Step 1: Choose your university and study programs

No matter which country you plan to study in, this is the very first stage you need to conquer as does every other student. Before you dive right in, we recommend that you read up on the school structure in Germany in another blog article of ours:

1.1 Do your research on universities and programs

We recommend these websites for the best search results on your own:

Consulting friends or alumni, who already attended the school or program you are interested in, might also get you a better insight into the syllabus and academic environment before you make your final decision.

1.2 Choose programs based on the language of instruction

Most of the universities in Germany offer the majority of their courses in German. So it’s mandatory for you to reach a certain skill level of the German Language. However, there are also internationally-oriented courses taught in English that require different language skills instead.

1.3 Choose a program based on your ability to meet the requirements

First, you need to read the entrance criteria of your program to see if you are suitable to pursue the course or not. The academic requirements are mostly related to your previous educational qualification, but can vary according to your home country. You can find your individual requirements and admission possibilities in the DAAD database as well as specific requirements for the university and study program that you’re applying for on the corresponding websites.


Step 2: Get to know the evaluation procedure of your educational documents

There are 3 institutions which receive your application documents and evaluate them:

  • Stiftung für Hochschulzulassung (Foundation for Admission to Higher Education, formerly called “Zentralstelle für die Vergabe von Studienplätzen” = Central Office for the Allocation of Study Places)
  • uni-assist (University Application Service for International Students)
  • The university itself

2.1 Which institution will be responsible for evaluating your documents?

The answer varies depending on your home country or the origin of your school leaving certificate as well as your chosen program.

Germany limits the number of admissions nationwide for popular subjects such as Medicine, Pharmacy, Veterinary Medicine and Dentistry, which is a so-called “nationwide Numerus clausus”. Furthermore, some universities and higher education institutions also restrict the number of admissions for their study programmes and call it a “local Numerus clausus”.

3101.PNG Division table for institutions receiving an application to German Higher Education Schools

Enrollment in a non-admission (zulassungsfrei) study program normally can take place without prior application within the prescribed period and is only possible before the set deadlines.


Master programs may require an advanced application process to check admission requirements. Please inquire at the respective faculty in case your chosen university is responsible for evaluating your documents or uni-assist (if the university collaborates with it).

2.2 What could the result of evaluation be like?

There are 3 possibilities:

  • Your evaluation results are positive and you are qualified for direct application at the university
  • You are not qualified for direct application at the university but you are still qualified for a university preparation course (Studienkolleg), which will last 2 semesters. After passing the final exams at Studienkolleg, you could be qualified for university entrance.
  • You are neither qualified for university study nor for Studienkolleg.

Step 3: Application preparation

It is important that you are well-prepared in advance before submitting your application to universities or uni-assist. Let’s start with the language qualification which is essential for you to prove your ability to follow the classes.

3.1 Getting a language certificate

Language requirements and preferred language certificates differ between universities and study programmes. For courses in German, Studienkollegs usually require at least level B1 of the German language while most universities require level C1.

For courses in English, most of the universities will require at least an IELTS score of 6.5 or an equivalent level of other certificates if accepted by the university (TOEFL, Cambridge Language Certificates, proof of English as an instruction language in previous education)

3.2 Special documents: TestAS and APS certificate

Some programmes only accept applicants with a TestAS certificate. Also, students from specific countries must go through the APS examination to be admitted to a German university.

APS examination, implemented by the Akademische Prüfstelle (Academic Evaluation Center) at German Embassies, is specifically required for students from China, Mongolia, and Vietnam.

For more information about TestAS and APS, please check


3.3 General documents for application

Different schools and programmes as well as different institutions (uni-assist or Stiftung für Hochschulzulassung) will ask for different documents from applicants.

Required documents are included but not limited to these following:

  • a certified copy of your higher education entrance qualification (Hochschulreife)
  • an overview of your subjects and grades (certified and including an official translation)
  • certified/notarized copies of your previous higher education certificates, if applicable
  • a recent passport photograph
  • a notarized copy of your passport
  • notarized copies of your language certificates

If your documents are not in German, officially certified/notarized and translated versions must be presented. Documents in French or English might be accepted as well if applicable.

