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Masters in Germany
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Masters in Germany

Have you ever wondered about studying in Germany? Did you hear about the latest German university top rankings? Let’s face it – these are all rhetorical questions since you are already here! Time to find out more about the most important and interesting aspects of student life in “dem Land der Dichter und Denker”!

Many Masters programmes in Germany are taught in German, but there are also plenty of international programmes taught in English. Even so, it is helpful to learn German, if you want to study in Germany. As a world language, it can benefit your future career in many ways.

Higher education in Germany

The most recent statistics show that Germany is the third most popular study destination in the world. Even more, around 12% of students enrolled at German universities come from abroad. But is this a surprise? Not really, as the majority of offered Masters programmes are low-cost, high-quality and top-ranked with a total of 44 German universities ranking among the global best according to Times Higher Education. And there is also the possibility of masters entirely in English and the unique cooperative system allows you to boost your language skills and career opportunities to the maximum.

Of course, you can also apply for a course partially or entirely instructed in German in any field - Business & Economics, Engineering, Law, IT and Mathematics. And you will most likely feel spoiled for choice, as there are more than half a thousand universities in Germany you can pick from. This includes public and private institutions belonging to one of the following types:

  • Fachhochschulen (Universities of Applied Sciences)
  • Technische Universitäten (Universities of Technology)
  • Colleges of Art, Film and Music
  • Universitäten (Research Universities)

The typical study duration is 2 years (120 ECTS) which combines a balanced delivery of coursework, projects and exams. In Germany upon graduation students can be awarded with a MA (Master of Arts) or MSc (Master of Science) in addition to the hugely popular Master of Engineering or alternative degrees for specialized courses. 

And when it comes to applying theory to practice, you should have in mind that universities in Germany are famous for their strong relationship with industry. This alone awards thousands of students with internships and placements each year at international companies such as Allianz, BMW, Deutsche Bank and SAP. 

Masters in Germany – higher education details for 2019
Top-ranked Universities* 47
Tuition fees at state universities p.a.€0 - €3000
Average Living Costs per month (+ housing)€800 - €900
Number of Masters in English1100+
% population that speaks English56%
Forbes Global 2000 companies54

 *according to THE’s World University Rankings

How to apply for a Masters in Germany?

Generally, there are many ways to apply for your desired programme in Germany. Online application is possible via the official website of each university, but you can also hand in your documents personally. International students can make use of uni-assist in 6 easy steps and gain the opportunity of applying to 180 German universities. 

However, since there are often more applicants than offered places for certain Masters programmes, it might be impossible to enroll even if you pass the general admission requirements. This is determined by national and regional regulation allowing only a limited number of students to secure a place for hugely popular subjects such as Dentistry, Medicine, Pharmacy, Veterinary Sciences and many others.

The most commonly known restriction in Germany is the Numerus clausus (NC) which specifies a minimum GPA from your Bachelor required upon admission and it is determined by the grades of everyone applying. In such cases, an overall grade ranging from 1.0 to 1.5 is highly recommended which is the best possible result in the German grading system. Other, less popular limitations in the application process include undergoing academic tests or selection interviews. 

As for deadlines in Germany, the dates vary depending on the beginning of the semester. Students starting in September/October have to keep the period from 1st of May to 15th of July in mind as a suitable time to apply. For the starting in March/April the ideal time is from 1st of December until 15th January. 

Admission requirements in Germany

When preparing your documents for Germany, make sure that you have your most important one ready – your Bachelor. Unless stated otherwise, you will have to present a relevant degree in the same or similar subject such as your chosen Masters. 

Of course, there are also requirements for your language skills. For courses instructed in German, you can demonstrate your proficiency with one or more of the following:

  • DSH (German Language University Entrance Examination for Foreign Applicants) 
  • TestDaF (Test of German as a Foreign Language)
  • Goethe-Zertifikat above B1 level
  • Bachelor in German

You can check if you can undertake the TestDaF in your home country or rely on DSH examination which is offered by most universities in Germany. But if you wish to earn a certificate, it is best to find out more about the Goethe-Zertifikat. 

