We owe a lot to Germany when it comes to the history of education and universities. Germany is the birthplace of what we call ‘research universities’ – big places with ivory towers and libraries where new knowledge is produced every day. This university model has since covered the entire planet, and is basically what most universities are set up for today: to produce knowledge and make new discoveries. Don’t you want to be in the place where all of that began? For prospective international students interested in earning an undergraduate degree in Deutschland (Germany), here are some facts to know.
Things to know about Earning an Undergraduate Degree in Germany
1. A foreign high school diploma alone might not qualify a student to study in Germany.
For instance, students from the U.S. who want to head to Germany after high school need a GPA of 3.0 or higher, among other prerequisites, according to the German Academic Exchange Service, often called DAAD. The organization has a tool to help students from different countries determine if their high school education qualifies them to study in Germany.
You can’t just come over with any high school diploma. Additionally, U.S. students who earned a GED diploma or were home-schooled cannot enrol in German universities.
2. Entry to some, but not all, degree programs are restricted.
Admissions limits, called “numerus clausus” or NCs, cap enrollment in popular degree programs. Students can check university websites to see the average GPA cutoff for applicants who were accepted into a restricted program the previous year. Students with GPAs below but close to last year’s cutoff for a program might still have a shot at getting in.
Some restrictions are national, while others are instituted by specific universities. Experts say it’s a good idea to contact a university’s international office to get information about which of the institution’s programs are restricted.
The Study in Germany website, sponsored by the German Education ministry, offers resources for prospective students including some that discuss these restrictions.
3. Public universities generally don’t charge undergraduates for tuition. But there are still costs.
Students have to pay a fee each semester that ranges from around $113 to $281, depending on the university, according to the exchange service’s website.
Private universities in the country often have tuition costs for their undergraduate programs.
4. There are English-taught programs available.
While most bachelor’s programs in Germany are taught in German, the exchange service has a database of international programs offered in Germany that lists more than 100 fully or partially English-taught programs.
Even if courses are given in English, experts say some knowledge of German will help students make the most of their international experience.
5. International students can hold jobs.
However, students from non-European Union or European Economic Area countries have restrictions on the number of days they can work – 120 full days or 240 half days per year, according to the exchange service’s website.
An exception: International students who work as a research assistant at their universities don’t face those limits.
6. Students need to be independent.
“You get less homework”, “You’re more self-sufficient, and you’re supposed to basically just do well on your own.”
“The German university system basically throws the kids into the deep end.” Grades for many undergraduate courses at German universities are based almost entirely on an end-of-semester exam or project. Students need to establish good study habits early on in a course to ensure they are prepared for the final, say students and experts.
After prospective students do some initial research, they should reach out to the international offices at the universities they are interested in for undergraduate degree.
“Only if you talk to these people directly and ask them directly: ‘I want to study A, B, C program under your undergraduate degree or postgraduate degree. What do I have to do?’ Then you really get the 100 percent correct answer,”. “There is no general answer to most questions related to studying in Germany.”