Germany is a country that offers many opportunities to its resident and international students, offering free education in different academic programs: undergraduate, postgraduate, master’s degrees, and research projects, among others.
In addition, it has a program of scholarships and financial aid so that you can pay for accommodation, food, and health expenses. Its universities are among the 100 best in the world, so it is undoubtedly the perfect destination for you.
How to Study in Germany for International Students?
Germany is a country recognized for its beautiful country and its indisputable German beer. However, it is also a country with very high education and quality of life, which is why it has become one of the most requested destinations by international students in the last decades.
Surely you are wondering how can I study in Germany if I do not have much money? Do not worry! In Germany, many universities are financed by the government, so the tuition fees are usually a little lower compared to other countries and even free.
Now, to study in Germany, you must bear in mind that if you do not belong to a country of the European Union. You will have to apply for a Student Visa at the embassy closest to your home, where you will have to deliver a series of documents and demonstrate that you meet the requirements to enter the country as a student.
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Similarly, you should know that speaking German is not a demanding requirement to enter a German university since there are programs that are taught in English. Similarly, throughout your stay in Germany, you can attend German courses to learn to speak the language fluently.
In recent decades, the population of international students in Germany has grown exponentially, leaving some 350,000 student applications for 2020.
Types of Visas to Study in Germany
Among the visas that you can obtain to study in Germany are the following:
- Schengen Visa. This visa is granted to those students belonging to the allied countries of the European Union who wish to carry out short studies (for a maximum period of 3 months), so you will not be able to study at the university, postgraduate or master’s level.
- Student Visa or National Visa. It is a visa granted to international students who wish to study in German territory for more than 90 days. You must bear in mind that the validity period of this visa is temporary, so you would have to process a Resident Visa to finish your studies.
In addition, as a general fact, you should know that if you are an outstanding student, you will be able to access a scholarship program that includes monthly financial aid to pay for your tuition, accommodation, and food expenses within the country.
However, do not worry if you are not an outstanding student, since studies in Germany are low cost compared to countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States and are usually free.
For 2020, the webometrics ranking placed 3 German universities and institutes within the 100 best universities in the country, among which are:
- Technische Universität Münchenin the number 1 position nationally and 87th worldwide;
- Ludwig Maximilians Universität Münchenis ranked 96th worldwide and;
- Ruprecht Karls Universität Heidelbergin position 98.
How Much Does It Cost To Live And Study In Germany?
- Shared room in the capital: $500
- Shared room in another city: $350
- 2 bedroom apartment in the capital: $1,222
- 2 bedroom apartment in another city: $850
- Bus or Metro Ticket: $3.50
- Ticket to the Cinema: $9.78
- Typical Street Food: $7
- Food in a restaurant: $25
- Medical consultation: $100
- Average Life per Month: $1,000*
Living in a foreign country represents a significant challenge for the student population since it requires economic stability to pay tuition, accommodation, and food for the duration of the academic program.
Germany is a European country with a stable economy, so its cost of living can be accessible for those starting their student life to start the work stage later.
However, at present, there are many students. That combines studies with work practices to be able to pay for their expenses throughout their career.
On average, the cost of living for a student in Germany is €700 to €800 per month ($860 to $980). Of course, everything will depend on the city where you decide to reside and the type of university where you want to study, whether public or private.
Intuition fees you can pay from €200 to €300 per month for contributions, which in dollars is approximately $250 to $365 depending on the university campus.
Cost of living
Now, if you decide to reside in the city of Munich, you must take into account the following costs:
- Compulsory medical insurance. From €76 to €78 per month ($93 to $95)
- Student residence. Costs range from €280 to €350 ($340 to $430).
- Concerning private bedrooms in the city, prices can range from €250 to €600 ($307 to $737).
