An Introduction to university education and studying in Germany
There are a number of compelling reasons why Germany should become the country of your choice for both studying and research:
- The academic excellence and reputation of Germany’s more than 300 universities
- There is hardly any country in the world that boasts such a density of higher education institutions !
More than 350 higher education institutions with a tradition of academic excellence made it hard to decide where and what to study: over 400 different degree courses are on offer, and there is nothing imaginable under the sun that you cannot study somewhere in Germany.
The capital Berlin alone – with roughly the population of 5 million – is currently home to no less than 16 universities and colleges.
Today, about 250,000 foreigners are studying at German universities, making it the third most popular host country for international students after the USA and UK.
The moderate cost of living and studying in Germany.
Tuition fees at public German universities are very moderate. For most of the public universities, only a small administrative fee (between S $ 50 and S $ 400 per semester) is payable. Some of the public universities charge additional tuition fees of ca. 500 EUR (~ 1000 S $) per semester. Living expenses amount to around EUR 650 to 750 (~ S $ 1300 to 1500) per month, depending on the region.
Go to www.internationale-studierende.de
Check under Financing , Costs of Education
An increasing number of international degree courses with English as medium of instruction.
Many German higher education institutions offer courses that are taught in English and lead to an international degree, such as Bachelor, Master or PhD.
Germany’s geographical location in the heart of Europe and its political and economical weight as the EU’s largest member state.
Germany is home to some of the world's leading companies in many areas, such as information technology, health care, biotechnology and the automobile industry, making it the world' s leading export nation.
To date, Germany is Singapore's most important European trading partner.
More than 900 German companies are located in Singapore.
Many cultural highlights, historic towns and castles, beautiful scenery and moderate climate.
The wide range of cultural activities in Germany offers something for everybody! And a trip across Germany is a journey through just about every cultural epoch.
The importance of the German language.
With over 100 million native speakers, German is the most widely-spoken first language in Europe. The strength of German business and industry and the increasing global activity of German companies and corporations means that the German language is also gaining significance in the international market.
Did you know...
....that, to date, a total of 81 German researchers have received the Nobel Prize, thereof 28 in Chemistry, 24 in Physics and 15 in Medicine!
Types of Universities
Universitaten/ Technische Hochschulen
Germany’s world-renowned general and technical universities specialize in methodic, theoretical education. The German ideal of a university as a place of learning shaped by the principle of the “indivisibility of research and teaching” – as proposed by higher education reformer Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767 – 1835) – still strongly characterizes the education and training offered today. Research is conducted independently of current societal interests. Students at universities are largely free to determine their course of study themselves in accordance with their interests and focuses. A university degree gives its graduates the scientific qualifications needed on the job market. The broad range of disciplines offered within the faculties and schools facilitates both interdisciplinary study and specialization, right up to the advanced theoretical fields of a particular science.
Universities award the academic degrees of Bachelor, Master and PhD, as well as the traditional German degrees of Diplom, Magister Artium and the doctorate. They also have the privilege and right to confer the ‘Habilitation’, the professorial teaching qualification. Universities and technical universities continue to represent the mainstay of the German higher education system.
Fachhochschulen (Universities of Applied Sciences)
When the first universities of applied sciences were founded in the 1960s and 1970s, they were considered the "little sisters" of the classical universities, but they've become serious competition over the past 30 years, although they offer a comparatively limited range of subjects (mainly engineering, business, social studies, design, health and therapy studies). The need to help German industry maintain its competitiveness in the international field led to a growing demand for better-qualified personnel with an academic background who could solve practical tasks quickly and successfully. This demand marked the starting point for the approach taken by the Fachhochschulen (FHs).
What primarily attracts students to Fachhochschulen these days is the clear career focus of the degree courses and the possibility to obtain these degrees in a relatively short time. In contrast to the universities, research and teaching at Fachhochschulen are always pursued with a practical, application-oriented focus. Studies are tightly structured, and rather than being taught theory, the FH student will learn how knowledge is put into practice. A compulsory one or two semester long period of practical training (industrial attachment) constitutes part of any FH degree course, and the final thesis is produced in close collaboration with companies. Faculties at universities of applied sciences usually comprise experienced professionals and managers who know exactly what companies will expect of their graduates.
