Campus & Student Life
CBS International Business School, 20 August 2021

How to Study in Germany - What are the Requirements? 9 Steps to Study in Germany


In Germany, there are plenty of study programmes to choose from, and most of them will have different application processes and requirements.

The application process can also differ depending on whether you’re a German student or an international student, so we’ve created a useful guide that will take you through everything you need to know about how to study in Germany.

We’ll take you through all of the steps that you need to take to get a place in a German university or at CBS, as well as the entry requirements and documents that you may need to submit as part of your application to study in Germany.

What are the requirements to study in Germany and how to apply

Steps to study in Germany

The application process to study in Germany generally includes the following steps:

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Find a study programme

Finding the right study programme for you is the first step you should take after deciding you want to study at a German university. 

It’s a really important decision, so make sure to give yourself enough time to decide on what’s right for you so you don’t have to make a last-minute choice.

If you already know what you’d like to study - that’s great! If not, you can use our degree finder tool where we find the perfect course for you, based on the subjects you’re already interested in.

You can also visit our undergraduate and postgraduate pages to discover more of the internationally oriented, English-taught courses we offer our students at CBS.

Meet the general requirements to study in Germany

Once you’ve decided on the study programme, it’s time to check that you meet all of the requirements that are needed in the Germany university admission process. 

The general requirements on how to study in Germany will vary depending on the university you’re applying to, so we recommend checking the entry requirements for every university you plan on applying to.

Here you can find an overview of the admission requirements at CBS.

However, there are some requirements that will be the same across all Universities. These will include getting a student visa (if you’re from a country that requires one), showing proof of relevant qualification, and proof of language proficiency in the language that your study programme will be taught in.

Check out our undergraduate degrees 

Check out our graduate degrees

Will my school-leaving qualification be recognized? 

To study in Germany, you’ll need a ‘Hochschulzugangsberechtigung’ ‘HZB’ - which is a school-leaving qualification.

Before applying to university, you should check that the school-leaving qualification you have from your home country is recognised by the German higher education system. 

To do this, you can get in touch with us, and we will be more than happy to check that with you. 

If your school-leaving qualitifcation is recognized in Germany as equivalent to the Abitur or Fachabitur. You can go ahead and apply directly for a study programme in Germany without having to complete a preparatory course/Prep4University.
Attention: A recognised school-leaving qualification does not necessarily mean that your knowledge is sufficient for the desired study programme. Attending a Studienkolleg (Prep4University) is always worth considering in order to improve your chances of success in your subsequent bachelor's degree programme.

Learn our Studienkolleg/Prep4University course at CBS

How to get your school-leaving qualification recognized in Germany?

If your school-leaving qualification is not recognized in Germany, you can gain an entrance qualification by taking a foundation preparatory course (Studienkolleg) or our Prep4University.

These foundation preparatory courses take a year (2 semesters) to complete and once you’ve passed you can apply to a Bachelor’s programme in Germany.

You can find out more about Studienkolleg programme Prep4University here

Admissions requirements for a Bachelor’s degree in Germany

As we have explained, the entry requirements will differ between each university but generally, these are the main requirements asked of students applying for a Bachelor's degree in Germany:

  • Proof of previous qualifications

  • Take an entrance exam

  • Proof of German language proficiency (when studying in German)

  • Proof of English language proficiency (when studying in English & if English is not your native language)

  • Motivation letter or references

  • Copy of ID/passport

At CBS, the admissions requirements for studying with us include having completed secondary school and taking a university qualification or full entrance qualification to an applied sciences university. 

You can take a look at our entry requirements here.

Admissions requirements for Studienkolleg in Germany

If your current secondary school certificate is not recognised by German universities, you may have to take a one-year Studienkolleg before you can apply for a Bachelor’s degree. 

All you need to provide to be accepted onto Studienkolleg is a secondary school certificate that qualifies you for direct university entrance in your home country. 

