A Guide to Your Higher Studies in Germany
Germany has so many sides to it, from fascinating landscapes, to inspiring art and culture scenes and a modern world-class economy. Germany has always been in the forefront of technological advances and innovative inventions. If you choose to study in Germany, you will be learning about the latest technological advances and trends in your particular subject. The country’s rich history and culture make Germany an exciting and rewarding place to live and study. Come and gain an insight into an exciting country right in the heart of Europe.
The standard of living in Germany is amongst the highest in the world. This is to a large extent a result of the successful German industry. The car production industry in Germany is for example one of the world’s largest. The financial center of the country, as well as of the entire European Union, is found in Frankfurt, a truly cosmopolitan city with the largest airport in Europe.
German university education continues to be tuition free. Students usually have to pay only for textbooks, certain administrative fees, and for room and board. However, most states continue to assess a semester fee that ranges from about 50 to 300 euros. In some states if a student’s studies exceed four semesters, there is a special tuition charge of 500 to 800 euros per each additional semester.
As of 2013, there were a total of 427 institutions of higher learning in Germany. Besides 108 universities, there were six teachers colleges, 17 theological seminaries, and 52 art colleges, 215 technical institutes and 29 state administrative training institutes. Fewer than 100 of these are private institutions.
International students from a country within the European Union or Australia, Japan, Canada, Isreal, New Zealand, USA, Switzerland, Honduras, Monaco and San Marino do not need a visa to apply to study in Germany. However, if you are from a country not included in the above you will need to apply for one of the following visas. Make sure that you apply for the right visa; a tourist visa can for example not be converted into a student visa.
- Language course visa: valid only for the duration of the course.
- 3-months study applicant’s visa: valid for those who have not yet been admitted to a university and valid for exchange students. Upon admission, it must be converted into a resident permit for student purposes at the office for foreigners’ affairs as quickly as possible.
- Visa for study purposes: valid for one year. Student must provide proof of admission and financial support for the duration of study to receive this visa.
- Valid passport
- Passport photos
- University admission letter
- Evidence of previous academic performance including Bachelor degree certificate.
- Proof that complete financial support (8090 Euros through the blocked account) for one year is guaranteed.
- German language certificate, if applying for German language programs.
These documents should then be submitted at the German Embassy or the German Consulate along with the residence proof together with your visa application.
Erasmus Mundus Scholarship Programs in Germany
German Universities participate in quite a number of study programs which are funded by Erasmus Mundus Scholarships. The scholarships allow international students to pursue a participating Erasmus Mundus study program for free.
German Foundations Scholarship Programs
A number of political and religious foundations in Germany offers scholarships to international students from various backgrounds, interests, and qualifications. Studentwerk-berlin.de outlines them in this list.
Heinrich Boll Foundation Scholarships is an example of a scholarship offered by a German political foundation while KAAD Scholarships is an example of a scholarship offered by a religious foundation in Germany.
DAAD Scholarship Programs
DAAD is a joint organization of Germany’s higher education institutions and is responsible for promoting international academic relations, primarily through the exchange of students, academics and researchers. The DAAD scholarship database contains scholarship and funding opportunities for foreign students, graduate students and scientists who are seeking financial support for their studies, research work or teaching assignments in Germany. The database not only lists all the scholarships offered by the DAAD Germany, but also diverse programs offered by a wide variety of institutions.
The most popular DAAD scholarship program for developing country students is the DAAD Scholarships for Postgraduate Courses with Special Relevance to Developing Countries. Another popular example ” target=”_blank”>DAAD Scholarships in Public Policy and Good Governance.
Anyone wanting to study in Germany needs health insurance – without this you won’t be able to enroll in a German university.
To study in Germany you need health insurance. Many students will be able to use their health insurance from their home country. Germany has concluded social insurance agreements with some countries, including the member states of the European Union and the European Economic Area. This means that anyone who has statutory health insurance in their home country can register this insurance cover with a statutory health insurer in Germany. To find out the best way of doing this you will need to contact your local health insurance company. You generally need a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
Private health insurers from other countries are sometimes also recognized in Germany. Your local insurer will be able to provide more information. In this case, you will need a confirmation certificate to enroll in the university. Anyone commencing their studies in Germany with private insurance is then not allowed to switch to a statutory health insurer for the entire duration of their course.