Fachhochschulen award Diplom degrees with the supplement (FH). In contrast to a degree awarded by a general or technical university, however, a Diplom (FH) degree will not automatically entitle its holder to study for a doctorate; only particularly qualified FH graduates may be admitted to doctoral programmes at general or technical universities. Increasingly, Fachhochschulen also offer internationally recognized Bachelor and Master degrees.
Other types of universities
Other types of universities include comprehensive universities (‘Gesamthochschulen’ – a cross between a Universität and a Fachhochschule, in the states of Hesse and North Rhine Westphalia only), colleges for art, music and film (‘Kunst-, Musik- und Filmhochschulen’), colleges of education (‘Pädagogische Hochschulen’; in the states of Baden-Württemberg and Thuringia only), church-sponsored universities and theological colleges as well as vocational colleges in some German states ('Berufsakademien').
The vast majority of German higher education institutions are public (state-maintained) universities; less than 2 % of Germany’s students are enrolled at private universities. The latter all have one thing in common: students must pay for at least part of their education. One major attraction of private universities is the small class size and the low student-teacher ratio. Some of the newer private universities teach exclusively in English. Good grades are important, but in order to get into the desired school, a high degree of competence and personal initiative is essential. Many private schools offer internships at partner schools abroad or work in close cooperation with companies in their particular fields.
Universities / Technical Unviersities
Universities of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschulen)
- Bachelor, Master and Ph.D.
- Promotion (Doctorate by research)
- Bachelor, Master
- Diplom (FH)
Since the end of the 90s, Germany has been part of the so called “Bologna Process”.
In this framework, forty-seven European States agreed on changing their traditional universities certificates into the internationally more known degrees of Bachelor, Master and PhD.
Until then, students left German universities with a “Diplom”, “Magister” or ”Staatsexamen” degree – the German version of a Master degree.
Now, things have changed and students complete their Bachelor degree within three to four years, a Master degree within additional one to two years and a PhD within three to four years.
Degree Programs taught in English
- high academic standards
- international degrees (B.A./B.Sc.; M.A./M.Sc.; Ph.D.)
- English as the exclusive or predominant medium of instruction
- study-integrated German language courses
- tightly-organized study programmes that allow students to complete their degree within a clearly-structured time frame
- small class sizes
- multinational composition of student body
- special services: academic and personal counselling
- optional study periods at overseas partner universities
While some of the degree courses are taught entirely in English, others will provide a smooth transition from English to German as the language of instruction in the final semesters by offering students study-integrated German language courses.
Even if some of the degree programmes do not require students to have any previous knowledge of German, a basic working knowledge of the German language will definitely be helpful and is highly recommended!
The range of international degree programmes covers undergraduate, graduate as well as postgraduate courses in the fields of agriculture and forestry, computer science and mathematics, development cooperation, economics and law, engineering sciences, environmental sciences, medicine, music, art and design, natural sciences, psychology, social and cultural studies, to name but a few.
Traditional German degree programmes
[Please note that in the traditional German degree system, no equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree exists. All degrees awarded are the equivalent of a direct Master’s degree and thus fulfil the basic requirement for doctoral studies at German universities.]
The best-known traditional German degree is the Diplom, which is awarded in the majority of disciplines, notably engineering, natural sciences, economics and business administration.
The Diplom is a professional qualification and a requirement for a wide range of professions in business and industry.
The Magister or Magistra degree is generally conferred upon students reading arts and humanities, and requires them to have studied either two majors or one major and two minors.
Other subjects, such as law, medicine, pharmacy or teaching, are completed with examinations held under state supervision as a way of maintaining the quality of lawyers, physicians, pharmacists and teachers at national level. Hence, these are called Staatsexamen - State Examinations.
The Staatsexamina are held in two qualification stages, separated by a period of practical professional training.
