Frequently Asked Questions About Studying in Germany

If you’re interested in joining the international student community in Germany but don’t know where to begin, we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions about studying in Germany we think might help you get started.

This Western European country has gained quite a lot of popularity among international students in the past years. Specifically, the international student numbers have nearly reached 400,000 according to the latest statistics, making Germany the perfect study destination to optimal conditions for international students aiming to pursue their university qualification.

Here are the most frequently asked questions about studying in Germany:

1. Why Should I Choose Germany to Pursue My Degree?

Germany is home to some of the best universities in the world and students love this country due to its affordability, cultural diversity, as well as employability. Some of the universities in Germany are ranked among the top worldwide universities in the major ranking lists ensuring that the education system in the country is top-notch. You will graduate with just the right skills to enter the global labour market with confidence.

You will be able to find any course of your interest in German universities since there is a wide range of options available. You will get to grow academically as well as develop your personal skills. Apart from the academic benefits, you will also get to know what an authentic German experience is like by visiting museums and old castles, attending festivals, climbing a mountain or swimming in a lake. Being an international student in Germany has just so much to offer.

2. Are There English-Taught Degree Courses in Germany?

There are numerous International Degree Courses taught in English for international students who do not have sufficient knowledge of the German language to enrol in a course entirely in German. You may find programmes in English if you go through the International Study Programmes in Germany and search for options in English.

3. Do I Need to Pass TOEFL or IELTS for an English-Taught Course?

If you are a native speaker of English, you will not be required to provide either one. However, you will need TOEFL or IELTS in order to apply for a programme that is entirely in English at a German university. Additionally, if you are applying for a postgraduate degree programme and already have an undergraduate degree in an English-taught course, then you will not be needing TOEFL or IELTS.

4. Do Higher Education Institutions in Germany Charge Tuition Fees?

Tuition fees at all public universities were officially removed in the year 2014, however, they were reintroduced in the year 2017 in the state of Baden-Württemberg for non-EU/EEA students. These fees are set at €1,500 per semester and students pursuing a second degree will be required to pay €650 per semester. Students coming from Erasmus member states are exempt from these fees.

Additionally, in the other states of Germany tuition fees for non-EU/EEA member states have not been reintroduced yet, which means undergraduate-level tuition at all other public universities remains free of charge. Note, however, that students will still be required to pay a small administration fee per semester which usually does not exceed €250.

On another note, in comparison to other popular study destinations, tuition fees are relatively low in Germany.

5. How Much Money Will I Need to Study in Germany?

Compared to other European countries, the cost of living in Germany is quite affordable. It has been estimated that in order to cover your living expenses as an international student in Germany, you will need approximately €853 (around $957 US dollars) per month, which accumulates to €10,236 per year (around $11,484 US dollars).

One of the largest expenses you will face while being an international student in Germany is your monthly rent, taking into consideration that the prices for other basic needs such as food, clothes, and entertainment are in accordance with the EU average.

6. Do I Need a Student Visa to Study in Germany?

Citizens coming from member countries of the EU/EEA do not need a visa to study in Germany, however, they do have to register with the local authorities at the city they will be studying, once they arrive, to obtain a certificate that proves they are allowed to reside in Germany for the duration of their studies.

If you are not a national of EU/EEA member countries, then you will need to apply for a student visa in order to enter Germany and pursue your degree. For studies lasting more than 3 months, you will need a national visa. Make sure to apply as early as possible so you avoid any potential processing delays.

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7. How Do I Apply for a Student Visa to Germany?

You are supposed to apply for the German student visa at the German Embassy/Consulate in your home country. You will be required to set up an appointment at the Embassy, gather all the required documents for a German student visa, attend the interview on the appointed date, and wait for the decision.

Make sure to prepare for the interview accordingly and be on time. You might want to check out these commonly asked German visa interview questions and tips.

8. Will I Be Allowed to Work as an International Student in Germany?

Yes, you will be allowed to work part-time while being a full-time international student in Germany. However, the working days are limited to 120 full work days or 240 half days of work only. This limited number of working days also applies to voluntary work placements, either paid or unpaid. Additionally, while working the legally allowed number of days, foreign students cannot be self-employed for work as freelancers.

On the other hand, if you are a full-time student from member states of the EU/EEA, you are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week.

9. Do I Need to Open a German Bank Account?

Opening a German bank account while you are a student in Germany would be advisable since you will be needing it when it comes to renting a flat or applying for insurance. There are payments you can’t make in cash, therefore you will need to debit the money.

If you are an international student coming from non-EU/EEA countries, you must prove you have enough financial resources to cover your expenses in Germany. To do so, you can open a German Blocked Account, which is the most commonly used account for international students in Germany. The annual amount for the blocked account is €10,236, as of 2020, and students can withdraw a maximum of €853 per month. Learn how to open a German Blocked Account for international students.

10. Do I Need to Know German If My Study Programme Is in English?

If the instruction language of your study programme is entirely English, then you will not need to possess proficient German language skills.

