requirements Studying in Germany

Documents that may be needed for university

What documents do you need to study in Germany?
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Transcripts, Translations, and More: Documents For Studying in Germany

So you’ve decided to study in Germany, and have read up on the basic information; you’re in the process of getting your government-sponsored identification (such as a passport) if you do not already have one, and want to find out what else you may need to apply!

As the required documentation can take time to research, acquire, and get approved, this is the next step for you.

The following information is very dependent on where your home country is. Please make sure to research universities on your own as well, as specific instructions vary by university.

However, as a general rule, please have the following documentation ready:

  •  Proof of graduation from secondary education (such as from high school in the United States of America
  • If you have taken any postsecondary certification courses or university classes, provide transcripts or certifications of those as well
  • Include information on the grading system used by the educational institution
  • All documents must be officially authenticated by the educational institution as well (such as sealed/stamped by the university, with a school seal, notarized, etc).

The tricky part for documentation is this next one: All documents must have a sworn translation form with them. This means finding a German translator and getting the translation officially recognized, either through a notary or a translation service specializing in overseas applications.

Language Skills and Tests

You might also have to prove your language skills are at a particular level, depending on the course you have chosen to study and the university at which you plan to study. Again, please check with the university, but as a general rule:

If you are taking a course of study taught in English, English-language proficiency is required. Please look into the ToEFL, the IELTS, or confirm that your secondary education (and/or any postsecondary studies) was taught in the English language, to help with proof of English-language proficiency.

If you are taking a course of study taught in German, of course a certain level of German language proficiency is to be expected. As such, please look into the following:

  • The DSH (Deustche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang)
  • TestDaF (Test Deutsch als Fremdsprache)

If your language skills or qualifications are not enough for entrance into a German university, you may have the choice of enrolling in a Studienkolleg. A Studienkolleg, such as the one used by Freie Universität Berlin and more, helps prepare you for studies in German and has an assessment test.  For information on what Studienkolleg is like, please watch this site as well.

What documents do you need to study in Germany?
requirements Studying in Germany

What do I need to study in Germany?

What do I need to study in Germany
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What You’ll Need To Study in Germany

So you’ve decided you want to study in Germany. But how to best go about it? What do you need? What do you do? Here are three essential tips to get you started.

1. Start the process early!

Because it can involve a lot of paperwork, it’s best to get the process started early – up to a year and a half early if you plan on enrolling in a university program in Germany itself. This cannot be emphasized enough. Take some time to research your options. If you are a university student, does your university have a sister school agreement with a German institution? If so, you might be able to study in Germany for a brief amount of time with the benefits of advancing your existing degree program, having other people from your university with you, and not needing to know much of the German language. If your university does not have such a program, or if you are interested in attending a German university program or a foundation course directly, read on.

2. Determine your language level!

When you research programs and courses in Germany, there are a dizzying array of options. But if your German language ability is not all that wonderful yet, then your options are more limited. Please take into account your language ability or lack thereof when choosing what to study – or if to study – in Germany. And even if you are confident in your German ability, consider how your language ability affects your housing arrangements. Not only might it affect where and which universities you may want to research (such as Berlin, or Munich, or so on), but also it might affect where you stay within a given city or town. Arrangements include accommodations for international students at the university itself, which would provide more international flavor and chances to make friends using English; a homestay arrangement, which would be an immersive and intense exercise in learning more about German language and culture; or other housing arrangements as may be available, such as renting a flat or room directly. There are pros and cons to each, which will be examined in a separate article later!

3. Ensure you have proper identification!

This varies by country. In the USA, “proper ID” to go to Germany means having a passport, which can take some time to process. For more information about US passports and how to apply for one, please visit the Department of Homeland Security website. Further requirements can be found by inquiring of a German diplomatic mission, such as the German consulate or embassy; general visa and travel information for United States citizens interested in studying in Germany can be found online at .

What do I need to study in Germany
Find Program and University Studying in Germany

Study in Germany: RWTH Aachen University

der Dom – the cathedral // © Image via Pixabay

Where to Study in Germany

4th of a Series on German Universities

Officially, it’s the Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule, but, since that’s quite a mouthful, we’ll call it Aachen University.  It is the intellectual descendant of the Royal Rhenish-Westphalian Polytechnic, begun by King Wilhelm I as a result of a donation from the Aachen and Munich Fire Insurance Company.  The university opened its doors on 10 October 1870 and was the first Prussian university.  Within five years, more than 450 students attended the university.  In 1899, Kaiser Wilhelm II granted the university the right to award doctoral degrees.  In 1923, the university appointed its first female professor.  In 1960, the university expanded from its pre-war size of 33,000 m2 to 88,000 m2 and, within six years, the university had added an Electrical Engineering School, a Faculty of Philosophy, and a Medical School.  In 1970, the student population expanded greatly to more than 10,000 students and, in 1980, the university added the Pedagogical University Rheinland as the Faculty of Education.  By 1986, it added the School of Economic Sciences and dismantled the Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Philosophy.