In principle, degree holders in any discipline with above average grades can opt to take up a doctorate (‘Promotion’). In order to gain the aspired doctoral title, students must first find an academic doctoral supervisor (‘Doktorvater’ or ‘Doktormutter’), who will advise, counsel and guide them in their independent and innovative research work. Based on that, they must produce a doctoral thesis and take part in an oral examination, in which they must defend their research findings and offer proof of their comprehensive and extensive subject knowledge.
Studies at universities of applied sciences are completed with a Diplom degree bearing the supplement of (FH) for Fachhochschule to distinguish it from the classical university Diplom.
In 1998, the Fourth Amendent of the Higher Education Act gave both public and private German universities the opportunity to award Bachelor (3-4 years) and Master (1-2 years) degrees.
For a comprehensive database of degree courses offered by German universities, please visit the following website: www.study-in.de
The German academic year is divided into two semesters.
The summer semester usually runs from April 1st to September 30th, while the winter semester lasts from October 1st to March 31st.
About a third of the academic year consists of lecture-free periods, during which students write research papers, study for exams, complete industrial attachments and of course relax!
First degrees (Bachelor, Diplom, Magister, Staatsexamen)
All applicants have to meet certain requirements in order to qualify for admission into a German university. Applicants from Germany are required to hold specific school leaving certificates, either the so-called Abitur, which is the general higher education entrance qualification and qualifies holders for admission to all types of German universities, or else the Fachhochschulreife, which qualifies holders for admission to universities of applied sciences only.
International students essentially have to meet the same requirements, and thus their school leaving certificates will be compared to the above-mentioned German ones. Ultimately, it is up to the individual higher education institution to admit or reject an applicant, but of course there are standardized guidelines depending on the applicant’s country of origin.
Please note that for subjects such as music, theatre studies, sports, architecture, fine arts and design etc., auditions/aptitude tests resp. submission of portfolios are compulsory on top of the general admission requirements, since applicants need to demonstrate their particular artistic talent.
In some very popular subjects, such as medicine, biology or business administration, the number of available university places is not sufficient for the huge number of applicants. German and foreign applicants alike are thus subject to a selection process in which the grade point average of the school-leaving certificate plays a decisive role (‘NC’ or ‘numerus clausus’ = restricted admission). A specific percentage of places for restricted admisson-subjects is automatically reserved for international students.
Singapore-Cambridge GCE-‘A’-Level / International Baccalaureate
Both the Singapore-Cambridge GCE ‘A’-Level certificate and the International Baccalaureate (IB) are recognized as equivalent to the German Abitur, which means that ‘A’-Levels and IB-holders can be admitted directly to the German universities of their choice.
However, if they decide to enroll for a traditional German-taught degree course, they will first need to pass the DSH (German language proficiency) test.
At least five A-Level subjects (minimum of two taken at Advanced Level, the rest at AO-Level) are required, including English, another language (i.e. in most cases mothertongue) as well as either mathematics or a science.
Students keen on taking up degree courses in engineering, medicine, pharmacy or a natural science must have at least a double-science combination (two sciences OR the combination of mathematics and a science).
Those interested in studying economics or business administration must have done advanced level economics.
Neither polytechnic diplomas nor advanced diplomas are considered equivalent to the German Abitur, which is extremely broad-based and not focussed on one subject area only. Similar to holders of the German Fachhochschulreife, diploma holders can apply to universities of applied sciences (Fachhochschulen, FHs) only, for degree courses in the same subject they specialized in.
Before commencing their studies at the Fachhochschule, applicants holding a polytechnic diploma are normally required to sit an assessment test (‘Feststellungsprüfung’) set individually by the respective university of applied sciences.
However, should diploma holders decide to take up a Diplom degree course, the assessment test will be conducted in German after completion of a one-year preparatory foundation course at a so-called ‘study college’ (‘Studienkolleg’).
Please note that only applicants with a good command of German (minimum of 400 – 600 hours) can be considered for admission into these study colleges that teach both relevant subjects and German as a foreign language.
