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Best Preparatory Courses in Germany for International Students

ApAmarnath pratapwarAug 10, 2022

What are preparatory courses in Germany?

Preparatory courses, also known as Studienkolleg, in Germany act as an “academic bridge” to help international students acquire the necessary German language skills and academic qualifications to become eligible to apply to German Universities. 

Such courses are also popularly known as “foundation” year programs. They prepare students academically over a period of one year, typically consisting of two semesters. Students are trained in relevant study fields of their choice and are taught the German language as well. These courses are held in institutes or colleges known as “Studienkolleg.” 

It is worth noting that several Universities or colleges do offer preparatory programs entirely in English as well to prepare students for fully English-taught undergraduate programs.

Overview of Preparatory courses in Germany

Why do International students need a preparatory course at a studienkolleg?

These courses are tailored for international students who wish to study in Germany.  German Universities usually have strict entry criteria for admissions. For example, school-leaving certificates from non-EU countries must be equivalent to a German High School certificate ( known as “Abitur”) in order to be eligible to gain direct admission into the first year of an undergraduate degree at a German University. 

However, several international high school curriculums do not have the prerequisite subjects or grades. Hence, the students from such curriculums do not qualify for direct admission into a German University. So, international students must evaluate if their academic qualifications are meeting the requirements for a direct entry.

There are cases where a student’s qualification falls short of the German requirements. But it does not mean students cannot study in Germany. In such cases, preparatory courses in Germany can help become eligible for study programs.

Structure of preparatory courses in Germany

Studienkolleg provides a foundation year for international students in Germany. The duration is one year. The academic year is divided into two semesters.

There are different kinds of Studienkollegs. They can be categorized in the following ways.

University or University of Applied Sciences

Studienkollegs are affiliated with universities or universities of applied sciences. A student’s eligibility to study at a university depends on their results in the final exam. If a student clears the exam at a university studienkolleg, they can study at either a university or a university of applied sciences. But if the student clears the exam at a university of applied sciences affiliated studienkolleg, they can study at only universities of applied sciences.

Private or Public/State-run

Another basis of classification is whether a studienkolleg is state-run or private. State-run ones are generally tuition-free and are usually accepted by all German Universities. Private studienkollegs have tuition charges. It is also important to check if the course from private studienkollegs is accepted by the German Universities that you wish to apply for.

Types of preparatory courses

Studienkollegs at universities and universities of applied sciences offer different courses. Before applying, students must first check if the desired course is available at the studienkolleg.

At university studienkollegs the courses are

  • M-course: Medical, biological and pharmaceutical degrees
  • T-course: Mathematical, Science or technical degrees
  • W-course: Business, Economics and social science degrees
  • G-course: Humanity degrees or German studies
  • S-course: Language degrees

At studienkollegs connected to universities of applied sciences, the courses are

  • TI-course: Technical and engineering degrees
  • WW-course: Economics and business degrees
  • GD-course: Design and art degrees
  • SW-course: Social science degrees

Coursework during the foundation year differs at each Studienkolleg. But, the common subject is German. The language of instruction is usually German unless it is a fully English-taught course

Popular preparatory courses in Germany

The following table features some popular institutes for preparatory courses in Germany for international students. There are more institutes than those listed here. This list is not exhaustive. Some preparatory courses, such as the Freshman Year at FH Aachen University of Applied Sciences, are taught in English as well, and they do accept students without any prior knowledge of the German language. The number of such institutes is, however, quite limited. In most institutes, the courses are taught only in the German language.

Name City Courses Offered
Studienkolleg an der Universität Heidelberg Heidelberg M, T, W, G, S
Studienkolleg des KIT (Karlsruher Institut für Technologie) Karlsruhe T
Studienkolleg Düsseldorf Düsseldorf T, M, W, G, DSH
Studienkolleg an der HTWG Konstanz Konstanz T, W
Studienkolleg bei den Fachhochschulen des Freistaates Bayern Coburg TI, WW
Studienkolleg an der TU Berlin Berlin T, TI, WW, W
German International College Bedburg-hau German, Mathematics, Physics/Economics, English
Studienkolleg an der FU Berlin Berlin T, M, W, G, S
Studienkolleg Hamburg Hamburg M, T, W, G
Internationales Studienkolleg an der Universität Paderborn Paderborn T, W
Studienkolleg an der Goethe-Universität Frankfurt M, T, W, G
Studienkolleg an der TU-Darmstadt Darmstadt T, G, DSH
Munich Business School-Pre Bachelor International Business Munich English, Mathematics, Business Studies
Studienkolleg an der Universität Kassel Kassel T, W
Berlin International College Berlin T, W, DSH
Studienkolleg Mittelhessen der Universität Marburg Marburg M, T, W, G
Freshman Institute – FH Aachen Aachen T, M, W
Studienkolleg an der Hochschule Wismar Wismar TI, W, WW
Studienkolleg an der Universität Hannover Hannover G, M, T, W
Studienkolleg des Ökumenischen Studienwerks e.V. Bochum T
Studienkolleg Mettingen Mettingen T, W, G, M
Technische Hochschule Wildau (Foundation Year) Wildau T, W, DSH
Studienkolleg der Johannes-Gutenberg-Universität Mainz M, T, W, G, S
Internationales Studienkolleg der Hochschule Kaiserslautern Kaiserslautern TI/T, WW/W
TUDIAS-Studienkolleg TU Dresden Dresden M, T, W
Studienkolleg Glauchau Glauchau T, TI, W, WW, DSH
Cologne Business School-Prep4Uni Studienkolleg Cologne, Berlin, Potsdam T, W
Universität Leipzig Studienkolleg Sachsen Leipzig M, T, W, G, S
Hochschule Zittau/Görlitz Studienkolleg Zittau TI, WW
SRH Berlin University of Applied Sciences-International Year One Berlin Mathematics, Business, Sciences
Studienkolleg an der Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg Halle M, T, W, G, S, DSH
Landesstudienkolleg Sachsen-Anhalt an der Hochschule Anhalt Köthen/Dessau T, W, G, DSH
Studienkolleg an der FH Kiel Kiel TI, SW, WW
Staatliches Studienkolleg Nordhausen M, T, W, G, SW