At CBS we offer our own preparatory course for students called Prep4University where you also only need to show a secondary school certificate. Learn more about here!

Admissions requirements for a Master’s degree in Germany

To get a place on a Master’s degree programme in Germany, you’ll usually be asked to have a Bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject. Depending on the University you may also be asked to have achieved a minimum number of ECTS-credits.

At CBS, the admission requirements for our Master programmes are a minimum of 180 ECTS-Credits from a recognised university with a final grade of at least “good” in a business-related degree.

You can take a look at the entry requirements for each of our courses on our postgraduate pages.

Admissions requirements for an MBA degree in Germany

To get a place on an MBA programme in Germany, you’ll be asked for a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in a relevant subject.

At CBS, the admission requirements for our MBA programmes are a minimum of 180 ECTS-Credits from a recognised university with a final grade of at least “good”. You will also be asked to have had 1-year of work experience.

Language requirements/Language proficiency to study in Germany

To get a place at a German university you will have to show proof that you have a good understanding of the language you’re going to be taught in - which will either be English or German.

If German or English isn’t your native language, you can prove your proficiency by submitting a German language standardized test. The level of proficiency that you must prove will be different depending on the University you’ll be attending. 

What are the recognized language certificates in Germany? 

At CBS we accept the following certificates and levels for our programmes:

  • TOEFL (at least 83 points Internet-based for Bachelor's programmes) (at least 92 points Internet-based for Master's & MBA programmes)

  • IELTS (at least band 6.5)

  • Cambridge English First (FCE)

  • BEC Vantage

  • CBS language test

If a student can provide evidence of a six-month stay abroad in an English-speaking county, or that they have already taken parts of their studies in English, they won’t have to take any language tests.

Learn the German language

Do I need German language knowledge when studying in English?

Although you will not be asked to prove your German language knowledge as part of your application to a German university (unless your course is taught in German), we would suggest taking lessons if you can.

Even if your course is being taught in English, it will be very helpful to have a basic understanding of the German language when you’re out and about in your city, talking to German people.

We would recommend that students start to learn German 6 months before moving to gain a good understanding of the language - it will make it much easier to settle into a new country if you’re able to talk to the people you meet!

If you come to study with us at CBS, we also integrate German language classes into our study programmes to continue your learning. German as a foreign language is offered as an obligatory course for Non-native German speakers and is integrated into every semester, to help you master a new language while pursuing a degree programme.

Check out some tips to help you learn German faster

Prove your finances

It’s important that you have the money to fund your studies and living expenses in Germany, it’s also something that you’ll be asked to prove as part of your visa application.

You can prove your finances in a number of different ways, either through personal savings or money from your parents. Most students will do this by setting up a blocked account, where you have to deposit an agreed sum (which is determined by the length of your stay in Germany).

As an international student, you can also apply for various scholarships and loans which can help you financially during your study programme.

Here you can find an overview of the available financial aid options. 

Learn more about funding your studies in Germany and opening a blocked account here.

Submit your application

Where to apply? 

Most universities in Germany will allow you to apply through an online application form, which should be easy to find on your university’s website.

If you’re applying to CBS, you can find our application form here.

What documents will I need?

You should double-check what documents your university asks for before beginning your application as it may be different from what we ask for at CBS.

German universities will also usually only accept documents in English or German, so please note that you may have to pay for a certified translator to translate your documents before applying.

At CBS, we’ll ask you for the following documents for all students applying to our courses:

  • Your CV in tabular format

  • Copy of your last school certificate with a transcript of records for each subject (original language plus translation in either English or German)

  • Letter of motivation

  • Copy of your passport (and residence permit, if available)

  • Proof of English proficiency (when studying in English, and if English is not your native language).

  • Proof of German proficiency (when studying in German, and if German is not your native language).

  • If you’ve previously studied at another college or university you’ll have to submit a transcript of the courses you’ve taken or a certified copy of your degree 

Do I have to send all original and certified documents, or can they be copies?

