There are great opportunities for anyone wishing to pursue postgraduate studies in Germany ‘the land of ideas’. To international students it offers the chance to contribute to the country’s historic academic records. The benefits of the most generous tuition fees make it ideal, as they are lower than in a lot of countries worldwide!
Germany’s higher education system is split between:
- public universities, which are administered by the state, and
- private universities, which are set up by independent companies, organizations, or charities.
The MAIN difference relies in their FUNDING METHODS.
Private universities usually charge more than public universities. Although, if the subject you are going for is not to be found in public universities, then private universities are especially useful for such courses.
Still, a very small percentage of the population and international students attend private universities, as the public ones cover a very wide variety of courses!
Public Universities in Germany
Every public university sets up their own:
- degree programs,
- examinations, and
- entry requirements.
The state controls:
- fee policy and quality control, as well as
- accreditation of courses – so that they meet high academic standards.
Private Universities in Germany
Private universities are free to set their own fees – higher than the public universities – but, the degrees granted are fully recognized and they do meet appropriate quality standards.
Types of Universities that offer Master’s Degrees in Germany
There are four types of higher education in Germany
- Research Universities – are higher education institutions providing facilities and academic expertise to award students with degrees like Master’s and PhD. Most of Research Universities are publicly administered.
- Technical Universities – are a sub-group of research universities, as their focus is on science, technology, and engineering disciplines.
- Universities of Applied Sciences – are focused on engineering, business and social sciences. In many cases, they are partnered with professional or commercial organizations. More often than not, these universities do not award PhDs. Except when they are partnered with an organization for the sole purpose of delivering specialized PhD programs. A great number of Universities of Applied Sciences are private institutions.
- Colleges of Art, Film and Music – are specialized in offering instructions in the creative disciplines. They can be part of both, Research Universities or Universities of Applied Sciences. Some of these Universities operate independently. The candidates are required to possess creative skills and experience.
How do I choose the perfect university for my Master’s studies?
It may seem tough to choose the perfect university for your Master’s Degree, especially when offered as many opportunities as in Germany, but it all depends on the subject you are truly passionate about.
The most important differentiation is whether your focus is academic – in which case you should probably attend a Research or Technical University.
Meanwhile, if you are interested in picking up new vocational expertise or new professional skills, you should most probably choose one of the Universities of Applied Sciences.
Obviously, students that are more creative will benefit greatly from the German artistic heritage when applying for a postgraduate course at the Colleges of Art, Film and Music.
Master’s Program types and course structure
Germany follows the Bologna Process of study, which means standard three-cycle degree format:
- undergraduate studies (Bachelor’s Degree),
- postgraduate studies (Master’s Degree)
- and the preceding advanced postgraduate research (PhD level).
How long does a Master’s Degree last in Germany?
Depending on the semesters your discipline will have – the courses for the Master’s Degree may vary from:
- one and a half,
- up to two years long.
Whereas, one academic year is made up of two semesters! Your Master’s Degree will also include your final project; otherwise known as the dissertation that you will have to work on together with a mentor.
A fully independent postgraduate research in Germany is only done in the PhD level.
How many ECTS credits is a Master’s Degree worth?
Usually it is worth 120 ECTS credits, which you will earn during your two years (60 credits per year).
30 credits belong to your dissertation or research project that you will have to complete during your final semester!
Content of German Master’s program
Master’s degrees are taught in courses that are further divided into separate modules or units of study. Depending on the course, you may learn through small-group seminars, lectures, practical workshops, fieldwork or directed independent study.
- Research Universities involve many core lectures, seminars, practical work and independent reading and study.
- University of Applied Sciences include more hands-on training and workshops organized by external industry figures and various experts.
- College of Art, Film and Music focused on developing and assessing your skills and proficiencies.
How does the process of dissertation go in Germany?
During the final year of your Master’s studies you should WORK ON completing a project or a research task, an extended written dissertation or thesis. You will have the support and advice of an expert supervisor, yet you should always be the one to develop and demonstrate your own ideas and your academic expertise.
The EXAMINATION procedure of a Master’s dissertation is completed upon the evaluation of your presentation and the oral ‘defense’ as part of the assessment process. A short talk about your research topic and the answering of questions about your findings and conclusions are also included in the examination.
DO NOT FEEL OVERTHROWN, as this can actually be a very fulfilling experience for you!
Applying for a Master’s Degree in Germany
Germany has no centralized portal where you can apply for your postgraduate studies. So, you need to find a course and a university you are interested in and then apply.
There is also a service known as Uni-Assist, which helps in managing international applications.
You can apply at multiple universities as long as you meet the requirements. You should then wait for a response from your desired university.
What are consecutive and non-consecutive Master’s Degrees?
- Consecutive Master’s Degree refers to students wishing to follow a Master’s Degree directly from the same or a closely related field completed in a Bachelor’s Degree.
In these courses, only candidates with a relevant Bachelor’s Degree will be accepted.
Also, most applicants continue directly to a Master’s Degree without a significant gap after their Bachelor’s studies.
