About the Higher Education System
If you want to study in Germany you can either chose between ‘Universities’ or ‘Fachhochschulen’ (often called Universities of Applied Sciences in English). The qualifications offered at both types of institution are regarded as being equal in value but they tend to offer very different types of education. ‘Fachhochschulen’ in Germany are more practically orientated than universities. Normally the ‘Fachhochschulen’ route takes four years to complete because students have to undertake internships as an integral part of their degree. Technical or artistic subjects are more likely to be taught at ‘Fachhochschulen’ than at universities.
‘Fachhochschulen’ are more likely to offer teaching in smaller groups whereas universities tend to follow the traditional lecture and tutorial approach to learning. Professors at Fachhochschulen have to have a minimum of 5 years working experience to be able to demonstrate knowledge of real case studies.
Like in the UK most universities offer a more theory-based approach to learning without internship possibilities. However this also depends on each university.
There are public and private examples of both universities and ‘Fachhochschulen’.
German universities are currently suffering from significant overcrowding. Demand for places at university is artificially high because of changes to the German school system. As Germany moves from a 13 to a 12 year schooling system, in some parts of the country two school year groups are leaving at once, leaving to a corresponding increase in applications to university.
Entry requirements depend on the University/Fachhochschule. However you must have finished your A levels in order to be considered. What grades and subjects you need also differs. Yet you should consider that if you want to apply for courses like physics and engineering, you will need specific, relevant A levels.
While A levels must be recognised by EU law as sufficient for entry to a German higher education institution, they are not comparable with the German Abitur. The Abitur is a much broader qualification closer to the International Baccalaureate in the subject range that it covers. For this reason, German universities usually insist on seeing a grade for maths at either A or AS level. Without this, many German universities will regard a British students’ education to be incomplete. This can apply even where the subject you wish to study has nothing to do with maths. For some courses, particularly in English literature, even where the full degree is taught entirely in English there may still be a requirement to demonstrate knowledge of the German language.Other Level 3 qualifications are often not accepted for entry to German universities.
Some Universities/Fachhochschulen offer one year preparatory courses, in case you cannot meet the requirements. Moreover if you decide to study a course that is only offered in German, you have to undertake a language proficiency test, which is normally offered by the chosen institution.
Private universities in Germany are usually a little more flexible with regard to recognition of British qualifications. However, they will usually still insist that relevant subjects have been taken.
For many subjects there is open entry to university or fachhochschule meaning that a student only needs to have relevant qualifications to be awarded a place. However, for more popular subjects there are restrictions on entry known as ‘Numerus Clausus’. This restriction means that, with some exceptions, universities are free to choose the students they wish to accept based on a variety of criteria which may include predicted grades. Usually there will be an entrance exam that applicants are expected to take in addition to their A levels. Weaker applicants from the UK might struggle to be offered a place on any course that is subject to ‘Numerus Clausus’.
Entry requirements to German universities can be summarised as follows:
1. General Requirements
- you must have studied three or four different subjects to A level. If you have only studied three A levels you must also present your grade in one AS level. Qualifications in the same subject (including maths and further maths) will only count as one subject. There is no clear guidance on whether General Studies is considered as one of your A levels.
- The four subjects that you offer at A and AS level must include a language and maths. The language does not need to be in German but it can be. Please bear in mind that almost every Bachelor degree in Germany is offered in the German language. You must also have maths or a natural science as one of your A levels or AS levels.
- You cannot gain access to a German university with vocational qualifications.
2. Subject Specific Requirements
- For social sciences, law, economics etc, one A level must be in related subject. Maths A level is the minimum required for economics and social sciences.
- For science, engineering and maths, Maths A level is essential. Also, you will require at least one A level in the natural sciences (chemistry, physics, biology)
- For medicine, Chemistry A level and Maths A level are essential and you will also require an additional A or AS level in a natural science.
3. Other Factors
- Two AS levels can replace one A level.
- Vocational Certificates of Education will not be taken into consideration
- You can commence your studies before you receive your A level certificates as long as you have your "Statement of Results" or "Candidate Statement of Provisional Results". Original certificates must be available before the start of the second semester.