For Masters in English, the requirements are standard and you can apply with either:

  • IELTS with an overall score of 6.0
  • TOEFL – overall score of 500-550 for paper-based and 80-90 for Internet-based
  • Cambridge Examination – FCE, CAE, CPE
  • Bachelor in English

Other than that, you should see if your chosen university requires additional documentation including:

  • Reference/motivation letter
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Health insurance
  • Visa/residence permit

Note: International students applying in Germany, who are coming from countries outside of the EU and EEA or Switzerland face further requirements upon application. In most cases, these include a valid passport, proof of enrolment and evidence of financial resources. 

How much does it cost to study in Germany?

One of the most distinctive features of German higher education is that tuition fees are abolished in most public universities in Germany. However there are few exceptions where international and EU students pay a fee each semester – keep that in mind and ask the university where you want to study. 

For private universities, you can find detailed information about study costs on the corresponding official websites. The same action is recommended if you are applying for a non-consecutive Masters, in Germany these programmes are usually not listed as free of charge.  

In all other cases, the only form of payment that you will be making is a semester contribution worth no more than €350. In return, however, you benefit from a free public transportation pass, access to several student services and a simplified re-enrollment process. 

Here comes the sweet part – there are also hundreds of different scholarships in Germany for students from all nationalities! Aside from Erasmus+, you can have a look at the database of DAAD – the German Academic Exchange Service, where you can find more than 100 scholarship opportunities for your Masters study in Germany.

Living in Germany – accommodation, costs and food

Planning a place to stay in Germany is one of the key moments of studying abroad. In Germany, the most affordable and practical choice is a student hall of residence offering a monthly rent of around €250. You can even search and apply for a room right now via the online Accommodation finder tool

Tip: For a better chance of finding a room in Germany you should send in your application immediately after you are admitted at a German university

Likewise, there is also the possibility of arranging private accommodation at a flat or a house. However, the financial aspect can be quite worrying with average rentals reaching more than €500 in the region of Frankfurt, Hamburg and Munich. This figure excludes payments for water, heating and waste collection. 

For this reason, students should consider the pros and cons of university or private accommodation and consider staying at a hostel or room provided by a student community or religious organization until you can make the best choice.

But what about other costs? Basically, the cost of living as a student in Germany can be below the EU average if you follow a strict and economical budget. Having this in mind, a total of €800 to €900 can be more than enough each month for both your rent and living expenses. 

Note: Don’t forget that your semester contribution covers you a free public transport ticket and access to several student services such as the university library, student dining halls and athletic facilities. 

We have prepared a short list with general goods and their prices in Germany to give you a basic overview of some costs:

  • Liter of milk – €0,70 
  • Loaf of Bread – €1,14
  • Bottle of Water (1,5l) – €0,31
  • Pack of eggs (12) – €1,71
  • Rice (1 kg) – €1,79
  • Chicken meat (1 kg) – €6,58
  • Fruits and vegetables (1 kg) – between €0,80 to €2,70
  • Restaurant meal – €10 

And of course, it would be a shame not to mention the affordability of German beer – only €0,70 for half a liter. Prost!

But on a more serious note, make sure that you always bring your International Student Identity Card in order to maintain control on that tight budget. The same applies for your university ID which can cut down the price of almost any ticket (yes, football tickets as well Bundesliga fans), product or service. 

Finding a student job in Germany

Germany offers several ways of finding a part-time job for some extra finance and practical experience. For starters, you can check the website of the Federal Employment Agency and find some general information about offered jobs in the area of your university or city. 

However, you should look for employment earning you no more than €450 each month, as any sum above is subject to government taxation. What is more, there are also restrictions on the amount of time allowed for work which depends on your nationality. EU and EEA students can devote 20 hours per week for a job whereas internationals can add up 120 full days or 240 half work days per year.

Tip: It is highly advisable that you sharpen your German language skills before employment, as you will have limited opportunities with English only. 

But if you seek a more serious pathway including internships or work placements at big German or international companies you should definitely pay a visit to your local university career center and find out more about your prospects. 

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