Health insurance for a language course or a preparatory course?
Anyone participating in a preparatory language course or other preparatory course is generally not obliged to obtain health insurance, but may do so voluntarily.
Finding insurance in Germany
Anyone who does not have access to their local health insurance will need to obtain insurance in Germany. The statutory health insurers in Germany are obliged to provide discounted student rates for their insurance cover for students until they reach 30 years of age or until the end of their 14th semester of study. You can obtain health insurance from any statutory health insurer in Germany. They generally charge a standard fee for student health and nursing insurance. The membership fee is currently 80 euros a month. The health insurer will issue you a certificate on the existing insurance cover, which you need to submit during enrollment.
Anyone who is over 30 years of age or has been studying for more than 14 semesters during their period of study in Germany can maintain their statutory insurance, but at a higher rate. Anyone who is over the age of 29 when starting their course can only obtain private insurance.
Unemployment among graduates in Germany one year after leaving their institution is at 4% and below, compared with a seasonally adjusted national unemployment rate of 5.9%, according to a survey by HIS-HF, a higher education statistics agency. While 4% of graduates with the traditional diplom, magister or staatsexamen from a university or fachhochschule (university of applied science) are still without a job after one year, graduates with one of the new bachelor degrees appear to be doing even better, with a 2% unemployment rate for university and 3% for fachhochschul graduates.
The survey was carried out across Germany among more than 10,000 graduates from the examination cohort of 2009. Annette Schavan, the education minister, said: “Job prospects for higher education graduates are good. And they are going to get even better because of the lack of skilled labour.” The share of those taking up jobs below their qualification level is low, too, at just 3% of fachhochschul and 5% of university graduates. Kolja Briedis, who headed the survey project, said: “This means that compared with the cohort interviewed five years previously, in 2005, entering a profession appears to be working even better.”
In the period under review, pre-tax annual salaries for full-time employees appear to have risen substantially, as well. Average annual income for job-starters had been at around EUR33,000 (US$45,400), but was at EUR37,250 for fachhochschul graduates and EUR37,500 for university graduates in 2009. There were significant salary differentials, though, with medicine graduates topping the list at just under EUR50,000 and graduates in the humanities bringing up the rear, with EUR27,000.
One year after graduating, 77% of university bachelors and 53% of fachhochschul bachelors took up a further university course, usually a masters, with around 90% of them being able to study at an institution of their choice. Most bachelor graduates who were interviewed said they wished to go on studying because they were personally motivated to do so, and not because they were worried about being unemployed. Most of the bachelor graduates who did not go on to a further university course were successful with entering a profession, and just 7% of fachhochschul graduates were working in positions below their qualification level one year after graduating. At an average of EUR33,650, income for job-starters in this group was around 10% lower than among fachhochschul graduates with a diploma.
At universities, starters in economics with a bachelor degree were earning EUR33,000 on average, and those with a diplom EUR37,000. Successful graduation at a German university opens a range of opportunities in the German job market for international graduates. What is my best method of attack?
Graduates from the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) have free access to the German job market. By contrast, graduates from other countries are allowed to extend their residence permit for up to 18 months after completing their studies for the purpose of looking for employment. Incidentally, during this period you can work as much as you want. The 18 months start as soon as the final exam result has been issued in writing. So, anyone wanting to work in Germany after completing their studies should already start looking for a job in their final semester.
Compliance with the statutory provisions
The “Information on the Statutory Frameworks applicable to the Pursuit of Gainful Employment by Foreign Students, Academics and Scientists” leaflet provides more detailed information.
Consider what your skills are
The search for the perfect job starts with you. You should think about your own interests and skills before thinking about specific jobs. Questions that may help during this self-assessment:
- Who am I?
- What am I good at?
- What do I want to do?
- What is possible?
Many graduates only look for jobs that precisely match their course. A better approach would be to look at the bigger picture, consider related fields and transfer your knowledge. If you read job advertisements carefully, you will notice that companies are often looking for employees with certain skills, not a specific degree.
The university’s Career Centre can also help you launch your career. They help students and graduates make the transition from their studies to professional life. Career Centres help you organise your own situation and explore possible careers. They also check your application documents, hold information events and invite companies to hold presentations.
