There are different ways to apply to a German university. Which way is the best for you depends on your field of study, and where you are coming from. The requirements and deadlines vary from one higher education institution to another, and sometimes, even from field of study to another. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions.

Short & Sweet

There are different places that you have to contact for your application, depending on your individual plans.

For some fields of study, there are admission restrictions. These are the so-called NC or numerus clausus.

It is particularly important in Germany that you adhere to application deadlines and meet formal requirements.

Jurisdiction, requirements and limitations

Where you send your application depends on two factors: where you graduated from high school, and which subject you want to study. There are three different institutions that are responsible for applications: the , (Stiftung für Hochschulzulassung ), the (Arbeits- und Servicestelle für Internationale Studienbewerbungen (uni-assist) and the higher education institution itself.

Germany’s all-important numerus clausus

The numerus clausus also plays a role. That’s why the first thing you should find out is whether your programme has admission restrictions.

Admissions restrictions

Even if you meet the overall requirements for studying in Germany, it does not mean you will automatically be granted a place in your desired programme. For many programmes there are far more applications than places.

Admission restrictions (Zulassungsbeschränkung) set forth who is qualified to specific fields of study. They can be adjusted locally, and only apply to certain universities. However, restrictions can also be determined nationwide.

Applying to popular programmes

Medicine, pharmaceutical science, veterinary medicine, dentistry and geographical information management are such popular courses that admissions are restricted at colleges and universities throughout Germany.

Requirements related to your country of origin

What are the requirements of your higher education institution?

Some courses are only restricted at certain universities. Here, the university decides which criteria (like your high school grade point average) qualify you for admission. Sometimes applicants also have to take entrance tests or attend interviews. The criteria vary depending on the university and degree programme. A service called the , or university compass, will tell you whether your desired programme has restricted admission.

Five tips to a successful application

Student in a consultation session
Student laughing© DAAD/Henning Ross

Documents, costs and deadlines

At the international office of your university or college, you can find out how the application process works, and which documents you need to submit. Depending on the application, forms and information material are available at the university, in the application portal or at the University Admissions Foundation, .

What you need to apply

  • an officially certified copy of your university and college entrance qualification
  • a transcript of your classes and grades (officially translated and certified)
  • an officially certified copy of all previous university certificates, if available
  • a passport photo
  • a copy of your passport (name and photo)
  • certified copies of language certificates

How to apply to study in Germany

What do applications cost?

Remember to plan costs for the certifications and German exams that you may still have to take. There are also often fees for the application itself. If you apply via uni-assist, the certificate evaluation and the first preliminary examination of the documents cost 75 euros. Each additional application in one semester costs 15 euros, per university.

At the school itself, a processing fee is also charged for checking and administering you application documents. Your application can only be processed after you have paid the fee. Applying to the University Admissions Foundation (Stiftung für Hochschulzulassung) is free of charge.

Deadlines for summer and winter semesters

When to apply

The application period usually ends several months before the start of the semester. A university will only accept your application if it is complete, and reaches the higher education institution before the application deadline. The sooner you get in touch with your school’s international department, the better. Then you can take care of missing documents in good time.


German academia is a complex business. This also applies to the application procedure, and variations in admission policies.

But once you see how things work, and know how to meet various application requirements, you will almost certainly reach your destination.