How to Study in Germany as an International Student: Everything You Need To Know Explained

Investing in your education as an international student can be an intimidating, confusing experience. How do you choose the right school? What about the classes and studying? How do you prepare financially? This guide to how to study in Germany as an international student will help with the basics of these questions and more, giving you a clear idea of what to expect from your studies in Germany and how to get the most out of them!

How to Study in Germany as an International Student: Everything You Need To Know Explained

The dream of studying in Germany draws many international students to this country every year. These students study at universities, attend short-term language schools, work in internships across the country, etc. Whatever your reason for being here, you’ll be happy to know that studying in Germany is relatively easy and affordable, especially if you’re an international student. However, making the decision to study in Germany can be an exciting time, but it can also be pretty overwhelming if you have no idea what’s involved. Navigating a new city and getting used to a new way of life is not always easy, and it’s even harder if you don’t know what to expect or what to do when you get there.

The country of Germany has an excellent education system that provides students with a wide variety of options on what and where to study, from elementary school all the way up to Ph.D. programs in medicine, law, engineering, and more. However, if you’re an international student looking to study in Germany, there are some things you should know about the education system and your options. With these tips and tricks on how to study in Germany as an international student, you’ll be well-prepared before even setting foot on German soil!

This guide will answer the following questions about studying in Germany: - What visa do I need to study in Germany? - Where can I study in Germany? - What are the costs of studying in Germany? - How do I find accommodation in Germany? - What qualifications do I need to study in Germany? - Do I need to learn German? - Do I need to take the TOEFL test? - What about student visas and university admissions tests for other countries? Just continue reading and make sure you don't miss any detail in this article.

Studying in Germany

There are more than 2.5 million students enrolled in German universities and more than a quarter of a million of these are international students. With an impressive quality higher education system, affordable tuition fees, and vibrant student-oriented cities, Germany is one of Europe’s top destinations for international students. In fact, 416,437 international students were enrolled in German courses in 2020/21, making up over 14% of the total.

There are around 450 state-accredited universities in Germany, offering more than 17,500 programs, including more than 1,000 courses taught in English. You can search for university courses in Germany. Germany has seven universities listed among the top 100 in the 2022 Times Higher Education World University Rankings. Three of these are in the top 50: LMU Munich (32), Technical University of Munich (38), and Heidelberg University (=42). Furthermore, Munich (2nd) and Berlin (5th) feature in the top 10 student cities worldwide.

Furthermore, tuition is free for EU students apart from an additional admin fee of around €250 per semester. According to 2019 figures, China, India, Syria, Austria, and Russia are the five countries with the biggest student populations in Germany. In September 2014, all tuition fees for undergraduate courses at state universities were abolished for international students as well as German students. The German government continues to invest large sums – €2.4bn approved in the last two years alone – in its higher education institutions as part of its Excellence Initiative and has a focus on technology.

Why Study in Germany?

There are many great advantages to studying in Germany. However, to answer this question there are a plethora of reasons international students consider Germany an ideal study destination.

Free tuition

This is one of the biggest advantages of studying in Germany. International students don't pay any tuition fees for most university courses. Expensive tuition fees in other top study destinations such as the United States and the United Kingdom are one of the major reasons that prevent students from applying to universities. But without the impediment of high fees, students can select their university and course of preference more freely. 

World-class education

When it comes to quality education, Germany ranks highly in Europe and around the world. Home to some of the most renowned institutes. Many of Germany's 400 higher education institutes are placed in the top 20 universities in Europe and the top 100 globally. International students can experience the quality of the education on offer through English language courses.

Courses are offered in English

Although it is still important to learn some German, as you will be living in the country. There is a wide range of courses available that are taught in English. You don't necessarily need to be able to speak German to study in Germany. So, as long as you can speak and understand a reasonable amount of English, there are plenty of courses to choose from.

Affordable cost of living

It doesn't end with free tuition. Also, international students usually find that the cost of living in Germany is relatively affordable. However, while there may not be any tuition fees to pay for your course, you may still need to pay some fees to the university. This can include a fixed fee for certain university services, such as bus travel, administrative assistance, sports facilities, cafeterias, etc. It is estimated that students will need an average of around €861 per month to cover living expenses. Rent is normally the biggest expense, which can be shared by finding accommodation with roommates. Moreover, you'll need to maintain health insurance coverage during your entire stay in Germany.

How Much Does it Cost to Study in Germany?

For most courses at public German universities, there are no tuition fees that need to be paid. Since September 2014, tuition fees for undergraduates in the state have been abolished, although some states charge fees. Depending on your choice of university (either public or private) costs might range between €350 and €20,000 per year. Other than the actual cost of study, living costs for international students' stay in Germany. Broadly speaking, you should consider an average of €861 per month for your financial planning.

