Campus & Student Life
CBS International Business School, 21 February 2022

What you should know about Studienkolleg in Germany - Complete 2022 Guide


Choosing to study in a new country is a big decision, especially when the teaching cultures are very different. As a non-EU international student, your first step should be checking if your previous academic qualifications are recognized in Germany. Germany has a solution for those whose qualifications do not meet the criteria of the German education system. Studienkolleg (Prep4University), which is a preparatory course designed specifically for international students.

The Studienkolleg programme works as a bridge between studying in your home country and Germany and lets you yourself into the new German academic culture. 

You’ll be required to undertake a Studienkolleg if your current education certificate does not transfer to the German higher education system. Without it, you may not get a place at a German university.

This guide will take you through the different types of Studienkolleg in Germany, and give you all the information you need to know to choose the right Studienkolleg programme for your studies.

Table of Contents: 

What is Studienkolleg?

Studienkolleg is a course that prepares international students whose qualifications do not meet the German education system criteria, for studying at German universities by covering a broad range of linguistic and academic courses. Not only does it help you get used to the academic culture in Germany, but it also makes you more likely to get accepted at a University.

There are 2 main types of schools that offer Studienkolleg. The first is University Studienkollegs, which are focussed on courses related to humanities, business, science, or languages. There are also Applied science Studienkollegs, which focus on the arts, sciences, designs, and technical courses.

At CBS we offer our own Studienkolleg, called Prep4University, which is an intense foundation/preparatory course that’s one of the few Studienkollegs that can be taken in English.

Learn more about Prep4University at CBS

What is Prep4University?

Prep4University, with locations in Cologne and Potsdam, is a brand for the preparatory course offerings of CBS International Business School (CBS). CBS is a private, state-recognized business school with locations in Cologne, Mainz, Potsdam, Aachen, Brühl, Solingen and Neuss. Young people from 75 nations study at CBS. Prep4University specializes in the W-course, which enables the application for business and social science degree programmes. You take the "Feststellungsprüfung (FSP)" at CBS campus in Cologne. Prep4University cooperates with the Bezirksregierung Köln, the responsible supervisory authority.

Learn more about Prep4University at CBS

What are the different types of Studienkollegs?

Studienkolleg in Germany will either be private or public courses. If you choose a public course, it will be free to attend and you’ll cover a range of general topics. If you choose a private Studienkolleg, you’ll have to pay tuition fees but will only focus on topics that are specific to you, or the University you plan on applying to.

There are also different types of courses you can choose depending on what subject area you want to study at a German university.

Here are the different Studienkollegs offered at Universities:

  • M-course (dentistry, medicine, biology, veterinary medicine)

  • W-course (business administration and economics)

  • G-course (humanities and foreign languages)

  • T-course (natural sciences, mathematical, scientific or technical programmes)

  • S-course (language studies)

If you take one of the Studienkolleg courses above, you will qualify for a place to study at both Universities and Universities of Applied Sciences.

Here are the different Studienkollegs offered at Universities of Applied Sciences:

  • TI-course (technical and engineering programmes)

  • WW-course (economics)

  • GD-course (creative and artistic programmes)

  • SW-course (social sciences)

If you take one of the courses above, you will only qualify for a place to study at the Universities of Applied Sciences.

The university that you’re applying to will usually decide on the preparatory course that you need to take, so you won’t have to make the choice by yourself. 

At CBS, our Prep4University course mainly prepares you for the W-course which focuses on students studying business, economics, and social sciences.

How to apply for Studienkolleg in Germany? 

We would advise that international students apply for a Studienkolleg in Germany through the International Office at their chosen University. This way you can ensure you’re registering for the correct course for your study program, and you’ll have someone who can guide you through the application process.

Check if your existing education qualification is recognized in Germany

Before applying, you should always double-check if any of your existing qualifications are recognised in German higher education institutions. If your qualifications are recognised, you may not even need to attend Studienkolleg.

Note: The recognition does not mean that your knowledge is sufficient for the desired study. Keep in mind that the study contents in Germany require the knowledge of the German Abitur, which is especially demanding in mathematics. Attending a Studienkolleg is always worth considering in order to improve your chances of success in your subsequent bachelor's degree program.

