A German university degree is held in high regard by employers all over the world. To ensure a smooth transition to a college or university in the FrankfurtRheinMain (FRM) region, we have put together some useful tips about the course set-up and funding.
Semesters and Exams
German colleges and universities generally have two semesters - the winter semester and the summer semester. Each last for half a year. The winter semester officially starts on 1 October and ends on 31 March. The summer semester runs from 1 April to 30 September.
However, the periods during which lectures take place, are different. In the winter semester, this is generally from mid-October to mid-February, and in the summer semester from mid-April to mid-July.
Examinations are usually held at the start of the semester breaks. They are either written exams, oral exams or a written task such as an essay. The exam that you take depends on your degree course and module. Almost all courses require you to complete modules in order to gain credit points (CP), which you need to complete your degree.
Unlike other countries, students at German universities create their own timetable from different modules. The advantage of this is that they can choose lectures based on their interests. Likewise, taking a university degree in Germany means that students have to be well-organised and work very independently. At German universities there are different kinds of classes:
- Lectures are attended by many students. The lecturer delivers the lesson and the students take notes. This format is common in the early semesters.
- Seminars involve fewer students and are more interactive than lectures. Lecturers and students discuss a topic based on academic texts.
- Colloquiums are courses for students who wish to write a dissertation. They give the participants a chance to present their research topic and discuss it with their fellow students and the lecturer.
- Internships or practical modules during the course of study are a requirement of many degree courses so that students can experience a real working environment early on.
More information about studying in Germany can be found on the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (German Academic Exchange Service), DAAD, website.
Most German colleges and universities are state-run. They are funded by the government, therefore there are no tuition fees. Instead, you pay a study fee of between EUR 100 and 400 per semester, depending on the university. This fee covers administrative costs, student council contributions and the semester ticket. The semester ticket gives you free access to local public transport. All students have to pay the study fee.
As an international student you must provide evidence that you are financially self-sufficient in order to study in Germany. This means that you need to prove that you have around EUR 8,000 per year. Proof can be provided in the form of a guarantor’s letter from relatives, proof of assets or a scholarship.
With a study or research grant, you can finance your studies in part or even in full. This option is primarily available to students in higher semesters. Some grants offer special further education courses in addition to financial support. Eligibility for certain grants does not just depend on your marks, but also on the place of study, social commitment, country of origin, degree course or religion. On the websites of the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (Federal Ministry for Education and Research), BMBF, or the Deutscher Adakemischer Austauschdienst (German Academic Exchance Service), DAAD, you will most likely find a grant which suits your needs.
In certain cases, foreign students can also apply for state funding (BAFöG). To find out whether you are eligible, you can consult the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) website.
Contact the colleges and universities in advance to inquire about scholarship programmes.