A group of students sitting on a staircase
A group of students sitting© DAAD/Henning Ross

4 Steps to Germany

Would you like to live in Germany for a period of time? You should consider what your goals are for your stay and whether you meet all the requirements. Your daily life should also run as smoothly as possible. To those ends, there are four steps that will get you to Germany.

Student in the library
Student in the library© DAAD/Henning Ross

Step 1: Determine the type of Stay Determine the type of Stay

Are you planning to come to Germany before, during or after your studies? You can choose between different options: for example, a language course, an exchange semester at a German higher education institution, or an internship at an exciting company. Another alternative is to make Germany your home for several years by deciding on a complete degree course or a PhD.

Students learning
Students learning© DAAD/Henning Ross
  • – German higher education institutions run a variety of short-term courses in the summer and winter academic breaks. Specialist and language classes can deepen your knowledge, provide opportunities to meet others and are a lot of fun. 

  • – An exchange semester will allow you to get to know a new culture and improve your language abilities while continuing your studies. 

  • – Internships give you first experiences in the working world. There are many companies in Germany that offer internship opportunities. 

  • – It’s worth doing some research. German higher education institutions offer a wide range of courses ending in internationally renowned degrees. 

  • – Germany is a popular host country for doctoral candidates from all over the world. The research landscape is excellent. 

Student with her laptop
Student with her laptop© DAAD/Henning Ross

Step 2: Check the requirements Check the requirements

Your Path to a German Higher Education Institution

To study at a German institute of higher education, you will need a Hochschulzugangsberechtigung (HZB – a certificate of aptitude for higher education), in other words a secondary-school degree that qualifies you to study in Germany. If your secondary-school degree isn’t recognized in Germany, you will usually need to attend a preparatory college (Studienkolleg).

The Test for Foreign Students (TestAS)

If your degree is recognised but you still feel unsure of yourself, you can voluntarily take a language or preparatory course. It’s important to note that the language of instruction for most courses is German. So if you decide on a course in German, you will need to offer proof of your language skills to be admitted.

The Formalities

Do you need a visa? That depends on which country you come from and how long you want to stay in Germany.

All students, however, need two documents. One is a proof of financial ressources (Finanzierungsnachweis) that shows you have enough money to support yourself during your studies. The minimum is currently 10,332 euros annually. You will also need to prove that you have health insurance while studying in Germany.

Where Do I Get the Information I Need?

You can inform yourself about possible visa requirements and the proof of financial resources at the German embassy or a German consulate in your home country.

Students looking at books
Students looking at books© DAAD/Henning Ross

Step 3: Choose your study options Choose your study options

Your College or University Town

Germany’s university towns are very diverse: from places with historic centres full of cultural treasures and cosy bars to big cities famous around the world. But not every higher education institution will necessarily offer the course you’re interested in. So take a close, preferably first-hand, look at the various options.

Students entering a lecture hall
Students in a lecture hall© DAAD/Henning Ross

Your College or University

Whether you’re interested in geography, economic psychology, film or violin, Germany’s higher education institution landscape has something for everyone. You can choose between three types of higher education institutions in Germany:

  • universities
  • universities of applied sciences
  • film academies, universities of the arts and conservatories.

Which suits you best will depend on what you want to study.

The Higher Education Compass

The higher education compass will guide you through more than 20,000 courses on offer in Germany. It’s the information portal of the German Rectors’ Conference (Hochschulrektorenkonferenz – HRK). You can find all the current information you need about degree courses and doctorate opportunities .

Your Degree

The question of what degree you’ll be working toward in Germany is another major decision-making factor. Depending on the courses, German institutions of higher education offer bachelor’s, master’s degrees and “State Examination” (Staatsexamen) – in rare cases also “Magister Artium” or “Magistra Artium” and “Diplom”. There are also lots of opportunities for young scholars to get their doctorates

Two students discussing
Two students discussing© DAAD/Henning Ross

Step 4: Start to prepare Start to prepare

The best way to reach a destination is to take one small step at a time, and that includes staying in Germany. You will have several things to do between the point at which you decide to go to Germany and when you arrive there. Tip: start early, make sure you’re aware of what’s required, keep an eye on important deadlines and focus on the following topics.

Female student in front of a laptop
Female student in front of a laptop© DAAD/Henning Ross


Whether it’s rent, food, public transport, semester fees or health insurance, you should prepare financially.



Whether you’re applying for a spot at a German university or an internship with a company, there are important requirements and deadlines.


German classes

As a rule, you need to prove you have German skills to be admitted to a degree course, although in internationally oriented disciplines, German language proficiency isn’t always a must.



Your confirmation of enrolment is proof that you’re registered at a German higher education institution and is an important document. Once you have enrolled you will receive your student ID.



In Germany, students arrange their own accommodations.  Many university and college towns have dormitories, and a room there is often the most affordable accommodation. As the rooms are in great demand, you should start looking before you leave your home country.

The ‘Find Student Hall’ function below can be of practical help. You only need to make a few mouse clicks to get to the online application form. You will also find information about dormitories in your chosen city.