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    What is the direct impact of free high-quality education? A whole host of applications for colleges to sift through. Top universities in Germany receive a high number of applications and therefore, securing admission to a university of your choice requires you to make your application top-notch as well as fulfil all the criteria set by the school.

    You need to be on top of several things if you are applying to study in Germany because there are several requirements, multiple steps and various deadlines that you need to keep track of. 

    But when we are by your side, you have no cause to worry! We researched university regulations and requirements to compile this 6-step checklist that will help you stay abreast of all your application tasks.

    Step 1: Find The German Universities That Suits You

    The most important step in this process is finding the best universities in Germany you would want to apply to. The country has close to 400 colleges across the country with 20,000 programs available for both Bachelor’s and Master’s courses.

    To make sure you shortlist colleges that are best suited to your needs, take a look at this list.  This will help you understand the criteria that you need to research before zeroing in on the universities where you would like to study. 

    The current student community, the cost of living in the city and the ease of finding housing are some of the factors outside of your academics that you should consider before applying to a particular institution.

    Moreover, while it is always great to have top universities like TU Munich, RWTH Aachen, FU Berlin, TU Berlin, TUHH and Uni Heidelberg on your list, in order to increase your chances of acceptance, always keep a few lesser-known but good colleges on your shortlist.

    Step 2: Research the faculty & understand their fields of study

    Once you have selected your universities, the next step to creating a winning application to study in Germany is to deep dive into their list of faculties and understanding their area of work. It will give you an understanding about their approach to course materials and their subject matter of preference which in turn will help you create an application that is streamlined to the department’s need.

    Knowing your probable faculty’s area of specialization also helps you further understand and narrow down your university shortlist as well. While the course might seem to address your needs, the teachers’ expertise ultimately leads you to better understand your course material and have a holistic learning experience. 

    Therefore, if your professors’ work doesn’t align with what you are expecting from the course, you might need to reconsider having the university on your shortlist. To get more clarity on the course structure and the faculty, you can also write to your university’s relevant department and ask for more information about the same.

    Step 3: Understand The Entry Requirements & Admission Process

    Germany does not have a centralized university entrance examination. Therefore, the process and requirements often vary between institutions. For starters, you might need to check if you are eligible to study in Germany, whether you need any extra courses and if your chosen universities and programs need you to know German. 

    DAAD has a comprehensive guide to understanding if you can study in Germany based on your country of origin and level of education. You can easily find out your requirements through the questionnaire on this website and determine your next steps.

    The next step is to figure out if your course has a ‘numerus clausus’ or admission restrictions. Numerus clausus allows only a fixed number of applicants for a course and can be imposed at a national or local level. Germany has a nationwide numerus clausus on Medicine, Architecture and Veterinary Sciences which means these courses have a low rate of acceptance and high GPA requirements.

    This holds true for local numerus clausus as well which are imposed by universities on certain oversubscribed courses. This is more dynamic and can change from year to year at their discretion. While you are applying for colleges, take into account these restrictions as this might influence the way you submit your applications. Moreover, you might even have to take a test or attend an interview with the university in cases such as this.

    Additionally, some universities might require you to submit a TOEFL or IELTS score for English programs. But if the course is in German, they might ask you for your TestDaF or DSH score as proof of your proficiency.

    Before you begin to compile all your information, make sure that you have researched every criterion and have a clear idea of what exactly you need to do for admission at your shortlisted universities with your level of qualification. If you find it difficult to understand where you stand, you can email the university to get an idea of where you stand.

    Step 4: Write A Letter of Motivation (LOM) That Reflects Who You Are

    German Universities require you to submit a letter of motivation (LOM) to understand who you are as a person, what your motivations are and why you would want to study at their institution. Since most of them do not have an in-person or virtual interview, your LOM is the way the college can see if you are a good fit for their student community.

    The German LOM is much easier than those for colleges in other countries such as the USA. They are supposed to be between 500-1000 words and are essential for post-graduate students. Also, unlike the USA, you do not send in separate LOMs for different universities. You submit your essay on uni-assist who then sends it to your shortlisted universities along with your other documents.

    However, since this is all a university has to go by and select you as a candidate for their course, you need to invest a lot of efforts to ensure that your LOM stands out. While they would want your LOM to talk about your academic expertise focus on the following points –

    1. Your decision to choose Germany over other countries for your higher education
    2. The reason why you are a perfect candidate for their program and student community
    3. Your professional goals after you graduate from university and 
    4. The way your education can have a positive impact on your country’s ecosystem

    LOMs for German universities are academics-focussed and are relatively easy to write if you are in tune with your goals. You can go through DAAD’s guide to writing a great motivation letter for inspiration as well.

    Step 5: Get Letters of Recommendation That Add To Your Claim

    While all universities do not need you to furnish letters of recommendation, it is always good to have this handy especially if you have some of the top ones on your list. This is especially important at a masters level since the competition is a lot tougher than usual and a stronger application makes you an easier pick for the universities.

    A letter of recommendation or LOR validates what you say in your letter of motivation while functioning as testimonials from past employers and teachers. Much like word of mouth, these letters are a great way for your future educational institutions to understand who you are as a student and whether you will add to the German workforce as an employee in the future years.

    To have truly outstanding letters of recommendations, reach out to professors and colleagues who are both established in their own rights and also have a good relationship with you. A senior-ranking person’s perception of you will automatically be more valuable in your university application.

    Step 6: Stay on top of deadlines

    Most German universities have two semesters when programs begin – Summer which starts on April 1 and Winter which begins on October 1. While the dates may slightly vary, most of them have intakes in either semester, barring a few exceptions.

    For you to ensure that you get admission at the desired semester, it is important for you to know when the applications close for a particular semester. International students outside of the EU and EEA need to use Uni-Assist to send in their applications according to whom the deadlines are generally July 15 (for the Winter semester) and January 15 (for the Summer semester).

    However, it is advised that you send in your applications 8 weeks before the deadline so Uni-Assist can check whether you need any extra documents and inform you about the same. If you have any confusion or queries about any specific university, course or Studienkolleg deadlines, you must check with them directly and prepare your documents accordingly.

    Certain universities such as the University of Hamburg (UHH) require you to submit a preliminary review document (“Vorprüfungsdokumentation” or VPD) issued by Uni-Assist. In these cases, you need to get the VPD from them and submit your documents directly to your university prior to your deadline.

    Much like the stereotype, Germans are extremely strict about deadlines and therefore, you must stick to them if you wish to get into one of the universities here!

    What’s Next?

    Once you have submitted your documents to the university or Uni-Assist, you might need to wait for a period of 4 to 6 weeks to hear back from them. If your application is strong and you have submitted all of the documents diligently, you are most likely to secure a seat in one of the programs on your shortlist.

    Use this period to take a breather and relax. The next leg will focus on getting you to Germany for which you need to assess your financial situation, research the German visa process for your country, pick a blocked account provider and find suitable health insurance.


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