Variety of programs, many masters courses taught in English, affordable cost of studying, award-winning curriculums, greater emphasis on students’ hands-on experience and surely excellent future prospects are what best describe master’s degree courses in Germany.
That said, taking the decision to apply for a Master’s degree in Germany is easy. But for many international students who have no prior knowledge about the German education system carrying on an application for a master course is a bit intimidating.
Here are the 8 steps to apply for a Master’s Degree in Germany:
1. Find a suitable university and program
When deciding to study for a master’s degree in Germany you need first to identify your future academic and career goals if you haven’t already. Then you need to process with the selection of the university and master’s program which will perfectly match with those desires. At this point, you have countless options available and regardless of your studying preferences, you will certainly find something attractive.
Since there is such a large number of universities and master programs available you must do a little research before choosing one. Start by taking into consideration some important traits for you, like study modules, the location of the university, tuition fees, practical sessions, etc.
Based on these assumptions, it will be easy for you to come up with a list of universities and programs that would probably fit your desires. From there you can narrow down your focus at just a few of them and finally decide which one you’re taking.
2. Check the requirements
Now that you have set your target it’s time to know what you need in order to get there. Said otherwise, you must check the requirements for the course of your choice. Normally, German universities offer access to this information from their official websites.
Be careful because there are different entry requirements applied within the same university and you must be one hundred percent sure you’re reading the genuine section. Recalling that every minor error at this stage may lead to a failed application, it’s recommended you reach the university by mail for every single issue you have regarding this stage of application.
3. Language proficiency
German universities admit students who have a strong knowledge, either in the English language or in the German language to communicate and understand what is taught in classes. In contrast to undergraduate courses, at the master level, there are many courses taught in English language either partially or completely. To prove your language proficiency you must undertake a language standardized test prior to your application.
The level of language proficiency required to apply for a Master’s degree in Germany varies depending on your chosen university, chosen course and the exam you have taken. If you want to study social sciences you must have a perfect knowledge of the language at which the course is taught. On the other hand, in natural sciences, you will have to do more with lab sessions and math tasks where the need for a higher level of language is not high.
4. Submit your application
After you have collected all the required documents and you have checked multiple times if there’s everything included it’s time to submit your application for the master’s degree course in Germany. You can apply for a master’s degree in Germany via the Internet by using the means of an online application platform.
Most German universities use a mutual platform known as UniAssist.de. There you can create a personal account, choose your favorite master’s course and upload scanned application documents. Notice that some universities run their own online application platform and only receive application being submitted to it. You can gain access to this information at the university’s website.
5. Wait for the admission letter
Now it is time for you to take a deep breath and let the university completes its part of the job. Meanwhile, you can use this time to tackle other upcoming issues which are explained in the sections below.
Universities in Germany collect a large number of applications and going through each of them takes time. Normally, the processing of your application takes several weeks. In some occasions their response may take more time than it probably should because there may be issues related to your documents or because of their heavily loaded agenda and your application doesn’t include everything. Fortunately, students cannot keep track of their application processing as the universities don’t give that information.
6. Get health insurance
Everyone living in Germany is obligated to be health insured, including here foreign students, regardless of their citizenship. EU students may not be required to get health insurance in Germany if they’re entitled to the European health insurance system, but it’s not a fundamental principle, hence they need to ask whatsoever.
If you’re an EU student, you must contact responsible authorities to see if your EHIC card covers you in Germany and you’re allowed to apply for a master’s degree in Germany. On the other hand, if you’re a non-EU student, you must get health insurance regardless.
We suggest you prepare for this stage long before your university confirms your place in the master course. Collect information about the procedures of getting a health insurance and arrange all documents so you save the much-needed time in the process of the application for a master’s degree course in Germany.
7. Get your finances in order
Based on the German government’s estimations, a foreign student studying in Germany needs to have in his bank account at least €720 per month or €8,640 per year to cover himself while in Germany. If you don’t possess this amount of money you won’t be permitted to get a student visa and study for a master’s degree in Germany.
Taking into account that this amount of money is high for a normal student it’s important you start dealing with the issue long before the application call is officially opened at your favorite German university. Overall, 4 months would account to a fair amount of time to save or collect money and look what other alternative options like scholarships and student loans you got.
