Studienkollegs (preparatory courses) in Germany - Well prepared for university studies

Students in beach chairs on campus of HTW Berlin

Studying in Germany with a foreign university entrance qualification is sometimes not possible without further preparation. Studienkollegs can help with this, offering preparatory courses that give students general, specialised and linguistic competencies that are necessary for successful studies at a German university.

Who must attend a Studienkolleg?

Not all foreign school-leaving certificates are recognised as (in German: Hochschulzugangsberechtigung, HZB) for studies in Germany, as the education systems are too different for this. Without the HZB, it is not possible to enter directly into the German university system. Information regarding the country-specific evaluation of foreign school-leaving certificates and degrees can be found on the DAAD admission database (based on the "anabin" database of the Central Office for Foreign Education [Zentralstelle für ausländisches Bildungswesen, ZAB]).

If your school-leaving certificate does not entitle you to directly start studying in Germany, you can apply for a place at a that has a final assessment test, the so-called .

What should I pay attention to when choosing a Studienkolleg?

Studienkollegs vary in the subject focus of the courses that are offered and the type of higher education institution for which they prepare students – so it is important to carefully choose the right Studienkolleg.

Your selection of a Studienkolleg will depend on whether your subsequent study programme will be at a or a . Graduates of a Studienkolleg that prepares students for university studies can study at all types of higher education institutions, but a Studienkolleg at a university of applied sciences only qualifies students to study at a university of applied sciences.

In addition, the subject that will be studied is a deciding factor. Although all Studienkollegs teach general competencies and language skills that are necessary for successful studies in Germany, they have different foci:

For studies at universities

  • M courses – for medical, biological or pharmaceutical courses of study
  • W courses – for business and economics programmes and social science courses of study
  • G courses – for the humanities or German studies programmes
  • T courses – for mathematical-scientific or technical courses of study
  • S courses – for language programmes

For studies at a university of applied sciences

  • TI courses – for technical and engineering courses of study
  • WW courses – for economics programmes
  • GD courses – for creative and artistic programmes
  • SW courses – for social science courses of study

At the end of a Studienkolleg programme, there is an assessment test, the so-called “Feststellungsprüfung”. Successfully passing the assessment test allows access to studies throughout Germany at all universities or universities of applied sciences.

Public or private Studienkollegs

It is also important to differentiate between public and private Studienkollegs. 

Public Studienkollegs guarantee a state-recognised assessment test. However, there are only a few private Studienkollegs that can offer a state-recognised qualification. Therefore, applicants should inform themselves in advance. It is also possible to prepare for the assessment test at a private Studienkolleg and then take the assessment test externally.

The external assessment test will be recognised at all German higher education institutions, and it will qualify the applicant to apply for a study place according to his or her focus and type of university.

How can you apply for a place at a Studienkolleg?

It is sometimes not possible for applicants to directly apply for a place at many public Studienkollegs. Depending on the degree programme or higher education institution of your choice, you can apply directly to the institution or via uni-assist. On the other hand, direct application is often possible at private Studienkollegs.

It is worthwhile to carefully check which Studienkolleg is best for you, because if the higher education institution of your choice has its own Studienkolleg or cooperates closely with a private Studienkolleg, the processes and schedules will be coordinated. In some cases, Studienkollegs also guarantee a place in individual degree programmes at certain universities after a successfully completed FSP.

Because of this, it is important to check with the higher education institution of your choice to find out if the FSP of the Studienkolleg you want to attend will be accepted in order to avoid any potential problems.

How much does preparation at a Studienkolleg cost?

In general, public Studienkollegs offer programmes that are free of charge (except for the ), whereas private Studienkollegs frequently charge fees. As enrolled students, participants at the Studienkollegs can benefit from student perks such as inexpensive meals in the cafeterias, the opportunity to participate in sports programmes or free use of the university library as well as public transportation in some cities.

How long does preparation at a Studienkolleg take?

Usually, preparation at a Studienkolleg takes two . Students who perform very well may be able to shorten this time to one semester. Prospective students are taught all the linguistic, technical and methodological requirements that are needed for a course of study. In addition to the focus on course content, cultural and social skills are taught in order to make it easier for students to start their studies in Germany. Most Studienkollegs offer courses in the German language. Studienkollegs teach language skills up to level C1 of the .

Normally, courses take place during the week (Monday through Friday). However, many Studienkollegs started to offer virtual courses at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, and these courses can be taken anywhere at any time. It can also be expected that in the future, more preparatory programmes will be offered that will enable prospective students to prepare for their studies in Germany while they are still in their home countries.

DAAD - Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst - German Academic Exchange Service