1. Higher education in Germany

1.1 German 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 styles 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. For some vocational courses, it is necessary to have relevant work experience before you can apply to study there although this is not often a restriction on English-taught courses.

As 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’.

1.2 Entry requirements for German universities

A’ level entry requirements for German universities will change from 2022. The old rules will still apply until Winter Semester 2023 if these are more advantageous for you, but it is unlikely that this will be the case. In fact, it seems that entry to German universities will be much simpler in future for students with A’ levels. To avoid confusion we have removed the older regulations from this page of the site but you can still find them here (in German).

There is no change to Scottish Highers and other school leaving diplomas such as Btecs are still not seen as suitable for entry to German higher education.

While there any number of exceptions for competitive degree programmes, and sometimes confusing rules relating to particular A’ level subject combinations, the basic rule is that university admission is now possible with 3 A’ levels at CCC or better. This fits the reality of British-educated students’ academic background far better than the previous regulations that still refer to AS levels and require a minimum of four subjects. The other main benefit of these changes is that it is no longer the case that Maths (or a science) is required for absolutely everything. This change alone will make German higher education more accessible to British-educated students.

General Requirements

A minimum of 3 A’ levels at CCC or better is required to study at a German university. These A’ levels must be in independent subjects (eg. Maths and Further Maths is only one A’ level).

Two of these A’ levels must be from subjects on List A. These subjects include: Languages (not mother-tongue), History, Geography, Politics, Sociology, Government & Politics, Economics, Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Computer Science.

The third A’ level can be another one from List A or an independent subject on List B. The most common subjects on this list are: Art & Design, Ancient History, Classical Civilisation, Geology, Drama, History of Art, Music, Psychology, Religious Studies, Physical Education and Statistics.

If a subject on this list is deemed dependent, it cannot be considered. Examples would include History of Art for students who also have History, Statistics with Maths, Geology with Geography etc.

There is also a List C that includes a number of subjects that might be accepted if they relate directly to the intended degree programme. Acceptance of these subjects is at the discretion of the individual university. The most common examples include: Business Studies, Design & Technology, Film Studies, Law, Media Studies and Music Technology. The same rule about subject dependency applies, meaning that Business Studies cannot be offered alongside Economics, for example. Law cannot be offered with History, Politics, Sociology or Government & Politics.

We have not included all subjects on List B and C here, nor all of the subject-dependent clashes. However, this summary does cover the most obvious examples.

There do appear to be some omissions or apparent inaccuracies. For example, there is no mention of General Studies or Critical Thinking on any list, so it is safe to assume these subjects are not recognised.

On List A, “Informatik” is the German name given to Computer Science A’ level but it also includes Information & Communication Technology and Information Technology A’ levels which might be more equivalent to the vocational subjects in List C and are certainly treated as such in other countries eg. the Netherlands.

Subject - Specific Requirements

For certain degree programmes specific combinations of A’ levels are required. In reality, this affects most degrees except the arts.

Medicine and Pharmacy – 3 A’ levels from Maths, Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Computer Science

Maths and Engineering – Maths is compulsory, one A’ level must be Biology, Physics, Chemistry or Computer Science. The third A’ level can be anything.

Sciences – Two A’ levels must be from Maths, Biology, Physics, Chemistry and Computer Science.

Social Sciences and Economics – One A’ level must be from Maths, Biology, Physics, Chemistry and Computer Science. One A’ level must be from History, Geography, Politics, Economics and Sociology.

Law – One A’ level must be from History, Geography, Politics, Economics and Sociology or a language.

In degrees that are not listed here, the universities can specify their own subject requirements if they wish.



  • AS Levels can no longer be recognised at all.
  • Vocational Certificates of Education such as BTecs cannot be considered.
  • 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.
  • The International Baccalaureate is usually accepted without difficulty unless you have taken Maths SL Analysis and Approaches. This will still be fine for many subjects particularly if a science subject is included at HL.
  • The IB Career Diploma is not recognised for university admission in Germany.

The guidelines above are adapted and translated from the Anabin website. From time to time these can change slightly so if you speak German you might want to refer to them directly.

Some Universities/Fachhochschulen offer one-year preparatory courses, in case you cannot meet the requirements.These are known as "Studienkolleg".

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. Specialist education institutions such as art schools often have their own entrance procedures that mean the rigid A' level requirements might be waived.

A number of German universities now offer programmes that start in English but then transition into German. This model allows English speaking students to gain admission to their institutions without speaking German at the time of application. However, we would recommend that you only apply to these programmes if you already have basic German skills because becoming fluent in a language, starting from scratch in just one year is certainly not easy. 

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’ as this is one of the main reasons German students study abroad.

1.3 Application process for German universities

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 (federal region) and University/Fachhochschule.

For Fachhochschulen

  • Summer Semester: generally March to August (courses begin: 15 March) 
  • Winter Semester: generally September to February (courses begin: 15 September)

For Universities

  • Summer Semester: generally April to September (courses begin: 15 April)
  • Winter Semester: generally October to March (courses begin: 15 October)

There are some changes to the application process to courses subject to Numerus Clausus 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).

Some German universities use a centralised admissions system, Uni-Assist, for the processing of international applications. You can find a list of which universities use Uni-Assist here. If you need to use Uni-Assist here is a summary of the application process.

2. How much does it cost to study in Germany?

Tuition fees are currently zero in Germany for all students and will remain that way for EU nationals for the foreseeable future; you only have to pay a small contribution of up to €150 per semester depending on the University/Fachhochschule. 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.

3. Student life in Germany

3.1 How do I get a visa to study in Germany?

No visa is required for EU citizens.

3.2 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)

4. Which are the best universities in Germany?

  1. Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich
  2. Heidelberg University
  3. Technical University Munich
  4. Humboldt University Berlin
  5. Free University Berlin




Universities in Germany

About A Star Future

A Star Future provides information and guidance to British students looking to pursue their undergraduate studies abroad.

Through our presentations in schools and our websites we aim to ensure that British-educated students are well informed about their choices.