Amerikahaus for College and University Students
Our Department of Education and Exchange is an official EducationUSA Center. EdcuationUSA centers can be found worldwide and they are partners of the U.S. State Department. They offer comprehensive and unbiased information about all officially recognized American university and student exchange programs and all accredited U.S. higher education institutions.
Studying in Germany
Are you an American or Canadian student interested in studying in Germany? Great!
Studying abroad can be a life-changing experience, whether you’re coming for a semester, a year, or even for your full degree. Here you’ll find a few helpful hints about where to start and what to keep in mind as you’re preparing your application.
The first point of contact should always be with the International Office at the university at which you’d like to study. They will be able to walk you through the application process and make sure you have all the required documents for your application. This is generally, however, a bit less complicated than in North America, and deadlines are likely to be only a few months before the start of the school year. Still, it’s important to allow enough time to complete your application, so you should contact the university as soon as you’ve decided to apply.
Qualification for University Study
Perhaps the most critical part of the application is determining if your foreign secondary school degree qualifies you for direct admission to the university. For example, a US high school diploma alone would not generally be accepted – you would first have to take part in preparatory studies, known as a Studienkolleg, before enrolling in a degree program. A diploma may, however, be combined with further qualifications, such as a certain score on the ACT or SAT, AP courses, or a few semesters of study at a North American university, in order to qualify to begin directly with a Bachelor's program. The DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) offers an excellent database on admission requirements, which can be found on their website.
If you would like to continue your studies in Germany by pursuing a Master's degree, you will have to check the requirements for the specific degree program. While a Bachelor's degree is often recognized as such in Germany, you may be asked to complete additional courses, especially if you are entering a Master's program in a different field than that of your Bachelor's degree. Each university and degree program handles the evaluation differently.
On the other hand, a Master's degree from a North American university is usually sufficient to pursue a doctorate in Germany.
For all degree programs, you will likely be asked for official copies of your transcripts and degrees. You may also be asked to have them translated, though documents in English are often accepted.
If any portion of your program will be offered in German, you will likely have to supply proof of your language proficiency. The two most popular tests are the DSH and the TestDaF. The DSH is only offered in Germany, but the TestDaF can be written on select dates and in select cities in the US. Check with the university you’re applying to to be sure which certificates they accept and the necessary score for admission to the program.
Some degree programs in Germany have restricted admissions, or what is referred to as a numerus clausus or simply NC. This means there are a limited number of spots in the program and that admittance will be largely dependent on the student’s GPA. Some programs will have a required minimum GPA, others will give the select spots to the applicants with the strongest GPA, such that the minimum can change depending on the strength of the applications. Be sure to check with the International Office if your planned program is restricted in this way, as it may make a difference in your application decisions.
But don’t fret yet – the bulk of degree programs in Germany are unrestricted and anyone with a passing GPA is generally accepted. Restricted programs are primarily found in the fields of medicine and law.
In order to study in Germany, you will need a visa, but it’s one of the final steps – you must first be accepted in order to apply for the visa. For both American and Canadian citizens, there is an option to enter Germany without a visa and apply for the visa from within the country, as long as you have submitted the application and received your visa within the 90 days visa-free tourist period. Though it may differ for individual circumstances, in general you will need:
- • Completed application form
- • Proof of finances for the full length of visa
- • Proof of insurance
- • Proof of residence (ex. rental agreement)
- • Application fee
For more detailed information as well as the required forms, please see the Website of the German Embassy in the US. If you are not an American citizen, the German Embassy in your country will have the most detailed information on how you should go about applying for your visa.
As mentioned above, you will need to purchase health insurance here in Germany, as everyone in the country is legally obligated to be insured. You may decide yourself from what company you choose to purchase insurance, but the basic plans will often be very similar as there are relatively strict regulations on what must be covered. Be sure to mention that you are a student in order to get the student price. You will likely be asked to supply your certificate of enrollment from your university.
The DAAD has expansive resources for international students interested in studying in Germany, from program options and scholarship opportunities to tips for preparing for your arrival in Germany. No matter what your academic goals are, from Bachelor's studies to a doctorate or even for a research trip, they have information on all aspects of the process.
Additional resources can be found on Study in Europe, an initiative of the EU Commission to promote international education in all countries of the European Union.