- Food €300 ($370)
- TV €17.98 (USD 22.11)
- Tuition contributions. They are paid once per semester; the cost depends on the university. For the Technical University of Munich, it is €37 ($45.00)
In the case of studying in a neighborhood, the expenses are usually the following:
- Health insurance. €70 (US$86)
- Student residence. €330 (US$405)
- Feeding. €147 ($180)
- Clothing. €50 ($61)
- Study material. €35 (US$43)
- Telephone and internet. €43 (US$56)
- Recreation, sport, and culture. €82 (USD100)
- Tuition contributions. In the same way, they are paid once a month, depending on the university. In this case, we consider the University of Köln with a monthly contribution of €34 ($41). As you can see, to live and study in Germany, you must have a monthly budget of €700 to €850 ($860 to $1,000) to cover all your needs. Of course, the expenses may decrease considerably if you manage to access a scholarship program for foreigners.
Can you study in Germany for free?
You can study for free in Germany if you have a scholarship. Although some universities do not charge tuition if they have stipulated fees called “academic contributions,” these contributions are around €230 ($282).
They are paid monthly, so free study in Germany is only possible if you have a scholarship.
The good thing is that the German government allocates an annual budget of $400 million in tuition fees, health subsidies, and transportation for international students.
If you want to know about the scholarship programs the German government grants foreign students, continue reading. Later, we will mention Germany’s scholarship and financial aid programs and the requirements to apply for them.
Study at the University in Germany
Studying in Germany is an excellent opportunity to open up to new horizons and receive a multicultural education. It will allow you to learn about new cultures through bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral academic programs designed under an international projection.
For this reason, the programs are taught in English or German so that the language is not a limitation.
Places to study in German universities are limited, and there is much competition to get them. That is why, before applying to a university, you must know all the requirements and the process to gain admission to a German university.
You must remember that German universities are very strict and rigorous with the required level of studies. Therefore, before applying, you must ensure that you comply with all the requirements and procedures corresponding to the academic program.
What are the universities going to ask you?
For programs taught in German, you must meet the following requirements:
- Present a German language test and obtain a level 2 at 67%
- Pass the TestDaf test at a level 4
- Obtain the “Zertifikat Deutsch” or certificate of knowledge of German issued by a recognized institution
For programs taught in English, you must meet the following requirements:
Have a TOEFL test score of:
Internet test from 70 to 100 points
Paper test of 550 to 600 points
IELTS test score of 6.5
After having the language certificates, you must meet the general requirements:
Have a high school diploma translated into German equivalent to the “Abitur.”
In Germany, secondary school lasts from 12 to 13 years, so if you do not meet this requirement, you will have to validate your studies by presenting the Feststellungprüfung
Have the certificate of a pre-university course
- Exam result Festellungsprüfung
- Proof of Language (TestDAF, IELTS, TOEFL.)
- Motivation letter in german
- Recommendation letters
- Student visa
Demonstrate financial capacity to carry out the study program
All documents must be apostilled and legalized before the corresponding authorities and are translated into the official language, German.
What is the process to be accepted?
- Find the university and academic program you want to study in Germany.
- Request advise from the German university about how the admission process is carried out and which Studienkolleg you should visit.
- Contact the Studienkolleg indicated by the university and follow the admission steps established by the program.
- Attend the Studienkolleg for one year and prepare specifically for your chosen undergraduate program
- At the end of the Studienkolleg, you must present the Feststellungsprüfung (suitability test)
- With the Feststellungsprüfung, you can start your undergraduate studies.
- Submit the required documentation (mentioned above)
If you do not know what type of visa to apply for, you will obtain information about each of them below.
Visas to Study in Germany
Do you want to study in a country with high academic demands? Keep reading to learn about the types of visas, their requirements, and the process you must carry out.
National/ Student Visa
If you plan to stay in Germany for more than 90 days, you must process the National Visa that will allow you to study for a long time within the country. With this visa, you can enter a German university.
However, you must bear in mind that to stay in the country throughout your degree, you need to apply for a Residence Permit at the competent immigration office.