You only need to provide copies of your documents, not the originals. 

When is the deadline to apply for a German university? 

The deadline for each university will be different depending on when courses start, but most will have an application deadline of July-August.

At CBS are application deadlines are as follows:

  • English-language programmes: June 15

  • German-language programmes: June 15

You can also find more information on our term dates at CBS by viewing our academic calendar.

Bear in mind that universities in Germany receive a lot applications from international students and most of the times study places are limited. That is why an early application is advisable, especially if you require a visa to study in Germany. Here at CBS, we accept your applications all year round - even before you graduate from high school.

You must submit your application and then wait for the admission letter.

Get German health insurance

As an international student, you’ll be asked to show proof of your German health insurance as part of your visa application.

Learn more about student health insurance in Germany here

If you’re from an EU/EEA member state, you don’t need to apply for health insurance in Germany as you can use your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

Apply for a German student visa

If you come from a country where you’re required to have a student visa before moving to Germany, you should start your application as soon as you have received an admissions letter from your university.

Student visas can sometimes take a while to process so you should start your application as soon as you can, and start preparing all of the documents that you’ll need.

Find out more about applying for a student visa and the documents you need to submit.

Find accommodation

There are lots of different accommodation options for international students, from halls of residence at your university to private renting. 

Accommodation will often be the largest monthly cost you’ll have to pay during your studies, so it’s good to understand how much you can expect to pay.

Check out our undergraduate degrees 

Check out our graduate degrees

Enroll at a University

Once you’ve received your admissions letter from your German university, you’ll be able to enroll. 

This will involve submitting a number of documents to the Office of Student Affairs, and registering yourself onto your classes.

What do I have to do to enroll at a German university?

Most universities will ask you to provide the following documents when enrolling:

  • Your passport

  • Your admissions letter

  • A University Entrance Qualification (or substitute)

  • Passport photos

  • Proof of health Insurance 

  • Proof of English and/or German language proficiency

Once you have submitted these documents you will get:

  • A certificate of enrollment

  • An electronic payment slip sent by email to pay your semester fees

  • Your student ID

  • Your university online account to access online resources

Get ready to travel to Germany!

After you’ve finished all of the steps above, it’s time to start getting ready to travel to Germany!

If you’ve never visited Germany before, now would be a good time to start learning as much about the country as you can to prepare yourself for arrival..

Check out some tips about living in Germany. Or find out more information about life in Germany for students at our CBS campuses on our  campus & student life page

Here are 98 cool & fun facts about Germany that international students should know

Here are 22 tips for living in Germany as an international student

Top tips for a successful application

  • Apply as early as you can. There are often delays in the application process that are out of your control, by applying early these delays won’t affect you as much.

  • Pay attention to the details. Make sure to read over all the documents you receive thoroughly so that you don’t miss any important details.

  • Ask for help if you need it. The process can get confusing so reach out to someone at your home university, or one of our student advisors.

  • Make the most of your personal statement. The personal statement is your chance to tell the university why they should accept you so make it count! If you have someone that can proofread and give feedback too, that will be really helpful.

  • Make sure you’ve included all relevant qualifications/work experience. Universities don’t just look at grades - they want people who show they are a good fit for their course so include anything that’s relevant in your application.


It may seem like there are a lot of requirements that you have to meet in order to get a place at a German university, but as long as you’re organised and prepared in advance, it will be a very easy and smooth process.

If you need any further information or have any questions about how to study in Germany or study in Germany requirements, you can schedule an appointment with one of our friendly student advisors or attend one of our virtual info sessions.

CBS International Business School

CBS International Business School is a state-recognised private university of applied sciences for business. We offer accredited Bachelor's, Master's and MBA degree programmes in German and English on a full-time or part-time basis. Throughout Germany, the university is represented at three locations in Cologne, Mainz, and Potsdam.

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