Seek an external opinion
You can also ask people close to you for their opinion. Or, you can ask for feedback from a professor or an internship supervisor. You can then compare your self-assessment with the external opinion. These opinions can often provide new perspectives.
Searching for and finding the right job
Once you are sure of your interests and skills you can start looking for a job. In order to know which jobs you want to consider, you will need to have specific expectations of a range of different jobs. Looking for potential employers during your course, completing internships and establishing professional contacts definitely provide an advantage. It gives you something to build on when you start looking for a job at the end of your course.
The university Career Centre should be your first port of call. They help to answer any questions about launching your career – and most have well-structured job exchanges. The Federal Employment Agency manages Germany’s largest online job portal and also provides an overview of the potential fields of employment. A range of other job portals are available on the Internet: general portals, such as www.monster.de and www.stepstone.de, as well as specific websites. The Absolventa job portal specifically targets students, graduates and young professionals. The ZEIT portal provides more academic job offers.
Newspapers are of course another important tool. The Science Shop Bonn collects job advertisements for scholars in the “Arbeitsmarkt” magazine every week. Or you can have a look at the websites of companies that you find particularly interesting to check whether they have any vacancies. A whole range of job and career fairs are also held, which you can find out about in the Radar job fair.
Social networks for professional contacts are also popular in Germany – for example www.xing.de or www.linkedin.com. These networks let you create a professional profile and establish contacts with companies that are looking for new employees.
Correctly assessing your job prospects
It always takes time and effort to find the right job. But, thanks to the good economic situation in Germany, university graduates looking for work generally have very good prospects. Added to this is the fact that there is a lack of skilled employees in many regions and professions. The fields of mathematics, IT, natural sciences and technology as well as other areas, such as the health sector, are experiencing particular shortages.
This means that, depending on the sector, you have a good chance of finding a job. You can find more information on the actual figures on the “Portal zur Fachkräfte-Offensive”. The welcome portal “Make it in Germany” provides information on the job opportunities in Germany as well as an overview of life in Germany.
Better opportunities with a good knowledge of German
Your chances of finding a job in Germany are generally much better if you have a good knowledge of German. Exceptions include large, multinational companies and scientific research institutes.
The permit is usually granted for one year and is extendable as long as your situation remains the same. After five years, you can apply for a settlement permit or EU right of residence in order to stay in the country indefinitely.
1. Permits for general employment
If you are coming to work in general employment (that is, a job that does not require you to be highly skilled or highly educated), you will need to apply for a residence permit for the purpose of general employment, and you will only be eligible if the position cannot be filled by a worker from the EU/EEA or Switzerland. You will need to have a vocational qualification and a firm offer of a job in Germany (and show both evidence of your qualification and an employment contract or letter of intent).
2. Permits for highly skilled workers earning EUR 84,600+
Those who fit this category can apply for a settlement permit, entitling you ¬– and your family members – to live and work in Germany indefinitely (if you were to come to Germany on a regular residence permit, you would have to be resident for five years before applying for a settlement permit). You will need to have a specific job offer and the permission of the Federal Employment Agency.
3. Permits for self-employed/freelancers
If you want to come to Germany to set up a business, you can apply for a residence permit for self-employed business purposes. It is valid for three years and can be extended if the business is successful.
You need to prove that the business will fulfill a need in Germany, benefit the country economically and be fully financed by a bank loan or your own capital. You’ll need to have a viable business plan, relevant experience, and show how your business will contribute to innovation and research in Germany.
When you apply, you will have to provide evidence of all of these things, plus proof of pension provision if you’re over 45.
Freelancers can also apply for a residence permit for self-employment, which are those defined as self-employed people working in science and engineering, the arts, professional writing or teaching, or who offer a professional service, such as a doctor, dentist or lawyer.
4. Permits for scientific researchers
If you want to come to Germany a researcher, then you need to have a ‘host’ agreement (contract) with a research institute recognized by BAMF, which will confirm the details of the research that you will be carrying out, and that you are properly qualified and financially secure.
Many higher education institutions in Germany are currently introducing internationally comparable Bachelor’s and Master’s programs. This means that degree programs completed in Germany and qualifications gained there are becoming internationally compatible. At the same time, this development makes it easier for students from abroad and overseas to enter and study at a German higher education institution. In addition, ever more multilingual degree programs are being offered; most of these programs are delivered in English and bring the students up to speed for the global employment market.
