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The basics
Germany: Applying to University - Must read

How to apply to a German university

How do you apply to a German university? What is the process? Read our full, step-by-step guide to get started...

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The first thing to be aware of is that the process of applying to university in Germany varies from institution to institution. While we’ve provided some guidelines below that tell you how to apply to a German university as an international student, it’s essential that you visit the university website, in particular the university’s International Office (Akademisches Auslandsamt) to find out specific information on applying, deadlines and procedures. 


Questions you should ask the university’s international office

  • What requirements do I need to meet for the course?
  • Where do I send the application?
  • When is the application deadline?
  • What documents should I enclose?

Once you’ve done all that, here is some more information that should help you sail through the application process…


When should you apply to a German university?

Many German universities offer the option of applying twice a year, with courses commencing either in winter or summer. It's important that you're aware of the dates of these courses so that you can apply within the deadlines.


It's no myth that Germans are sticklers for time-keeping! Applying early will ensure your application is seen in time and you'll have a better chance of getting accepted onto a course. Germany universities have soared in popularity with overseas students, especially as most courses don't require tuition fees. Be sure to get in early so you get seen! Scroll to the bottom for tips on how to stand out from the crowd.


What are the winter semester dates for German universities?

The winter semester at a German institution usually runs from September to February or October to March. The deadline is usually around July 15* but we recommend finalising your application around May. 


What are the summer semester dates for German universities?

Summer semester dates at most German universities will run from April to September, or March to August at Universities of Applied Sciences. The deadline is usually around January 15* but we recommend finalising your application in December, just to be safe!


*This is the typical deadline date for each respective semester, but be sure to carefully check individual course application deadlines with your university.


What documents will you need to apply to a German university?

  • A certified copy of your higher education entrance qualification, such as a high-school diploma or certificate (in the original language)
  • A translated overview of the subjects and grades of your qualifications (in English)
  • A passport photo
  • A copy of your passport (personal information and photo ID)
  • Proof of English language proficiency 


What else do you need to know?

NC Restrictions

Popular subjects like medicine, pharmacy, veterinary medicine and dentistry are so in demand by students, that admission restrictions apply at all German universities (this is known as NC, Numerus Clausus, Latin for "closed number"). The application and admission procedures for NC places are run centrally by the Stiftung für Hochschulzulassung. However, in some cases, international applicants may also have to apply via the Application Services for International University Applications (uni-assist) or by applying directly to their university. 


Some courses also have local admission NC restrictions. In these instances the restrictions change every semester based on the demand and supply of university places for a particular course. The best thing to do is once you've shortlisted the institutions you're interested in, send an email to their international office asking them to clarify the conditions around NC restrictions. They are used to answering this question every day and will have a clear break-down for you. 


These courses are similarly competitive and be warned as universities may also add additional criteria such as interviews, tests, or motivation letters. In all instances, the best place to get information on this is the International Office of your chosen university.


Tips for international students 

  • Apply as early as possible (at least six weeks ahead of the deadline)
  • Apply to as many courses and universities as you think relevant to increase your chances of acceptance
  • Choose less popular cities to increase your chances
  • Be patient. You may have to wait up to two months to hear back from the university
  • Apply again! If the winter semester application doesn’t work out, why not try again for the summer application?
  • Stand out from the crowd! University places are competitive in Germany so make sure you find your unique selling point and channel it through the application.


Now that you’ve got all the applying essentials down, why not start the search for your perfect course and make that study dream in Germany become a reality!