University admission and requirements
All students from abroad must apply for admission to a German university. This applies to freshmen, postgraduates and doctoral candidates alike. The admissions procedure ensures that applicants fulfil the necessary requirements to study at an institute of higher education.
If you wish to study at a German university, you need a so-called Hochschulzugangsberechtigung (HZB), or higher education entrance qualification. This is a secondary school-leaving certificate that corresponds to the German Abitur and entitles you to study.
Students from abroad must apply for admission from the university of their choice. For your application, you will require
for a Bachelor's degree:
- a school-leaving certificate (also known as "university entrance qualification", e.g. High School Diploma, Matura, A-Levels, Bachillerato, Atestat, baccalauréat) or
- proof that you have passed the university entrance examination (if required in your home country)
for a Master's degree and PhD programmes:
- recognition of your university degree from your home country or another country.
Not all higher education entrance qualifications apply to all study programmes. There is a general qualification (“allgemeine HZB”) which entitles students to study all subjects at universities and universities of applied sciences, and a subject-specific qualification (“fachgebundene HZB”) which entitles students to study certain subjects only.
You can find out which foreign certificates correspond to which kind of university entrance qualification in the DAAD admissions data base:
Please select your country of origin, if applicable your certificate and answer some additional country-specific questions in the following few steps. The result will let you know what kind of possibilities you can generally expect for admission in Germany.
Your first contact: the International Office!
Important! Although there are general guidelines that govern the recognition of certificates, you should contact first of all the International Office at your chosen university. There you can find out all about the respective admission requirements and selection procedures. These can vary depending on university and course. Ultimately, it is the university that decides whether or not you are offered a place. You can find the addresses of all International Offices in the DAAD data base.
To gain admission to some universities of applied sciences, internships are also required. Make sure you find out in advance whether a pre-study internship is required for your subject at your chosen university!
Some universities also require a certain grade point average for certain subjects.
What do you do if you have no university entrance qualification?
If your school-leaving certificate does not directly qualify you for admission to study in Germany, you are required to take a “Feststellungsprüfung”, or assessment test. You can prepare for this test in a preparatory course, or “Studienkolleg”, at a German university. These assessment tests differ depending on university or university of applied sciences. The “Studienkolleg” website contains a complete list of universities offering a preparatory course and lots of other useful information.
The preparatory courses offer different core subject areas, such as technology or economics. The assessment test is usually taken after two semesters (= 1 year). You will also be required to take a language proficiency test. The”Feststellungsprüfung” certificate entitles you to study the subjects that correspond to the core subject area you attended anywhere in Germany . For admission to a Studienkolleg, you must already have an adequate knowledge of German, for example Level B1.
Depending on the country you come from, also one or two years of study in your home country may be recognised as a higher education entrance qualification.
Which tests do German universities require for admission?
For a Bachelor's degree: Some universities are demanding that applicants from abroad take an additional aptitude test to prove that they are capable of studying. You acquire bonus points for the test and improve your chances of admission. The TestAS helps you realistically assess your chances of studying successfully. So please find out from your chosen university what advantages this offers you.
Important for applicants wishing to take international degree programmes
At some universities, SAT / ACT scores or high school grade point averages are also recognised.
Applicants for international Master's degree programmes should bear in mind that GRE/GMAT scores are necessary or are advantageous for admission at an increasing number of universities. Please ask at your chosen university!
German: If you choose to take a course of study in German, you are usually required to prove that you have an adequate knowledge of German. You can do this by taking one of two different language proficiency tests:
- the language test "TestDaF" (test of German as a foreign language) or
- the "Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang ausländischer Studienbewerber" (DSH),.
You can find out where and when you can take these tests and other important information on the subject on our German language page.
A German test does not have to be taken if ...
- the applicant has passed the Abitur examinations at a German-speaking school,
- the applicant has passed the "Deutsche Sprachdiplom (Level II)” of the KMK (“Kultusministerkonferenz") or the "Goethe-Zertifikat C2: Großes Deutsches Sprachdiplom", Goethe Institute's "Kleines Deutsches Sprachdiplom" (KDS), "Großes Deutsches Sprachdiplom" (GDS) or "Zentrale Oberstufenprüfung" (ZOP).
English: Students wishing to take an international degree programme (Bachelor's, Master's, PhD) do not necessarily have to take a German test. The teaching language in these courses is usually English.
Please note: To study a degree course in English, an English language certificate (e.g. TOEFL, IELTS) is often required. Each university decides what minimum number of points is required for admission.
Check list for admission: The most important information in brief
- A school-leaving certificate which is equivalent to the German Abitur (or, depending on country of origin, a combination of school-leaving certificate, university entrance examination and years of study)
- Knowledge of language (German proficiency)
- Possibly pre-study internship or a certain grade point average.
- Formal criteria: Adherence to deadlines, correct kind of translations and certifications
If you know what your chances of admission are, find out in the next step about where and how to apply.