8. Get your student visa
The final step to a successful application for a master’s degree in Germany. As a non-EU and non-EEA international student, you have to get a visa in order to be allowed to study in Germany.
After you have completed all the steps above, you must reach the German embassy in your home country to collect information and initiate procedures for getting a student visa. Note that required financial means are among the requirements for student visa application so make sure you have solved that issue before the time for seeking a student visa it comes.
Timing is also important at this stage because the time required for processing your student visa application may exceed the enrollment deadline and the commencing of your master course.
Studying for MS in Germany
There are great opportunities for anyone wishing to pursue postgraduate studies in Germany ‘the land of ideas’. To international students, it offers the chance to contribute to the country’s historic academic records. The benefits of the most generous tuition fees make it ideal, as they are lower than in a lot of countries worldwide!
Germany’s higher education system is split between:
- public universities, which are administered by the state, and
- private universities, which are set up by independent companies, organizations, or charities.
The MAIN difference relies in their FUNDING METHODS.
Private universities usually charge more than public universities. Although, if the subject you are going for is not to be found in public universities, then private universities are especially useful for such courses.
Still, a very small percentage of the population and international students attend private universities, as the public ones cover a very wide variety of courses!
Public Universities in Germany
Every public university sets up their own:
- degree programs,
- examinations, and
- entry requirements.
The state controls:
- fee policy and quality control, as well as
- accreditation of courses – so that they meet high academic standards.
Private Universities in Germany
Private universities are free to set their own fees – higher than the public universities – but, the degrees granted are fully recognized and they do meet appropriate quality standards.
Types of Universities that offer Master’s Degrees in Germany
There are four types of higher education in Germany
- Research Universities – are higher education institutions providing facilities and academic expertise to award students with degrees like Master’s and PhD. Most of Research Universities are publicly administered.
- Technical Universities – are a sub-group of research universities, as their focus is on science, technology, and engineering disciplines.
- Universities of Applied Sciences – are focused on engineering, business and social sciences. In many cases, they are partnered with professional or commercial organizations. More often than not, these universities do not award PhDs. Except when they are partnered with an organization for the sole purpose of delivering specialized PhD programs. A great number of Universities of Applied Sciences are private institutions.
- Colleges of Art, Film and Music – are specialized in offering instructions in the creative disciplines. They can be part of both, Research Universities or Universities of Applied Sciences. Some of these Universities operate independently. The candidates are required to possess creative skills and experience.
How do I choose the perfect university for my Master’s studies?
It may seem tough to choose the perfect university for your Master’s Degree, especially when offered as many opportunities as in Germany, but it all depends on the subject you are truly passionate about.
The most important differentiation is whether your focus is academic – in which case you should probably attend a Research or Technical University.
Meanwhile, if you are interested in picking up new vocational expertise or new professional skills, you should most probably choose one of the Universities of Applied Sciences.
Obviously, students that are more creative will benefit greatly from the German artistic heritage when applying for a postgraduate course at the Colleges of Art, Film and Music.
Master’s Program types and course structure
Germany follows the Bologna Process of study, which means standard three-cycle degree format:
- undergraduate studies (Bachelor’s Degree),
- postgraduate studies (Master’s Degree)
- and the preceding advanced postgraduate research (PhD level).
How long does a Master’s Degree last in Germany?
Depending on the semesters your discipline will have – the courses for the Master’s Degree may vary from:
- one and a half,
- up to two years long.
Whereas, one academic year is made up of two semesters! Your Master’s Degree will also include your final project; otherwise known as the dissertation that you will have to work on together with a mentor.
A fully independent postgraduate research in Germany is only done at the Ph.D. level.
How many ECTS credits is a Master’s Degree worth?
Usually, it is worth 120 ECTS credits, which you will earn during your two years (60 credits per year).
30 credits belong to your dissertation or research project that you will have to complete during your final semester!
The content of German Master’s programs in Germany
Master’s degrees are taught in courses that are further divided into separate modules or units of study. Depending on the course, you may learn through small-group seminars, lectures, practical workshops, fieldwork or directed independent study.
- Research Universities involve many core lectures, seminars, practical work and independent reading and study.
- University of Applied Sciences include more hands-on training and workshops organized by external industry figures and various experts.