The Numbers

Aachen University is located next to the Belgian and Netherlands tri-border.  It’s only 90 minutes from Brussels, an hour from Cologne, two hours from Antwerp and Luxembourg City, and three hours from Frankfurt and from Rotterdam.  It is certainly centrally located in Europe.  Nowadays, the student body (undergraduate and graduate) is almost 45,000 strong (ca. 32% female), with almost 550 professors and more than 5,200 additional academic staff, and ca. 3,500 non-faculty staff, trainees, and interns.  The academic structure comprises 10 departments which include mathematics; computer science; physics; chemistry; biology; architecture; civil engineering; mechanical engineering; mining, metallurgy, & geosciences; electrical engineering; information technology; philosophy; economics, education; and medicine.


Partners of RWTH

The university has partnered with 563 major universities worldwide to promote international studies on a professional scale.  Partnerships include the Beijing Institute of Technology and 17 other universities in China; Israel Institute of Technology; Nara Institute of Science and Technology and 11 other universities in Japan; the University of Waterloo and four other universities in Canada; UCLA Berkeley and 11 other universities in the United States.  For the full list of partnered universities worldwide, click here.

Aachen University is one of the largest research university campuses, not only in Germany, but also in Europe.  It is also among the leading European scientific and research universities.  The university is quite proud that its facilities developed the first all-metal aircraft and the diesel-soot filter and it established the first wind tunnel and the first particle accelerator.  Aachen University prides itself as having the greatest density of business start-ups, university spin-offs, and engineering offices in Germany.  It is routinely referred to as the “silicon valley” of Europe.


Aachen University is Pretty International

Aachen University hosts almost 10,000 international students from 125 countries and the university encourages the strong participation of students at all levels in the university’s policies and procedures.  As its website emphasizes, the ‘Aachen Way’ requires that, “. . . for each individual topic and process under consideration, the right people are identified and brought together.  The successful governance of the university is characterized by the interplay of bottom-up processes and top-down coördination, together with an appreciation of engagement, collaboration, and pragmatism.  This progressive form of strategic decision-making is not at all typical of how universities are governed.  So, according to RWTH Rector Ernst Schmachtenberg, ‘it deserves the quite fitting designation of the Aachen Way.’”


The City of Aachen

What about the city of Aachen?  For openers, it was the principle coronation site for the Holy Roman emperors and German kings from the Middle Ages to the Reformation.  How livable is it for students?  It is eminently livable!  Charlemagne liked it so much that he’s still there—why wouldn’t you like it?  The Aachen cathedral contains the Palatine Chapel, the best surviving example of the original Palatine Chapel built in the 12th century by the Sicilian king, Roger II, in Palermo, Italy.

Do you like museums?  The nearby Suermondt Ludwig Museum, open since 1877, displays German sculptures from the 12th to the 16th centuries and includes works by Tilman Riemenschneider, Hendrik Douvermann, and Arndt van Tricht.  Paintings include works by Cranach the Elder, Cornelis Engebrechtsz, and Aelbrecht Bouts.  It also proudly displays works by the Spanish artists Francisco de Zurbarán, Luis de Morales, and Jusepe de Ribera and the Italian artist Bartolomeo Manfredi.  The museum’s holdings include major works from Netherlands and Flanders by Willem Claeszoon Heda, Anthony van Dyck, Frans Snyders, Jacob Isaacksz van Ruisdael, Jacob Jordaens, Frans Hals, Joseph de Bray, Willem Kalf, and Jan Boeckhorst.  The Suermondt Ludwig Museum is worth a visit on its own; for anyone living and studying in Aachen, it is indeed a bonus.

Need to kick back and relax?  Check out the Schwertbad-Quelle in Burtscheid, an Aachen suburb.  It has the warmest natural spring in Germany (76° C.).  Worked up an appetite?  Let me recommend the Turkish/Italian Restaurant Pont Pascha at Pontstraße 116, Aachen.  It offers pizza, salads, pasta, baked pasta dishes, and baked vegetable dishes.  All in all, it offers good food and value for money.  For a light snack, try a printen from a local bakery.  It’s an engraved pastry unique to Aachen, somewhat similar to an elongated gingerbread biscuit, and the European Union has awarded it a so-called “protected designation of origin,” i.e., only accredited Aachen bakers may bake and sell them.  It’s a treat, it’s not expensive, and, once you’ve eaten one, you’ve got bragging rights over folks back home who haven’t had one.  Each printen is baked in a form that leaves the imprint of a person on the length of the pastry.  While the precise recipe is a secret, the ingredients allegedly include cinnamon, aniseed, clove, cardamom, coriander, allspice, and ginger—all sweetened with sugar-beet syrup.

Be sure to consider Aachen University in your evaluation of Germany universities to begin, continue, or complete your university education and visit Aachen before you decide on any other university.  You owe that to yourself.  Good luck!

