Good afternoon, my dear friends! Hope you are doing well and staying healthy. Today I would like to talk about pursuing a Master degree in Germany. My story of studying in Germany began back in summer 2013, when I came to Germany for two months to do a summer language course. Once the language school organized a study trip to Schmalkalden and had a tour on the campus of University of Applied Sciences. Coming from a small town in Ukraine, I was fascinated. I started dreaming about studying there already on the way back to language school. After this excursion, I have firmly decided to do my Master’s degree in Germany.
So, here I will describe my process of applying for a degree program in Germany in few easy steps and will give you some useful tips for your application process. Kindly note, that my degree was entirely in English, so I will describe here application process for English speaking degree.
IMPORTANT! Before we start with anything, I would recommend you checking if you qualify for the degree you want to take – meaning if your previous qualifications gained in your country of origin correspond to the requirements of German educational establishment.
It is very easy to do – follow one of the links from the list:
- Follow the link of uni-assist to check if you meet the criteria and what you need to apply. For, example, when I checked Ukraine + successfully completed Bachelor degree, I found out that I qualify for direct general admission. As a result, in this post I will also describe the case of direct general admission.
- DAAD website also provides the similar option. Just follow the link and insert your country and acquired qualifications.
- Anabin website also gives you a tool to do such a research, however this one is in German.
This step includes a research on universities, which offer a degree program of your choice (you can do it either based on a specific degree you want to pursue or based on your location preferences).
Useful tips for Step 1:
- Don’t limit yourself by application to only one university. There is always a chance that something might not work out. I did this mistake and only applied to one university. Well, I got lucky, but now when I am thinking back, I could have been left with nothing at all;
- If you don’t have any preferences regarding the location of studies, it is worth taking into account that big cities always have a big competition as many students are applying there each semesters plus costs of living will be higher as well. For example, in my case, I was studying in a small town of Schmalkalden, but even there the competition was high.
For this step you can also visit special websites, there is a number of them. I will introduce you to couple now. One of them is Hochschulkompass.de, where you can find out more about degrees and universities, as well as admissions and special requirements. You can do a comprehensive research on Higher Education Institutions in Germany using their website. It contains 400 higher educational establishments as universities, universities of applied sciences, as well as arts and music colleges.
As an alternative, you can use the website of Studienwahl.de to conduct a research on all the study options. It also provides a comprehensive list of higher educational establishment based on the field of study you are searching for.
If you want to do more than that, there is an amazing portal of study-in-germany.de. It also gives you a database of 20,493 available programs. In my opinion, try all of the portals an compare the results. Who knows, maybe in one you will find exactly what is missing from another two.
Planning is the second step of your application after you have decided on the university and degree program. This is when you plan your application. Try to find out as much as possible about the university and its application process.
First, check the website of uni-assist, which is the organization in charge of processing and evaluating student applications in Germany for more than 170 universities. They have a very comprehensive website providing information on the admission process and list of the necessary documents you need, as well as many other points. But the main point is that they are in charge of online application to those 170 universities, so check the their link and those the university you want to apply in order to confirm if uni-assist is handling your application or you should apply directly to university.
After this step do a thorough check of the application requirements. In my case, while applying for Master Degree back in 2014 I had to prepare following application documents for the university:
- Application form (usually can be found on the university website);
- Resume or cover letter (explaining why exactly you want to study here, what are your previous accomplishments and ambitions);
- A copy of birth certificate, passport or identity card;
- Officially certified and translated copies of your bachelor degree, as well as grades transcript (in case you want to pursue Master Degree in Germany);
- TOEFL language test certificate (the language requirements differ based on the university);
- Two passport photos.
! Please note that other universities might have other lists of requirements. My degree program was entirely in English, so in my case I had to pass TOEFL exam, other universities have German language as a main language of the degree! Double check with the brochure or homepage of program you are applying for and follow their guidelines! For English speaking programs, TOELF applies in most cases, however in some rare cases universities can accept IELTS, so read the requirement of specific universities carefully.
Useful tips for Step 2:
- Start of the process – Best of all start the research six months advance or even earlier! It will give you needed time to collect all the required information and if needed take some courses for TOEFL preparation. Getting a calendar where you will mark all the important dates (TOEFL exam, Bachelor degree and grades transcript translation) was very useful for me;
- TOEFL Preparation – Another thing is TOEFL preparation. In my opinion, no matter how good you think your English is or how well you communicate, I suggest to take a small online course, watch some videos or even take a few private lessons for TOEFL preparation. It will give you the feeling of the exam and what parts it consists of. Start preparation as soon as possible!
- Planning TOEFL exam date – Depending on how much preparation you need, plan accordingly your TOEFL exam date. It should not be too close to the date when you want to send your application (in worth case it might happen that you will have to re-take your exam). Always plan some extra time frame to retake the exam if needed. Hope for best, prepare for worst as my mom says. Personally I took exam in winter, and sent my application only in June or even July.
- TOEFL exam – If you are lucky, your city has a TOEFL test center. If not, you will have to travel to the location of the exam prior to it. I came one and half days in advance. My exam was in Kiev, which is 5 hours away from my hometown by bus or by train. Knowing myself, I would be excessively nervous and will get lost in new city. Therefore, I arrived earlier to prepare and get to know the route to the exam center in advance. It helped me a lot and relieved me from pre-exam anxiety;
- Certified and translated copies of your documents – please take into account that you cannot translate your degree or any certificates yourself! You need it done by court certified translator! So, find a corresponding company handling this in your country and organize an appointment with them as soon as you get your Bachelor degree or other documents.
