Germany is rightly proud of the quality of its higher education system and its universities examine applications very carefully.
However, the German admissions process is fair and welcomes genuine international students (over 250,000 of whom already study in Germany).
There is no centralised portal for postgraduate applications. Instead students normally find a course they are interested in and then apply directly to that university.
However, some institutions use a service called Uni-Assist to manage international applications.
Universities are free to set their own deadlines. As a rough guide, try to apply at least four months in advance, particularly if you need time to organise a student visa.
You are free to make simultaneous applications (but make sure you leave enough time to manage and complete them!).
Some universities in Germany will charge a fee for processing your postgraduate application. This is not likely to be high – expect to pay less than €50.
Fees for using the Uni-Assist service will be slightly higher, reflecting the additional assistance you receive.
The main requirement for admission to a Masters in Germany is a suitable Bachelors degree. This doesn’t have to have been awarded in Germany, but it will need to be recognised by the German university you apply to.
If you apply to a German university through Uni-Assist their service will help check your qualifications.
You may also be able to receive assistance from one of the EU’s ENIC-NARIC academic recognition centres.
In some cases universities may set additional entry requirements (this is more likely for programmes with restricted places). These
- Details of your secondary education – Some very competitive programmes may wish to see further details of an international student’s educational history. This normally takes the form of a ‘school-leaving certificate’, equivalent to the German
Hochschulzugangsberechtigung. Certificates such as British GCSEs or A-levels (or their equivalents) will normally be fine.
- An interview – German universities may want to discuss your application and experience. Video interviews can sometimes be arranged for international students.
- Entry tests – Competitive (or specialised) programmes may ask you to take an additional entry exam or standardised postgraduate admissions test. This can be used in professional subjects to check your existing training. Business schools and MBA programmes are also likely to require a score from recognised tests such as the GMAT or GRE.
Don’t worry if the above list seems intensive or intimidating. It’s unlikely for universities to require all of them and many courses will be satisfied with a recognised Bachelors degree.
Your university should make any additional requirements clear to you before you apply – in fact, you can read about the admissions criteria and applications process for individual German Masters degrees in our course listings.
A large number of German Masters degrees are taught in English, making them more accessible to international students.
However, you may need to provide a language test score to study in Germany if neither English or German is your first language. This will depend on your course:
- Programmes in English will not require proficiency in German. However, non-native English speakers may still be required to take an English language test (exceptions will normally be made if you have completed an undergraduate degree, or other course, in English).
- Programmes in German will normally require international applicants to sit a recognised German language test (or provide other evidence of their proficiency, such as an existing qualification studied in German). Some courses will accept a lower score at the application stage, allowing applicants to take further German language training before they commence their degree (or do so during the early stages of their Masters).
Remember, even if your course doesn’t require a German test, it’s still worth taking the opportunity to build up your language skills whilst studying abroad. Most universities offer language courses in parallel to their degree programmes.
Doing so will make your time in Germany much more interesting and rewarding – plus, gaining proficiency in a second language is a great way to get more out of your international Masters and reflect the experience on your CV.
Numerus clausus (restricted applications)
Some German Masters programmes are subject to a 'numerus clausus'. This limits the number of students they can admit (numerus clausus translates as ‘restricted number’).
Programmes in medical professions (such as Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmacy) are most likely to be affected.
There are two main types of
at German universities:
- Some subjects are centrally restricted by the German government and subject to a
zentraler numerus clausus.
- Other subjects are locally restricted by universities themselves. These are subject to a
lokaler numerus clausus.
Your university will make it clear whether a given Masters programme is subject to any kind of numerus clausus and what effect this will have on your application process.
Applying through Uni-Assist
Uni-Assist is an international applications portal used by some German universities.
Note that a university may only use Uni-Assist for some of its Masters programmes – be sure to confirm the application process for the specific course you are interested in.
The exact role played by Uni-Assist can differ between universities and programmes. In most cases the service will review applications to ensure they are valid. This also involves confirming the recognition and accreditation of foreign qualifications and transcripts.
Uni-Assist then either forwards a student’s application to the university or generates a VPD (Vorpruefungsdokumentation) certificate with which they can complete an application themselves.
Uni-Assist fees are currently set at €75 for the first university you apply to and a further €30 for each additional university you apply to within the same semester. This means that you can use the Uni-Assist service to make multiple applications without incurring prohibitive costs.
In some cases a German university will pay your Uni-Assist fees for you. This is known as cost transfer.