For more information about "uni-assist", we would recommend you read

3.4 Preparing a budget for your studies

There are many ways for you to finance your study, as well as proving your financial resources for the visa application:

  1. Self-finance: Starting from 01 January 2020, you need a blocked account of €10.236/year (€853/month) to provide financial proof to study in Germany.
  2. Scholarship: You have to present documents showing that you have been granted an award or scholarship by a recognized body in your country in “sufficient amount”, which covers your tuition and living expenses, to get your student visa and secure your life in Germany.
  3. Parents: Submitting your parents’ or guardians’ documents for proof of annual income and financial assets for at least three months from the time of your application.
  4. Declaration of commitment of a permanent resident in Germany: You will need to submit a statement of the inviting person’s income and document that includes the terms and conditions of your agreement.
  5. A bank guarantee: Students can also borrow the required amount of money to earn the proof of their funds from banks. Make sure that the bank assures you to take care of all your living and studying costs in Germany by submitting a bank guarantee statement.

Step 4: Submit Application

The application period varies for different universities and degrees but usually centers around these enrolment sessions:

  • Winter enrolment: mid-April to mid-July. Admission letters will be sent in August or September. Applications for admission-free study courses (depending on the university) are possible from mid-August to mid-October.
  • Summer enrolment: beginning of December to mid-January. Admission letters will be sent in February or March. It is highly recommended that you check your individual application deadlines on your university and degree-specific websites and to submit your application well in advance, around 2 to 3 weeks before the deadline.

EDUBAO_3101_Overview guide for application_M.jpg

** Step 5: Visa Application**

Students from certain countries do not need a visa to study in Germany. You can check whether you need a student visa for Germany here.

If you are a student from Vietnam, China or Mongolia, you have to pass the APS examination as a prerequisite to obtain a student visa in Germany.

There are 2 types of visa, depending on the status of your admission:

  • Prospective student visa (Visum zur Studienbewerbung) is meant for students who haven’t received their admission from universities yet and are waiting for their final application results.
  • Student visa (Visum zu Studienzwecken) is meant for students who already got admitted to a school in Germany.

Required documents are included but not limited to these following:

  • A valid passport
  • Health insurance coverage that is valid in Germany
  • Proof of financial resources
  • Certificates of past academic work and achievements
  • Certificate of language proficiency
  • For a prospective student visa: university entrance qualification recognized in Germany
  • For a student visa: letter of acceptance from your German university
  • A health certificate

If you have questions about any required documents for applying for a German visa, we would recommend you read our other EDUBAO articles!



Step 6: Entering Germany

If you enter Germany with a prospective student visa, you should obtain the admission as soon as possible, for example by finishing your entrance exam or language course.

But in case you enter with a student visa, you need to enroll at your university first!

6.1 University enrollment

  • Where to enroll? -> At your university’s Office of Students Affairs or International Office.
  • Required documents? -> Your passport, the university admission letter, the university entrance qualification (or substitute), passport photos, German health insurance coverage, language proficiency certificate
  • What to do after the enrollment? -> Apply for a Residence Permit.

What exactly should you do after arriving in Germany? You will find the complete answers in

6.2 Residence Permit application

Procedure for Residence Permit application:

  1. Make an appointment online at your nearby residents’ registration office at least 1 week before your arrival.
  2. Find an accommodation as quickly as possible.
  3. Register your address at the registry office at the latest two weeks after arriving in Germany.
  4. Get a residence permit from the foreigners’ registration office with the following documents:
  5. valid passport with visa
  6. registration confirmation from the residents' registration office
  7. German health insurance
  8. university enrollment certificate (Immatrikulationsbescheinigung)
  9. proof of financial resources
  10. rental contract from your accommodation
  11. passport photos
  12. health certificate (optional)
  13. fee for a new residence permit: €100, for extension: €93-€96 due to §45 No. 1 and No. 2 Ordinance Governing Residence (Aufenthaltsverordnung)

Step 7: Study at Studienkolleg before your university studies (only for students who have to attend Studienkolleg before getting admitted to university)

Students, who are not qualified for direct admission to the university, can take a Studienkolleg course which usually lasts for 2 semesters and enables them to meet the entrance requirements to a bachelor program.