What do I need? – Requirements
- Passport, with a minimum validity of 9 months, in original with two copies of the page.
- containing the person’s data
- Complete the form “ Antrag auf Erteilung eines nationalen Visums ”
- Three current child-size photos (4×5 cm with light background)
- Complete reference address (e.g., the person who invites, contact at the language school or the
- Written certification of enrollment in an intensive German course at a language school
- in Germany, on the school’s letterhead, indicating the duration and intensity of the
- language course
- Proof of financial support
- A personal letter was written in German, in which you explain the reason why you will absolve the language course in Germany.
- In case you plan to start basic studies at a German university:
- School diploma and ICFES certificate (with apostille and translation, respectively)
- Copies of correspondence with the university in Germany.
- In case you want to complete a postgraduate degree at a German university or present a
- University diploma (with apostille and German translation)
- Copies of correspondence with the university or with the pre-
- University college (Studienkolleg) in Germany.
- Choose the study program and the university where you want to study. You must have a letter of acceptance from a German institution to process the visa.
- Complete the national visa form. Fill in the Antrag auf Erteilung eines nationalen Visums form with all your personal and travel data. You must support the form with all the documents requested above. Most importantly, you must demonstrate that you have the necessary financial capacity to pay for your stay in the country.
- Pay the amount corresponding to €60.00 for the visa process (USD$74)
- Wait for the decision of the Consulate. The process can be immediate, but sometimes it also usually takes 10 to 15 days.
- Receive your passport with the approved visa. When you receive the visa approval, you will be ready to enter Germany as a student. As the visa validity time is short, we recommend that once you are on German soil, you go to the immigration office to process the residence permit that grants a stay of at least 4 years.
Can you study and work?
With this visa, you have complete freedom to study and work within Germany. However, once you obtain the national visa and are within German territory, it is recommended. You go to the immigration office to process the Residence Permit since it gives you a more extended stay in the country than the national visa.
Are you considering traveling to Germany for a period not exceeding 90 days? If so, you must have a “Schengen visa.” This type of visa is granted to those foreign citizens of countries belonging to the Application Agreement of the Schengen Agreement to carry out short courses of less than 90 days, a tourist trip, or visit family or friends.
It is important to note that this visa is personal and is addressed only to the country of destination; if you want to travel to Germany, the visa will be valid only for that country. You will NOT be able to enter another country with the same visa.
Go here to find out if your country is part of the Schengen agreement.
What do I need? – Requirements
- Schengen visa application form filled out and signed
- Form referring to article 54 of the Permanence Act (AufenthG) signed
- Valid passport
- High quality color photograph (3cm x 4cm) on a white background
- Present the round trip ticket and travel itinerary. In case you arrive at a relative’s house, you must have a letter of invitation.
- Demonstrate financial capacity to stay in the country, such as tax declaration and bank certifications, among others
- Take out travel medical insurance with a minimum coverage of $40,000 (€32,500)
- Pay the Schengen Visa fee for Germany. The current rate is €80.00 ($98)
- Choose a short course. To do this, you must select the academy where you want to take a course whose duration does not exceed 90 days or what is the same 3 months
- Fill out the Schengen visa form. You must fill out the form, placing all your data and personal information. You can request this form at the German embassy or Consulate in your country and complete the process 3 months before the date set for the trip. To start the process, you must make an appointment through the web
- Wait for the decision of the Consulate. You can obtain the visa in two business days if you meet all the required requirements. The process may take a little longer than expected if additional documents are requested.
- Receive your passport with the approved visa. Once you have the Schengen Visa to study in Germany, you will have to start planning the trip
Can you study and work?
No, the Schengen visa in Germany is only valid for short-term courses, tourism, and family visits for a period not exceeding 90 days (3 months).
If you want to work in German territory, you will have to process a national visa that will allow you to work, do business, and study, and even later, you will be able to process the residence permit.
At which universities can I study in Germany?
