25 most Important Questions about Studying in Germany

25 most Important Questions about Studying in Germany

There are many reasons to study in Germany. The universities are among the best in the world and offer a very high standard in their degree programmes.

1. Why should I choose Germany?

There are many reasons to study in Germany. The most important four are for sure:

High study quality
The universities in Germany are among the best in the world and offer a very high standard in their degree programmes. In addition, the universities are continuously optimizing their range of study programmes. As a result, the number of English subjects has risen considerably in recent years.

Very low tuition fees
Tuition fees have been abolished in almost all federal states. Thus, there is only a small amount for the announcement and the administration fees to pay. This amount depends on the federal state and varies. The amount is between 100 and 300 Euros. The higher the semester fee, the more offers are included, for example a valid ticket for public transport.

Cooperation with companies
The guiding principle of the German higher education being ‘The Unity of Teaching and Research, there is strong emphasis on ‘apprenticeship’ and hands-on involvement on the part of the student. The students gain valuable experience from which they can profit in the future.

Very low living expenses
If this point is also beneficial for you depends on your current place of residence. To live in Germany, it is more favorable then in comparison with countries. The most important average costs are summarized in the following chart.

Furthermore, Germany is an important country and culture, so every international student stands to benefit greatly from familiarity with it (to say nothing of the ton of fun they are certain to have in the process).

2. What exactly are the International Degree Courses?

International Degree Courses have been introduced by institutions of higher education in Germany with the express aim of facilitating the process whereby international student applicants realize their educational objectives in Germany. The medium of instruction is primarily English, with gradually increasing usage of German.

These courses, which have been designed to high academic standards and are available to not only international but German students as well, cover both undergraduate (6 to 8 semesters resulting with a Bachelors degree) and postgraduate (3 to 5 semesters resulting with a Masters degree – in some courses, 6 additional semesters lead to a Ph.D.) studies.

3. Do I need TOEFL or IELTS?

Yes, as a general rule, you need TOEFL or IELTS in order to apply for a program that is entirely taught in English at a German university. If, however, you’re applying for a postgraduate program and already hold a Bachelors degree with English as the language of instruction, you do not need TOEFL or IELTS; it goes without saying: no need for TOEFL or IELTS if you’re a native speaker of English.

4. University vs. University of applied sciences

Even though there are more than twice as many universities of applied sciences as there are universities, the proportion of graduates is just over 1/3. This is due to the fact that the universities of applied sciences have a limited range of courses on offer. The universities mainly offer engineering, business administration, social sciences or design. Another reason why the university is attended by more students is the doctorate. The universities of applied sciences are not entitled to do so and therefore do not have their own right to award doctorates. The universities, on the other hand, score points for the broad range of courses on offer. Since all Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programmes can be studied here, the university is preferred by many students. In addition, the university offers the state examination in law, medicine, pharmacy and teaching. The universities also have the right to award doctorates. The following picture shows the most important differences at a glance.

In Germany there are over 400 universities. These are divided into universities, universities of applied sciences, colleges of art, film and music and enable students to study at over 20,000 courses. Learn more about the different types of universities in Germany.

5. Is there free access to computer facilities and libraries at German universities?

Generally, all higher education institutions in Germany provide Internet access and set up email accounts for their students. In addition to that, they have libraries and archives that are very well stocked and that supply many of the titles that are mandatory reading for students, so they don’t have to buy a lot of the reading material for their study courses.

6. Are there any age limits to apply for postgraduate study programs (Master and Ph.D)?

No, there are no limitations set on age.

7. Do I need a student visa to study in Germany?

That depends on what your nationality is; citizens of EU or EEA member countries do not need a visa – only a valid ID card (once they settle and find a place to live in, they only have to register with the local authorities at the city they’ll be studying in – the ‘Einwohnermeldeamt’ – get the certificate confirming they have the right to reside in Germany, and they’re good to go).

Even if you’re a national of a country the passport-holders of which don’t need a visa to enter Germany and stay for up to 90 days, you have to exit the country after 90 days just as anyone who has entered on a Schengen visa has to, unless you are a citizen of a small number of countries (Andorra, Australia, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Canada, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino, South Korea and the United States of America) who can apply for a residence permit within three months of entry.

So, if you’re not a national of an EU or EEA member country (or of any of the above-mentioned countries the citizens of which can apply for a residence permit while still in Germany) than you need to be issued a national type visa before leaving for Germany if your intention is to stay there for longer than three months.

You apply for a student visa well in advance of planned departure for Germany at the German embassy or consulate general in your country.

