Hüttermann / DAAD
Last update: September 2017
If you want to study at a German higher education institution you will have to meet certain requirements. The most important prerequisites for applying are explained here.
Higher education entrance qualification
Whether you can study in Germany with a foreign school-leaving certificate depends on whether you meet the requirements of a higher education entrance qualification, which serves as proof that you graduated from secondary school and confirms that you are qualified to study in Germany.
If you come from an EU country, from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland and have a school-leaving certificate that qualifies you for higher education there, it will usually also allow you to study in Germany. If you come from outside the EU, two or three semesters of study in your home country are often sufficient, depending on where you are from. In artistic subjects, especially talented applicants are sometimes admitted based on work samples or aptitude tests alone.
You can use the DAAD database on admission requirements (currently information on 35 countries available) to check whether your higher education entrance qualification is recognised in Germany. It will tell you whether and with what type of admission (subject-related or general) your qualifications make you eligible to study in Germany. Even more detailed information on all countries can be found in the information portal on foreign qualifications (anabin) (only in German).
TIP: Always also ask the International Office of your chosen higher education institution whether you meet the requirements, as ultimately it is the higher education institution that decides on your application.
Database on admission requirements
The DAAD database on admission requirements allows international students to check whether they meet the requirements for the degree programme of their choice in Germany (currently information on 35 countries available).
The alternative: foundation courses and higher education entrance examination
If your school-leaving certificate is not recognised as a higher education entrance qualification, you can take a foundation course. This course, which is held at facilities at universities and universities of applied sciences and lasts approximately two semesters, prepares you for your degree programme. It requires a good command of German (level B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference) and a successful entrance examination. Classes take up 28 to 32 hours per week.
The course ends with a higher education entrance examination that consists of several subjects important for your later degree programme and also includes a language test. If all goes well, you can then start your degree programme. More information is available here.
In addition to these formal requirements, language skills are of course a major necessity for studying in Germany. Also important are the quality of your application, a visa and proof of financial resources, a residence permit and health insurance.
If you would like to find out whether you are fundamentally able to cope with the demands of studying in Germany before applying, you can take a test for foreign students at one of the many international test centres. This test will not only help you make your decision, but may even improve your chances of being admitted to the higher education institution of your choice.
TIP: There are many things you have to organise before going abroad to study, so it's important to make sure you have all the information you need beforehand. Start checking the requirements early on so you are not disappointed.