How To Get Admitted Into A German University
Everything you need to know about studying in Germany
Getting Admitted into a German University by Oluwatosin Balogun
Germany as we all know has one of the largest economies in the world and is a developed country by all standards making education very conducive and exciting for aspiring students both at the undergraduate and at the postgraduate level. This piece seeks to give you a step by step as well as a detailed breakdown of all the information you would need in other to be successfully admitted to any of the higher institutions in Germany on a general level and some in between information about the Free Hanseatic city of Bremen.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: Complete List of the 70 universities in Germany and their websites
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: How to Learn German Language
Germany as a country has about 70 Universities with a numerous universities of applied sciences and arts referred to as Fachhoschule in the German language while the city of Bremen has 4 higher institutions of learning; 2 universities (University of Bremen: English and German taught programs and Jacobs University; English taught programs) and 2 Hochschules (Hochschule Bremen and University of Arts Bremen). The difference between the traditional universities referred to as the Universitäts and the Fachhoschules is that the mode of application and practical orientation is different as well as the eventual conferred degrees. The Farchhoshules are like the polytechnics which confer diplomas and spend significant amount of time in obtaining hands on practical experience. However please note that that the major difference is that a Fachhoschule cannot independently confer a doctorate degree except in conjunction with a partner university meanwhile a doctorate degree can be directly obtained from a university. This perspective is important when choosing the ladder to enable you reach your career goals as for instance someone whose career dream is to become a Professor would be better suited at working towards being admitted into a university as against someone who is basically interested in practical hands on experience in a bid to get into the industry of his or her choice.
The journey towards getting admitted into the German institution of your choice always starts with you because you would need to decide on what program you are interested in being admitted to. I recall discussing with someone who was interested in a postgraduate program and she stated that she couldn’t find her course; well I don’t exactly agree with this because all the courses certainly exist they may just be wrapped in a name that you are not very familiar with.
So, how do we solve this riddle? Very simple I would say….Research! Yeah Right, Research! Now the word research is a very broad term that might mean different things to different people and hence the way and manner it would be conducted would differ from person to person. Sometimes researching on a particular topic of interest might appear to be like searching for a needle in a haysack but trust me the find would be worth it. My general advice for you is that you consult the departmental homepage of your dream school to gather as much information as you can at the departmental level.
Next step would be to take a look at the course content of the academic program on a course by course level ignoring the general ‘on the go’ overview that often appeals to us all. The essence of this is to give you an idea of what the course in itself is about as course titles could sometimes mean much more than they say so making uninformed assumptions may be very costly. Also note that some schools give you the opportunity to map out your study program yourself by allowing you the opportunity to choose from a wide or narrow range of course modules. This is both advantageous and disadvantageous because a student who randomly chooses his or her modules may end up graduating as a ‘jack of all trades’ and a ‘master of none’ relative to one who intelligently aligns his or her studies to suit his field of interest so as to make him or her more employable. Also, most if not all institutions always have a ‘go to’ person usually in the position of the program adviser/coordinator or some other designation that you can email or call up to clarify any doubts you might have. It would be good to run this intensive research for at least 3 schools comparing them side by side in order to broaden your pool of choice.
Next step would be to consult the Institutions Homepage for the admission requirements into the Institution and also the departmental home page in case they have any additional requirement. It is also important to check if the admission into the program is limited or un-limited and this is usually designated as NC which means Local Admission Restriction and sometimes you may get information on the available placements for that semester. This figure changes over time based on the demand and supply of university places for a course. The implication of this is that if your course of choice is an NC course, it would prepare you to be more competitive in your application because you understand that the university would be picking the best of the best and not just deciding based on the other general requirements that this article would further address. Also, if you are not sure about the NC status of your course, it would be good to send the school an email to confirm this information.
Bachelor Degree General Requirements:
Next step would be to apply for the applicable program. For a Bachelor’s degree in Germany you would need to meet the following general requirements;
- University Entrance Qualification or a Secondary School leaving Certificate: (Hochschulzugangsberechtigung). It is essential to confirm that your certificate is deemed sufficient by the school in question so as to find out if you have to enroll in what is called a studienkolleg (foundation course) to upgrade your certificate. The studienkolleg is a one year course that prepares you for your study in the university. Also note that you would also need to pass an entrance examination before you can get admitted into the studienkolleg.
- Language Skills: most of the universities in Germany require you to show evidence of the German language proficiency because the language of instruction for the study program is German. Some private universities like the Jacobs University Bremen however do not require this as the language of instruction is in English. To prove your German language proficiency you can either enroll at a language school in your home country or study in a language school here in Germany before taking either the DSH” (German Language University Entrance Examination for Foreign Applicants) or the “TestDaF” (Test of German as a Foreign Language). However please note that the this conditions does not apply to students who have earned an “Abitur” from a German-language secondary school, those who have passed the new Goethe Certificate C2 examination: major German Language Diploma or one of the former minor or major German Language Diploma or the Central Advanced Language Test of the Goethe-Institute and those who have the German Language Diploma (stage II) from the German Standing Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs.
