Requirements overview

a group downtown

You’ve decided that you want to study at a German higher education institution? Wonderful! We are sure you’ll have a great time here. First, you need to make sure that you fulfil the formal requirements. We have summarised the most important points for you here.
Please start preparing for your study early. This way, you’ll feel well informed and are less likely to be disappointed.

Can I apply with a non-German school-leaving certificate?

Whether you will be able to start studying in Germany right away depends on whether your school-leaving certificate is recognised and meets the requirements for a in Germany.

If you have a school-leaving certificate from an EU country or the EEA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway) or Switzerland and it allows you study in that country, then you are usually also eligible to study in Germany. If your school-leaving certificate was awarded from a different country you will often need to have completed two or three semesters of comparable study in your home country or attend a Studienkolleg in Germany before you can begin your studies. Prospective students with an IB-Diploma or a school-leaving certificate from a German school abroad (Abitur) are exempt from these requirements. The same exemption applies to applicants of certain artistic subjects who can be admitted based on work samples or aptitude tests alone.

Use the database on admission requirements, the DAAD’s online portal “My GUIDE” or the information portal on foreign qualifications, also called anabin (available only in German) to check if your school-leaving certificate is recognised and you are eligible to study in Germany. These resources will also help you find out whether you qualify for a or . Keep in mind, that the final decision is always made by the higher education institution itself! Therefore, it’s best that you contact the International Office of the higher education institution that you wish to attend to make sure that you meet their requirements.

If your school-leaving certificate is not recognised as a higher education entrance qualification and you do not wish to complete two or three semesters of comparable study in your home country, you will need to enrol in a Studienkolleg. Here, you will attend courses to prepare you for your chosen degree programme. These courses are taught in German so you will need to prove a good command of German (levels B1-B2 of the ) on admission. You will also need to pass an entrance examination.

After two semesters of Studienkolleg, you need to pass the (assessment test). The successful completion of this assessment serves as a higher education entrance qualification that makes you eligible to apply to all programmes and subjects that correspond with your Studienkolleg course. 

You will find a Studienkolleg in almost all states across Germany. This is a good time to start thinking about which state you’d like to study in. Higher education institutions often have a quota system which grants admission to students who have successfully completed a Studienkolleg in the same state. 

If you need more information, then you should visit the the DAAD website on Studienkollegs in Germany.

Do I need to speak German to study in Germany? 

In Germany, the language of instruction for most programmes and subjects at higher education institutions is German. Therefore, most higher education institutions require German language skills of at least B2 level of the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). You will be expected to prove your proficiency in German through a language certificate or an on-site language test in your application

Higher education institutions may only recognise a specific set of language certificates and the required minimum language level is often determined by the degree programme you’re wanting to take. Once you have decided on a degree programme or a higher education institution, you should research into their requirements.

International degree programmes or postgraduate programmes taught in English are exempt from these requirements. You will instead need to show proof of your English language skills. The same could also apply if you are an exchange student, as you will usually only spend two or three semesters studying in Germany. However, if you want to order a tasty pastry in a local bakery in Germany, it would certainly be easier if you spoke a little bit of German.

If you want to find out more about German language skill requirements, please visit our site ”The German language”.

Where and how can I apply?

Where and how you apply to study largely depends on the degree programme or subject combination you choose.

If you decide on a degree programme with admission restrictions, then you will need to complete an first. Please note that there are two types of admission restrictions. Some degree programmes have admission restrictions that apply to all higher education institutions in the country, whilst other degree programmes’ admission restrictions are determined by the higher education institutions themselves and only apply there. You will need to find out which of these two types of restrictions apply to your chosen subject or degree programme. You can easily gather this information from the website of your higher education institution. Make sure you double check for the most recent information before you apply though. Restrictions could change from one semester to the next!

It is also possible that your degree programme does not have admission restrictions. This means that you can enrol directly at the higher education institution of your choice – as long as you meet the requirements.

