Study in Germany
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.
Located in Central Europe, Germany is made up of the North German Plain, the Central German Uplands (Mittelgebirge), and the Southern German Highlands. The Bavarian plateau in the southwest averages 1,600 ft (488 m) above sea level, but it reaches 9,721 ft (2,962 m) in the Zugspitze Mountains, the highest point in the country. Germany's major rivers are the Danube, the Elbe, the Oder, the Weser, and the Rhine.
Eighty million citizens make Germany the most populous country belonging to the European Union. Considered the primary major political and economic power of Europe, Germany also possesses the fourth largest economy in the world. Bordered by Poland, Denmark, Austria, France and Switzerland, Germany is also home to a large number of immigrants and claims an ethnic composition of 80 percent German, two percent Polish, five percent Middle Eastern, four percent Turkish and two percent Asian. People all over the world are attracted to Germany's high standard of living, comprehensive universal health care and social security system as well as the continued stability of its economy even through the recent global recession.
With the reunification of East and West Germany in the early 1990s, Berlin became the capital of Germany again while the city of Bonn, the capital of West Germany during the split, gained the unusual status of a federal city (Bundesstadt). Germany is a representative democratic, federal, parliamentary republic with a political system operating under the guidelines described in the 1949 Grundgesetz.
Essential Facts about Germany
- The sixteen states comprising Germany are called Länder, with each state possessing its own constitution.
- In 2002, Germany introduced the euro and also set the monetary policy of the euro according to the regulations issued by the European Central Bank, located in Frankfurt.
- Contributions by Germans to the fields of science, mathematics and technology cannot be emphasized enough. Brilliant individuals like Einstein, Max Planck, Herman von Helmholtz, Johannes Gutenberg, Gottfried Leibniz and Carl Gauss are just a few German scientists who have supplied the world with famous inventions such as the first automatic digital computer, the printing press and mathematical calculations that have paved the way for modern telecommunications development.
- In Germany, if you need the police, dial 110; if you need an ambulance, dial 112
- Germany is one of the world's most technologically advanced manufacturers of coal, iron, cement, steel, machinery, vehicles and chemicals. It also has large investments in green energy, especially solar power and the use of windmills for electricity.
- Popular tourist attractions in Germany include the Bavarian Alps, the Black Forest, the Rhine Valley and its ancient castles and the capital Berlin, which still exhibits the stark living conditions left over from East German occupation.
Located between the continental climate of Eastern Europe and the oceanic climate of Western Europe, Germany has a temperate seasonal climate moderated by waters from the Gulf Stream called the North Atlantic Drift. On average, most of Germany receives around 30 inches (790 mm) of rain each year which occurs regularly throughout the year. Summers are warm and winters are generally mild, with temperatures reaching 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26 Celsius) during the summer months and decreasing to 30 degrees Fahrenheit (-1 Celsius) during the winter. Snowfall can be heavy at times, while some winters in Germany may not see any snow.
Religion in Germany
About 60 percent of Germans belong to the Evangelical Church which adheres to the Christian faith. Thirty percent of Christian Germans are Catholics and 30 percent are Protestant. A large percentage--nearly 30 percent--of Germans state they are atheists or agnostics, with most non-religious people living in eastern Germany and larger cities like Munich, Frankfurt and Berlin.
Languages in Germany
German is, of course, the official language of Germany but many Germans are fairly fluent in English as well. In fact, recent research found that 65 percent of Germany's citizens are bi-lingual or possess an adequate, if not perfect, ability to understand and communicate in several languages. This is due to the fact that Germany shares its borders with so many other countries, which facilitates Germans visiting a variety of culturally different regions.
German is not the easiest language to learn and has a few "quirks" that foreign students often find difficult to assimilate and remember to use when writing or speaking German. For example, the first letter of all nouns are capitalized, with nouns divided into masculine (der), feminine (die) and neuter (das) genders. Additionally, the language employs cases concerning article usage which is referred to as the accusative, the dative, the genitive and the nominative cases.
For students from the EU and from Iceland, Norway, Switzerland or Liechtenstein, it is only necessary to have an identity card to enter Germany. It is not necessary to have a student visa.
Students from Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, South Korea, and the USA can apply for their visa after having arrived in Germany. For students from other countries, it is necessary to apply for a student visa before coming to Germany.
If staying less than 90 days in Germany, there are even more regulations. Citizens from certain countries can enter Germany for 90 days without a visa. These are Venezuela, Vatican City, Uruguay, Singapore, Seychelles, Paraguay, Panama, Nicaragua, Mexico, Mauritius, Malaysia, Macau, Croatia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Chile, Brunei, Brazil, Bolivia, Bermuda, Barbados, Bahamas, and Argentina.
Visit the website of the German Federal Foreign Office for the latest visa requirements for all countries.
There are three types of visa for study purposes in Germany:
- Language Course Visa (Visa for Language Learning) – the perfect option for those that want to learn the German language in Germany.
- Student Applicant Visa (Visum Zur Studienbewerbung) – if you want to study in Germany, but are still trying to find the right program or you still haven’t got the confirmation letter from your University.
- Student Visa (Visum Zu Studienzwecken) – if you have already been accepted to a German university.
You will need to apply for your visa at the German embassy or consulate in your home country. First, you need to schedule an appointment for a visa interview. On the day of the interview, you should offer your visa application documents. You will typically need a letter showing you’ve been accepted by a German university, a certificate of German language proficiency or proof that you intend on attending a language course in Germany (if studying in German), proof of sufficient funds to support yourself while living in Germany, and health insurance, among others.
The processing time for a Germany long-stay study visa may take 6-12 weeks from the application day. Short-stay study visas are usually decided within 15-30 days by the German missions abroad. In any case, you should apply as soon as possible, and at least three months before your move to Germany.
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