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How to Study in Germany

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Germany has always been a popular study abroad destination. There are at least 330,000 international students enrolled in German universities each semester, and the number grows every year.

Students are attracted to Germany because of its low living costs and the country’s promising job opportunities, especially in industries such as automotive, mechanical engineering, chemical, and electrical. Not to mention, you can study in some of Europe’s greatest cities, including Berlin and Frankfurt.

But if you’re wondering how to study in Germany, then you should know that it pays to be prepared. To make the process easier, this guide will take you through everything you need to know about studying abroad in Germany, including German student visas and German scholarships.

Why study in Germany?

Germany is a fascinating country and is the ideal place to study abroad if you’re interested in history and culture. Cities like Berlin and Munich are renowned throughout the world for the quality of their cultural institutions, and you could be spending your days off exploring the Altes Nationalgalerie or the Deutsches Museum.

Students are also attracted to Germany’s unique culture. Centuries of history mean Germany is a diverse nation filled with cultural sights: in fact, there are 51 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country, placing it third on the list of countries with the highest number of UNESCO sites. However, it’s also a multinational country, and you’re bound to discover more about other European cultures as you study here, too.

Finally, Germany is a picturesque country with something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you want to take a trip to nearby Switzerland or Austria to ski or try summer hiking in the Black Forest, there are plenty of ways to unwind and travel during your studies in Germany.

Top business schools in Germany

As the largest economy in the EU, studying business in Germany is your chance to land a role at some of the world’s largest companies. This includes Volkswagen, Allianz, Siemens, and BASF.

As well as housing influential multinational companies, Germany is also a growing hub for digital startups. Berlin ranked number 22 in the Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2021 for the quality of its startup ecosystem, beating major global cities like Sydney, Hangzhou, and Philadelphia. In fact, out of all investments in startups in Germany in 2019, Berlin received 60% of the funds, meaning it’s an ideal study destination for those interested in entrepreneurship.

Elsewhere, though, there are large hubs of industry throughout Germany. Frankfurt is one of the world’s leading financial centers, and major companies like PwC, Deloitte, Deutsche Bank, and IBM have offices in the city. In the south, Munich is growing its reputation as a tech center: Apple and Google have key hubs in the Bavarian capital.

Not to mention, Germany is home to several top-ranked business schools. Four German business schools appear on the Financial Times Global MBA ranking, with six on the ranking for Masters in Management. As such, some of the best places to study in Germany include ESMT Berlin, Mannheim Business School, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, and WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management.

How to apply to study in Germany

To apply to universities in Germany, you’ll need the same documents as other international business schools. This includes a degree diploma, academic transcript, passport photo, and a copy of an English language certificate if English isn’t your native language. There are multiple acceptable tests, but the most popular are the TOEFL, PTE, and IELTS.

Applicants to master’s or MBA programs will also need to provide a GMAT score. You can take the GMAT either online or at a testing center.

While applicants from certain countries will not need a visa to study in Germany (a full list is available here), most non-EU citizens will have to apply for a German student visa. To apply, you’ll need a valid passport, proof of health insurance, proof of financial resources, your English language certificate, and a letter of acceptance from your university or business school.

Your student visa (Visum zu Studienzwecken) is valid for three months. Upon arrival in Germany, you should head to the Alien Registration Office in your town or city to apply for your extended residence permit. This will allow you to stay in Germany for the duration of your study program. 

Cost of living

If you’re concerned about how to study in Germany on a budget, then you needn’t be. Berlin is one of the cheapest places to study abroad. It ranks 30th globally for its cost of living, making it more affordable than the Netherlands, France, and the US.

International students in Germany are also required to take out health insurance unless you’re an EU citizen and then you will be covered by your public health insurance in your home country. Health insurance in Germany costs an average of €110 per month for students under the age of 30 but is a little more for anyone over the age of 30.

To give you an idea of how much you might spend while studying abroad in Germany, here are some approximate monthly costs for items and bills. On average, students in Germany spend a total of €867 per month – and that includes rent, food, other bills, and leisure costs.

  • Rent: €290-€560
  • Groceries: €150
  • Transport: €116
  • Restaurant meal: €11
  • Gym membership: €30

Data gathered from study-in-germany.de, numbeo.com

German scholarships and loans

As well as having a low cost of living, Germany also offers more affordable tuition fees compared to other institutions in Europe. Bachelors programs at business schools in Germany can have tuition costs of €26,000 a year, while Master’s programs shouldn’t exceed €40,000 a year.

MBA programs are likely to be more expensive, though they are still affordable compared to comparative courses in the UK or US. For example, the top-ranked MBA at Mannheim Business School carries tuition fees of €39,900.

If you do think you will struggle financially with the cost of studying in Germany, there are also lots of German scholarships you can apply to. For example, the DAAD offers full postgraduate scholarships for international students, and other organizations offering German scholarships include the DeutschlandStipendium and the Heinrich Böll Foundation.

If you don’t manage to receive a German scholarship, there are other options, including student loans. Prodigy Finance is one company that offers loans to international students, but there are also some governmental-funded student loans available.

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