What are the requirements for a Studienkolleg?

Entry requirements vary among different Studienkolleg programmes. 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 and Prep4Univeristy:

  • Your secondary school certificate or university entrance qualification: You have successfully completed secondary school or high school in your home country, which entitles you to study at a university - or you are still in school. We need to see your high school transcript or proof that you are about to graduate. Examples of certificates are High School Diploma, A-Level, Gaokao, IB Diploma, together with the transcript of records.

    Note: We need the certificate or school transcript in the original language and, if it is not in German or English, also a certified translation into German or English.

  • Language skills: For the English Track, you need a language certificate IELTS (6.0), TOEFL iBT (72), or DUOLINGO (75). For the German Track, you need CEFR (B2). Other language certificates may be accepted on a case-by-case basis.

  • Letter of Motivation: Write a letter of motivation in English or German. Maximum length: one page.

  • Curriculum Vitae: Create a tabular curriculum vitae.

    Copy of passport: Send us a certified copy of your passport. If you are a citizen of a country of the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland, your ID card or a comparable identity card is sufficient.

Get more information on the application process and requirements here

Ask us: If you are not sure whether your qualification is recognised in Germany, or if you have any questions, simply get in touch with us and will be more than happy to help you.

Apply for a place

After you have collected all the required documents it’s time to submit your application. If you want to apply directly, most universities will have an online application form that you can submit. When you apply, you may be asked to provide proof of admission to a German university, your CV, and a valid school leaving certificate.

The application deadline for Studienkolleg is May 15th or October 15th as the courses start in August or January. Remember that if you need to apply for a visa, you should submit your Studienkolleg application as soon as possible!

If you want to apply for our Prep4University course, you can do so by filling out our simple and quick online form.

Get your German student visa

Once you’ve been accepted onto a Studienkolleg course, you’ll need to apply for a German student visa - which is required for all international students taking preparatory courses in Germany.

Is Studienkolleg compulsory in Germany?

Studienkolleg in Germany is only compulsory for students whose current qualifications from their home country don’t meet the criteria to study at a German university.

If you’re not sure if your qualifications will meet the criteria, you can get in touch with us, and will be more than happy to check that for you.

If your grades do meet the criteria, you can still take Studienkolleg if you want to get a headstart on your studies in Germany. Keep in mind that the study contents in Germany require the knowledge of the German Abitur, which is especially demanding in mathematics. Attending a Studienkolleg is always worth considering in order to improve your chances of success in your subsequent bachelor's degree program.

The benefits of foundation courses in Germany

There are many benefits of taking a foundation course before you start your studies at a German university. Here are some of the most important ones:

  • Prepares you for campus life. University in Germany might be very different from what you’re used to in your home country. Studienkolleg is a great opportunity to adjust to a new culture before beginning your studies.

  • Improves your language skills. Even if you don’t plan to study in German, Studienkolleg will teach you the basic German language skills you’ll need in daily life.

  • Prepares you for your studies. Your Studienkolleg will cover topics relevant to your future course, which will give you a headstart before starting your chosen study programme.

  • Meet other international students. Most of the students in a Studienkolleg will be international students, so it's a great opportunity to find like-minded people who are going through the same experience as you.

  • Guidance through the journey of studying abroad. Studienkolleg gives you the chance to meet international officers and mentors who’ll be able to offer advice and support throughout your study abroad journey.

What language is Studienkolleg in?

Most Studienkollegs are taught in German as they’re meant to prepare students for their studies in Germany - where the language of instruction is usually German. 

To be accepted onto a Studienkolleg, you’ll need to demonstrate your current German language skills at a B2 level (some Studienkollegs only ask for a B1 level).

At CBS, our Prep4University programme is one of the few Studienkollegs that can be completed in either German or English. In our course, we’ll help you to improve your knowledge of German and also academic English.

Learn more about Prep4University at CBS

Who is Studienkolleg / Prep4University suitable for?

Studienkollegs are for any international students whose current qualifications aren’t recognised by German universities, or that haven’t studied at a university level before.

It’s also suitable for students who may have the right qualifications, but want to prepare for their study abroad in Germany and improve their German language skills.