Here you can find more information about the Schengen-Visa.

8. If I have proof of admission from a German university providing full scholarship, is it necessary that I produce other financial proof in order to obtain the student visa?

Generally, a full scholarship is sufficient financial proof in order to apply for a visa; whether the embassy requires additional proof or not, depends on your country of nationality.

9. If my study program will be taught entirely in English, is it still necessary for me – in order to be issued a visa – to produce proof of sufficient German language skills?

No, if the exclusive language of instruction will be English you don’t need to know the German language; however, a little knowledge of German will take you a long way in your everyday life as a student.

10. How can I gain a doctorate in Germany?

As soon as you have chosen a topic area, you need to find a professor, who will act as your academic supervisor. Once you have an academic supervisor for your doctoral thesis, you will be required to enroll at the relevant university for a number of semesters and attend certain courses. Please inquire as soon as possible, whether the degree you currently hold is qualified for a doctoral program.

German universities are increasingly creating special programs for foreign doctoral candidates which have been specifically designed to meet the needs and interests of international applicants. These special measures primarily involve preparation, guidance-counselling and the provision of favorable research conditions. Not only can the thesis often be written in English or another world language, but study-integrated German language courses also help students overcome the language barrier. Such program includes:

  • PhD support programs,
  • Binational doctoral arrangement,
  • Graduate Schools.

Information on these programs as well as the addresses of all HEI and all doctoral programs and doctorates can be found on the following website: www.higher-education-compass.de

11. Do all of my documents, enclosed in the application I’m sending in, have to be originals/certified or can they be copies instead?

As a general rule, you only send certified documents; certain additional documents, however, such as proof of internship, etc. are exempt from that rule.

12. Will my school-leaving qualification be recognised?

In order to be allowed to study in Germany, you need a ‘Hochschulzugangsberechtigung’ (university entrance entitlement): this simply means a school-leaving qualification that entitles you to study at university. In Germany, this is the ‘Allgemeine Hochschulreife’ (Abitur) or ‘Fachhochschulreife’. So how do you find out if your qualification is also recognized? On the Anabin website (only in German) you can select both your homeland and the qualification you have obtained. When you have entered this information, you will receive a detailed explanation of whether or not your qualification is adequate for direct university entrance.

13. What exactly do I need for the enrollment at a university?

  • You have to show them a valid insurance in Germany (MAWISTA Student and MAWISTA Science are accepted by all universities)
  • You have to show them the notification of admission,
  • You have to have a receipt of the payment to the student organization,
  • You have to give them a passport picture,
  • You have to show them your passport with the valid visa.

14. Can I do a “Dual Studium” as a foreigner?

Most universities in Germany offer the so called “Duales Studium”. This special way of studying makes it possible for students to study theory at a traditional university and at the same time practice what they have learned at companies who partner with the university or program.

Depending on you visa you will most likely be able as a foreigner to work only 120 days out of the year. As long as this is in agreement with your university’s program you can participate in the highly successful Dual Studium program.

15. What kind of insurance do I need to matriculate at a university?

In Germany there are two kinds of health insurance, the public insurance and the private one. Without an insurance it is not possible for you to matriculate at a university. Up to the age of 30 years or until your 14th term of study you normally have to be insured over a public insurance company. But you also have the possibility to exempt yourself from the public insurance company if you would like to be insured over a private insurance. For getting this exemption you will have to go directly to the public insurance company before you are going to matriculate yourself at the university. But please note, if you exempt yourself from the public insurance company you can´t be insured over them as long as you are a student. The product MAWISTA Student is a perfect choice for foreign students in Germany!

Important: The Insurance amount for the public health insurance increased by more than 10 percent. In contrast the insurance amount for MAWISTA Student is the same.

16. Do I need a lot of money to finance my stay in Germany?

Even if the cost of living in Germany is lower than in comparable countries, you should not underestimate the topic of finances. In September, the standard requirement increased to 10,236 euros. This means that all visa applications submitted from September 2019 have to comply with the new regulations. The above mentioned amount has been adjusted to the current costs in the country, in other words 10.236 Euros should cover your stay in Germany for one year. It is important to note that this is the minimum amount. The following table should help you to get a better overview of the prices. Please note that these are average numbers.