- Financial Proof of Funds for International Applicants: This is a requirement that expects you to show proof of having deposited about 8,000 euros in a Deutsche account prior to your arrival in Germany. This is majorly an embassy requirement and not an admission requirement but it is essential to discuss it at this junction because an admission would be useless to you if you don’t have the necessary travel documents to arrive and stay in Germany. The aspect of arriving in Germany is determined by the German embassy in your home country where you would be issued with a temporary study visa of mostly 3 months. However you would need to appear at the immigration office in Germany to also present this same financial proof as well as some other documentations in order to apply for a resident permit that would allow you to reside in Germany during the course of your study program. The financial proof can be presented in several ways which includes but is not limited to; getting a security payment deposited into what is called a blocked account in your name which allows you a monthly withdrawal limit for the first year of your study, presenting a bank guarantee, showing evidence that you are been sponsored by a recognized scholarship provider, your parents can also present documents certifying their income and financial assets and getting someone with permanent residence in Germany to stand as a guarantee for you to the Alien Registration Office to cover your expenses for the first year of your study. The Block account has overtime proved to be the best option because the other options are dependent on 3rd parties and the level of scrutiny and processes for this to eventually work if accepted might be a bit tedious.
- German Health Insurance: Upon arrival in Germany, you would need to sign up for a health insurance policy because this is a requirement for your enrollment in the university and obtaining your resident permit.
- Legal Documentations for your stay in form of your Visa/ Resident Permit: This has been addressed in part in the previous column however it is important for you to inform yourself on your country’s requirement for obtaining a student visa to Germany and the necessary documentation you would need to successfully back up your application. It is always advisable to start this process as soon as you receive your admission letter because depending on your city of study, the alien office might take a while to process your documentations and if the required process is not completed before your enrollment deadline, you may be denied the visa on this grounds and have to forfeit your admission. Students applying to big cities like Munich, Berlin etc. should take note of this as students from all over the world are applying to universities in Germany and the foreign office would only process your documents when it is your turn meaning applications are attended to on a first come first serve basis. On the part of your residence permit, after your arrival, city registration and enrollment in the related institution in Germany, you would be required to apply for your resident permit backed up with some documentations which are mostly your certificate of enrollment in the university, health insurance proof from the institutions recognized health care giver, city registration certificate, financial proof and accommodation contract and a token of about 100 euros or more to process your application. The process takes about 2 to 4 weeks from when you first apply depending on your state of study so apply as early as you can and certainly before your visa expires to avoid any issues with the authorities.
- Pay your semester Fee: Your admission letter would advise you on when to pay up your semester fee and the set deadlines. It is important that you comply with this instruction paying up as soon as you can so that your admission is not forfeited.
Additional optional documentations
In order to Increase your chances of getting admitted especially into a locally restricted program, it may be advisable to take the TestDaf Aptitude Test. This test is widely recognized among German institutions and may serve as a tool to prove your ability to cope with education under the German system.
Now, I would proceed to shed more light on the requirements for a Post-graduate degree program in Germany be it a Master’s degree or a PhD Program. However, please note that some overlaps exist with respect to the Bachelors program and such points would just be mentioned in passing. After deciding on your program of choice, the next step for you would be to convert the result you obtained in your bachelors program to the German system so as to determine your stand and be properly advised on which schools to consider during your application process. The basic way to determine this is to use the formula below:
Germany Universities Grade System
German grade = 1 + 3[(Nmax – Nd)/Nmax – Nmin)]
Where Nmax = the maximum grade possible in the foreign system
Nmin = the minimum passing grade in the foreign system
Nd = the foreign grade
German Grade Scale
1 – 1.5 Sehr Gut (Very good)
1.51 – 2.5 Gut (Good)
2.51 – 3.5 Befriedigend (Satisfactory)
3.51 – 4 Ausreichend (Sufficient)
4.01 – 6 Nicht Ausreichend (Not sufficient)
Please note that those whose final grades end up falling within the Very good and the Good class of grades stand a better chance of getting admitted to competitive programs relative to the others. If you find out that your eventual grade falls outside this and you are still interested in studying that program, it might be advisable to either apply to a fahhschoule for starters and later apply to the university of your choice or to apply to schools in smaller cities that are not very competitive.
Other Requirements Include:
- Motivation Letter: A well written description of why you would like to study your program of interest, insight into your personal capabilities as a person and previous achievements in this field as well as any other information that would increase your chances of getting admitted. It is essential to keep this piece articulate and well structured, simple and understandable. Please note however that some schools would specify the template you should use for writing your motivation letter. It is also essential to not to copy online motivation letters as this can be attributed to Plagiarism and may disqualify you from the admission consideration.
- Resume or CV: Important information about your qualifications and your work experience should be included in this document while other not so important information like your sex, age and other very personal information should be taken out. The essence of submitting your resume is to give the admission committee an insight into the relevant experiences and qualifications that you have been able to obtain whilst working towards your postgraduate degree program. Remember the watch word, keep it simple and to the point.
- Application Fee: Some universities require you to pay an application fee to process your documents and this could be directly to the university’s account through a wire or bank transfer or through an admission portal like uni-assist where you would be required to register with them and apply through their portal.
- Certified Certificates: You would be required to submit certified copies of your degree certificate, university entrance examination or school leaving certificate and all other certificates you desire to submit to boost your chances of getting admitted. The certification should be done either by a notary public or by a Court of law. Please note that you are not to mail your original documents to any university.
- Language Requirements: At the postgraduate level, you would have a wide range of international programs to choose from where the language of instruction is in English hence no proof of the German language proficiency would be required from you. However, you would need to show proof that your language of instruction during your bachelors program was in English language by obtaining a letter from your undergraduate university in some cases or by taking the IELTS or TOFEL examination and submitting test scores to the university to confirm that you are well suited to undergo an English taught program. In cases where the language of instruction is in German, you would have to show proof of the German language proficiency as already explained under the Bachelors section.
- Financial Proof of Funds: The same applies as already explained in the Bachelors section.
In conclusion getting admitted into a German University is really easier than it seems, you basically need the right information and the corresponding requirements and qualifications to guarantee you a place in the University of your Choice. Feel free to use the comment section to ask me any question related to this article. I wish you all the best 🙂