Germany is a European country that stands out for its low-cost universities and has excellent aid programs for international students.
It has significant international recognition for its academic programs, placing it among the 100 most essential universities worldwide.
The best German universities to study foreigners are the following:
- University of Cologne
- The University of Frankfurt am Main
- Denkmal Alexander von Humboldts/ Humboldt University of Berlin
- University of Duisburg/Essen
- University of Heidelberg
- Aachen Technical College
- Technical University of Berlin
- Technical University of Munich
- GISMA Business School
- Ludwig-Maximilian University
- Free University of Berlin
- Art school in Berlin-Weißensee
It is important to note that as of 2016, the German government declared that university studies for residents and foreigners in Germany would be completely free.
You will not pay tuition, but in the same way, you must pay a small contribution to both public and private universities.
The most sought Private Universities in Germany
- Jacob’s University
- Hertie School of Governance
Visa to Study German
If you want to travel to Germany to study their language “German,” you must have a Schengen visa issued for the countries of the European Union.
However, you can only stay within the territory for a time not exceeding 90 days, so if you have this visa, you will only be able to take short-term courses.
Now, suppose you want to study a more extended academic program. In that case, you can apply for a Student Visa that will allow you to stay for more than 90 days in Germany, making it easier to opt for a Permanent Resident Visa.
Regarding the process to follow and the requirements, you must present the ones mentioned above depending on the type of visa you want to apply for: Schengen Visa or Student Visa.
However, you must generally have academic documents, invitation letters, a valid passport, and child-sized photos and pay the corresponding fee for each procedure.
As you can see, it is a straightforward procedure since Germany is somewhat flexible regarding granting visas to foreign citizens who meet all the requested requirements.
Where can I study German in Germany?
Every year, thousands of international students apply to German universities, so the number of courses to study German is innumerable and highly prestigious since universities request certified language courses.
The main schools or academies to study German are the following:
- ALPADIA – Language Schools Berlin
- inlingua Berlin
- BWS Germanlingua Berlin
- Carl Duisberg Center Berlin
- GLS German Language School
- Humboldt-Institut Berlin-Mitte
- Goethe-Institut Berlin
- die deutSCHule
- Native Academy
- Internationale Sommerakademie
- Akademikerkurse in Berlin für Studium & Beruf
You can also find private and public universities to take German courses. The cost of these courses is around €440 to €800, about USD$537 to $977, so you must estimate that budget before applying for the study visa.
What are the institutes or language academies going to ask you- Requirements?
The requirements to enroll in an academy or school to study German are the following:
- Get a Student Visa or Schengen Visa
- Application form for the program and level of study about the language (German)
- Have basic knowledge (B1) of the language according to the Common European Framework or, failing that, master the English language
- Submit a letter of reasons indicating the reasons why you want to take the course
- Baccalaureate studies were translated into German.
- Resume in German
- Child size photo
- If the course is taken for reasons of university academic programs, present the letter of admission to the German university.
- Proof of tuition payment and first monthly payment
What is the process to be accepted?
- Choose the academy where you want to study. You must choose several academies that fit your budget and the study plan you need to carry out.
- Apply at the chosen school or academy. Indicate in a letter why you want to study at the said academy. Once accepted, you must present the acceptance letter to the consular authorities to be granted the Schengen or Student Visa.
- Gather all the requested documents. This is an essential requirement since the academy creates a study history so that once you obtain the certificate, your documents are supported by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung / The Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
- Formalize the registration by paying the registration fee corresponding to the beginning of the academic program
Once you have completed all these admission requirements, you will be ready to start learning German.
Scholarships and Grants to Study in Germany
Germany is in great demand for international students because of its high academic level, free study system, and large foreign scholarship and financial aid programs.
Germany’s most important scholarship and financial support program is the DAAD, Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst, the most influential international exchange program for students and scientists worldwide.
Over the years, the DAAD has supported more than 1.7 million students in Germany and worldwide.
