En Following a Degree Course in Germany
What is a Vollzeitstudium?
For a foreign student, a Vollzeitstudium at a German university means to be enrolled in a complete degree course and to graduate with a degree.
The choice for such a degree course initially entails a lot of bureaucracy and red tape, but then you might want to consider the difficulties involved in applying for a degree course and the notification of admission as the first steps in a series of intercultural experiences.
In order to fully prepare you for your application we have assorted all important information concerning requirements and forms.
Important Preconditions and Requirements for Studying
It is necessary for you to ascertain whether your school qualifications are on par with German university admission qualifications. To do that, please use the website anabin.de or the database of the DAAD. The Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Dresden (HTW Dresden) uses the system uni-assist. If you choose to study at the HTW, the application forms are sent directly to uni-assist. For a fee, uni-assist ascertains whether the forms and documents are complete and whether admission to the desired major subject is possible in principle. When the result is positive, the application will be redirected to the university or college of your choice. This procedure aims at relieving the workload for the universities and colleges. In Dresden it is only used by the HTW.
All the other colleges of higher education have their staff check the received application forms and documents. This procedure is free of charge. It stands to reason that you should check whether your application materials are complete before submitting them; it relieves the workload of the staff members involved and speeds up the process.
In case your qualification is not on par with German university admission qualifications, you may still be able to study in Germany. There are ways of obtaining the admission qualification later, namely in the so-called Studienkolleg (preparatory course for foreign students). A course at such a Studienkolleg takes two semesters and ends with the "Prüfung zur Feststellung der Eignung ausländischer Studienbewerber für die Aufnahme eines Studiums an Hochschulen und Universitäten der Bundesrepublik Deutschland" (Feststellungsprüfung). The training at the Studienkolleg is free of charge as is this "test to ascertain the suitability of foreign students applying for admission for a study at a university of college of higher education in the Federal Republic of Germany". For prospective foreign students in Saxony training and test take place in Leipzig, at the state preparatory course for foreign students.
An alternative preparation is offered at the Studienkolleg TUDIAS in Dresden. This only serves as a preparation course for mathematical, technical and physics subjects (excluding biology). This training is not free of charge; a fee is due per semester.
An admission test has to be taken to gain entry to a Studienkolleg, testing your knowledge of the German language and depending on the major subject, your knowledge of mathematics.
Knowledge of the German Language
To be able to start studying in Germany, one has to have an acknowledged language certificate (for instance DSH, Test DaF). In case of insufficient skills of the German language, it is possible to catch up by means of intensive language courses in your home country or in Germany. The benchmark test is the Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang (DSH-Prüfung), the German language test for admission to colleges of higher education for foreign students. The colleges themselves organise the DSH-test. Should you wish to be admitted to a language course and/or to take the test, you will have to submit an application to International Office of your college of higher education of choice.
Doing a preparatory semester in Dresden is a way of getting ready for the DSH-test. Whilst participating in intensive language courses, a place of study is reserved for you. There is only a limited number of places in the DSH preparatory courses that are free of charge. They are reserved for the prospective students with the best results in the admission tests. All other students will have to pay a fee for these courses. Apart from Dresden, Zittau also offers the possibility of catching up on your German language skills at the Sprachkolleg. Should you wish to increase your proficiency in the German language at another institute or in your home country, make sure you obtain an acknowledged language certificate.
After successfully concluding your admission procedures and subsequent enrolment, your college of higher education will finance no additional language courses. At your own expense, several language schools offer language courses tailored to your major subject. A major factor contributing to the improvement of your German language skills is of course the direct language contact in your everyday life.
Academic Preconditions and Prerequisites
In Germany, there is a distinction between so-called free major subjects and major subjects with numerus clausus (nc), (limitation of admission). The numerus clausus refers to a limitation in the number of admissions to the study of certain major subjects. If the demand exceeds the supply of available places for students, the colleges of higher education or the federal states can impose this admission limitation. The numerus clausus is related to the average grade of the pre-university diploma (secondary school). The time that passes between obtaining the right to admission and the application for a place of at the university is also taken into consideration. If one applies for an nc-major subject, it is necessary to have the certificate of your graduation translated by a certified translator.