How to Apply to Study in Germany

If you want to apply for a place to study at a German University, there are some rules you will have to observe. How and where to apply depends on the course you want to study. However, here's an overview of the general process for applying to study in Germany.

Choose a university

Once you’ve decided on Germany as your study abroad destination – now it’s time to choose the right course and university for you. You can apply for most courses directly through the universities or through the University Application Service for International Students (uni-assist) which is run by the German Student Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has a database of almost 2,000 programs available to search from, including 1,389 programs in English. Click here to read this on how to choose a university.

Check the admission requirements

Then, check that your current qualifications are recognized by your chosen university before applying. For prospective undergraduate students, a high-school diploma, school-leaving certificate, or university entrance exam result is usually sufficient, and the DAAD has a database of information on admission requirements for selected countries.

Moreover, you’ll also need to check the language requirements. Most courses are taught in German, requiring international applicants to submit proof of proficiency in the German language. However, if your course is taught in English, unless you are a native speaker or have previously studied in English, you will need to prove your knowledge of the language with a test such as IELTS or TOEFL. Universities will usually state the score/s they require on their websites.

Finance your study

In order to fulfill student visa requirements, you will need to show proof that you have funds to cover your living costs. If you’re concerned about costs, there are scholarships available to support students studying in Germany at various study levels. You will also need to provide proof that you've been offered a scholarship to study in Germany.

Complete the application to study in Germany

You can apply for most courses directly through the universities or through the University Application Service for International Students (uni-assist) which is run by the German Student Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Although not all universities use this. You may wish to apply for numerous courses and universities separately to increase your chances of being admitted. Moreover, places are limited in some courses, such as medicine, dentistry and pharmacy, and other life sciences, and you have to apply through the Foundation for Higher Education Admissions.

Always check procedures and deadlines with individual universities; as well as varying between different universities they can also vary between degree courses. However, it’s recommended to submit applications at least six weeks before the deadline, to ensure time for corrections or additions if any information is missing.

Get health insurance

Once you have received notice of admission, proof that you have purchased health insurance is usually a requirement for both enrollment and student visa applications. So, before you leave your home country you should ensure you’ve purchased health insurance to cover you during your stay in Germany. Everyone living in Germany is obligated to have health insurance, including foreign students, regardless of their citizenship. If you’re an EU or EEA student, you have public health insurance in your home country, you should be covered in Germany as well. You must contact the responsible authorities to see if your EHIC card covers you in Germany. On the other hand, if you’re a non-EU student, you must get health insurance regardless.

Apply for a student visa

The requirements for obtaining a student visa for Germany depend on your country of origin. If you are not from an EU/EEA country, upon acceptance into a German university, you'll need to begin the visa application process as soon as possible because the process can take between one and three months and requires several important documents. You must apply for a student visa at the German embassy before leaving your home country.

Arrive in Germany and find accommodation

After you’ve been admitted to a university and have received the necessary visa, it’s time to begin your adventure in Germany. Think about the cost of living in Germany and what your budget will be. Once you have that, it’s advisable to start looking for accommodation, as unfortunately, most German universities do not offer accommodation to enrolling students– it’s up to you to sort out. Rent is likely to be your biggest monthly expense, and will vary depending on which part of the country you live in.

Work While Studying in Germany

If you’re from the EU/EEA/Switzerland you can work without restriction or a work permit, although if you work more than 20 hours per week you’ll have to start paying into the German social security system. Then, if you’re from any other country, you can work in Germany for 120 full days or 240 half days per year, unless you’re working as a research/student assistant at the university when there’s no limit. You do have to inform the Alien Registration Office in your area if you work. Paid or unpaid internships during holidays count as normal work and will be deducted from your 120 days; internships required by your degree are not. If you break the rules, you may face severe penalties.

Final Thoughts

Studying abroad is a fantastic way to experience new cultures, expand your career opportunities, and add experiences that will make you stand out from your peers in your career. With so many benefits of studying abroad and such a high demand for international students, it can be tempting to apply for study-abroad programs at universities around the world. But before you do, make sure you’re prepared for what lies ahead! Here are some tips on how to study in Germany as an international student.

The university admission process can seem overwhelming when you’re not familiar with German culture or education standards. When applying to a German university, there are several important things to keep in mind. It’s also crucial that you understand what type of degree program you want to pursue—there are several different types of degrees offered by German universities, including undergraduate degrees (Bachelor), graduate degrees (Master), PhDs, and Diplomas.