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Guide to Admissions at German Universities

As some of you may know, Germany has changed their admission requirements, and it’s now much more difficult for American students to apply.
Jennifer Viemont on Oct 21, 2022
Guide to Admissions at German Universities

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Jennifer Viemont
Founder & Chief College Advisor
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Article updated Nov 25, 2022

Admissions Requirements in Germany

As some of you may know, Germany has changed their admission requirements, and it’s now much more difficult for American students to apply. Until this year, in order to be eligible to apply for college in Germany, American students needed either an IB diploma or a regular high school diploma with:

  • A 3.0 GPA,
  • A number of specified courses and
  • A minimum of either 1,360 on the SAT or 28 on the ACT.

For students not meeting these requirements, a number of college credits were required.

Well, all that has changed. Germany is no longer accepting SAT or ACT scores. If you have an IB diploma with 3-4 HL classes, certain required classes, and no more than one exam score of 3 or lower then you are still eligible to apply. What about the rest of us though? If you are graduating with a regular high school diploma, you will have to fulfill one of the below requirements before applying:

  • 2 years of full time college credits (these cannot be completed at a community college or liberal arts school).
  • A full Associate’s Degree

With 4 AP scores of 3+ in English, foreign language, math or natural science and one other area, you can apply for humanities, social sciences, economics and emergency home solutions programs only.

With 4 AP scores of 3+ in math, natural science, language, and one additional subject, you can apply for programs in math, technology, and natural sciences.

The German Foundation Year Program

Unless you want to spend 6 years of full time study on your bachelor’s, the foundation year is your best bet (called studienkolleg). Here are my concerns with these programs though:

Public studienkolleges are taught only in German. There are private studienkolleg programs, but there is a fee involved. One of the programs costs a whopping 17,500 euros for the year! This includes housing, but is in a part of Germany where housing is not so expensive. Another one, in Berlin, is 11,000 euros per year. This does not include housing, and housing in Berlin is not cheap or easy to find.

Most of the private studienkollegs are connected to a particular university. In many cases, it won’t qualify you for admissions to other German universities. Further, not every German university has a connected private/English-taught foundation year program.

Many students participating in the programs are there to improve their English proficiency, in order to meet admission requirements. My concern is whether this would slow down the instruction and pace of learning in other classes.

What are your options for universities in Germany?

The first thing you want to do is to identify the reasons that studying in this one particular country is so important to you, and identify alternatives, based on those reasons.

Maybe it’s because you have enjoyed learning the language and would like the opportunity to use and develop those skills at college in Germany. If that’s the case, you could consider other countries that have German as their sole official language (Austria) or their co-official language (Switzerland and Belgium).

Perhaps the culture is what appeals to you about college in Germany. If so, I suggest looking at schools that are very close to the border, allowing for easy day trips. Prague is just over an hour and a half to Dresden by train. Salzburg is under two hours to Munich. Nijmegen is just 30 minutes to Kleve. Maastricht is under 90 minutes to Cologne. Szczecin in Poland is less than two hours to Berlin. These are all close enough that you can still experience German culture on a fairly regular basis.

Tuition at German Colleges

Of course, many people are attracted to the free tuition offered by college in Germany at most of the public universities! The other major consideration is that the requirement for college credits or the foundation year no longer make accessing these programs as affordable, when you factor in those costs. For instance, if you attend the studienkolleg program in Aachen, you could attend Rhine Waal University of Applied Science. Tuition here is free, but students pay an enrollment fee of 270 EUR per semester. At the completion of the 4.5 years (3.5 years for the bachelors+ 1 year for the foundation year), your total will be 19,390 euros (not including housing, of course, for the other 3.5 years). Any 3 year program less than 6,463 euros per year would cost less than this and any 4 year program under 4,847 euros per year-not to mention that you begin to generate income sooner. There are around 800 programs in our database-outside of college in Germany- that fall in this range.

If there is a particular German university you are dying to attend or a city you feel you must live in, then there are opportunities to do so for at least one semester of your studies at another European university. This is possible through either bilateral agreements the school has as well as the Erasmus program, which allows you to spend up to a year at another school or in an internship. We have a blog that explains that option as well as a podcast interviewing the International Board of Erasmus Student Network. It’s a super exciting option!

How to Find an English-Taught Program in Germany

More than anything, I encourage students to keep an open mind when considering their options in Europe. Yes, I know there are amazing places that you already know about. I know there are places that you’ve always dreamed of going, but there are even more amazing places that you might not have considered or even be aware of. Our Best Fit List helps students and families identify programs in places they might not have otherwise considered. I create a personalized list of programs that are a good fit for the student’s personality, preferences, interests, qualifications, and budgets. Become a member to get your Best Fit List.

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Beyond the States matches you with your ideal English-taught college in Europe.

Beyond the States provides access to 11,400+ European bachelor's and master's programs across 870 universities, 550 cities, and 212 areas of study, plus all the resources you need to get there. No sponsorships. No bias.
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550
Beautiful European cities to choose from.
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