Admission Requirements for German Universities

If you want to study in Germany, you must meet the admission requirements set by German universities. Some admission requirements standards are common to all. At the same time, some are specific to a particular course or university. Most bachelor’s level courses in Germany need a higher education entrance qualification (HZB).  For a master’s degree, you must have a relevant bachelor’s degree with a decent GPA. You may need to pursue a pre-masters degree if you do not meet the entrance requirements. And for a doctoral program, a master’s degree in relevant specialization is a must.  

Additionally, German universities also request copies of passports, financial documentation, proof of language proficiency, etc. Knowing the requirements for admission could speed up and simplify the application process. You can use this article as a reference to maintain a list of admission requirements handy whenever you apply to a German university. 

Overview of admission requirements for German universities

Bachelor’s programs  Master’s programs  Doctoral programs
Higher education entrance qualification Abitur or equivalent  Bachelor’s degree in relevant field  Master’s degree in relevant field 
Language proficiency  Language proficiency  Language proficiency 
Passport  Passport  Passport 
Motivational letter  Motivational letter  Motivational letter 
Proof of finances  Proof of finances  Proof of finances 

Why study in Germany?

According to DAAD figures for 2020–2021, there are 416,437 international students enrolled in academic programs throughout Germany. These numbers reflect how well-liked German universities are among international students. Let us look at some reasons that make Germany a popular study destination:

  • German universities (public and some private) are nationally accredited
  • They are known for providing high-quality education that is respected worldwide 
  • Germany is a dynamic multicultural society that welcomes people from diverse ethnic backgrounds 
  • It has low crime rates, making it a safe place to live (only 6,070 crimes per 100,000 people, source: Statista, 2022)
  • German universities especially, technical universities offer extensive theoretical knowledge and practical experience relevant to the international labor market
  • German universities provide career counseling services to students, preparing them for the job market
  • The average living expense in Germany is 850 Euros per month which is not the cheapest but considerably less than the US and the UK.
  • Universities, as well as the government of Germany, offer generous scholarships to qualifying international students 
  • It is the world’s fourth biggest economy by GDP with an employment rate above 75%
  • German universities have a strong international network, so graduates get jobs quickly after graduating
  • Germany participates in the Erasmus program and provides students with study-abroad opportunities
  • The country is a hub for big companies like BMW, Volkswagen, Audi, Bosch, Benz, and Adidas offering huge employment opportunities to graduates

Admission requirements for bachelor’s courses in Germany

A bachelor’s degree is the first higher education qualification in Germany. It can be pursued as a single degree with one major and other minor subjects and also as joint degrees. 

In general, admission to a bachelor’s degree requires a high school diploma i.e., a 10+2 education. German law, however, states that a student needs to complete 13 years of education to gain higher education entrance qualification called “Hochschulzugangsberechtigung” or “HZB”. Students who possess this qualification are granted the German school leaving certificate called “Abitur”. This certificate lets students apply to any bachelor’s course at any German university of their choice. 

So, if your school-leaving certificate is not recognized as a higher education entrance qualification, you can take a foundation course offered at Studienkollegs. Various German universities and universities of applied sciences provide these foundation courses. They last for 1 to 2 semesters and there are different types depending on the field you want to choose. For example, M-course Studienkollegs are for medical-related courses. Whereas, W-courses are for business and social science-related courses. 

Admission requirements for Studienkollegs in Germany

  • High school diploma
  • Official transcripts in English/German
  • German level B1, B2 or equivalent
  • English level B2 or IELTS >5.5 or TOEFL iBT >50 or equivalent 
  • Entrance exam (if any)
  • CV
  • Passport
  • Motivational letter 
  • Health insurance
  • Proof of finances

You can find out more about entry requirements through Gyanberry, which is partnered with several Studienkollegs in Germany. After completing Studienkollegs, students then have to appear for the “Feststellungsprüfung” (FSP). The students who pass the exam get qualified to apply for a bachelor’s program at any German university. 

General academic requirements for a bachelor’s level degree

  • German university entrance qualification (Abitur)
  • Official transcripts in English/German
  • English language proficiency 
  • German language skills (few public universities)
  • Passport
  • CV
  • Motivation letter
  • Reference letters
  • Health insurance
  • Entrance exam or interview (if any)
  • Medical certificate (if applicable)
  • Visa 
  • Proof of finances

Admission requirements for master’s courses in Germany

A master’s is a specialization degree for students who wish to broaden their employment prospects after a bachelor’s. It can last for 1 to 2 years based on the type of specialization. Students require a bachelor’s degree to pursue a master’s course.

  • An accredited bachelor’s degree in a related field
  • Official transcripts in English/German
  • English language proficiency 
  • German language skills (few public universities)
  • Passport
  • CV
  • Portfolio, internship, or work experience (preferable)
  • Motivation letter
  • Health insurance
  • Medical certificate (if applicable)
  • Reference letters
  • Visa
  • Proof of finances

Admission requirements for doctoral courses in Germany

Doctoral or Ph.D. are terminal degrees and students who wish to enter research or academia usually go for this degree. An education at the master’s level is mandatory for a Ph.D. Students should also have a portfolio of published articles or research papers for doctoral studies. Admission requirements for a doctoral degree in Germany are as follows:

  • Master’s degree in a relevant field from an accredited university
  • Official transcripts in English/German
  • English language proficiency 
  • German language skills (few public universities)
  • Passport
  • CV
  • Motivation letter 
  • Portfolio of published papers or research articles
  • Reference letters
  • Health insurance
  • Medical certificate (if applicable)
  • Visa
  • Proof of financial support

English-taught courses require English proficiency whereas, German-taught courses require German language proficiency. The most commonly accepted English test scores are IELTS (academic) scores of 6.0 to 6.5 and TOEFL IBT 79-87. In addition to these two, German institutions also accept the following English test results:

  • Duolingo 95
  • CAE (grade A, B, or C)
  • CPE (grade A, B, or C)
  • FCE (grade A, B, or C)
  • TOEIC 785
  • Pearson English Test Academic (PTE-A) 59 

German language proficiency is required at DSH level 2 to 3 or TestDaF level 4 depending on the type and level of course. 

To prove financial support, students can use a blocked account. They are allowed to open the blocked account only after they receive their offer letter. They have to transfer a minimum of their yearly living expenses (10,0332 Euros) to this blocked account before their arrival in Germany. The following documentation must be submitted in order to open a banned account:

  • Valid passport
  • University admission letter
  • A bank statement attesting to the sum of money to open a blocked account
  • Paid fee receipt  

International students usually need a visa to enter Germany once they receive an offer letter from the university. You can contact the German embassy or consulate in your home country for a German visa application. Gyanberry too offers visa services to over 20 countries including Germany. Health insurance is also another requirement to study in Germany. It pays for health examinations, illness or accident treatment, and specific prescriptions. International students can choose between purchasing private or public health insurance.

DAAD has a database on admission requirements for German universities. International students can check whether they meet the requirements by clicking here. 

Frequently Asked Questions

To pursue a bachelor’s degree at most German universities, you need to have higher education entrance qualification called Abitur or equivalent.

English-taught courses in Germany do not require German proficiency. However, some public universities might ask students to provide German language proficiency.  

Yes, to pursue a degree that is taught in English, German universities require students to submit proof of English language proficiency.