How Studienkollegs prepare you for your studies in Germany

Make the most of your foundation courses

You plan to study in Germany, but are not sure whether you meet the requirements for admission at the university of your choice? Here is what you need to know: First, you have to show that you finished your secondary education in your home country. You need to have a certificate or diploma that would allow you to study at a university at home. The steps below detail what comes next.

Not all educational systems are equal and the requirements for entering universities may be different in different countries. Here are some secondary education diplomas recognized by German universities:

  • High School Diploma
  • Baccalaureate
  • A-Levels
  • GCSE

This database shows whether your high school diploma meets the criteria for university admission in Germany. This is especially relevant for non-EU students.

Most of the information is in German, however. If your language skills are not sufficient yet, please also check out the information about language requirements at universities in Baden-Württemberg.

Studienkollegs offer valuable prep courses

Don’t assume that you can’t study at a German university if your high school diploma doesn’t meet the criteria. It just means there are some extra steps involved. Foundation courses at Studienkollegs prepare you for the academic courses at German universities. They ensure that you have all the knowledge and skills required for a successful start at your chosen academic institution.

Studying at a Studienkolleg before entering university has been shown to increase the chances of finishing your degree. It also gives you the opportunity to familiarize yourself with the culture, the academic customs and other facets of life in Germany.

8 steps to guide you to your university admission

STEP 1: Obtain a high school diploma, A-levels, or an equivalent in your country that allows you to study at a university.

STEP 2: Check if your secondary education certificate or diploma meets the criteria for university studies in Germany. International offices at universities are often helpful in this regard. If your diploma is not sufficient, find a Studienkolleg that prepares you for your chosen field of study.

STEP 3: Choose carefully. There are different types of Studienkollegs that serve different needs. Some universities have Studienkollegs that are affiliated with them and prepare future international students for their specific studies. Additionally, there are Studienkollegs at universities of applied sciences that only prepare you for studies at universities of applied sciences.

And as if this wasn’t enough, there is a further distinction between private and state-run Studienkollegs. State-run Studienkollegs typically offer qualifications that allow you to study at any university in Germany. They are inexpensive or free of charge. Private Studienkollegs often charge tuition. Find out exactly where you can study with their exit exam before applying. Not all private Studienkollegs lead to a certificate that is accepted at all German universities.

Here is the classification of Studienkolleg courses to make sure you find a Studienkolleg that offers preparatory courses for your field of study:

  • M-course: for medical, biological and pharmaceutical degrees
  • T-course: for mathematical, science or technical degrees
  • W-course: for business, economics and social science degrees
  • G-course: for humanity degrees or German studies
  • S-course: for language degrees

The university of applied sciences Studienkollegs offer the following specialized courses:

  • TI-course: for technical and engineering degrees
  • WW-course: for economics and business degrees
  • GD-course: for design and art degrees
  • SW-course: for social science degrees

STEP 4: Find out how to apply at a Studienkolleg of your choice. Some Studienkollegs let you apply directly, others require you to do so through uni-assist. If a Studienkolleg is affiliated with the university of your choice, you may have to apply through the university. Check out the information at the University of Heidelberg as an example for the application process but note that the process varies from university to university.


Usually, you need at least the following documents translated and the copies officially certified by a notary:

  • Your high school diploma, A-levels or equivalent
  • Transcript from your secondary education classes including grades
  • Proof of language proficiency
  • Curriculum Vitae

Often, Studienkollegs conduct their own admission exams. Check with the Studienkolleg where to take the exam and how to prepare for it. The admission tests usually assess your knowledge German and often include a math test.
Ask the Studienkollege about their specific language requirements and practice tests. At a minimum, you need to fulfill the requirements of the B1 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. Start the process early to make sure you meet all the deadlines and are well prepared.

STEP 5: If you are a non-EU student and have been accepted by a Studienkolleg, you can apply for a student visa at the German embassy in your country.

STEP 6: At private Studienkollegs, you often have to pay tuition. Check the study fees, living expenses and other financial aspects and make sure there is a safe way to transfer the funds.

STEP 7: Take the entrance exam and start your studies. The Studienkolleg is typically a yearlong course that covers necessary topics and skills specific to your field of study.

STEP 8: Pass the final exam (Feststellungsprüfung). Congratulations! Now you are ready to study at a German university. Please note: If you have passed the final exam at a general Studienkolleg, you can study at any university. If you graduated from a Studienkolleg associated with a university of applied sciences, you may be limited to universities of applied sciences.

A good investment

Don’t view your year at the Studienkolleg as a detour. Quite the opposite: Studies have shown that alumni of Studienkollegs tend to be more successful in their studies than international students who didn’t attend a Studienkolleg. The Studienkolleg offers you the best opportunities to study, learn and be successful. Take advantage of them.