Monthly Expenses for Students
323 €
Food & drink
168 €
Travel costs (car or public transport)
94 €
Health Insurance
80 €
Leisure activities, sports & culture
61 €
42 €
TV, Internet& Phone
31 €
Learning materials
20 €
Milk (1 liter)
0,92 €
Bread (for 2 people for 1 day)
1,25 €
Eggs 12
2,99 €
Local Cheese 1kg
5,49 €
Chicken Breasts (Boneless, Skinnless) (1kg)
7,56 €
Apples (1kg)
2,33 €
Tomato (1kg) €
2,50 €
Potato (1kg)
1,65 €

17. Am I allowed to work while studying in Germany?

The good news first, yes you can work as an international student during your studies. But you have to follow some rules. As an international student from another country you are allowed to work 120 full days or 240 half days in Germany. If you want to work more, you need the approval of the Employment Agency (Agentur für Arbeit) and the Foreigners Authority (Ausländerbehörde).

Important, if you want to do an internship during your semester break. This counts as work and is only possible for 120 full days or 240 half days. This also counts if you are not paid for it. If your study plan includes a compulsory internship, this is excluded from the rule and does not count as work.

For language students there is a different regulation. In this case you may only work with the agreement of the Employment Agency (Agentur für Arbeit) and the Foreigners Authority (Ausländerbehörde) during the semester break.

18. Can I bring my spouse and children in Germany?

If you have a residence permit in Germany and if the duration of your stay is expected to be longer than one year, than family reunification is possible. However, in order for them to join you in Germany, you have to be able to support them without burdening social assistance in any way.

19. Can my spouse/husband who will accompany me in Germany work?

Spouses/Husbands accompanying foreign students may, under certain conditions, be permitted to work. If you are planning on having your husband or wife accompanying you during your studies in Germany and hope they’ll be allowed to work, they must fully disclose their intention to work when applying for the visa.

20. Do I have to open a German bank account?

It would be recommendable to open a German bank account because if you are going to rent a flat or if you are going to apply for an insurance you have to provide the bank details so that they would be able to debit the money because it is not possible to pay it by cash. If you have a credit card of course you can also use it, but cash cards are more common.

21. If I have proof of admission from a German university providing full scholarship, is it necessary that I produce other financial proof in order to obtain the student visa?

As a general rule, a full scholarship is sufficient financial proof in order to apply for a visa; whether the embassy requires additional proof or not, depends on your country of nationality.

22. How can I get the residence permit?

Persons who are coming to Germany with a visa and who intend to stay for a longer period in Germany must have a residence permit. The responsible authority therefore is the foreign office. For the residence permit you need a certificate of the enrollment from the university, the registration from the authorities, a proof of financing and a valid health insurance contract. A residence permit for the purpose of studying is issued for a period of two years and have to be extended before the two years run out. When you are going to extend your visa you always have to show them a valid insurance contract.

23. How can I find a flat in Germany?

If you would like to register for a room or an apartment in the student accommodation you should contact your local Studentenwerk directly. On their website you can also find the offers of accommodation, information on the prices and also for the furnishing. The offers are varied and range from simple rooms to flats for couples, for students with children and also for students with disabilities. The furnished rooms are mostly equipped with a writing desk, a bed, a wardrobe and shelving. But pillows, blankets, bedding and towels are not provided. But this can be bought or rented as well. If possible do not arrive at the weekend or late at night, in case there is no other choice you have to inform the Studentenwerk so that you can discuss with them where you can get the keys from. If you still don´t have a flat after your arrival in Germany, please go as soon as possible to the Studentwerk they often have an emergency accommodation available at the beginning of term.

24. Will my driver’s license be valid in Germany

Generally, the validity of foreign driver’s licenses is limited to six months. If, as a full-time student you claim residence in Germany, and after six months your driver’s license expires, the only way for you to continue to drive legally would be to transfer your license. Whether the transferring of your license requires you to undergo the theoretical and driving tests administered by driving schools, depends on the country of issuance of your driver’s license (find out what regulations apply to your home country by contacting the local dept. of motor vehicles/driver’s licenses).

For the purpose of transferring your driver’s license in Germany you will need to produce the following:

  • Your original driver’s license (has to still be valid),
  • Passport-size photograph of you,
  • Proof of residency in Germany and
  • Your passport or ID card.

25. Is it easy to travel around the country in Germany – how mobile can I expect to be?

It is fairly easy; although you don’t need a car to get around in Germany – owing to its outstanding public transportation network – driving on German autobahns is sheer pleasure. On the other hand, the ICE high-speed trains, Deutsche Bahn AG, the suburban S-Bahn network, tram and subway lines cover together the entire territory of Germany.

Domestic flights between all major cities are also available and are increasingly being used. Bus and taxi services are also readily available. For those who enjoy cycling, special cycling lanes and suitable places for parking are widespread.