11. Can I Stay in Germany After I Finish My Studies?

The law allows international students to stay in Germany and look for a job for 18 months after they have graduated. However, initially, you must apply to extend your residence permit. During these 18 months, you can work as much as you want in any kind of employment in order to support yourself. If you succeed in finding a job in your professional field and are granted a legal contract, then you are eligible to apply for an EU Blue Card.

12. Do I Need Health Insurance to Study in Germany?

Yes, you do need health insurance in order to study in Germany. Moreover, foreign students are entitled to public (statutory) health insurance, which means degree students up to the age of 30 are eligible to register with a public health insurance provider instead of a private one.

Additionally, if you need a visa to enter Germany, you will be required to provide proof of health insurance as part of the visa requirements. In this instance, you will have to obtain private travel health insurance until you are properly matriculated in your university and eligible to take up public health insurance.

Learn all about health insurance for international students in Germany.

13. What Admission Criteria Do German Universities Have?

One of the main criteria to apply for admission at a German university is the proof of a recognized university entrance qualification, which means you need to provide proof you have passed a university entrance exam that is equivalent to Abitur.

Basically, Abitur is a certificate obtained after passing a final examination offered by university-preparatory schools in Germany, and it formally enables students to attend university. So, if your high school diploma was issued by member countries of EU/EEA, then it will be accepted by German universities. Additionally, if your diploma was issued by other countries, you might have to undergo a ‘Feststellungsprüfung’ examination after attending a preparatory course known as ‘Studienkolleg’.

For more information, check this German university admission criteria guide.

14. Where Can I Find Accommodation in Germany?

As a foreign student in Germany, you may opt for numerous accommodation options, such as German halls of residence, private apartments, as well as shared flats. Student halls are one of the most affordable forms of accommodation while offering great living conditions with plenty of socializing opportunities. Sharing rent is also quite common among international students while getting a private apartment is one of the less affordable accommodation choices.

15. Can I Bring My Family While I Am Studying in Germany?

Yes, you can bring your family, such as your spouse of children, with you if you have a residence permit in Germany. If your stay in Germany is longer than one year, you have the possibility of applying for a family reunion visa. However, you must also provide proof that you have enough financial resources to support them without the need of social assistance.

Learn more about bringing your family to Germany while studying.

16. How Can I Travel Around Germany If I Don’t Have a Car?

Travelling around Germany is pretty simple even if you do not own a car. This is due to its very comprehensive and efficient public transport.

Public transport in Germany includes the subway/underground (U-Bahn), suburban commuter rail (S-Bahn), trams, as well as buses.

17. What Is ‘Studienkolleg’?

Studienkolleg is a one-year preparatory course for students whose school-leaving diploma is not recognized by German universities. During this course, students learn subjects of a particular degree programme as well as the German language, for five days a week, aiming to get a passing score of the final assessment examination. After they pass the final examination, they are eligible and qualified to apply for a degree programme at a German university. In order to attend a ‘Studienkolleg’, your German language skills need to be at the B1 level.

Studienkolleg is explained in detail here.

18. What Is ‘Fachhochschulen’?

Universities of Applied Sciences also known as ‘Fachhochschulen’ are designed to maximize the practical experience. They are perfect for those who are interested in gaining as much practical experience as possible. In addition, most of its degree programmes are in the fields of engineering and hard sciences. However, just like other universities, they also offer Bachelor and Master’s degrees excluding PhD titles.

19. What Is ‘Studentenwerk’?

Studentenwerk is a state-run non-profit organization that helps with student affairs in Germany. Every Studentenwerk is organized at a local level to cover one or more universities. This organization acts in the interest of students organizing and running cafeterias, restaurants, accommodation, and also provides the BAföG program to finance studies with grants and loans.

You can also go through this glossary of terms for studying in Germany.

20. Which Are the Most Affordable and Most Expensive Cities to Live in Germany?

Some of the most affordable cities to live in Germany include Bielefeld, Frankfurt (Oder), Halle, Krefeld, as well as Passau. Meanwhile, the most expensive German cities to live in, among others, are Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Düsseldorf, and Bonn.

Learn more about the average prices in both categories in the articles below:

21. Can I Get a Scholarship to Cover My Expenses?

Yes, there are plenty of scholarships available in Germany for international students. Those include government-funded scholarships, such as the DAAD Scholarship or Erasmus+, non-government scholarships, as well as German university scholarships.

Learn more about German scholarships for foreign students here.

22. How to Apply for a Postgraduate Programme in Germany?

Applying for a postgraduate programme in Germany follows more or less the same process as applying for an undergraduate programme. This means that in order to be accepted to a post-graduate programme, be it Master’s or PhD, your university degree (from your home country/another country) must be formally recognized by the German university you’re applying to.

Choosing Germany for your PhD studies presents many advantages, starting from the international academic prestige and all the way to the good living standard in Germany. (You can get a more detailed guide about applying for a PhD in Germany here).