Higher Education in Germany
Several of the top universities in the world are found in Germany, such as Heidelberg University (Ruprecht-Karls-Universitat Heidelberg, founded in 1386); Freiburg University (founded in 1457); Munich Technical University (Technische Universitat München); and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig. The majority of Germany's universities are public and currently charge tuition fees of approximately 60 euros or $80 U.S. dollars per semester.
Teaching is emphasized in German universities over research, with research being the focus of independent institutes known for their traditional approach to the social sciences. For students who wish to pursue a degree in psychology, anthropology, philosophy or sociology, acceptance into one of these research universities is extremely competitive and geared towards students who have showed exceptional talent and brilliance towards a particular field.
Another type of university popular with international students is the Fachhochschule (FH), University of Applied Science. Courses offered at a Fachhochschule are designed to prepare students for employment in particular professions that are not academic-oriented, such as information technology, nursing and business. German states and its federal government also maintain several FHs that train students who want careers in the civil service. Students cannot earn doctorates at a Fachhochschule.
Colleges of art, film and music provide creative programs for students who desire careers in the fine arts, fashion design, graphic arts and music. For centuries, Germany has made a tremendous contribution to the world of fine arts, literature and music by producing such brilliant writers, artists and composers as Mozart, Brahms, Hesse, Max Ernst and Nietzsche and continues to be a powerful force in the world of the fine arts, filmmaking and fashion.
Attending a German University
All students wanting to attend a university in Germany will need to provide a copy of their Abitur, a document also used in Estonia and Finland to designate the successful completion of final exams given in their final year of secondary education. While German citizens who do not have an Abitur can take another test called the Begabtenprüfung (literally aptitude test) in order to attend a university, international students, in most cases, will need to show ACT or SAT scores of at least 28 and 1300, respectively, to qualify for admission. High school diplomas similar to those earned in the U.S. are not considered the equivalent of an Abitur and generally will not promote a student's chance of admission to a German college or university.
Some universities and colleges award scholarships to students to pay for books and living expenses. However a law called Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz ensures that economically disadvantaged students receive up to 650 euros ($860 U.S.dollars) each month for the four or five years it takes to earn a bachelor's degree. Typically, half of this amount will need to be repaid to the government as an interest-free loan.
Generally, the language of instruction is German, so students wishing to attend a German university should have adequate knowledge of the German language.
German Visas for International Students
For short stays of up to three months (students taking summer courses, for example), a Schengen-Visa is required to remain in the country. Students should be aware that they must leave Germany at the end of the three months if they choose to obtain a Schengen-Visa and should plan accordingly before applying for this type of visa.
National visas are necessary if you plan to stay longer than three months. Students should make it clear why they require a National visa and state on the form whether they are completing a doctorate or enrolling in a full program. In addition, the following documents will be needed before students can apply for a visa: letter of admission, health insurance card, proof of pre-admission examination results and proof that you know how to speak and read German or that you plan to take German language courses as part of your curriculum.
Why Study in Germany?
Germany has been named by several international educational groups as one of the most supportive countries for students wishing to earn degrees in a country other than their own. Complementing this recognition is the fact that tuition charged by many German universities is minimal to none, further making studying in Germany an attractive and exciting prospect for students wishing to attend school in a country different from their own.