The DAAD has more than 200 programs, where each year, it allocates financial support to more than 120,000 students from Germany and the world. Among their offers include:
- undergraduate studies
- Exchange programs
- Labor practices, among others.
In Germany, universities, government institutions, foundations, and companies offer many scholarships for various study programs. Germany is a country that promotes scientific research, so doctorates are greatly supported to encourage the execution of scientific activities within the country.
Therefore, if you are going to do a doctorate or a master’s degree in Germany, you will be able to access large scholarship programs and financial support.
The DAAD offers the following scholarship programs:
- Research and teaching stays
- Institutional cooperation programs
- Scholarships for University Administrators
- Scholarships for Alumni
- German courses
What do these scholarships generally include?
- Airline tickets
- Previous German course in Germany for up to six months fully financed (including accommodation, meals, etc.).
- 750 euros ($917) per month for living expenses for scholarship holders with an undergraduate degree
- 1,000 euros ($1,222) per month for scholarship holders with a Master’s degree
- Health insurance
- 460 euros ($560) per year for study and research purposes
Otto Bayer Scholarships
They are awarded to students carrying out advanced studies, projects, internships, summer courses, and doctoral theses. The fields of study that you must complete to obtain this scholarship are the following:
- Molecular biology
- Biological process engineering
- Chemical engineering
- Material science
- environmental sciences
- Pharmaceutical and drug discovery
- Medical Sciences
The calls are usually made in July and August of each year.
Carl Duisberg Scholarships
It is a scholarship program aimed at students in medicine and veterinary medicine to carry out clinical training and contribute to the execution of scientific projects.
The academic areas must have a focus on public health and projects related to:
- diagnostic imaging
The scholarship and financial aid program will depend on the program of study you want to pursue. In general, studies in Germany are free, but, in the same way, the student will have to contribute to the institutions, which is why the German government and private institutions dedicate a large part of their resources to the student support of German and foreign residents.
Study and Work in Germany
Studying and working in Germany can be very easy if you have all the documentation required to start an academic program or job offer. In general, most foreigners who enter Germany start a career first and then get job offers in their fields or areas of study.
If you want to work for short periods with a Student Visa, you can do so, but if you need to stay in the country for a more extended period, you will have to apply for a Residence Permit or Work Visa.
In general, an international student in Germany can work 120 full working days or 240 half working days per year. While the student is in class, she can work 20 hours per week.
Have you finished your studies and want to stay and work in Germany?
Suppose the current scenario for you is that you have finished your studies and are thinking of staying in the country to develop research and work. In that case, you will have to apply for a German Residence Permit or Work Visa.
Like the other procedures, obtaining a Residence Permit or Work Visa in Germany is very easy if you have previously studied or are part of projects that contribute to the country’s development.
Requirements to obtain a Residence Permit or work visa
- Have the approval of the Federal Employment Agency. The German authorities grant a residence permit for employment purposes to those citizens and applications approved by the Federal Employment Agency.
- Have a Work Practice Permit. If you are an engineer or a doctor, you must have a license to practice a profession.
- Main residence in Berlin. Present a certificate of accommodation.
- You must carry out a personal interview to be able to indicate whether or not you are a candidate for a work visa.
- Valid passport
- Current biometric photo
- Original employment contract
- academic documents
- Fill out the following forms:
- Antrag auf Erlaubnis einer Beschäftigung
- Antrag auf Erteilung eines Aufenthaltstitels
- Health insurance. You need to present insurance that covers the entire time of your work visa. The minimum amount of insurance must be €30,000 (USD 36,694) with coverage for repatriation of remains in the event of death.
Without a doubt, Germany is a country that offers many opportunities to international students so that they can carry out studies and projects in the country.
In addition, to establish free education for both residents and foreign citizens. If you want to know more about the programs taught in Germany and different countries around the world, in Study In, you will find information backed by experts in the area.