If you want to study in Germany as a non-EU international student, you must first check if your previous qualification is recognized at German universities. Every school-leaving certificate attained in your country must be compared and translated into German qualification terms otherwise it won’t be recognized. There is a limited list of foreign qualifications assessed to be equivalent to German qualifications.
Many foreign students who have no prior information on the German education system, run out of excitement fearing this marks the end of their dream to study in Germany. However, German universities have a solution for you called Studienkolleg.
Even though many students think about the Studienkolleg course as a waste of time, it’s estimated that those international students who undergo such course before their regular studies are more successful than those who don’t.
What is Studienkolleg?
Simply put, Studienkolleg is a prep college in Germany designed to prepare incoming international students who are willing to study in Germany but whose qualifications don’t meet the German education system criteria.
Usually, a Studienkolleg course lasts for 4 academic semesters or a full academic year. Its intention is to prepare you with the required skills and knowledge on particular subjects related to your favorite university course.
Depending on your study field you want to study in Germany you’ll be required to attend one of the following Studienkolleg courses:
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As you can see, German language classes are a top priority in a Studienkolleg because regardless of the type of the course you will learn the German language. If your regular course is taught in English which is more likely at postgraduate level, you will be taught the English language.
In fact, equipping you with a solid level of knowledge in language is one the most fundamental goals of Studienkolleg. Furthermore, language courses will count for the highest number of classes during a Studienkolleg course.
By the time you enter this preparatory course you have to possess a minimum level of knowledge in German or English, depending on which language you’re university course is taught. Typically, a B1 or B2 level language is required from German universities to attend a Studienkolleg.
During the one-year foundation course, you’re going to use English or German language in different contexts related to your study fields, like science, business or economics, and this will significantly improve your level of language which is a vital factor to succeed in your regular studies in Germany.
How to apply for a Studienkolleg in Germany?
In order to apply for a Studienkolleg course in Germany follow these steps
Check if your previous qualification is recognized in Germany
Prior to everything else, you must check if your school-leaving certificate in your home country is recognized at German universities. Go to the university’s website and see their entry requirements section.
There you can get information regarding this issue. Normally, a university will determine exactly what type of qualifications it accepts. If your qualification is not listed there, then you have to sit for a preparatory course.
Find a Studienkolleg and a course
Now that you know you have to undertake a foundation degree course before being admitted you must find a proper Studienkolleg and a suitable course.
At this point you might be asking yourself (quite reasonable indeed): Is my chosen university where I will attend my Studienkolleg?
Well, it depends. Though a majority of universities run these courses on their own there are several which don’t. Some universities like the University of Stuttgart requires their incoming foreign students to attend a preparatory course at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) or at the Ruprecht Karls University Heidelberg. Moreover, there are private organizations that organize Studienkolleg courses separated from any university.
Check the requirements of the Studienkolleg
Entry requirements vary greatly among different prep colleges for international students in Germany. For that, you need to check the requirements on the Studienkolleg’s website and mail them if needed.
The following documents are mainly required to apply for a Studienkolleg
Your previous school-leaving certificate
Grades from previous education
Translated copies of the above documents by a certified translator
Apply for a place at the Studienkolleg
After you have collected all the documents as required it’s time to submit your application. You can run your application online or by post. Note that you cannot apply directly to the Studienkolleg except if it is a private institution. If the Studienkolleg is governed by your University, you must apply through it.
The online application can be made through the German universities’ online application platform Uni-Assiste.de. There are few universities which don’t participate in this platform but instead have their personal online application systems.
Pay extra attention to application deadlines as late applications are not admitted. Commonly, application deadlines for a Studienkolleg are:
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Before January 15 for the summer semester
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Get your German student visa
To be permitted to come and study in Germany as a non-EU student, you have to take a student visa in advance. Once you have applied for the Studienkolleg in Germany and received an acceptance letter you are eligible to seek a student visa which would enable you to travel to Germany and seek your university degree.
Take the entrance exam
To enter a Studienkolleg course in Germany you have to satisfy a certain level of knowledge in core subjects related to the intended regular course. You are expected to show this by sitting on an entrance exam which tests your overall knowledge and skills in those subjects.
The entrance examination is not supposed to be that hard. It mainly intends to identify your major struggles in language and other important subjects. At the end of the preparatory course, you’ll sit on an assessment test which will show the improvement you’ve made during the Studienkolleg course. If you don’t show excellent improvement you won’t be given a place at the University.
How do I know if I must take a Studienkolleg course in Germany?
German universities possess a list of qualifications that are equivalent to those qualifications set in the German education system. Check the university’s website and their entry requirements section to find if the qualification you possess makes you eligible to apply directly to a regular course or not. If you cannot find this information we suggest you mail the university or education authorities in Germany.
What qualifications are accepted in Germany?
These are some foreign degrees recognized by German universities
High School Diploma
You can check this database to get information if your qualification is recognized in Germany and how it is evaluated.
Can I apply for a German language preparatory course without having basic knowledge of German?
You need to have at least a B1 level of the German language.
Are there course fees applied for the preparatory course?
Studienkolleg is a free foundation course in Germany, but it depends on your Studienkolleg. If the university you want to study is a public and offers preparatory courses independently, then no fees are applied. However, you still need to pay the student semester contribution.
Who decides which type of preparatory course I must take?
Can I skip a Studienkolleg course?
Yes, you can, but it’s not preferred. Normally, you must have excellent knowledge of numerous subjects and the final exam is not that easy. With that in mind, we highly recommend you to attend the course before sitting for the entrance exam.
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