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How to apply to a German university

While the cost of college education in the US has reached record highs, Germany has abandoned tuition fees altogether and has done so for Germans and non-Germans alike. The BBC explains how to find the most suitable study programmes, how to apply and where to receive scholarships.

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Image caption Humboldt University in Berlin is one of the most popular destinations for international students

1. Do you have what it takes

  • Sometimes a high school diploma with a 3.0 GPA is all you need. Click through this link to see if you qualify for direct admission or for a preparatory course.
  • Prep courses, called Studienkolleg, take one year and culminate in an assessment test.

2. Find a university

  • DAAD offers a comprehensive database with the option to look for programmes taught in English only.
  • Find out where your university ranks in terms of academics, teacher support, job market preparation, etc (requires a free registration).
  • Contact the local office for international students if you have questions.

US students in Germany

4,654

fully enrolled at German university

61%

pursue Master's degree

  • 29% Languages, Cultural Studies

  • 27% Law, Social Sciences

  • 12% Engineering

  • 10% Math, Natural Sciences

3. Find the right city

  • This database tells you how much rent is on average, if people bike or walk, and how many of the students still live with their parents (requires a free registration).

4. Find a scholarship

  • The DAAD is the largest provider of scholarships to international students in Germany. They can run the entirety of your studies and pay up to 1,000 Euro a month depending on your needs.
  • Apply early, since deadlines can close up to a year in advance. Unlike in the US you want to apply for a scholarship long before you get admitted to the university.

5. Learn German

  • For courses taught in German you will have to demonstrate your German skills. You can take a test (for a fee) to do just that.
  • You can test your German here also, but will still need a certificate in the end.

6. Apply!

  • Most programmes will have more applicants than places, so an admission process will take place either locally, or through a centralised system for medicine, pharmacy, veterinary medicine and dentistry.
  • The international office at your desired locations will tell you what is necessary to apply. Some will just demand grades, other will also want letters of motivation, or even conduct personal interviews.
  • Choosing less popular destinations (smaller cities in Germany rather than the metropolitan centres) will increase your chances. More info by DAAD.

Read more: US students go to Germany for free college