When it’s time to submit your application, it is important that you submit it to the correct body. Who is in charge of your application will differ, depending on where you are from and what type of admission restriction your chosen degree programme has. You’ll find a short explanation here: 

For prospective students who are from an EU or EEA country, the Stiftung für Hochschulzulassung () is in charge of processing your application if you apply to a degree programme with country-wide admission restrictions. Currently, these degree programmes include medicine, pharmacy, veterinary medicine and dentistry. If you want to apply to a degree programme whose admission restrictions are determined by the higher education institution, then you can either submit your application to the higher education institution in question or the Stiftung für Hochschulzulassung. 

If you are from a different country, then you need to submit your application to uni-assist or your chosen higher education institution, no matter which type of admission restriction your chosen degree programme has.

The International Office of your chosen higher education institution will tell you which documents you need to submit as part of your application and provide detailed information about the application process. If they cannot give you this information, they will make sure to point you to the right place. Please keep in mind that the submission process itself can also differ between higher education institutions. For example: one institution could accept printed application forms whilst another only accepts digital applications. 

Make sure to keep an eye on your chosen higher education institution’s deadlines for applications and enrolment! You’ll find more information about applying to higher education institutions on our website.

Will I need a visa or a residence permit to study in Germany?

The country you are from as well as the length of your stay in Germany will decide whether you’ll need a visa or a residence permit to study in Germany.

If you are from an EU or EEA country you will not need a visa or a residence permit to study in Germany - your valid ID card or a comparable document, such as a passport, is enough. As soon as you’ve found a place to stay, you’ll need to register with the local (residents' registration office).

You will not need a visa to enter Germany if you are from Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea or the United States. If you are from Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco or San Marino and you do not wish to work in Germany after you’ve completed your studies, then you will not need a visa to enter Germany either. All prospective students from these countries still need to apply for a if their stay in Germany exceeds three months. This can be done at the local (foreigners' office).

Prospective students from all other countries will require a visa to study in Germany. You’ll need to apply for this visa at a German embassy or consulate in your home country. If you have already been accepted to a higher education institution, then you can apply for a student visa. If you happen to be waiting on your letter of acceptance or must complete an entrance examination - don’t worry! You can apply for a prospective student visa, which can easily be converted into a residence permit for studying once you are in Germany. Please note: You will not be able turn a tourist visa into a student visa later on.

Find more detailed information on residence permit and visa requirements on our website. 

Will I need to show proof of my financial resources?

If you need a visa to enter Germany (see above), then you will also need to provide proof of financial resources in your visa application. This ensures that you are able to afford the cost of living and studying in Germany. Students are expected to prove funds of 934 EUR per month / 11,208 EUR per year, since January of 2023.

You can prove your financial resources through , an allocated sum of money on a blocked account (“”), providing a bank guarantee, or demonstrating your receipt of a recognised . The German embassy or consulate in your home country can inform you about this.

Find out more about the living costs in Germany and how you can prove financial resources on our website

Will I need health insurance?

Health insurance is a must when it comes to studying in Germany, so you’ll need to prove that you have health insurance when you enrol at your higher education institution. Under special circumstances, health insurance from your home country could be recognised in Germany as well. Make sure to visit this DAAD website to learn more about health insurance options for international students in Germany.

Who can help me choose a degree programme?

Don't worry if you are only just at the start of your journey and are unsure about which subject or degree programme interests you the most. You could register for the Test for Academic Studies (TestAS) to help you figure it out. The test can also increase your chances for admission to a higher education institution of your choice. You can take the test at any licensed test centre across the world. Give it a go!

You should also get in touch with the student advisory service of the higher education institutions. You never know – maybe they’ll have some valuable suggestions for you. Besides that, higher education institutions also organise open days that are tailored specifically to prospective students. Maybe this will open your eyes to your opportunities in the future.

DAAD - Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst - German Academic Exchange Service