Studying in Germany

University of Würzburg

Study in Germany in Wurzburg
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1st of a Series on German Universities

The University of Würzburg is one of the 15 intensive-research universities in Germany (“U15 German Universities”) that are recognized as such worldwide and that are particularly acknowledged as among the leading sources of medical research and development. These 15 universities’ collective student bodies total almost half a million students, of which the University of Würzburg has roughly 30,000 students in many fundamental disciplines, including, but not limited to, medicine, science, and the humanities. Almost 60% of the university’s students are female, but, sadly, less than 9% of its students are international.

The University of Würzburg is justly proud of the fact that 14 Nobel Laureates have led the ranks of the many eminent scientists, researchers, and scholars who have taught and worked there over the past six centuries. Given its acclaimed position in the greater German university system and its international academic reputation as a premier center of learning, the University of Würzburg is clearly one of Germany’s unrecognized scholarly gems.

There’s a Strong Competition

At the same time, given the burgeoning thrust of international politics and economics, the
University of Würzburg will no doubt benefit from the competitive interest savvy international
students will express as they vie with more and more qualified students for fewer and fewer slots
in prestigious universities worldwide. In other words, it’s an ideal choice for serious
international students, not only because it’s a superb university, but also because the university
itself wants more international students.

The university bases its graduate school’s academic laurels on what it calls its “four pillars”: humanities; law, economics & society; life & natural sciences; and science & technology, and it’s undergraduate school, while embracing what it terms the “classic four” academic areas: medicine, theology, philosophy, and law, includes numerous degree programs, many of them new. For example, Business Management & Economics, Chemistry & Pharmacy, Medicine, Mathematics & Computer Science, and Arts—historical, philological, cultural, & geographic studies offer diverse, contemporary, and in-depth courses of study. The breadth of the university’s offerings should appeal to one and all.

Student life is not merely important, it’s fundamentally important, and both the University of Würzburg and the city itself offer an abundance of opportunity for one to establish and nurture one’s familiarity not only with German culture, but also European culture. Both the city and the university itself are so endearing and of such intrinsic quality that they capture the hearts and minds of students who, much to their own surprise, discover that this is where they want settle down, i.e., to marry and to pursue their career.


Würzburg, which has a population of 125,000, is a cosmopolitan city located in northern Bavaria (“Bayern”). It straddles the Main River and is about 120 kilometers east of Frankfurt am Main (population 700,000) and 120 kilometers west of Nuremberg (population 500,000). Greater Würzburg itself has a population of 160,000. The three cities are linked by Bundesautobahn 3, as well as by the German Railway Company (“Deutsche Bahn”). Both auto and rail travel to eithercity from Würzburg is usually no more than an hour—not that there is any need to leave Würzburg!

You must bear in mind that Würzburg has been a university city for more than six centuries. It knows what students want and it satisfies those wants . . . in abundance . . . and the students—possibly you?—contribute to the city’s ambiance of eternal youth by putting “spring” into the virtual steps of lifelong residents and tourists alike. (SEE here )


Surrounded as it is by the so-called Franconian Wine Country, Würzburg offers more leisure activities than my grandmother’s corncrib (“die Maiskrippe”) has mice. Events and endeavors include a huge trade fair, a jazz festival, Bach days, open house at many wineries, international film festivals, the Residenz Run Würzburg, a superb 18-hole golf course overlooking the city, an annual 42-kilometer marathon & half marathon, nordic walking events, cycling within Würzburg as well as throughout the surrounding wine country and along the Main River, hiking directly in Würzburg as well as in the greater Würzburg area, e.g., the Stein-Wein-Trail, several 10- kilometer hiking trails, and, for the robust and die-hard hikers, trails ranging from 88 kilometers to almost 500 kilometers.

After all that exercise and fresh air, one needs to unwind and Würzburg offers many opportunities to pamper one’s inner self, from beer gardens, pubs, and wine taverns to cafés, restaurants, and clubs. Sample the beer specialities at Brauerei-Gasthof Alter Kranen, investigate the delightful Italian-style offerings of the intimate Ristorante Dolce Vita, test yourself with the spicy entrees of Habaneros + Habaneros X-Press (“Texican Restaurant Y Bar”), and savor Mennas Time Out fare and entertainment (BLUES-KONZERT-Hoerbie Schmidt Band). Würzburg’s night life offers both quality and variety enough to satisfy the most discriminating residents and visitors. You’ll find your special place soon enough and morph from a student-visitor to regular.

Choosing a university is one of the three most crucial decisions one can make in life. It’s as challenging as choosing one’s spouse and one’s career. For that reason alone, it’s important to be informed not only about one’s options, but also about which questions to ask. It’s not enough merely to get all the facts and figures about a given university. One must know oneself thoroughly in order to know what one needs; mere wants are often fleeting and ultimately disappointing. This article about Würzburg University is meant as a provocative guide to all German universities, many of which will be similarly profiled in the coming months, so, as they say on Deutsche Welle, “stay tuned” (“Bleiben Sie dran!”).

Thinking About Studying in Germany?

Then you better make sure that your German language skills are top. Our grammar courses and songs will help you to stand out from the crowd and will help you gain respect for your ability to learn. Why don’t you check them out. Just click on the image below.

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Study in Germany in Wurzburg