An Unofficial Guide for Applying to Study in Germany

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After my last blog 30 things you should know about Germany, I was approached by many of my friends asking me about how to apply for Studying in Germany. It took a while for me to figure out the best way I could convey them the information. I decided to write a blog on how to prepare and things that need to be done to apply for studying in Germany. While I have tried my best to provide accurate information, there may be conflict of opinion or inaccurate information somewhere. In consent of helping everyone I would be glad if you can bring it to my notice so that I can correct them. You are free to agree or disagree, I take no responsibility in case you get reject from the university, meanwhile you can give me a little credit in case you get admit (humorously said). The blog drew way to long, I am sorry having done that. Hope you’ll read it patiently and find it helpful. Please do leave behind comments.

  1. Are you ready for this?

I assume that you have just completed your bachelors recently or have been working for a few years now and want to pursue Masters. In general you may belong to any field of study. There are a few reasons why you should think before taking a leap to do masters. The baseline is “It ain’t easy to do masters.” But what fun in doing something that is not challenging. So if you have decided to get away from tedious 9-6 job and want to explore the opportunities you are on the path. All I would say is don’t waste any more time in thinking, “Do it now!”

  • USA or Germany?

Respectfully saying, if someone asks me this question and belongs to IT branches, I would prefer USA.  Yet why choose Germany? With coming of 21st century Germany has opened door for international students with its efficient infrastructure and low or no tuition fees. Added to this Germany has extensive research going on various field of studies. German economy is stable (Who has seen tomorrow though?), giving opportunities for post studies working opportunities. To conclude “It’s Europe, Enough Said!”

  • I heard Germany is only good for Mechanical!

“Kill the bastard who told you that!” Yeah! Germany is home to Audi, BMW, Volkswagen, etc. But that never meant that Germans know nothing but automobile. Of course there are more opportunities in USA than anywhere in the world, but you don’t build home next to power station just because there is a lot of electricity. At the end of the day it boils down to what you want to do no matter where it is! So if USA suits you go ahead, if not take a look at what Germany has to offer.

  • Do I need to know German to study in Germany?

Partially no! There are a lot of courses that are offered in English. But if you wish that your life be easy in Germany and you have lot of time before you can get to Germany then please do take up German course and at least try to clear A1 and A2 level. Please do make sure that the course you have chosen is offered completely in English, if not look at what German proficiency you would need.

  • Search for Courses of your interest!

The first thing you’ll need to do is to look for the course you want to apply for. DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) website has list of most of the international programmes that are offered by different universities in Germany. Here is the link to the page where you can choose interested field of study by filters.

DAAD International Programs Search

Please note that this is not bible of all the courses offered by German universities. Please take time to research more about courses offered on the web site of different universities. Also make sure if you want to take up the course in English, mark the Course Language in the filter on the left of the page and do select “English” or “German, English 25%-50%”(Note: This means 50% of course are offered in English, you can take it up but with the risk that not all the courses would be in English) in Language Distribution.

While looking at the course make sure you take a look at “Requirements”, make sure you are eligible or meet most of them.

Check for duration of studies, generally Masters in Germany is for four semesters, but a few universities have it for three semester. “Course Details” will give you an overview of the course.

Take a look at “Cost/Fundings”, most universities do not have any tuition fees, meanwhile you’ll have to contribute about 180-720 euros depending on university as fees, this includes all the administrative, library and transport costs for the semester. Do take special care since a few universities have tuition fees and they cost big, for example, Applied Computer Science at SRH Heidelberg has tuition fees of 11,725 euros (approx. Rs. 9.5 lakhs), that is way too much to pay!

You will get a link to the course page on the right side of the page, you can apply for the course online and/or send the necessary documents through courier.

  1. Take the necessary test

Ones you have shortlisted the courses you want to apply for and sorted out the requirements one basic requirement for every course would be to take TOEFL/IELTS and/or GRE. Most of you know what this tests are, if not please find more about it at links below.

IELTS

GRE

TOEFL

  1. Get your documents in order
  • Passport

It’s obvious you’ll need passport, but having experienced the worst, I would ask you to make sure there are no mistakes on your passport and you have at least three years left before your passport expires. If not get it done in any way possible. Even if you have to pay some bucks to an agent.

  • Letter of Recommendation

Letter of Recommendation plays an important role in your chances of getting admit. A good LOR should reflect your achievements as well as your abilities both academic and in general. If have just finished your bachelors it’s preferred you get LOR from your professor. Preferably from professors who have taught you, under whom you have done your bachelors project. Getting LOR from a person at higher post and good qualification would give a little push.