Students will also sit the DSH test after the preparatory year. More information about study colleges (in German) under www.studienkollegs.de
If you have a leaving certificate from other countries, please email us to check whether admission to a German university is possible. Depending on your country of origin, you may be required to attend a one-year preparatory course at a ‘study college’ (‘Studienkolleg’) or may even have to complete one or two years of university studies in your home country before you can be considered for admission into a German university.
In order to qualify for postgraduate studies at a German university, your first degree must qualify you for admission to such a course (eg. you will need to hold a Bachelor degree in order to apply for a Master progamme). In certain cases, additional periods of study in a respective field may be necessary in order to fulfil the admission requirements for the course. If in doubt, please contact the university of your choice directly.
If you wish to pursue doctoral studies in Germany, your chosen institution must recognize the degree you are holding as being equivalent to a Diplom, Magister or Staatsexamen or Master degree acquired at a German university.
The medium of instruction for the majority of degree courses at German universities is German, and thus a sound knowledge of the language is indispensable.
Applicants for full degree courses conducted in German exclusively, whose mother tongue is not German or who do not hold a school leaving certificate from a school that uses German as its medium of instruction, must pass a language proficiency test known as the "Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang" (DSH).
The DSH exam is held twice annually at universities all over Germany, shortly before the start of the lecture period in October and April. It can only be retaken once. It will take someone with no previous knowledge of the language roughly 10 to 12 months of intensive courses to reach the required level of proficiency (approximately 1000 hours of German lessons).
Many universities offer special DSH-preparatory courses for advanced learners of German as a Foreign Language. Besides, the Goethe-Institut in Mannheim specializes in preparatory courses for university studies on all levels , as do numerous commercial language schools.
Degree programmes taught either exclusively or partly in English, do not normally require applicants to pass the DSH before they can be matriculated (exceptions apply).
In fact, many programmes conducted fully in English do not require any previous knowledge of German at all, however, the respective universities will in most cases offer compulsory or optional German language classes to successful applicants.!
However, excellent English language skills are a must. Even though a small number of German universities insist that applicants from Singapore submit a TOEFL or IELTS result slip together with their application forms, the majority will readily exempt Singaporeans from this requirement due to the fact that English is the medium of instruction on all levels of the Singapore education system.
The level of German required for those international degree programmes that use a mixture of English and German as medium of instruction, depends on the individual degree course. In some cases, no previous knowledge of German is required, in other cases a basic foundation of about 240 hours of German language instruction may be called for, and in some instances, the minimum level required is the Zertifikat Deutsch (ZD) which requires about 400 to 600 hours of German.
Part Time Work
Students are allowed to work part time. Generally, students earn 6 – 12 Euros an hr.
Part time work offers the students opportunity to earn some allowance, practices German language, and meet many German people.
As a general rule, the application deadline for degree courses starting in the winter semester (October) is July 15th, for those starting in the summer semester (April) it is January 15th of the same year.
However, closing dates for international degree courses are often set earlier to enable students from non EU-countries to apply for a student visa in good time. Please check with your university of choice and make sure you send in the completed application form and accompanying documents on time.
Once you have received a letter of admission (‘Zulassungsbescheid’) from a German university, you can go ahead and apply for a student visa at the German Embassy.
All documents must be translated and notarized by the German Embassy
Partial List of Universities that we represent:
- Education Certificates, Transcripts, and Graduation Certificates
- 2 letters of Reference
- Passport Copy
- Internship or Work experience Letters
Apply through us for the following reasons:
- No service fee charged if you take up a German Language course in Germany (Course Fees 6500 Euros for 8 months)
German Language is required before you can go a German taught course, however, there are many German taught courses available, so students can get a place easily at a German University
- US$2000 service fee if you use our service to place you in a English taught course at a university in Germany
Our Service includes:
- Airport pick up arrangement
- Hostel or Accommodation Arrangement
- Registration at the college/ university
- Arrangement of Resident Permit
- Arrangement of Health Insurance
In addition to our expertise in counseling and placement !