Finding the right course

You'd like to study in Germany but don't know which subject to choose? Or which university to apply to? You're interested in doing a PhD and are looking for an appropriate programme? Or you're unsure what kind of degree you actually want to take? We're here to help you answer all of these questions.

German universities offer a vast range courses and subjects. These include many study programmes aimed specifically at foreign students and usually taught in English. You can also decide whether to complete a whole course or only part of your academic training in Germany.

Specialist training or intensive courses

Of course, you can also come to Germany to study for a shorter period of time. Many universities offer language or specialist courses or summer schools specifically for international students during the summer break. An overview of courses on offer can be found in the DAAD database Language and Specialist Courses in Germany.

The perfect start to an international career

International programmes

Of particular interest to foreign students are international Bachelor, Master and PhD programmes that are offered at German universities. Classes are usually taught in English. All of these degrees are characterised by a high academic standard and well-structured study programmes with intensive supervision and student advice services. Around half of the students enrolled in these programmes are from abroad. These programmes are listed in the DAAD database International Programmes.

There are also joint or double degree programmes. These are programmes that are offered by a German university in cooperation with one or several partner institutions abroad. Find out if your university participates in such a programme, or search for International Programmes in the DAAD database, under "show advanced search options" and "joint degree".

An overview of university degrees

Depending on the study programme you choose, you automatically prepare yourself for a specific academic qualification.

  • Bachelor (B.A., B.Sc., Bachelor of Engineering, or similar): If you have a higher education entrance qualification and wish to take your first degree in Germany, a Bachelor course is your best bet. This is the first academic degree that is recognised on the international job market. In six to eight semesters, Bachelor degree programmes teach students the fundamentals of their subject. Once you have obtained your Bachelor's degree, you can enter the job market or aim for a higher academic qualification: the Master's degree.

At a glance: Finding a Bachelor's degree programme

International Bachelor degree courses that are usually taught in English and are of particular interest to foreign students are listed in the DAAD database International Programmes.

All study programmes for undergraduates in Germany are listed here.

In the two databases, you can compare courses and gain access to the information portals of the respective universities. These contain all the information you need to decide which course to take.

  • Master (M.A., M.Sc., Master of Engineering, or similar): You have already obtained a Bachelor's degree (or similar) in your home country and are now keen to study in Germany? A Master's degree may be an attractive option. This is the second-level degree that can be obtained at a German university. It is an advanced qualification that allows you to extend and deepen your knowledge of a subject in an advanced course of study that lasts between two and four semesters. Once you have obtained your Master's degree, you can enter the job market or aim for a higher academic degree: the doctoral degree. 

Master degree programmes – with or without previous knowledge

You can start a Master's degree programme straight after finishing your undergraduate course or after gaining work experience. A Master's degree can lead to interesting managerial positions with international enterprises or organisations. Some MA programmes follow on directly from a Bachelor course in the same (or a similar) subject, some advanced courses do not require previous knowledge (for example, the Master of Business Administration, or MBA).

At a glance: Finding a Master's degree programme

International Master degree courses that are usually taught in English and are of particular interest to foreign students are listed in the DAAD database International Programmes.

All study programmes for advanced courses in Germany are listed here.

In the two databases, you can compare courses and gain access to the information portals of the respective universities. These contain all the information you need to decide which course take.

  • Doctoral degree: The doctoral degree, which involves producing a research paper (thesis), ends with the conferral of a doctorate. How long a doctoral degree takes depends on the particular field of research; usually it takes between two and five years.

International applicants are very welcome!

If you're interested in studying for a doctoral degree, find out more from the information offered by the DAAD on www.research-in-germany.de/phd.

The DAAD platform "PhD Germany" lists research opportunities and doctoral positions aimed specifically at foreign applicants. Once you've found an appropriate position, you can apply directly via the DAAD portal using the link in the position description.

International PhD programmes are also listed in the DAAD database International Programmes.

  • State examinations: Some subjects do not end with a Bachelor or Master qualification but with a state examination, the First State Examination. This applies to Law, Medicine  and Pharmacy as well as all teacher training courses. In these courses, not only university staff but alsorepresentatives of state examination authorities are involved in examination procedures. After studying, students prepare for the Second State Examination with a vocationally-oriented, practical training phase. Or they start a doctoral degree.
  • Important! The state examination does not guarantee that you automatically find a job as a doctor, lawyer, teacher or pharmacist.
  • These programmes are listed under "State Examinations" in the database "All study programmes".

Important!

International students may also take a state examination. However, you should find out first whether the German State Examinations are also recognised in your home country. Otherwise, you might encounter problems when you return to your home country and wish to start working in your chosen profession.

Studying medicine in Germany

An initial overview of study programmes, course contents and entrance requirements for studying human medicine is available under the DAAD website study-in.de.

Which universities are the best in Germany?

The quality of instruction at all universities is equally good. All courses of study are of a high standard. Because the quality of universities does not vary to any significant degree, ranking lists play only a minor role in Germany. The most exhaustive ranking is the CHE UniversityRanking.

Other useful tips to help you choose a university:

  • Take a look at university websites! These contain more detailed information about course structure and schedule, application requirements, details about personal contact partners, etc.. You can also contact the International Office at the university of your choice. The staff there will be glad to answer any questions you may have about studying.
  • You can obtain advice and help planning your study visit to Germany not only online, but also personally at the Information Centres, branch offices and from DAAD Lektors and lecturers based in your home country. We look forward to meeting you!

What subject is the right one for me?

If you're unsure whether you have the right skills and talents to study a particular subject, tests can provide useful guidance. Free tests which you can carry out on yourself are available on the internet:

  • Links to self-assessment tests are provided by inobis
  • If you are interested in engineering, make use of the advisory service "SelfAssessment international".
  • If you want to find out if you are generally in a position to cope with the demands of a German university, the TestAS – Test für Ausländische Studierende is a useful guide.

Once you have found an appropriate programme, find out about the various ways to gain admission to university.