  • Letter of Motivation

Letter of Motivation or Statement of Purpose has a huge impact on your chances of getting impact. Even if you don’t meet the academic requirements, yet you reflect the interest to study the referring course, chances are that you’ll get through. So draft your LOM very carefully, be clear about what you are looking forward to. Press upon your past paving a proper path to your future plans and how the course in question would help you do that.

  • Transcripts

If you are in final semester of your bachelors and do not yet have all the transcripts, do not worry. Except for a very few universities most of them would accept your application. Send all the transcripts you have and mention the probable graduation date. If you are graduate and not yet received your degree certificate, get a provisional degree certificate from your university.

  • CV/ Resume

CV or Resume, briefs up your career till now. It should be upto date covering all your achievements, abilities and skills. I don’t know how much it helps, but put up all your certificates of achievements on a website and give a link to it in your resume (This is not compulsory, since they would believe without need for proof. But please be legitimate, trust lost ones is lost forever)

  1. Join the facebook groups!

Before applying and thereafter you’ll have a lot of doubts, things like not being able to understand something in the application form to finding out courses that are not listed on DAAD website. There are thousands of people who apply every year, and facebook is home ground for discussions. At the end of the blog I have given links to the facebook groups of students applying for Germany in near future. Please join as many as groups as you can and be interactive.

  1. Apply!!
  • How many universities should you apply to?

It is preferred that you apply to at least five universities. There is no limitation as such on how many universities you can apply to.

  • Apply Online

You will have to fill in the online application with the necessary documents to be uploaded. Please take a look at application beforehand and keep all the documents ready in the required format. Take a little time to properly scan the documents and have them properly documented in pdf format. Make sure that the documents are legible.

  • Courier the Documents if required

Some university will require you to send the documents through courier. There are many courier companies that let you send courier to Germany, not all of them are timely and reliable. Make sure you choose a good service like DHL, though costly it is very reliable and timely. This needs attention especially when deadlines for application are close. In some unprecedented cases the courier may even take a week. Ones you get confirmation from the courier company about delivery mail the concerned person and confirm that your documents have reached and if they are as required. You do not want the reason of your reason to be some missing document.

  1. Accepting offer from University
  • Know more the university and city!

Ones you have received admit from universities try and get to know more about the university you are interested in. While there is a lot of information on net, it is still incomplete or unaccounted for. The best thing to do would be to search for students currently studying at the university over facebook and get in touch with them. Get to know how the course is structured, how the exams are held since they differ from university to university. You’ll come to know a lot of things from them you never thought about. Also it is really important to know the city you are going to study. Since the cost of living in certain cities is higher.

  • Send the acceptance letter

Ones you have decided which university you are opting for send an acceptance mail to your admit. Do it in time, in a week or before the deadline mentioned in the mail. Preferred not to accept offer from more than one university and reply back to other university mentioning that you are not taking up the offer, since it would let them offer the same admit to some other student. If you have any doubts feel free to mail the concerned person in international office of the university.

  • Apply for accommodation

Ones you are decided upon which university you are opting for apply for accommodation as early as possible. Most universities have their own hostels. Check on the university page and register. Getting accommodation at university hostel might be a little difficult, especially if you enroll late. In such a case look for private hostels or apartments. These are the few websites that would help you finding the right place.
www.toytowngermany.com/wiki/Apartment_rental
www.academics.com/science/finding_the_right_accommodation_in_germany_30608.html
www.wg-gesucht.de/
www.germanplaces.com/germany/accommodation.html
www.easywg.de/?l=1
www.studenten-wg.de
www.zwischenmiete.de/angebote_lesen.php
www.meinestadt.de/deutschland/immobilien
www.immowelt.de
www.kalaydo.de/iad/immobilien/
www.immobilienscout24.de/
www.immowelt.de/
www.quoka.de/
www.studentenwohnung.de
www.suchezimmer.de
www.wg-fuer-dich.de
www.wg-liste.de
www.wg-welt.de
www.wg-zimmer.de
www.wggruendung.de
www.wohnpool.de
www.wohnung-jetzt.de
www.zimmersucher.de/
www.wohnungsboerse.net/
www.studenten-wg.de
www.studenten-wohnung.de

The average rent varies from city to city as well as location of the place. It is always preferred to find accommodation close to the university. A few more things to keep in mind is if rent includes electricity, water heating, internet, washing machine and other expenditures or do you have to pay separately for that.

  1. Apply for scholarships

Another advantage to studying in Germany other than having no or very less tuition fees is that there are lot of scholarships offered. Scholarships are offered by both universities (check university website) and DAAD (DAAD Scholarship Search) take time to apply for the scholarships. Getting one will bring down your cost of studying down to zero.

