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Studying in Germany

“GerMany Opportunities” – are you thinking about going to Germany in order to further your education? In fact, there are many good reasons for studying in Germany!

Higher Education in Germany

Germany has a university density unlike any other country in the world. The teaching staff is highly qualified and the range of subjects taught is wide. The freedom to conduct research and attend courses enables students to freely determine their research needs and set the focus of their studies according to their interests and abilities.

Germany’s higher e1038-a_rostock_lernen003tifducation system is characterised by particular variety and versatility. Whatever your planned focus may be, you will find the course to meet your requirements. From the practice-focused universities of applied sciences (Fachhochschule) to classical university training and all the way through to internationally renowned vocational academies – Germany has it all to offer. Germany’s universities and colleges are located throughout the country – whether in the major cities or in the rich green countryside. The spectrum ranges from time-honoured to highly modern, from small and welcoming to large and dynamic. So go ahead and choose what suits you best!

Basic structure of the academic year at German universities

This is meant as a rough guide purely for public universities in Germany. If you require more definite information, please check the academic schedule at the tertiary institution you’re interested in, as times can differ by several weeks from one year to the next.

semester 1
– October to March
– called “Wintersemester”, usually abbreviated to WS or WiSe
– lecture period: usually 14-15 weeks from mid-October to early February
– 2-3 weeks break over xmas

semester 2
– April to September
– called “Sommersemester”, usually abbreviated to SoSe (less commonly SS for obvious historical reasons)
– lecture period: usually 14 weeks from mid-April to mid-July
– usually no break during lecture period (some universities maintain a 1 week break around whitsun/pentecost)

Smaller courses usually only admit students once a year in October. Larger courses generally have two intakes per year.

Private universities may have different semester times, as many of them adhere to the American model. Universities of Applied Sciences also frequently have different semester times, as lecture periods there can be longer.

International Degree Courses

A growing number of German institutions of higher education offer courses conducted in English and specifically designed to the needs of international students, leading to internationally recognised degrees. The range of study opportunities covers undergraduate degree courses for students beginning their studies and graduate/postgraduate courses for advanced students. The priority given to international students at German universities makes the chances of being admitted look extremely positive. Tuition fees are very low in international comparison, if not waived.

Postgraduate and Doctoral Programs IPPs 

IPP’ stands for International Postgraduate Programs and is a network of 42 postgraduate programs offered in a wide range of disciplines and subjects at centres of scientific excellence throughout Germany. You can gain your doctorate at a proven centre of research excellence. This ensures that your course meets the highest academic standards. All IPP participants have regular contact with the university teachers responsible for their program and are given the opportunity to engage in collaborative intensive research. Cross-faculty courses and colloquia offer forums for interdisciplinary dialogue and represent a further firmly-established component of your postgraduate studies.

Important Links to German Higher Education

You may also check out the following websites hosted by DAAD and other organisations to learn more about Studying in Germany.

Study in Germany
Get an overview of what’s possible in German higher education!
“Germany — Land of Ideas” is the slogan of this website. It provides students interested in studying in Germany with information on all the common issues from finding degree programmes to scholarships to accommodation.

Courses of Study database, maintained by the DAAD
Find the best course for you — database no. 1!
The database is maintained by the DAAD, the main scholarships provider for exchange to and from Germany. The database lists short overviews for all tertiary programmes in Germany, from short courses, intensive language courses to entire degree programmes at all levels. Results usually include a link to the providers of the respective courses with more detailed information.

Higher Education Compass — Study and Career Choice
Find the best course for you — database no. 2!
This website is hosted by the association of higher education institutions in Germany, and it is the one used by German students when they want to find out where they can study what they’ve got in mind, i.e. it does NOT included language and short courses, but only degree programmes. The database provides information on and links to all state or state-recognised higher education institutions in Germany. You can search the databases to find out which course of study in German or English is offered at which institution. Links will get you directly to the home page of that institution (which normally has an English version) with more detailed information. You’ll also find a list of tertiary international offices (Akademische Auslandsämter) you can contact directly.

DAAD – The German Academic Exchange Service
The gateway to German higher education — courses, scholarships, living in Germany.
Here you’ll find everything you need to know about Germany’s education system, its higher education institutions, and about campus life. There is also a course finder for international degrees where you can find exactly what matches your academic and language skills and interests.
Gain an insight into the versatile and varied nature of academic Germany!

Uni assist
How to apply for a course of studies in Germany.
Uni Assist e.V. is an association set up by German institutions of higher education and the DAAD to assist international students in applying for a place at a German uni or other institution of higher education. They charge a moderate fee (see here) for handling all your documentation for uni applications, i.e. “translate” your school leaving certificates grade-wise as well as your previous uni degrees, make sure you’ve got the right language proficiency and that you actually meet the requirements for the degree course you’re applying for.

You’d like to get an idea of what’s out there for (prospective) students within the German tertiary system?

  • Scholarships geared to Kiwi university students and staff going to Germany can be found here:
  • Scholarships available to students going to German universities can be found in the scholarship database maintained by the DAAD Funding Guide, even if they’re from other providers:
  • The BMBF (ministry for education and research) offers a comprehensive database, listing everything from one-off grants for a short stint somewhere to long-term study funding, study material grants to living stipends etc.
    stipendienlotse.de (in German only!)

Please also see the links on the right.

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