatically lead to an admission to a university or FH. Also, there are different Studienkollegs meant for different subject fields, and depending upon if one wants to study at in a university and or a university of applied sciences.
- Successfully completing the first year of a bachelor programme from a recognized university in India in the relevant subject field.
- Successfully clearing the IIT Joint Entrance Examination (Advance) for admission to courses in technology and natural sciences.
- Successfully completing IB or similar internationally recognised examination with the requisite subject combination.
The answer to this question is closely related to the question of eligibility.
A majority of students from the region encompassing India, Bangladesh, Nepal etc. need to go through the bridging course called Studienkolleg which necessitates fluency in German (approx. B1 level). The number of Studienkollegs in English medium is low, and so is the number of Bachelors programmes in English medium.
Universities will ask for very good German language skills in case you want to take up a programme / Studienkolleg in German medium. In such case, your knowledge of German needs to be certified through examinations like the TestDaF.
Also, as a student in Germany, your life will not be limited to the university campus. You will surely want to interact with people, do your internships, travel through the country-side and make the best of your time there. This is where knowledge of German will present a great advantage!
You can also start learning the language while you are still in your home country at the Goethe-Instituts (Max-Mueller Bhavan) / Goethe-Zentrums.
Make sure that you start preparing at least a year in advance and follow these steps:
- Collect general information from the DAAD, internet and brochures.
- Attend counseling sessions at the DAAD closer to you! The contact details can be found here.
- Contact the selected university. This will be your most important source of information as far as exact details about eligibility, course duration, fee, application procedure etc. are concerned. The university will also recommend a Studienkolleg to you if need be.
- Check the application deadline!
- Send the application packet.
The website of the course / university you have chosen will carry details about application procedure to be followed. Accordingly, send your application either to the university or to UNI-ASSIST.
UNI-ASSIST is a body that accepts your application, screens it and forwards it to its member universities of your choice against payment. Member universities of UNI-ASSIST often do not entertain direct applications. So please check well before you send in your papers.
Please note that UNI-ASSIST has no representative office in India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
If you have chosen a university that is not a member of UNI-ASSIST, send your application directly.Application forms and other relevant material can be downloaded from the internet.
- Make sure you have a valid passport!
- Apply for a student visa as soon as you have the admission letter, as the procedure can take around two months. The German Embassy and the Consulates require proof of funding for the first year of studies.
To find out where you should apply for a visa, visit the website of the German Embassy in country.
- Apply for a place in a hostel. In some cases the International Office (Akademisches Auslandsamt) of the university will help you.
- Arrive in Germany at least a week before your course begins.
- Contact the International Office (Akademisches Auslandsamt) of your university for guidance.
- Get your residence permit within the first three months of your stay in Germany from the Foreigners' Registration Office (Ausländeramt).
Here we would like to reiterate that you should necessarily check the website of the chosen university or contact it for the exact programme / Studienkolleg details.
In Germany, education is subsidised by the state and therefore state-funded institutions of higher education charge no tuition fee. Thus, in Germany virtually every student gets a scholarship! Certain specialised courses and courses offered by private universities can attract fees.
You will need to pay semester contribution of around Euro 300, depending upon the university and the services or benefits provided. For certain special courses you may need to pay higher fees.
Apart from the tuition fees, if any, you will require about Euro 860 per month for subsistence i.e. housing, food, clothing, study material and other expenses such as health insurance and leisure activities. Here is a table that shows students' monthly expenses. The amounts can vary from city to city, and of course from lifestyle to lifestyle!
|Rent and utilities||€ 343|
|Food and Drink||€ 178|
|Learning Materials||€ 22|
|Car and Public Transportation||€ 94|
|Health Insurance, Medical Costs, Medicine||€ 80|
|Telephone, Internet, TV||€ 31|
|Recreation, Culture, Sports||€ 61|
Funding in Germany is available in principle for research. To get a comprehensive overview of various funding possibilities, visit www.funding-guide.de.
As an international student, you are permitted to work for 120 full days or 240 half days in a year. This will help you in getting a bit of extra pocket-money!
After completing your degree in Germany, you can stay on in the country for up to 1.5 years to look for a job that is in keeping with your education. Once you find a job, the residence permit issued to you for the purpose of studying, can be converted into a residence permit for taking gainful employment. Germany has always had a very strong industry-academia linkage. A lot of scientific research is funded by the industry as well. During your studies you can get the opportunity to do internships with German companies, which can open new vistas for your professional career.
If you want to know more about universities and student life or read what other international students have to say about Germany, check out the DAAD Young Ambassadors page.