How to get admitted into Studienkolleg?

It can be quite confusing for international students to figure out if they must attend a Studienkolleg. For this purpose, the DAAD website provides country-specific information. Students can choose their country and highest academic qualification. Based on your input, the database determines if you should attend Studienkolleg.

It is important to understand the requirements to study preparatory courses in Germany. As stated before, the language of instruction at Studienkolleg is German. Very few institutes, such as the Freshman Institute at FH Aachen University of Applied Sciences, offer preparatory programs in English. Students must possess adequate prior language skills to apply to studienkolleg.

The list of entry criteria for each studienkolleg may vary. Along with high school documents and prior language proficiency, some studienkolleg may also require you to pass an entrance exam and/or interview. The requirements may also vary between private and state studienkolleg.

Popular institutes like Studienkolleg Dusseldorf or Studienkolleg Paderborn have set the following criteria. You can find more information about admission requirements through Gyanberry, which is partnered with many studienkollegs.

  • Leaving certificate (school) of the home country (equivalent to the German “Abitur”)
  • German level B1 or B2(or equivalent)
  • English level B2 or IELTS 5.5 or TOEFL iBT 53 or equivalent (if the course is taught in English)
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Student visa
  • Entrance Exam

How much do preparatory courses in Germany cost

Most of the State-run studienkollegs do not have any course fees. Although the institute may require students to contribute towards semester fees. Semester fees for state-run studienkollegs range between EUR 100 – 400 per semester. 

Private studienkollegs are comparatively expensive. However, they do have several advantages, such as flexible admission criteria and guaranteed progression to their partner Universities ( in select cases). The below table features the annual course fees for a few private preparatory courses.

Program Name Annual fees in EUR Annual fees in USD*
FH Aachen University of Applied Sciences – Freshman Program 19,500 19,874
Studienkolleg Paderborn (International Foundation College at Paderborn University) 7,000 7,134
Studienkolleg Dusseldorf 5,620 5,728
Hochschule Fresenius – University of Applied Sciences studienkolleg 12,990 13,239
Technical University of Applied Sciences Wildau – Wildau Foundation Year 10,200 10,396

*Course fees in EUR are converted to USD AT 1 EUR – 1.02 USD. Currency exchange rates are subject to change periodically.

What are the opportunities after preparatory courses in Germany?

The purpose of Studienkolleg is geared toward meeting the academic requirements of German Universities. You may have a school-leaving certificate from your home country. But it may not be recognized for higher education entrance in Germany. 

The higher entrance qualification is referred to as Hochschulzugangsberechtigung, or simply HZB. Hochschulzugangsberechtigung (HZB) is a collective term for school certificates needed to study at a German university.

Studies at the Studienkolleg end with a final examination. This exam is known as Feststellungsprüfung (or simply FSP). The FSP qualifies international students to study at any German university.

Thus, after completing studienkolleg,  international students would be considered to have completed HZB.

International students can then continue their studies by applying for programs at a university or a university of applied sciences.

Some studienkollegs, such as Freshman Institute or Berlin International College, provide guaranteed progression to their partnered Universities, thereby qualifying students for admission automatically upon successful completion of the Freshman program.

Frequently Asked Questions

School leaving certificates of certain countries are not recognized by the German higher education system. One can check whether they should enroll in a preparatory course or not by visiting the DAAD website. The website determines your need for a preparatory course through a set of simple questions. Students can also discuss this with a Gyanberry counselor who is experienced in assessing student eligibility for admission to German Universities.

Some common requirements to apply to preparatory courses are a school leaving certificate, and German language proficiency (up to B1/B2). Some preparatory courses are offered in English. In such cases, students have to prove their English skills through TOEFL/IELTS or entrance exam of the interview. Some preparatory programs may have an entrance exam as well.

Preparatory courses in Germany are available in public and private institutes. State-run courses are free of cost, with a semester-wise contribution of EUR 100-400. Private courses are expensive and may range between EUR 7,000 and EUR 20,000. Some courses may be less or more expensive than the range.

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