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Postgraduate Study in Germany

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Germany has a central location within Europe, bordering several other European countries – Denmark, Austria, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, the Netherlands, France, Luxembourg and Belgium.

With just over 80 million residents Germany is the most populated member state of the European Union. It has one of the world’s largest economies and as such offers its residents a very high standard of living.

The capital and largest city in Germany is Berlin – which was reinstated as the capital in 1994, following the reunification of East and West Germany following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Bonne (the former capital of West Germany) is Germany’s federal city.

Germany offers an exciting variety of living experiences – with fantastic cities including the edgy and exciting Berlin, business-centred Frankfurt and the more traditional Munich. It also has beautiful countryside, river regions, forests and a long stretch of coastline along the North Sea.

The currency of Germany is the Euro.

German universities & education

Postgrad programs in Germany Germany has around 400 officially recognised institutions of higher education, and there are three types – these are known as Universities, Universities of Applied Sciences and Colleges of Art, Film and Music.

German universities offer a broad range of subjects are a good choice for those interested in a scientifically-oriented education. Some of the universities in Germany specialise in certain disciplines, for example education, medicine or technology. The universities are also a good choice for those interested in studying for a PhD.

The Universities of Applied Sciences offer students a scientifically-based education with their master’s degree programs specifically tailored towards preparing the student for life in the work place. These will often have a practical work-based element to them.

The Colleges of Art, Film and Music are designed for those students who are interested in studying a more artistic degree program.

Public, private or church universities?

The majority of German universities and colleges are public, which means they are funded by the federal government. Some German universities are also financed by the Protestant or Catholic Church.

Germany now also has more than 100 private universities and colleges, many of which are Universities of Applied Sciences. However the tuition fees at the private institutions are considerably higher than those at the public institutions, as a result of which over 95% of students in Germany attend one of the public universities or colleges.

Entry requirements for a German university

If you want to study a postgraduate program in Germany you will need to provide the study documents from your undergraduate degree program. If you are an international student the International Office at your preferred German institution can help you make sure you are academically qualified to study in Germany. If your higher education certificate isn’t recognised as being equivalent to the German one you will have to take an assessment test called Feststellungsprüfung.

Potential PhD students will need to find an academic supervisor to support their dissertation first – this can only be done by university teachers/professors.

If you are not from Germany and your course is in English you’ll need to reach a certain IELTS or TOEFL score.

University tuition fees & funding

Germn university tuition fees and funding

Although on the whole German universities don’t charge tuition fees for their undergraduate degree programs, most German master's degrees programs are fee-charging - however these costs are relatively low.

Tuition fees at a German university start at around €650 per semester (€1,300 per academic year), and can rise to €5,000 per semester (€10,000 per year) or even more.

Semester fee

There is also a semester fee payable every semester and this varies from university to university but should be between €50-€250.

Living as a student in Germany

Germany is a great place to be a postgraduate student as it is an interesting country offering a high standard of living and great, well-established universities.

Accommodation for students

As a postgraduate student in Germany you will either live in a hall of residence or in private accommodation. However bear in mind that unlike in many other European universities, Germany universities will not automatically allocate you a room as an international student – you will probably have to find your own place to live.

The cost of private accommodation varies widely throughout the country depending on the city (or more rural area) that you choose to study and live in. On average you should expect to pay between €200-€400 per month for your accommodation – although renting in the larger cities like Berlin, Frankfurt or Munich is likely to cost you more.

Transport in Germany

Germany has one of the best transportation systems in Europe making it a very accessible county to travel around. As a student you will also qualify for discounted fares on the public transport.

Health & insurance

If you are not from Germany you will need to obtain health insurance in order to be allowed to study as a postgraduate student in Germany. This will probably cost around €200.

Student discounts

Students in German will get a student ID which will entitle them to various discounts at places including cinemas, theatres and museums.

Germany: student visa & immigration

EU resident including residents of Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein

If you are from a member country of the European Union, or from Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein you do not need a visa or a residence permit to study in Germany, but you do need to be able to prove that you can finance your studies (€500-€700 per month) and that you have health insurance.

Non-EU residents

Germany: Student Visa and Immigration

Students from Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Switzerland and the US don’t need a visa, but will need to obtain a Residence Permit once they have entered Germany.

Students from Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco, San Marino or Taiwan only need a visa if they want to work during their studies. They will however need to apply for a residence permit once they have entered Germany.

Students from any other countries will need to get a visa from their local German embassy before entering Germany. They will also need to get a residence permit once they get to Germany. If you are intending to stay in Germany for longer than three months (which as a postgraduate student you probably will be) make sure you apply for a National Visa rather than a Schengen Visa.

To get a National Visa you will need:

1.    Proof of health cover.
2.    Proof of your financial means.
3.    A tenancy agreement which shows you have found somewhere to live. It will be valid for two years, after which time you must get in renewed.
4.    Proof that you don’t have a criminal record.
5.    Proof that you are free of certain diseases.

To get a Residence Permit you will also need to supply all of the above. A Residence Permit will be valid for two years. Once it expires you will have to get it renewed.

PLEASE NOTE: As a result of Brexit, from Autumn 2021 postgraduate students from the European Union studying at a UK university will be charged the same tuition fees as international students. Meanwhile, UK students studying their postgraduate course at a European university are also likely to incur higher tuition fees than their EU counterparts. It is advisable to check with the individual universities in the UK and Europe for up-to-date information on tuition fees for all postgraduate programs.


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