Our Prep4University course is suitable for international students who are planning on studying at CBS or other universities in the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia and don’t fulfill the admission requirements for our Bachelor degree programmes yet.

If you’re unsure whether your grades will be accepted, please contact us and we would be more than happy to take a look at your grades and give you detailed feedback about your study options in Prep4University.

How long is Studienkolleg?

Studienkolleg courses take one year to complete and are split into 2 semesters, with a break in between.

What do you learn at Studienkolleg?

The content of Studienkollegs will vary depending on the course you choose. Some will cover more general topics, and some will cover specific content relevant to your chosen study programme.

If you want more detailed information on the content of your Studienkolleg, we would recommend checking the page of the University delivering your course.

If you’ll be taking our Prep4University preparatory course in English, you can expect to study the following topics:

  • Fundamentals of Economics

  • Core Mathematics for Business Studies

  • English for Academic Purposes

  • German as a Foreign Language

What should you expect in the Prep4University study programme?

If you plan to take our Prep4University program as your preparatory course, you can expect the following:

  • To be well-prepared for the final Studienkolleg exam (Feststellungsprüfung) and your further studies in a German university

  • To work in small study groups where you’ll receive lots of support

  • To gain the academic knowledge you need to start your chosen study program

  • To develop your general study skills

  • To improve your language proficiency in English and German

  • To acquaint yourself with university life and German culture

  • To be involved with the Prep4University Mentoring Programme where we’ll help you progress in your studies and achieve your academic goals

Is Studienkolleg hard? 

Generally, Studienkolleg isn’t a hard course for international students to take. After all, it’s supposed to help you find University life in Germany easier, not harder! If you do find the course difficult, it’s a good thing as you’ll get a headstart on difficult topics before actually starting your degree program.

You may also find the examinations challenging if you don’t have basic German language skills as all of the exam papers will only be provided in German.

Can I work during Studienkolleg?

You probably won’t have time to work around Studienkolleg as it can be a very intense program.

However, if you do need to make some extra money while studying, there are breaks between the 2 semesters where you will have the time to take on part or full-time work.

Here you can learn more about working as a student in Germany

What is the Studienkolleg entrance exam (Feststellungsprüfung)?

During the Studienkolleg in Germany, you’ll have to pass 2 exams: an entrance exam and also a final assessment.

The Studienkolleg Germany entrance exam is taken during the application process. You’ll need to pass this exam in order to be accepted into your chosen Studienkolleg. You will be tested to check you have the adequate level of knowledge needed to complete the program.

The Studienkolleg entrance exam is important as courses do normally have a limit on the number of students they can accept, so you want to make sure you impress the University early on to get a place. 

You can take the Studienkolleg entrance exam at 2 of our CBS campuses - Cologne and Potsdam.

At the end of Studienkolleg, you’ll take a final assessment that tests you on everything that you learned over 2 semesters. The test will cover general topics such as language and mathematical skills, but will also include questions that relate to your chosen degree subject area.

Learn more about the Fesstellungsprüfung FSP assessment exam here

What can I do after Studienkolleg/Prep4University?

Once you successfully complete Studienkolleg/Prep4University, you’ll be able to apply for a degree program at a German university in your chosen subject area. Please contact the respective university to find out about their admission criteria. In case you need any further information on transfer opportunities to other universities after our foundation course, we will be happy to advise you!

Successful Prep4University graduates have a guaranteed study place for their intended Bachelor's degree course at CBS International Business School.

The best graduates of our foundation course receive a scholarship for their first study year in their intended Bachelor's degree course!


If you think you’ll need to apply for a Studienkolleg program before starting your degree at a German university, we hope this guide has prepared you for everything you need to know.

Studienkolleg/Prep4University isn’t something that you need to stress about, it’s a programme that exists to make the transfer to German academic life easier for international students - not more difficult!

If you’d like any further information or support in applying to our Prep4University Studienkolleg course, you can schedule a meeting with our study advisors who’ll be able to help you with anything you need.

Here you can find 98 interesting facts you probably did not know about Germany

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

Learn more about the cost of living in Germany as an international student

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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