As far as free major subjects are concerned, satisfactory or good results at school, or, in some cases, a previous study course are prerequisites. In most cases all applicants will be allocated a place at university.
On the other hand, major subjects with a numerus clausus only have a limited contingent of places, which are therefore allocated according to a specific selection procedure. Of course the same minimal prerequisites for admission apply as for free subjects. A further specific feature of numerus clausus major subjects is the fact that places may be allocated either by a national or central agency or by the individual university or college. That means that some major subjects are allocated generally by the Zentralstelle für die Vergabe von Studienplätzen (ZVS), the central office for the allocation of places. In these cases prospective students can state his preference for a specific university or college but receives no guarantee whatsoever that their wish can or will be taken into consideration.
Foreign students who are not citizens of member states of the European Union, as a rule, always apply at the university or college of higher education of their choice, irrespective of the fact that their major subject of choice is allocated freely or centrally through the ZVS, since it is the university or college that checks the admission conditions and requirements. Foreign students who are citizens of member states of the European Union on the other hand, find themselves on the same footage admission-wise as German prospective students, and have to apply directly at the ZVS when it concerns major subjects allocated by the ZVS. Non-German students from European Community member states who apply for a place that is not allocated by the ZVS should send their application to the International Office of their university or college of preference.
Sometimes individual universities or colleges fix their own numerus clausus, since they cannot accommodate all applicants. In those cases, the universities or colleges themselves decide which applicants will be enrolled. Application takes place via the Academic International Office of the university or college in question.
Naturally you will want to know whether the major of your choice is subject to numerus clausus stipulations or not. Whether the major of your choice is free or allocated through the ZVS can be checked on the websites of the universities and colleges under the heading Studienmöglichkeiten (colleges, programmes, degrees) or on the website of the ZVS. An additional ZVS-nc following your major subject means that allocation takes place through the ZVS.
A Certification of Finances or Affidavit of Financial Support, stating that you are able to finance your studies in Germany yourself is obligatory. It takes a deposit of at least 6,600 EUR for two semesters on an account in Germany. Monthly withdrawals from that account should not exceed 550 EUR. Such an account can also be opened in your home country at a German bank. Further financing must be made credible or plausible by producing appropriate documents. Information on this is available at the International Office responsible.
Prospective applicants should inquire as to the existing application deadlines. Either contact the university or college of preference on this, or visit their website and find out, because application deadlines may vary.
Application materials sent to the Academic International Office of the university or college in question should be complete and legible.
The following documents should always be included:
- an application for admission to university or college study, completely filled out, with a personal signature, and including a passport photograph
- officially authenticated copies of graduation diplomas including a grade survey of the secondary school graduation
- if extant: officially authenticated copies of the admission test certificates and officially authenticated copies of certificates of previous studies in your home country or other universities or colleges, including major subject, course and grade surveys
- officially authenticated proof of sufficient proficiency in the German language/acknowledged language certificates
Depending on the major and university or college in question, often additional specific application materials are required.
For instance, the Technische Universität Dresden (TUD) (Technical University of Dresden) requires that international applicants include a written and personally signed explanation of the choice of the major subject and of the choice of Dresden as the location of their studies. In part, certificates should be translated and/or authenticated. Often the inclusion of international reply coupons is required for a postal correspondence.
Again it is advisable to contact the university or college in question and to ask whether additional documents or materials are required. As a rule, all the relevant information pertaining to your application is available on the websites of the universities or colleges in question.
Applicants from some countries have to submit additional specific forms and information. Please inquire at the Academic International Office responsible!
It is advisable first to collect all the necessary application materials in their entirety before sending them to the Academic International Office in question.
A comprehensive application can be checked faster and you will find out sooner whether your application has been successful. You will also avoid the stress involved in having to send additional documents to Germany at short notice.
Last but not least: it is of advantage to post the application materials as soon as possible in order to make sure there is sufficient time for yourself and the university or college staff members involved should it become necessary to rectify any possible mistakes and/or deficiencies in the application materials.