The universities in Germany are open to students from all countries. Currently in Germany there are about two million enrolled students, 250,000 of them are international students. With over 10 % international students Germany is the world’s favorite place to study! The diversity of Germany’s higher education system may perhaps confuse you as your start, but it enables you to make the best choice for your future studies.
1. Universities of Applied Sciences in Germany
Universities of Applied Sciences in Germany offers great practical relevance and focus, well-founded academic training for degree programs in the field of technology, business and management, social studies, media and design. If you like learning and working in the applied field, then this will be an interesting option for you.
2. Colleges of Art, Film and Music in Germany
The colleges of Art, Film and Music in Germany are perfect for anyone wishing to turn their artistic talent into a profession. The range of programs extends from painting, design and architecture to directing, music and drama. The entry threshold is high, the training excellent. One to one teaching or classes in small groups ensure that the young artists get the finishing artistic touches.
3. Church-maintained Colleges in Germany
For students interested in a career in the field of social work, education, special needs education or curative/therapeutic education, plus nursing and health care professionals, and church musicians.
4. Private Universities in Germany
Despite the high tuition fees – around 1,800 to 4,700 euro per semester – private universities in Germany are becoming a popular option. Some of the reasons for this lie in the good reputation: small study groups, strong ties with business and industry, very practical focus, strong international orientation, short studies, good career prospects. But before you sign a contract with a private university, please make sure that you check that the university is state recognized. If it’s not, the academic degree you gain will not be recognized, which could lead to major problems when you start looking for a job after graduating.
5. Universities of Cooperative Education in Germany
These are not higher education institutions. Nevertheless, their certificates and degrees are partly recognized as equivalent to Fachhochschulen qualifications. Berufsakademien offer academic studies (focuses on business, technology, social studies) in combination with vocational training, i.e. cooperative education. This dual training alternates between courses taken at the academy and practical (workplace) training in a company. Some of the Berufsakademien even deliver the training bilingually: German-English. This profile has resulted in many companies showing a strong interest in Berufsakademie graduates, including, in particular, global players with their branches around the world.
Admission to study in Germany
International students that want to apply to study in Germany should normally apply direct to the International Office at the higher education institution of their choice. As soon as you have received notification of admission from the International Office and taken a language test, you can register as a student at the respective institution of higher education. Closing date for admissions applications at the Foreign Student Office are July, 15th for the following winter semester and January, 15th for the following summer semester.
The cost of living in Germany generally differs according to the city you are in, while Leipzig can be bizarrely cheap and affordable Munich is nothing likewise. Among the bigger metropolitan cities as Hamburg, Koln, Stuttgart and tiny yet cozy towns like Erfurt, Freiburg or Osnabruck Berlin is caught somewhere in the middle as a common ground to shed some perspective on a random students truthful cost of living when in Germany.
Berlin, besides being relatively cheap has also the advantage of being a huge city with numerous options given that in this same city one can live on a few hundred bucks straight and decent close to some millionaire celebrity whose limit is the sky. So to say, with few managing skills you are in for the kill.
Cost of Living in Germany
As of October 2014, all of the Universities are free of charge; Germany has finally approved the abolition of tuition fees in the country. However before you get ahead of yourself, there’s no such thing as free lunch; yes all of the Universities are free of charge now but there is this thing called “Semesterbeitrag” considered a semester contribution that is mandatory and it ranges from 250 to several hundreds of Euros depending on the University. The benefits of this so-called contribution are the access to free public transport in and around the city area which long-term saves loads and loads of money.
Public transport in Germany is comfortable, fast and efficient. For the ones who appreciate weekend getaways and wish to explore the country, there is the Bahn- Card purchased annually that offers discounts ranging from 25%, 50% and 100%, basically a free ticket.
The annual price of this card varies from 57 EUR second-class to 114 EUR first-class under the 25% discount up to the 100% discount costing 4080 EUR second-class and 6400 EUR first-class.