  1. Financial support
  • How would it cost?

While there is no tuition fees you’ll still have to pay 180-720 euros every semester. While that is an advantage the cost of living is pretty high, monthly expenditure comes down to 600-650 euros, everything from rent to food taken care of. This is all backed up by your blocked account.

  • Opening Blocked Account

Before you apply for visa you’ll need to open a blocked account with Deutsche Bank. The concept of blocked account is pretty simple. You will have to deposit 8040 euros (plus 50 euros transaction cost) into your blocked account. On arrival to Germany you’ll get to unblock it and allowed to withdraw 670 euros every month. Doing a little math 670*12 = 8040. So the blocked account covers your one year’s expenditure. So calculate at the current rate of how much 8040 euros are going to cost in terms of Indian Rupee, approach Deutsche Bank and they will guide you. Please not blocked account is mandatory. It takes about 7 to 15 days for whole procedure to happen. Ones the transfer is done and the amount is deposited to your blocked account you’ll receive a confirmation mail. You’ll need this letter for visa interview and to unblock the account back in Germany. So plan your visa appointment accordingly. Please note that the amount to be deposited (currently 8040 euros) may change from time to time.

Deutsche Bank Blocked Account Information

  • Travel cost and other expenses

If you are a frequent air traveler you’ll have an idea that ticket prices spike at the last moment. It is good to book the tickets well in advance. But then again you are not sure about getting visa in time. If you are one of those early birds to get admit well in advance then get your blocked account, accommodation and visa as soon as possible, booking the tickets at least a month before hand. If not you’ll have to spare a few thousand bucks more. Don’t be disheartened, sometimes you cannot do anything about it.

While you’ll be leaving your home county, a lot of things are going to be different, from food to climate. You have to be well prepared. I will take this discussion on how you should prepare? what you should carry? and what you should expect? in my follow up blog in coming days. (Do subscribe to my blog, to keep updated or drop in a mail to info@gautamsawala.in).

  • Get the loan if required

In case you are getting the loan, speed up the process in anyway if possible. At 11th hour it is going to get very complicated. Not that something would go wrong, and I want to scare you. But you don’t want to get frustrated for delays cost by laziness of officials.

  1. Visa

The procedure is listed on the website, since it changes from time to time not to create confusion please visit the German Embassy website, link below.

Student Visa Information and Procedure

Make the appointment keeping in mind when you’ll get your blocked account confirmation letter. Since blocked account deposit confirmation takes a weeks’ time or sometime more some embassy allow you to attend the visa interview with swift transfer letter duly signed by the bank. Talk to embassy in case your interview is close and you don’t receive confirmation letter.

However, on the day I went for my visa interview I noticed two people were rejected because they did not have proper photo. Please do make sure you take your visa photo from the studios mentioned in the webpage. In case you belong to other city. Reach two days early and get the photograph according to biometric specification.

Also make sure you have all the documents in order. Any missing document may lead to rejection in your visa. Don’t panic, keep documents in order and stay calm.

The chances of your visa being rejected is close to zero except for you forget to bring document like your degree certificate. Prepare for visa interview, google for questions that would be asked. Mentally prepare and do some mock interviews. When you walk into embassy, don’t worry if you stumble or give some stupid answer. Just smile and be cheerful.

  1. Final Preparation

Visa interview is just the beginning of running to and fro to offices. From the time you get 90-day nationals visa to 2-years student visa, there is lot to be done from immigration at airport to Germany. But one good thing about all these formalities is that they are quick, on time and with no corruption. I’ll take up this discussion after my follow up blog on what you need to have in your bag while flying to Germany. Please do subscribe to my blog to keep updated.

  1. Footnote

Now that Germany is becoming popular destination for students. There are many consultancies coming up with helping students to get admit in German Universities. As of I have come to know about German Universities, they have no tie ups with any consultancies. So expect for help in preparing for tests or writing LOM. They can neither influence your chances of getting into university nor can help you get visa in anyway except for letting you know what documents you should carry (which you can do all by yourself.) I don’t have a clear idea but I have heard that these consultancy charge bombshell. For all I can calculate, the whole procedure from applying to getting visa must cost around 10k (assumed that you apply for 5 universities) and another 10k for each test you take. So unless you have no idea what to do. Try to do it all by yourself.

Here are some links for facebook group you can join and get to know from people who are going to or are already studying in Germany, most of you belong to either of the groups. Please spread a word to help others.

MS in Germany 2015

MS in Germany 2014

MS in Germany 2013

Indians in Germany

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One thought on “An Unofficial Guide for Applying to Study in Germany

  1. Harshal

    Thanks a ton dude!! :)

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