Applying for a place at university

The many ways to obtain a place at university

You want to apply for a place at a German university? We can help you achieve your goal the quickest possible way. The first step to take depends on the subject you wish to study.

It's important that your application for a place at a German university is well prepared. So find out all you need to know well in advance. It's best to choose a study programme and university six months before your planned departure.

How do I apply?

How and where you apply for a place at a German university depends on three factors:

  1. The subject you wish to study.
  2. Where you obtained your school-leaving certificate.
  3. Which degree (Bachelor's, Master's, PhD) you are aiming to study for.

Applicants for a Master's degree or a doctorate

Applicants for first-degree programmes (Bachelor's or "Staatsexamen" – a German degree awarded for studies that lead to an academic qualification in specific state-supervised professions)

If you wish to start studying in Germany after obtaining your school-leaving certificate, please bear in mind the following: at German universities, a distinction is made between two types of subjects:

  • Subjects with a central numerus clausus (NC) (= a centrally regulated admissions policy that applies to the whole of Germany). For these subjects (medicine, pharmacy, veterinary medicine and dentistry) there are more applicants than study places available. Only applicants with the best grade point average who also fulfil other prerequisites are accepted for these courses.
  • Subjects which have no numerus clausus or only a local NC (= an admissions restriction which applies only at individual universities).

Where you send your application also depends on your country of origin:


Where do I apply?

a) Courses that are subject to the central NC policy (medicine, pharmacy, veterinary medicine and dentistry): On the homepage of the Foundation for Higher Education Admission you can find out all you need to know about the application procedure, current NC subjects and selection criteria for admission. You can also access the online application form here.

b) For courses that are not subject to the central admissions restriction, applications from all international applicants should be sent directly to the International Office of the university of their choice. The necessary application form can be obtained from the relevant university or the DAAD.

Exceptions to this rule.

At some universities, applications are sent not to the International Office but to the secretariat or admissions office. It's best to check where to send your application on the website of your chosen university.

c) At the International Office, you can also inquire whether your chosen university is one of over 130 uni-assist universities. Find out from your university about the study programme you are interested in and what documents you need for your application. Send these documents to uni-assist and pay the processing fee. You will find a list of all uni-assist universities on the uni-assist website.

What is uni-assist?

uni-assist is a central service that helps international students apply for a place at a German university. uni-assist checks your documents on behalf of the universities and contacts you if anything is missing. If your documents are in order, uni-assist passes on your application to the universities. The advantage of this procedure is that through uni-assist, you can use a set of application documents to apply for a place at several universities.

Application form

Application form for admission to studies for foreign applicants

An online application assistant with a completed sample application, an application checklist, self-assessment tests and many other important details is available under inobis.

What documents do I need for my application?

For your application, you have to complete a form which must bear your original signature. As a rule, you will also need to provide the following documents:

  • an officially authenticated copy of your higher education entrance qualification certificate in the original language
  • a list of subjects and grades in an authenticated translation by a sworn translator
  • an officially authenticated copy of any previously obtained university certificates with lists of subjects and grades
  • a passport-sized photo 
  • a simple copy of your passport (page with name and photo)
  • proof of language proficiency (an officially authenticated copy or with an online verification code)

Important: In most cases, it is not possible to only submit an application to German universities online. You usually have to send in paper documents in addition to the online form. Information about exceptions to this rule can be obtained from your chosen university.

As proof, only officially authenticated copies with an officially authenticated translation are accepted. Official authentications can be issued in your country, for example, by German diplomatic agencies (embassies or general consulates).

Tip regarding authentications

Almost all universities in Germany also accept authenticated copies from the university or school where you obtained your certificates. What is important is that the documents have been officially authenticated by a responsible office at this institution (and not privately by a teacher).

When do I apply?

Contact the International Office or admissions office at your chosen university as early as possible. This gives you enough time to get hold of any missing documents. For applications that are submitted to the International Offices, uni-assist and the Foundation for Higher Education Admission, the following dates usually apply:

If you wish to start studying in the winter semester, i.e. in October:

  • Application deadline: end of May to 15th July.
  • The letter of acceptance is sent out in August/September.
  • The letter of rejection is sent out in September/October.

If you wish to start studying in the summer semester, in April:

  • Application deadline: early December to 15th January.
  • The letter of acceptance is sent out in February/March.
  • The letter of rejection is sent out in March/April.

Other dates for the "Studienkolleg"

If you already know that you have to attend a "Studienkolleg" before you start your studies, the following dates usually apply: The deadline for applications for the winter semester is 15th April, for the summer semester 15th October. But make you sure you check these dates with the university of your choice!

Important! At some universities, other application deadlines apply to certain subjects. It's always best to check on the website of your chosen university!

What does the application procedure cost?

Fees can vary depending on where you apply. Applications submitted to the Foundation for Higher Education Admission are free of charge. Some universities charge a fee for inspecting application documents, others charge none. In general, you should expect to pay the following:

  • Fees for authentications of copies and translations
  • Examination fee for TestDaF or DSH (the fee depends on where you take the test).
  • Processing fee for application.
  • For applications submitted to uni-assist: a maximum of 68 euro for the initial application and 15 euro for any further applications.

Please remember that your application will not be processed until you have paid the fees!

Applicants for a Master's degree or a PhD

You want to do a Master's degree or a doctorate in Germany? If you have already finished your first degree in your home country, please contact directly your chosen university or the Graduate School/study programme in which you are interested. However, some information about the application procedure (e.g. about officially authenticated copies) may still be of relevance to you.

If your application is successful, you will be offered a place at a German university. We will tell you how to enrol at your university in the section "Enrolment".