University Application

How can I enrol in a German university?

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If you have finished high school or another form of higher secondary education in your country, you can apply to study at a German university. Depending on the subject you wish to study, the application procedure will be different. In addition to that, application deadlines vary according to university and subject. Most German university programmes are divided into a winter term (“Wintersemester”) and a summer term (“Sommersemester”). Be aware that a lot of undergraduate programmes only allow enrolment in the winter term. 

Before you apply, you should verify that your degree is equivalent to a German school-leaving certificate at upper secondary level. It needs to be similar to either an advanced high school certificate (“Abitur” or “Allgemeine Hochschulreife”), if you want to study at university, or to an advanced technical college certificate (“Fachhochschulreife”), if you want to study at a university of applied sciences.

Recognition of Foreign Certificates

The recognition of high school certificates is called “Zeugnisbewertung” or “Schulische Anerkennung”. Different academic bodies, e.g. certain institutes of higher education or regional offices for certificate recognition (“Zeugnisanerkennungsstellen der Bundesländer”), are responsible for this process. The latter are often located in the office of the municipality. If you need to have your school certificates recognised for professional purposes, within the context of vocational training, you can consult them as well.

If the degree you received in your home country isn’t enough to enrol at a German university, you can always sign up at a preparatory college. Mostly courses take one year at the end of which you will receive a certificate allowing you to study at university.

If German is not your native language, you have to submit a German language certificate together with your application. Two of the most common certificates are TestDaF and DSH. Which one you will need and at what level depends on the subject you wish to study as well as the institution in question. You can find out more about how to learn German here

Application Procedures

Numerus Clausus

Unrestricted Subjects (“ohne NC”)

Locally Restricted Subjects (“lokaler NC”)

Nationally restricted Subjects (“zentraler NC”)

Guest Student


A lot of German universities use the services of uni-assist to process applications by foreign students. Before you contact them, you need to check if the university you wish to apply to is on their list. If you live in Germany as a refugee, you don’t have to pay for the services of uni-assist. You can submit your request to be exempt from all costs here