- Cambridge Pre-U qualfications are accepted as alternatives to A levels with Principle Subjects compared directly to A levels and Short Courses to AS levels.
If you want to register for a programme at a German University/Fachhochschule, you have to organise this individually for each institution of your choice. This can be done online via the university’s website. You can either start in summer or winter. Please see below the time period, in which you can apply. Please ensure to check, when the application deadline is for your university of choice as this also fluctuates by Bundesland and University/Fachhochschule.
Summer Semester: generally March to August (courses start: 15 March)
Winter Semester: generally September to February (courses begin: 15 September)
There are some changes to the application process to courses subject to Numerus Fixus and courses in medicine, veterinary medicine etc. For details on how to apply to these courses please see the Hochschulstart website (only in German at the moment).
How much does it cost?
In Germany, higher education is organised at the regional rather than national level. This will have an impact on the level of tuition fees charged as they can vary depending on which of the 16 Bundeslaender you choose to study in.
For example Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Berlin are ‘tuition-cost’ free; you only have to pay a small contribution of up to €150 per semester depending on the University/Fachhochschule. In some ‘Bundesländer’ like Bayern and Baden-Württemberg fees can be between €500- €700 (excluding the semester contribution of around €150, yet this also varies from the Universities/Fachhochschulen.
If you decide to go to a Private University prices vary between €10.000 - €20.000. Private Fachhochschulen are less expensive, however still charge between €3.000 - €10.000.
How do I get a visa?
No visa is required for EU citizens.
Can I work there as a student?
If you are an EU citizen, you can work without a visa in Germany and can earn as much money as you want. The only thing you have to take care of is to register with your local ‘Einwohnermeldeamt’ (inhabitant registration office)
Which are the best universities?
1. Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich
2. Georg-August University, Gottingen
3. Heidelberg University
4. Technical University, Munich
5. Humboldt University, Berlin
The only bachelors degrees taught in English at any of these universities are two specialist programmes at Georg-August University. These are in forestry and molecular ecosystems science.
For further information
Universities in Germany
- Karlshochschule International University
- Jacobs University
- Duale Hochschule Baden-Wuerttemburg
- Ingolstadt University of Applied Sciences
- Cologne Business School
- Touro College Berlin
- Zeppelin University
- HSBA Hamburg School of Business Administration
- Carl Benz School of Engineering, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
- University of Bremen
- Martin Luther Universitaet Halle Wittenberg
- Würzburg-Schweinfurt University of Applied Sciences
- Fresenius University of Applied Sciences
- Embry-Riddle Aviation University
- Schiller International University
- MHMK Macromedia University
- Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences
- Bonn-Rhein Sieg University of Applied Sciences
- Otto Beisheim School of Management, WHU
- Universität Magdeburg
- Brandenburg University of Technology
- ECLA BARD
- Ventspils University College
- Kuehne Logistics University
- Carl von Ossietzky University
- Worms University of Applied Sciences
- Reutlingen University
- Georg August Universität Göttingen
- Technische Universität Hamburg-Harburg
- Rhein-Waal University of Applied Science
- Frankfurt School of Finance and Management
- Neisse University
- European University Viadrina
- Leibniz University
- Stralsund University of Applied Sciences
- Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences
- Berlin University of Applied Sciences (HTW)
- Bad Honnef International University of Applied Sciences
- University of Freiburg
- University College Freiburg
- Furtwangen University of Applied Sciences
- Universität Bonn
- University of Konstanz
- Globe Business College
- EBS University
- University of Leipzig
- Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet
- University of Tuebingen
- Deggendorf University of Applied Sciences
- Bielefeld University
- SRH University of Applied Sciences
- MHMK Macromedia University Munich
- Südwestfalen University of Applied Sciences
- Georg Simon Ohm University of Applied Sciences
- Philipps-Universität Marburg
- Duale Hochschule Baden Wuerttemburg, Loerrach
- Osnabrueck University of Applied Sciences
- Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
- Berlin School of Economics and Law
- Munich Business School
- Hamburg University of Applied Sciences