Do you wish to pursue your higher studies in Germany? But how to proceed? Here is some information to help you fill in related formalities.
Germany offers quality education within 339 universities across the country. Technical schools, business or engineering schools ("Fachochschule") with an emphasis on vocational training are also available to foreign students. Several other schools and language institutes offer German courses for foreigners.
In order to register with an institution of higher education in Germany, a secondary school diploma or equivalent is necessary ("Abitur" in Germany). If you don't exactly know whether your degree is recognized as equivalent to a secondary school diploma in Germany, you must take the eligibility test of the university of your choice. The other prerequisite to enter a German school or university is sufficient proficiency in German, except if the purpose of your study stay is to attend German courses for instance. In all other cases, you should be holder of one of the following German language certifications: TestDaF, ZOP, KDS or GDS. You can take these tests either in a Goethe Institute abroad or directly in Germany. For more information about German assessment tests, visit the Goethe Institute website.
Regarding the registration procedures, contact the international students office of the chosen school or university ("Akademisches Auslandsamt") and provide the necessary documentation to proceed with your application including: a copy of your secondary school diploma or equivalent, the official translation in German of your diploma, a passport-sized photo, a detailed description of your school, university or professional curriculum, your German language certificate if applicable (TestDaF or other) and the eligibility test if applicable. Applications must be filed before January 15 for the summer semester (beginning in April) or before July 15 for the winter semester (beginning in October).
If you are a citizen of the EU-EEA and in the case your study course is subjected to registration quotas, you must submit your application through the "Zentralstelle für die Vergabe von Studiengängen" (ZVS).
German universities, which used to be free in the past, have recently introduced tuition fees. A full semester in a German university costs around €500. Tuition fees may vary according to universities or regions, but the trend is to a gradual rise in tuition fees costs. You can find out more information about scholarships in Germany directly through your current school or university or through the German embassy or consulate in your area. Your host institution may also offer scholarships or grants. Do not hesitate to contact them for further information.
IMPORTANT: The information provided above only concern registration procedures with a German school or university. According to your origin, you'll perhaps need to apply for a student visa at the German embassy or consulate in your home country.
Formalities for EU-EEA nationals
Citizens of the EU-EEA can freely come and study in Germany with very few formalities to undertake, provided that they comply with basic entry requirements (secondary school diploma or equivalent for example). A valid passport, proof of enrollment in a German school or university as well as sufficient financial guarantees are required.
Citizens of the EU-EEA can also benefit from the ERASMUS programme in Germany. The ERASMUS programme is designed for students of the EEA-EU plus Turkey wishing to study in an other EU-EEA country. Diplomas and degrees obtained abroad in the framework of the ERASMUS programme are valid in your home country via the European Credit Transfer and accumulation System (ECTS). ERASMUS grants are also available to students who carry out studies in another european state via the programme.
You can find more information about the ERASMUS programme and the ERASMUS grants available directly through your home university or by visiting the European Commission website.
Do not forget to legalize your status in Germany by applying for a residency certificate ("Meldebescheinigung") within eight days after arrival. You can apply for your certificate directly at the city hall of your German locality.
Formalities for non EU-EEA nationals
If you are a citizen from outside the EU-EEA, you must apply for a student visa at the German embassy or consulate in your home country.
There are three kinds of student visas: visa for language courses, temporary student visa valid up to three months and the student visa per se.
Visa for language courses
Visas for language course are granted to foreign students intending to take German courses in Germany. The visa is valid for the entire duration of the study course only and can not be exchanged for a regular student visa. To apply for a language course visa, you must file your application to the German embassy or consulate in your home country. The application documents' checklist includes: a valid passport plus two passport-sized photos, proof of registration in a German language institute, financial guarantees or scholarship attestation, and payment of visa fees.
Student temporary visa - "Studienbewerber-Visum"
If you have not received your admission receipt from your host school or university in Germany, and if you need to take admission tests directly in Germany, you can apply for a temporary student visa (valid up to three months). Once you have been admitted to your school or university, you can apply for a regular student visa at the German immigration office. The visa documents' checklist is the same as for the language course visa.
The student visa allows foreign students to study up to one year in Germany. Applications must be filed at the German embassy or consulate in your country of residence. The application documents' checklist includes: a valid passport plus two passport-sized photos, a copy of your secondary school diploma (or equivalent) or your eligibility test, financial attestations or scholarship attestations, copies of all your degrees and diplomas, proof of registration with a German school or university and payment of visa fees.
Internship in Germany
There is no internship visa per se in Germany as it is considered as part of one's study curriculum. Therefore, in order to take an intership in Germany, a regular student visa is required. Most interships in Germany are unpaid.
Good to know:
You can take up employment in Germany with a student visa up to 90 days and only during holidays.
DAAD - Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst - Study in Germany www.daad.de
ZVS - Zentralstelle für die Vergabe von Studiengängen www.hochschulstart.de
Goethe Institute www.goethe.de
4International Colleges and Universities - List of universities in Germany www.4icu.org