- College of Art, Film and Music focused on developing and assessing your skills and proficiencies.
How does the process of dissertation go in Germany?
During the final year of your Master’s studies, you should WORK ON completing a project or a research task, an extended written dissertation or thesis. You will have the support and advice of an expert supervisor, yet you should always be the one to develop and demonstrate your own ideas and your academic expertise.
The EXAMINATION procedure of a Master’s dissertation is completed upon the evaluation of your presentation and the oral ‘defense’ as part of the assessment process. A short talk about your research topic and the answering of questions about your findings and conclusions are also included in the examination.
DO NOT FEEL OVERTHROWN, as this can actually be a very fulfilling experience for you!
What are consecutive and non-consecutive Master’s Degrees?
- Consecutive Master’s Degree refers to students wishing to follow a Master’s Degree directly from the same or a closely related field completed in a Bachelor’s Degree.
In these courses, only candidates with a relevant Bachelor’s Degree will be accepted.
Also, most applicants continue directly to a Master’s Degree without a significant gap after their Bachelor’s studies.
- Non-consecutive Master’s Degree refers to students that focus on a different though related area completed in their Bachelor’s Degree. Following non-consecutive courses may also require practical experience, except for the Bachelor’s Degree. Non-consecutive studies do not necessarily relate to an undergraduate topic. These kinds of studies are perfect for students who wish to continue with trainings and working in-between their undergraduate and postgraduate studies. Continuation of education is also part of the non-consecutive category!
- A Professional Master’s Degree focuses on vocational subjects, like teaching, nursing, lawyers, etc. The courses focus on regulated professions.
The requirements and fees for non-consecutive, consecutive, and professional Master’s Degrees vary! Consecutive programs may be free for students that continue immediately after undergraduate studies!
What is Numerus Clausus?
It is a restriction for the number of available places on particular courses (it means a restricted number of student admission).
Usually, programs associated with regulated professions are subject to Numerous Clausus in Germany, like medical professions: Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Medicine, Pharmacy, etc.
The numerous clausus helps in maintain high quality and helps in having highly specialized professionals not exceed the future possible vacancies.
There are two types of Numerous Clausus in German universities:
- Some are centrally restricted by the government, known as Central Numerous Clausus
- While other subjects are locally restricted by the universities, known as Local Numerous Clausus
Your university will let you know whether you chosen Master’s program is subject to any type of Numerous Clausus and its effects on your process of application.
Admission to centrally restricted subjects will be more strict and competitive, while locally restricted subjects will have a little more flexibility with the number of students admitted.
Admission Requirements for a Master’s in Germany
The most important document to provide for admission in Master’s Degree in Germany is a suitable Bachelor’s Degree. It does not have to be a German Bachelor’s Degree, but it still needs to be recognized by German universities.
How to get your diploma recognized in Germany?
Universities may also investigate your qualifications into more detail to ensure their relevance. It may involve the checking of the content of your undergraduate course and confirming you have earned a sufficient number of credits in relevant areas.
You also need to provide a high-school graduate certificate, known as Abitur in Germany, in case you may be required to present it.
In case your certificate or diploma is not recognized, you should get it verified for comparison to a German diploma in order to gain access to higher education in Germany. Depending on the country you obtained your Bachelor’s diploma, you will find out if it is acceptable in Germany or not. The German International Office (Akademisches Auslandsamt) is responsible to determine if your diploma is recognized/qualified or not!
Further examinations are required for non-recognized certificates. You must take the PROPAEDEUTIC COURSE. This preparation gets you equipped with German universities’ requirements (like: language and study requirements and completing additional courses to get qualified) before the Master’s courses begin.
Courses are available for:
- Foreign students already admitted for study courses in Germany
- Foreign students that have not yet been admitted, but meet the requirements
- Foreign students not meeting requirements yet
Exceptions are valid for talented candidates who apply for admission in artistic fields/subjects. You can get admitted by only passing a few required tests or providing samples of your work, therefore check out on this regard beforehand!
The fee for the issuing of the assessment document is 200€.
Other admission requirements
Additional entry requirements may include:
- Certificate and transcript of your undergraduate studies.
- Details of your secondary education –some very competitive application processes may wish to know further details of an international’s education history.