Assuming that, while new in town one wants to share the apartment with a roommate, split rents in the common student neighborhoods go up to 300 EUR even cheaper, tax included. If you’re lucky enough to find out that you share the same interests with the roommate so you end up being friends you may as well start using the apartment fridge after all, split the food supply expenses and do some cooking of your own. In the end of a month you will end up saving a fortune.
Cheaper rents for the ones not able to afford this kind of a lifestyle are offered by dormitories and student residences meanwhile the student Mensa has always hot soup, meat and “karttofel” for less than nothing.
On the contrary, if you are used to having the space to yourself and most importantly can afford renting a flat on your own prices may vary from 350-800 EUR. The outrageously expensive deal breaker about renting on your own is the acquired deposition of approximately 1500 EUR in case any damage is done.
Shopping for groceries and essentials monthly won’t escalate a sum of 100 EUR and if you are sharing it with the roommate even less. Cooking in is healthier, make’s a perfect hobby and saves tons of money. This is another reason why sharing the apartment with roommates is much more fun, you get to cook for each other and dine together while cooking for one person is usually dull and kills the joy.
Germany is a popular destination for students from all over the world seeking a bachelor’s degree. Students choose a Bachelor programs in Germany for several reasons, including excellence in education, the position as a highly technologically developed country, rich culture and history, and a variety of landscapes ranging from beautiful countryside to dynamic cities.
There is a variety of Bachelor programs in Germany that students can choose from. Some of the most popular fields of study for a Bachelor courses in Germany are international relations, business, engineering, economics, and hospitality, to name a few. There are also options offered by universities that provide flexibility in scheduling, such as full-time, part-time, and online studies. Program specifics vary between universities and programs, and it usually takes a minimum of three years of full-time study to complete a Bachelor in Germany program.
25,000 academics receive doctoral degrees in Germany every year – far more than in any other European country. And each year, more and more young international researchers are choosing to write their dissertations or join a doctoral research team in Germany. In fact, the number of foreign doctoral candidates in Germany has more than doubled since 1997.
There’s more than one way to get your doctoral title in Germany. Depending on the subject, research proposal and type of university, there are several possible paths to a PhD, the most common of which are individual doctoral studies and structured PhD programs. The majority of doctoral candidates in Germany pursue PhDs through individual doctoral study, yet structured PhD programs are becoming increasingly common.
Master’s degree is the second level of degree that can be obtained at a German university, after a Bachelor’s degree. It allows students to gain in-depth knowledge of a subject in an advanced course of study that lasts between two and four semesters. It also affords students the opportunity to develop valuable relationships and sometimes obtain hands-on experience via internships and research. Once a student obtains a Master’s degree, he or she can enter the job market or aim for a higher academic degree: the doctoral degree.
Universities in Germany are renowned for offering top-notch Master programs at a relatively cheaper cost than their counterparts in the United Kingdom, United States and Australia. Although tuition fees may vary among Master’s degree programs. Scholarships, fellowships and grants are available for qualifying students.
Once a student finishes a Master’s degree program, career opportunities are plentiful in Germany. Many educational institutions offer students the chance to do internships in their chosen field. German companies such as BMW, Bosch, Daimler, and Siemens offer a wealth of opportunities to students interested in finance, marketing, engineering and many more areas. The close proximity of London, Paris, and Rome also expand the pool of job prospects for recent graduates. Even if a student chooses to return to his or her home country after completing the studies, the prestige of a German degree will give a distinct advantage in today’s competitive job market.
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- The course duration for Masters in University of Applied Sciences is either 18 months or 24 months.
- In the Technical Universities (TUs) and other private universities, the course duration of the Masters as well as MBA program would be for 24 months.
- The course duration for Bachelors is either 36 months or 48 months. But however German language is required, at least A2 level, to apply for Bachelor degree programs.
- The majority of German universities are subsidized by the state government. Hence most of the universities charge no tuition fees or relatively low tuition fees for Bachelors, Masters and Phd programs.
- Tuition fees for MBA would be ranging from € 4000 to € 30,000 for the complete course.
- Don't confuse the tuition fees with the semester contribution. Every university in Germany requires students to pay a semester contribution regardless of whether it charges tuition fees or not. Again, each university may decide on the amount
- Universities use the semester contribution fees to improve study conditions and provide better facilities to the students. of semester contribution which comes approximately around € 100 to € 400 per semester.