Studying at a German university

Basic information regarding university studies in Germany

Whether you can commence studies at a German university straightaway or whether you need to fulfil additional requirements depends on a number of factors. Key factors are the country where you received your university entrance certificate, your secondary school qualifications and, where applicable, any previous degree from a foreign university.

The school leaving certificate of certain countries allows you to apply directly to German universities. For some countries, specific grades are required. For still other countries the university entrance certificate is not recognised in Germany, which means that you will need to attend a preparatory college before commencing university studies in Germany.

You can find comprehensive information about the recognition of foreign qualifications on the information portal on the recognition of foreign educational qualifications (anabin) of the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs. In the anabin database (available in German only), you can search for your country and school leaving qualification. You will find information there about whether direct access to university is a given for you and in which cases it is necessary to attend a preparatory college.

At preparatory colleges (“Studienkollegs”), international student applicants whose university entrance qualifications from their home countries are not recognised in Germany are prepared for studies at a German university. Depending on your intended field of study, you can choose to focus on the fields of medicine, mathematics and science, economics and social studies, or the humanities.

All preparatory colleges require you to complete an entrance exam. In addition to exams in the relevant subjects based on your focus of study, you must also demonstrate that you have German language skills to level B1 or B2About Proficiency Levels:
Information regarding the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages can be found here .
of the Common European Framework of Reference.

At the preparatory college, you will prepare for several months to take the “Feststellungsprüfung” (assessment test for German universities). Once you have passed this exam, you can be accepted at specific German universities to study a subject in your field of focus.

You can find information about all of the study programmes offered in Germany with the aid of the Conference of German Rectors’ university compass. Here, you can use keywords to search for study programmes. Currently, you will find about 21,000 study programmes there. You can then find detailed information about the admission requirements and application process for international applicants on the websites of the respective universities.

Information for students applying at universities in Aachen:

Information for foreign students applying to RWTH Aachen
Information for foreign students applying to FH Aachen

Tip: get in touch with your universities of choice early and apply enclosing all of the necessary documents so that you can then apply for your visa in good time.

If you do not have a German university entrance qualification, you will need evidence of German language skills for degree coursess conducted in the German language. This can be provided by means of the Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang (DSH, German language examination for university entrance), which is offered by FH Aachen, for example. You can find more detailed information about the structure of the DSH together with a practice test and the examination dates here. Our intensive German courses for university preparation are ideal for focused preparation for the exam.

The paperbased TestDaf as well as the digital TestDaf are also recognised as proof for admission for university studies in Germany.

As an alternative to these two exam formats, proof of German language skills can also be provided by the telc Deutsch C1 Hochschule exam,  the German Language Certificate of the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs – Level Two, and the Goethe Certificate C2 (Großes Deutsches Sprachdiplom, GDS) offered by the Goethe Institute.

In certain special cases (e.g. in the case of previously completed German studies, or where a foreign university entrance qualification has been completed in the German language), this evidence is sufficient and you do not need to complete any further tests.

German language skills are even required for some English-language study programmes (usually to level B1 or B2About Proficiency Levels:
Information regarding the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages can be found here .

Please consult your university of choice directly about precise admissions requirements.

Aside from the abovementioned exams, Sprachenakademie also offers telc examinations which serve as proof of German language proficiency to levels B1 or B2.

At some universities, you can apply directly as a foreign student. In this case, you will find precise information about the application process and the timelines involved from the respective university website.

However, at the majority of universities, foreign students who do not have a German university entrance qualification cannot apply directly, but must rather apply through the preliminary evaluation body uni-assist. uni-assist evaluates whether your qualification is equivalent to the German Abitur, and verifies whether your certificates entitle you to study in Germany. You will need to register with the uni-assist online portal. Evaluation of certificates, including preliminary evaluation of application documents, costs €75 for application to one university. The fee for each application to an additional university for the same semester is €30. In most cases, the applicant must bear these costs.

Each university sets application deadlines for applications through uni-assist. Please familiarise yourself with these deadlines in good time as all documents must be submitted to uni-assist before the deadline. Very few universities allow late submissions of documents. Send your application to uni-assist as early as possible; uni-assist recommends that you allow six weeks so that you can be notified of any missing documents or details before the end of the application period.

Cover photo: © Gabriel Trujillo/

© 2024 Copyright Sprachenakademie Aachen