How to apply to NC-restricted study programs

Your admission guide for international students

You found the perfect university for your field of study in Baden-Württemberg. You love the academic environment and the city as well as the networking and career opportunities. There is just one hurdle: The Numerus Clausus or NC. Numerus Clausus literally means limited number and refers to restricted admissions.

What is a Numerus Clausus

A Numerus Clausus exists when the number of applicants exceeds the number of available seats for a given study program. Typically, subjects like medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and pharmacy are NC courses.

These restrictions often apply to all universities nationwide and the admission is managed by a central agency, the Stiftung für Hochschulzulassung (Foundation for University Admissions).

However, there are some universities with their own restrictions. Say you want to study molecular biochemistry in Heidelberg and may find that there is an NC on the program. We’ll explain what to do step by step but first we’ll clarify what the NC is and what role it plays in admission.

While you’ve probably heard of the dreaded college essay that decides admissions to top universities in the U.S. and in other countries, in Germany, your grades are the deciding factor for restricted courses.

Your grade point average (GPA) from your high school graduation has to meet a certain threshold for you to be admitted to NC programs. Sometimes it is combined with a specific admission test, but in many cases, it is a true numbers game. The better your grades are, the higher your chances of admission to a coveted study program.

The NC is calculated each year depending on expected supply and demand. If many applications for medicine are expected, the NC-relevant GPA for medicine will be harder to achieve. The Hochschulkompass offers a searchable database with NC-restricted study programs.

Typically, subjects like medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and pharmacy are NC courses.

Important application portals and information for undergraduates

Here are the most important steps to guide you through the application process for NC restricted undergraduate programs:

STEP 1: Find out whether your field of study is NC-regulated or if any local restrictions apply. A good starting point is the international office of your home university, the international office of your chosen university in Baden-Württemberg, the Deutscher Academischer Austauschdienst (DAAD), and the Stiftung für Hochschulzulassung (Foundation for University Admissions). also provides information and a helpline for international students. Keep a close eye on deadlines and note that several restricted programs only start in the fall semester.

STEP 2: If your subject is not NC-restricted, you can apply directly at the university if you fulfill all other requirements such as languages skills and – if necessary - a successful final exam from the Studienkolleg (Feststellungsprüfung).

STEP 3: If your subject is restricted, check with your university which path to follow. In many instances, you can work with In others, you have to go through the Stiftung für Hochschulzulassung (Foundation for University Admissions). Some universities with local restrictions allow you to apply directly. Make sure you verify that your path is correct for your specific situation, as it varies from subject to subject and from university to university.

STEP 4: Submit all your translated and officially certified documents to the institute or foundation. You may apply to different universities. Alternatively, you can create an account on for the Dialogorientiertes Serviceverfahren and keep track of your application for restricted study programs.

STEP 5: Take the admissions test when necessary and follow further instructions from your chosen university or the Stiftung für Hochschulzulassung.