- Non-consecutive Master’s Degree refers to students that focus on a different though related area completed in their Bachelor’s Degree. Following non-consecutive courses may also require practical experience, except for the Bachelor’s Degree. Non-consecutive studies do not necessarily relate to an undergraduate topic. These kinds of studies are perfect for students who wish to continue with trainings and working in-between their undergraduate and postgraduate studies. Continuation of education is also part of the non-consecutive category!
- A Professional Master’s Degree focuses on vocational subjects, like teaching, nursing, lawyers, etc. The courses focus on regulated professions.
The requirements and fees for non-consecutive, consecutive, and professional Master’s Degrees vary! Consecutive programs may be free for students that continue immediately after undergraduate studies!
What is Numerus Clausus?
It is a restriction for the number of available places on particular courses (it means a restricted number of student admission).
Usually, programs associated with regulated professions are subject to Numerous Clausus in Germany, like medical professions: Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Medicine, Pharmacy, etc.
The numerous clausus helps in maintain high quality and helps in having highly specialized professionals not exceed the future possible vacancies.
There are two types of Numerous Clausus in German universities:
- Some are centrally restricted by the government, known as Central Numerous Clausus
- While other subjects are locally restricted by the universities, known as Local Numerous Clausus
Your university will let you know whether you chosen Master’s program is subject to any type of Numerous Clausus and its effects on your process of application.
Admission to centrally restricted subjects will be more strict and competitive, while locally restricted subjects will have a little more flexibility with the number of students admitted.
Admission Requirements for a Master’s in Germany
The most important document to provide for admission in Master’s Degree in Germany is a suitable Bachelor’s Degree. It does not have to be a German Bachelor’s Degree, but it still needs to be recognized by German universities.
For more information please read: Admission Requirements for a Master Degree.
Application Deadlines for a Master’s in Germany
Application deadlines vary between universities, but these two general times apply broadly:
- For September semester: Apply before 15 January
- For studies beginning in the winter semester: submit your application before 15th of July
Make sure to check out beforehand the deadlines for your desired university, in case there are any differences with deadlines!
Language Requirements to study in Germany
Language is a requirement if you want to attend German-taught courses. The good thing is that German Universities offer many courses taught in English, in which case German language is not a requirement.
As far as German language, you will need to learn it beforehand if your courses are going to be in German.
- Programs in English will not require German language tests or certificates. But, if you are a non-native English speaker, then you will be required to take English language tests, such as TOEFL, IELTS, PTE. If you have completed your undergraduate studies in English, then you will not need to take any English language tests.
- Programs in German will require your German language test certificate as part of your application. Such tests are TestDaf (Test für Deutsch als Fremdsprache) and DSH (Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang ausländischer Studienbewerber). A lower than proficient score will be accepted:
- If you continue learning the language in courses as soon as you get in Germany
- If you continue the German language course during the early stages of your Master’s Degree
To find more opportunities to study in English while in Germany, DAAD offers an international program search tool, which allows you to find the perfect program.
Applying before having completed undergraduate degree
It is common for students to apply for a Master’s Degree before completing their undergraduate studies. Usually this happens in their final year of Bachelor’s Degree. Universities are aware of this and usually accept projected degree results, an attached transcript of your current progress and may also require a statement from your tutor/professor/course tutor.
Do international students need health insurance to study in Germany?
Health insurance is mandatory for all students in Germany, including postgraduate students. So, make sure you get the proper health insurance coverage while studying in Germany.
There are two types of health insurances:
- Public or otherwise known as STATUTORY health insurance, and
- Private health insurance
Public health insurance companies in Germany:
- AOK Baden Württemberg
- Barmer GEK
- DAK – Gesundheit
- KKH – Kaufmännische Krankenkasse
- TK – Techniker Krankenkasse
For more information please read: Medical Insurance for International Students in Germany!
Study Visa Requirements for a Master’s Degree in Germany
Make sure you collect on time all the documents you typically need in order to apply for a German Student Visa.
Master’s Degree Fees in Germany
Master Degree fees in German universities depend whether your studies are consecutive or non-consecutive.
- Consecutive studies are usually considered free studies since you only have to pay semester fees, which cost around 100-200€, which include payment for enrollment, confirmation, administration and Semesterticket (a monthly public transportation ticket)
- Tuition fees are included for non-consecutive studies for a Master’s Degree, depending on program and university of choice.
Non-consecutive studies also include students who have completed their Bachelor’s studies outside Germany.
Private universities require obligatory tuition fees for both, consecutive and non-consecutive studies.
Prices for non-consecutive studies may start from around 6000€ per semester and up, especially higher prices are required for private universities.
Enrollment at the University
Once you get admitted as a student in a German higher education institution, the next process is getting enrolled or “matriculated” in studies. This process involves applying to get your courses registered, in order to be able to enroll in the academic lectures and exercises as well as to undergo the examination.
For more information, please click: Enrolling in a German University!
Post-graduation opportunities with a German Master’s Degree
As German University certificates and diplomas are recognized internationally, you will be able to find great opportunities worldwide, if you do not want to continue living in Germany.
But, for those who wish to continue in Germany, there will be great opportunities to find a desired and profitable job.
You have the chance to continue learning from the newest technology, knowledge, scientific research, business, and everything you can think of!
Many great opportunities will also be shown to you through your university during your study period!