Collect all of the needed documents carefully and always double- or even triple-check. Especially when you are about to hand those documents over to transport company. I remember I checked it probably five times for myself and then 5 times for my friend, she did the same (my hands were literally trembling). Make sure that application is full and thorough.
Useful Tips for Step 3:
- Always keep the deadline of application in mind! It is very important to remember, that since you are sending your application abroad, it takes time to arrive to the university of your choice (sometimes even few weeks for the documents to arrive to the location);
- Carefully choose the transport company – you are sending important documents. Better, read some reviews online and choose accordingly;
- When you are sending the documents, my advice is to pay extra for the shipment tracking option or hand-in-hand/courier delivery. That way you will always know how much it will take or that documents securely arrived to the location.
Applying for dormitory or finding the apartment in the city of your preference can be very difficult. My suggestion is not to wait until you get a Letter of Acceptance from university. Many dormitories allow students to send application for a room even without a proof of admission. The final admission document can be send once you get a final contract from dormitory (again this depends on the university). Remember there are many applicants! And most of them want to live in university dorms. So take care of it and send your application for a room as soon as possible. From my point, dormitory is the best option for a student. You can immerse yourself into the student life, find new friends and get so much inter-cultural experience. The information about student dormitories can be found on the website of each university. It usually contain a pretty good guidelines on how to apply.
As alternative, the website of Study in Germany provides you a tool to find student dormitory facilities all over Germany. Check it out to get more details on all the university dormitories.
If you don’t want to live in the dormitory, or didn’t get a place, there are also many other options to explore, like private dormitories, one-room apartments or rentals from different housing websites. You can read more about Apartment Search in Germany in dedicated post.
Useful Tips for Step 4:
- Research on options of rentals. It depends on where you want to live – either it is university dormitory or single apartment.
- Apply as soon as possible – don’t wait for the Letter of Acceptance from the university.
Visa Application. Once you received Letter of Acceptance from university, it is time to apply for visa. For this, check the website of German Embassy in your country. Since all of the needed documents and regulation of application process are usually well explained there and lists might vary from country to country, I have decided not to include required documents here. In case you don’t understand something, don’t hesitate to give a call to the embassy and clarify your questions. Personally, me and my friend have done it multiple times.
Useful Tips for Step 5:
- Research the closest German embassy in your country and make the appointment as soon as possible. If the embassy is not in your city, plan accordingly your mode of transportation and book tickets beforehand;
- Familiarize yourself with documents you need to collect, make a list of what exactly you need for visa and places you need to get those from, as well as contact people if applicable. Good organization and tracking of your progress is important step in achieving your goal on time;
- For some documents, like travel insurance or financing statement, you might need to either open a travel visa, blocked bank account, provide DAAD stipend letter or get your parent’s monthly salary slip or a copy of their work contract. ! Note that in case of blocked account, as of 1st January 2021, according to estimate an average student’s financial needs per months are 861 euros, so the amount of funds on it should be 10 332 euros per year;
- Start the collection of documents as soon as possible in order to make it on time for the visa appointment;
- Take enough money with you to appointment – you will need to pay the visa fee in the embassy directly. It can take around 75 euros, but the exact amount will be provided to you by Embassy website (the procedure of payment the visa fee might vary from embassy to embassy, it can happen that you need to transfer the money online).
Insurance. Germany has compulsory health insurance, so in order to apply for visa you need to provide the proof that you will be insured on the territory of Germany. Unfortunately it is not possible to do it in my home country, so what we did what opening a travel insurance for the duration of our initial student visa, which was 3 months at that time. And once we actually arrived to Germany, our university’s foreign office organized a group application for health insurance. Our insurance was Barmer at the time.
Financial Statement. Since I didn’t apply for DAAD stipend, I have done financial statement through the procedure of blocked account. Mine was done in Deutsche Bank. The website is giving a broad info on the procedure and needed forms. Another alternatives would be Fintiba, Coracle or Expatrio. In addition to blocked account, they offer different varieties of packages, which may include health insurance as well.
As for Deutsche Bank, before sending the completed application documents to the bank itself for opening blocked account, you will need to do a trip to German Embassy or Consulate in order to actually certify all the application documents for your blocked account. After this step you can already send your documents by courier service directly to the bank address mentioned in the application forms and on website of Deutsche Bank. The bank then opens a blocked account for you. Note, there will be a one-time payment for opening blocked account. After the bank has set-up your blocked account, you can transfer the necessary amount to your blocked account. The only thing needed would be activating your blocked account once you arrive to Germany.
Well, once you have applied for your visa, there is nothing more left, but to wait for it to be ready! Have some rest, read a book, meet your friends and family. You have done amazing job so far and you deserve a break. Once you receive information from embassy that visa is ready, you can go and pick it up on the appointment day. And congratulations! Now you can start preparing for your studies in Germany and pack your bags!
I hope that this information was helpful, you can leave your suggestions, comments and questions. Good luck to you with your application!