How to Apply for a Place at a University

There is already a lot of very helpful official information online, so it just makes no sense to repeat it here. Besides, each university has its own special expectations for candidates and subject requirements. For this reason, We will only give you relevant leads so you can find information yourself.

How do I start to prepare for my studies in Germany?

First choose your preferred university to find out if they offer the subjects you are interested in and what (special) requirements they may have, then continue reading here.
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When am I eligible to study in Germany?

You need to have the so-called “Hochschulreife (maturity for universities)”, permissible choice of subjects, sufficient command of the German language and any special requirements for your chosen subject.
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What do you mean by “permissible choice of subjects”?

Most fields end with a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree. Subjects usually have a major and either two minors with 30 credits each or a second major with 60 credits “Leistungspunkten”. Check with your university on that.

How much German do I have to know?

You do not have to know as much that you can instantly write a PhD! As a minimum, you have to show a midlevel command with any of the following certificates:

Passing this test does not fully qualify you but makes you eligible to pass the German university language test (Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang). The test costs € 130. If you pass this test, you will meet the requirement for a “sufficient command of German”.
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When do I have to take that German Language Test for Admittance to a University?

It will have to be prior to enrollment (Immatrikulation). You will be invited to take the test when the university sends you its admittance letter (Zulassungsbescheid).

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Aren’t there any exceptions?

Indeed. You are exempt from the German Language Test if you pass the TestDaF level 4 in all parts. If you plan to study German, then you will be exempt if you pass TestDaF level 5 in all four parts.
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How do I apply to register at a university?

Most universities use the services of “uni-assist”. This is a portal that processes your application for a “Studienplatz (universtity place)”. It will test your eligibility to study in Germany and afterwards forward your application to the university or universities of your interest. The university decides upon your application for admission.
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Gee, I can’t make up my mind where I am to study. Do I have to apply for each school individually? That sure is cumbersome.

Relax. You have the chance to apply for different universities with one “application”. The advantage is that you will only have to submit all documents once.
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What happens if my application is not accepted or incomplete? Is that the end of my studies?

Uni-assist will test your case to determine if it meets the requirements set down by the university of your choice. If something is wrong, then your application will not be forwarded. You will be informed either online or via eMail by uni-assist. Uni-assist will keep your application for one year so that you can apply for the next semester.
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I have a feeling that I might not meet the requirements. What can I do so I still can study?

Well, that is not the end of studies here. You can apply to visit a one-year prep-class (Studienkolleg) to obtain the needed language skills to study here. After that course, you will have the required knowledge and will have normal chances in obtaining a place.
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But hey, I just have the desire to become acquainted with German and Germany and not immediately study Germanistics. Knowing hardly any German, it seems that I’m barred from getting any academic qualification in Germany.

Not really. If you first attend the prep-class ( Studienkolleg), then it suffices that you show you have a command of German at the B2 GER or Mittelstufe I level.
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What’s this “Studienkolleg” all about?

Well, your German language skills just do not meet German expectations for eligible candidates. That’s all there is to it. However, since German academica also lives from foreign input, non-European students get a chance to follow up. You have to choose certain major topics which will match with your future studies. You have to pass a test that will show your aptitude for your subject (Feststellungsprüfung). This test will give eligibility to study at all German universities.
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I did everything correctly and my application was successfully processed and forwarded to the school. How do I find out if I am accepted?

That is no problem. The university will inform you of your acceptance or denial.
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Um, by the way, what does it cost to attend a German university? Aha. A service provider has been put in between me and the school. I guess this will cost hefty fees. What about that?

Of course there are fees, but not hefty ones! To enhance the processing of your application, you should add proof of payment to your details. They will not forward your application to the university until their fees have been paid in full. For further details, check out uni-assist.
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I was accepted! What happens next? Yippee!

Congratulations! Now go back online and find out when language tests have been scheduled and then apply.
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After having studied for several terms here, I want to change universities because my major subjects are not sufficiently offered here. Will it be a problem?

Not really. But you must first be accepted by the new university and then reapply for your residence permit. If you fail to do the latter, your stay will be considered illegal. Take the wording of the residence permit literally!
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Below is a list of FAQs from UNI-ASSIST for further clarification:

Does my prior academic record qualify me to study in Germany?

Can I use one single application form for applying to several universities at the same time?

What do I have to do if I want to apply for admission to more than one university, but not all of these universities use the uni-assist procedure?

Which documents do I need to attach? Do they need to be authenticated or translated?

Can I upload or hand in scanned copies of my authenticated documents?

Can I apply online?

Is it necessary to include an e-mail address?

After I have registered for the first time, what do I do next?