- Interviewing – German universities may discuss your application and your experience in an arranged interview with you. The interview may be formal, especially in highly-competitive universities with limited places, or it can also be done over conferencing platforms, like Skype to make it easier on international students.
- Additional entry tests –this more often occurs in competitive universities, where you may be asked to complete an additional entry exam or take a standardized postgraduate admission test as part of your application. This can also be required in law, medicine, and other similar regulated professions in order to ensure the compatibility of your previous trainings. Also, business schools and MBA programs may require a particular score from recognized tests, like GMAT or GRE.
Any additional requirements should be made clear to you by your university before you apply!
Application Deadlines for a Master’s in Germany
Application deadlines vary between universities, but these two general times apply broadly:
- For September semester: Apply before 15 January
- For studies beginning in the winter semester: submit your application before 15th of July
Make sure to check out beforehand the deadlines for your desired university, in case there are any differences with deadlines!
Language Requirements to study MS in Germany
Language is a requirement if you want to attend German-taught courses. The good thing is that German Universities offer many courses taught in English, in which case German language is not a requirement.
As far as German language, you will need to learn it beforehand if your courses are going to be in German.
- Programs in English will not require German language tests or certificates. But, if you are a non-native English speaker, then you will be required to take English language tests, such as TOEFL, IELTS, PTE. If you have completed your undergraduate studies in English, then you will not need to take any English language tests.
- Programs in German will require your German language test certificate as part of your application. Such tests are TestDaf (Test für Deutsch als Fremdsprache) and DSH (Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang ausländischer Studienbewerber). A lower than proficient score will be accepted:
- If you continue learning the language in courses as soon as you get in Germany
- If you continue the German language course during the early stages of your Master’s Degree
To find more opportunities to study in English while in Germany, DAAD offers an international program search tool, which allows you to find the perfect program.
Applying before getting your undergraduate degree
It is common for students to apply for a Master’s Degree before completing their undergraduate studies. Usual,ly this happens in their final year of Bachelor’s Degree. Universities are aware of this and usually accept projected degree results, an attached transcript of your current progress and may also require a statement from your tutor/professor/course tutor.
Do international students need health insurance to study in Germany?
Health insurance is mandatory for all students in Germany, including postgraduate students. So, make sure you get the proper health insurance coverage while studying in Germany.
There are two types of health insurances:
- Public or otherwise known as STATUTORY health insurance, and
- Private health insurance
Public health insurance companies in Germany:
- AOK Baden Württemberg
- Barmer GEK
- DAK – Gesundheit
- KKH – Kaufmännische Krankenkasse
- TK – Techniker Krankenkasse
For more information please read: Medical Insurance for International Students in Germany!
Study Visa Requirements for a Master’s Degree in Germany
Make sure you collect on time all the documents you typically need in order to apply for a German Student Visa.
For detailed information about Germany Visa requirements, go to www.germany-visa.org/student-visa/
Master’s Degree Fees in Germany
Master Degree fees in German universities depend whether your studies are consecutive or non-consecutive.
- Consecutive studies are usually considered free studies since you only have to pay semester fees, which cost around 100-200€, which include payment for enrollment, confirmation, administration and Semesterticket (a monthly public transportation ticket)
- Tuition fees are included for non-consecutive studies for a Master’s Degree, depending on program and university of choice.
Non-consecutive studies also include students who have completed their Bachelor’s studies outside Germany.
Private universities require obligatory tuition fees for both, consecutive and non-consecutive studies.
Prices for non-consecutive studies may start from around 6000€ per semester and up, especially higher prices are required for private universities.
Enrollment at the University
Once you get admitted as a student in a German higher education institution, the next process is getting enrolled or “matriculated” in studies. This process involves applying to get your courses registered, in order to be able to enroll in the academic lectures and exercises as well as to undergo the examination.
For more information please click: Enrolling at a German University!
Post-graduation opportunities with a German Master’s Degree
As German University certificates and diplomas are recognized internationally, you will be able to find great opportunities worldwide, if you do not want to continue living in Germany.
But, for those who wish to continue in Germany, there will be great opportunities to find a desired and profitable job.
You have the chance to continue learning from the newest technology, knowledge, scientific research, business, and everything you can think of!
Many great opportunities will also be shown to you through your university during your study period!