Going to College in Germany for American Students Guide

US students in Germany

Germany is a perfect location to go to college for US students. It won’t only provide you with a world-class education, but it will also account for an unforgettable European adventure.

No wonder why around 380,000 international students, including over 6,800 coming from the US are currently attending college in Germany. You have probably the same aspirations, but there seems to be a lot to be done and you have no idea how to go through it.

There’s no need to worry. We’re going to lead you to the whole process in this detailed step-by-step guide.

Find a degree

You might ask why would this be an issue if I know what do I want to study? That’s true, but apart from that you must be aware that there over than a hundred colleges in Germany and the number of degrees offered is huge. And since the university and the course you choose will account for the most part of your satisfaction with your studying experience in Germany you must take a good approach to this issue.

What do we recommend? Surely going into detail through all universities and their degrees would take a long time. Make a list of priorities about what would you like your university to look like and what study modules to contain. Probably you’re prioritizing a college which stands high in relevant rankings.

By taking these measures you will be able to get a narrower list of German colleges which you believe will satisfy your academic and personal goals.

Meet Entry Requirements

As soon as you find a suitable program, you must check what are the entry requirements for that particular degree. For the most part, the college and the course of your choice will determine the entry criteria. That’s because colleges set their entry requirements independently. On the other hand, in different courses, different entry requirements are applied.

In general, American students who want to study college in Germany must submit the following documents

  • Academic Qualifications
  • Grade Certificates
  • Proof of Language Proficiency
  • Proof of Financial Resources
  • Proof of Health Insurance
  • CV
  • Motivation Letter (optional)
  • Relevant References (optional)

Important notes:

In the present, all undergraduate degrees in public colleges and the vast majority of undergraduate degrees in private colleges in Germany are taught in the German language.

Therefore, if you plan to attend an undergraduate course, make sure you get a German language certificate before applying. At the very least your knowledge in German must correspond to a B-2 certificate. In contrast, at the postgraduate level, you’ll find a wide variety of study programs taught in English.

By law, everyone residing in Germany, be it temporary or long-term must have health insurance, including international students. Although this is typically required during your application for the German student visa, there are some colleges which require you provide such evidence.

Also, you might be asked to prove you possess the necessary financial means to study in Germany.

Some colleges in Germany are particularly competitive and American students must consider the need for additional documents as suggested by the college itself. Admission committees deal with a large number of applications and they are willing to admit only the best students. That being the case, they may need these additional documents to base their selection.

Despite that information provided by third-parties is technically correct, we highly recommend that you rely on information collected by your college. The fact that entry requirements are often subject to change is the main reason why should always follow this instruction.

The section of the entry requirements is very important in your application process because the smallest error can lead to a complete fail. Colleges are strict and make no exemption to their rules. So you must always check everything is included as required.


You can apply for college in Germany online, by post or in person. The majority of German colleges support online application through a common online application platform known as UniAssist.

To apply through UniAssist you must create a personal online account and upload your documents in the PDF or JPG format. Once you complete your application you’re going to receive an email within the next few days to confirm your application has been collected.

Application deadlines

American students can apply to colleges in Germany within the following deadlines

  • July 15th for the upcoming Winter Semester
  • January 15th for the upcoming Summer semester

However, always remember that specific deadline rules may sometimes be applied. For example, a large number of colleges set earlier deadlines for some particular courses.

Admission letter

After you’ve successfully applied for your favourite college and degree in Germany, it’s time to wait for the college to process your application. Note that admission committees in Germany deal with a large number of applications, therefore it may take them time to go through your application.

Overall, it takes 4 to 6 weeks for German colleges to process international applications. If you’ve applied through UniAssist, note that the processing time of international college applications is due to change depending on the region from you’ve applied.  For American students, it will take around 5 weeks to process an application.

Residence Permit in Germany

The US citizens enjoy visa-free travel to Germany for stays of up to 90 days. However, if one individual is willing to remain for longer than that like it is the case with attending university, then he/she must get a residence permit after entering Germany.

There are three types of residence permits according to the intended length of your stay in Germany:

  • Temporary Residence Permit
  • The EU Blue Card
  • Permanent Residence Permit

The US students who want to study in Germany must apply for a temporary residence permit. First, you must register your address of residence in Germany and collect the required funds to cover the cost of living and studying if you haven’t yet.

Once you do that you’re ready to apply. Remember your application for the residence permit in Germany must contain the following documents:

  • A Valid Passport
  • A certificate showing you have no criminal record
  • German health insurance
  • Proof of German Language Proficiency (at least a B1 level)
  • Proof of Financial Resources
  • University Admission Letter
  • A medical certificate which proves you have gone through specific medical checks


The final step to become a student in Germany is to enroll your course. Check enrollment deadlines and make sure you arrange your travel from the US around the time you’re supposed to register your course.

The documents you need to show to enroll your course depend on the college of your choice. Make sure you check carefully what you must show at the day of enrollment.

As a general rule, American students who want to enroll college in Germany must submit the following documents

  • A properly filled application form
  • A valid passport
  • Admission Letter
  • Student Visa
  • Semester Fee Payment

The Cost of Studying College in Germany

Probably, one of the reasons why you would consider German colleges instead of US colleges is the affordable cost of studying in Germany. Since 2014 the majority of public colleges in Germany have abolished international fees encouraging thousand of international students to gravitate each year. All that American students will have to pay to study college in Germany is a symbolic amount of money dedicated to covering administrative costs and a ticket for public transport. This payment is known as “semester contribution” and it can reach €350 per semester at maximum.

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