Every country as well as university has certain requirements for admission into a course of study and this includes universities in Germany.  If you plan to apply to study in Germany for the next academic year, you need to know the requirements and conditions for admission into a university in Germany. In this article, the university admission process and requirements would be outlined to help you as a prospective student make a successful university application.

All students from abroad must apply for admission to any German university. This applies to freshmen, postgraduates and doctoral candidates as well. The admissions procedure makes certain that applicants fulfill the essential requirements to study at an institute of higher education.

To check at a German university, you require a so-called Hochschulzugangsberechtigung (HZB), or higher education entrance certification. This is a secondary school-leaving certificate that corresponds towards the German Abitur and qualifies you to study.

Students from abroad must apply for admission from the university of their choice. For you application, you will need:-

For a Bachelor’s degree:

A school-leaving certificate (also generally known as “university entrance qualification”, e. g. High School Diploma, Matura, A-Levels, Bachillerato, Atestat, baccalauréat) or proof that you have passed the university entrance examination (if required in your home country)

For the Master’s degree and PhD programmes:

Recognition of your university degree from your home country or study country. Not all higher education entrance qualifications apply at all study programmes. There is a general qualification (“allgemeine HZB”) which entitles students to study all subjects at universities and universities of applied sciences, and a subject-specific qualification (“fachgebundene HZB”) which entitles students to study certain subjects only.

To get admission to some universities of applied sciences, internships are required. Make sure you find out before time whether a pre-study internship is necessary for your subject at your chosen university!

Some universities also require a certain grade point average for certain subjects.

Where do you do if you have no university entrance qualification?

If your school-leaving certificate won’t directly qualify you for admission to study in Germany, you are required to take a “Feststellungsprüfung”, or assessment test. You can prepare for this test in a preparatory course, or “Studienkolleg”, at a German university. These assessment tests differ based on university or university of applied sciences. The “Studienkolleg” website has a complete list connected with universities offering the preparatory course and other useful information.

The preparatory courses deliver different core subject areas, such as technologies or economics. The assessment test is often taken after two semesters (1 year). You will also be required to take a language effectiveness test. The”Feststellungsprüfung” certificate entitles you to study the subjects that correspond to the core subject area you attended anywhere in Germany. For admission to a preparatory course, you must have an adequate knowledge of German, for example Level B1.

Depending on the country you come from, also one or two years of study in your home country may be recognised as a higher education entrance qualification.

Which tests do German universities require for admission?


For a Bachelor’s degree: Some universities are demanding that applicants from abroad take an additional aptitude test to prove that they are capable of studying. You acquire bonus points for the test and improve your chances of admission. The TestAS helps you realistically assess your chances of studying successfully. So please find out from your chosen university what advantages this offers you.

Important for applicants wishing to take international degree programmes

At some universities, SAT / ACT scores or high school grade point averages are also recognised.

Applicants for international Master’s degree programmes should bear in mind that GRE/GMAT scores are necessary or are advantageous for admission at an increasing number of universities. Please ask at your chosen university!

Language tests

German: If you choose to take a course of study in German, you are usually required to prove that you have an adequate knowledge of German. You can do this by taking one of two different language proficiency tests:

  • the language test “TestDaF” (test of German as a foreign language) or
  • the “Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang ausländischer Studienbewerber” (DSH).

You can find out where and when you can take these tests and other important information on the subject here.

A German test does not have to be taken if

  • the applicant has passed the Abitur examinations at a German-speaking school,
  • the applicant has passed the “Deutsche Sprachdiplom (Level II)” of the KMK (“Kultusministerkonferenz”) or the “Goethe-Zertifikat C2: Großes Deutsches Sprachdiplom”, Goethe Institute’s “Kleines Deutsches Sprachdiplom” (KDS), “Großes Deutsches Sprachdiplom” (GDS) or “Zentrale Oberstufenprüfung” (ZOP)

English: Students wishing to take an international degree programme (Bachelor’s, Master’s, PhD) do not necessarily have to take a German test. The teaching language in these courses is usually English.

Please note: To study a degree course in English, an English language certificate (e.g. TOEFL, IELTS) is often required. Each university decides what minimum number of points is required for admission.

Check list for admission: The most important information in brief

  • A school-leaving certificate which is equivalent to the German Abitur (or, depending on country of origin, a combination of school-leaving certificate, university entrance examination and years of study)
  • Knowledge of language (German proficiency)
  • Possibly pre-study internship or a certain grade point average.
  • Formal criteria: Adherence to deadlines, correct kind of translations and certifications.

If you qualify for admission based on the above requirements, find out in the next article about where and how to apply.