Applying for a Master’s Degree in Germany – all you need to know

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Are you sure about continuing education after a bachelor’s degree but unsure about the best place to pursue a master’s degree abroad? Take a look at Germany

Getting a Master’s Degree in Germany

If you’re planning to pursue a master’s degree abroad, Germany is a great choice. Thousands of international students get admitted to various masters’ courses every year in German universities and leverage the high standard of education and living. If you’re looking for a master’s degree abroad with an affordable tuition fee, then you don’t need to think twice. Germany will be the best choice for you. 

The higher education system in Germany is segregated into two parts:

  1. State-administered public universities
  2. Individually administered private universities (individual companies, charities, and organizations)

The principal difference between the two is the “funding method.”

The cost of studying at a private university is more than the cost of studying at a public university. However, private universities teach more subjects than public universities. Nevertheless, most of the international students prefer public universities over private universities. 

In this guide, we’ll be telling you everything about getting a master’s degree in Germany. Keep reading to reveal the secret steps!

Public German universities

Each public university in Germany has its own:

  • Examinations
  • Degree programs
  • Annual/monthly assessments
  • Admission criteria

The following are controlled by the state:

  • Fee policy
  • Quality control
  • Funding methods
  • Accreditation of the courses to make sure they adhere to the international standards

Private German universities

Private universities are governed by individual entities and have the independence to decide their fee which is often higher than the fee of the public universities. The degrees granted by private universities are authentic and recognized and they meet all quality standards.

Types of German universities offering a master’s degree

There are 4 types of German universities offering a master’s degree:

  1. Research universities – these universities are public universities and provide academic knowledge and expertise to students by awarding master’s and doctoral degrees. 
  2. Technical universities – these are a sub-group of the research universities and their primary focus is on technology, science, and engineering subjects. 
  3. University of Applied Sciences – these universities are more focused on business, engineering, and social sciences. In several cases, they also partner with commercial or professional organizations. However, these universities rarely award doctoral degrees. Most of these universities fall under the category of private universities. 
  4. Colleges of Art, Film, and Music – these institutes cater to the creative fields. They can be a part of the Universities of Applied Sciences or Research Universities. Some of these universities also operate on their own. Candidates with relevant creative experience and skills can only apply to these universities.

Choosing the best university for your master’s degree

With so many study options available in Germany, it can be a harrowing task to pick the best university for your master’s degree. However, your choice trickles down to your passion and the professional path you want to pursue. 

If you focus on primarily academics, then you should target a Research University or Technical University. However, if you are more inclined towards gaining new professional skills or vocational expertise, then you should go to the University of Applied Sciences. And, if you are a creative soul, you can get a master’s degree from the Colleges of Art, Film, and Music.

Types of master’s programs and their course structure

The standard three-cycle-degree or the Bologna process of study is followed by the German universities. 

The three types of degree programs provided by German universities are:

  • Bachelor’s degree or undergraduate studies
  • Master’s degree or postgraduate studies
  • Advanced postgraduate research/doctoral degree or PhD

Duration of a master’s degree in Germany

Depending on the number of semesters in the master’s program for your subject, the duration of the course can be:

  • One year
  • One year and six months
  • Up to two years

Each academic year constitutes of two semesters.

Remember – your master’s degree program also includes a final project (dissertation) that you’ll have to complete along with your mentor. Completely independent research is only possible in the case of a doctoral program.

ECTS credits will you earn with a master’s degree

A master’s program is worth 120 ECTS credits which are earned during the two years of the course (60 credits/year).

You will get an additional 30 ECTS credits on completion of your research under the supervision of a mentor in the final year.

The German master’s program study material

The courses of the master’s program are divided into different study units or modules. Depending on the master’s course you choose, you’ll be required to attend group learning seminars, practice workshops, fieldwork, regular lectures, and practice self-study. 

Master’s program content for each university type:

  • Research universities – practical workshops, routine seminars, lectures, self-study
  • College of Arts, Film, and Music – sessions for development on creative skills and proficiencies
  • University of Applied Sciences – workshops organized by industry experts and hands-on training sessions

All about the dissertation process in Germany

During the master’s course in Germany, you’ll be required to complete ongoing research or project along with a thesis or written dissertation under the supervision of a mentor or an industry expert. However, remember that the idea and efforts should be yours. 

As a part of the final year examination, you’ll be required to present your completed project along with an oral ‘defense’ presentation of the dissertation. You’ll be required to prepare a short speech on your research topic and answer questions by the examiners. 

Don’t panic if your presentation skills are not up to the mark. This will be a great learning experience for you.

How to apply for a master’s degree in Germany?

Unfortunately, there’s no common portal using which you can apply to different German universities offering the master’s course. Therefore, you’ll have to hunt for a master’s course catering to your preferred subject and apply individually. 

You can also leverage the “Uni-Assist” service which caters to the requirements of international students. As long as you meet the university requirements, you can apply to more than one university at once and wait for their response on your application.

Consecutive, non-consecutive, and professional master’s degree

Let’s pick each of them one by one and understand the requirements of each. 

Consecutive master’s degree

The consecutive master’s degree caters to students who wish to pursue a master’s degree in the same or a closely related subject studied during their bachelor’s degree. In such courses, only the candidates having a relevant bachelor’s degree are accepted. Also, it is a good idea to continue with the master’s degree without taking a break after the completion of your bachelor’s degree. 

Non-consecutive master’s degree

The non-consecutive master’s degree caters to the student who wishes to pursue a subject different from the subject they studied during the bachelor’s degree program. These courses may also require practical know-how along with the bachelor’s degree and they are ideal for students who want to undertake training and get employed between their bachelor’s and master’s programs. You can also apply for a non-consecutive master’s degree if you have completed your bachelor’s degree from a place outside Germany. 

Professional master’s degree

A professional master’s degree focuses on different vocational subjects such as law, nursing, teaching, etc. The primary focus of these courses is regulated professions. 

An important thing to remember is that the fees for each of the above-mentioned courses vary. The consecutive master’s degree is generally free for students who have just completed a bachelor’s degree.

Numerus Clausus – What is it?

Numerus Clausus refers to a cap on the number of seats available for students in a particular course. In other words, it means that only a fixed number of students can get admitted to a particular course. 

Numerus Clausus generally applies to study programs related to regulated professions such as pharmacy, dentistry, veterinary sciences, medicine studies, etc. It ensures that high-quality education is maintained and vacancies on the professional front are optimized. 

Types of Numerus Clausus in German universities

There are two main types of Numerus Clausus in German universities. These include:

  • Central Numerus Clausus – restricted centrally by the government
  • Local Numerus Clausus – restricted by the local universities

Wondering how to enquire if the university you’re applying abides by the Numerus Clausus? Don’t worry, they’ll inform you about active Numerus Clausus on your chosen master’s program and its impact on your admission application. 

Please remember that admission to subjects that are centrally restricted is more competitive and strict. Admission to locally restricted subjects is easy and flexible as regards the number of seats available for admission.

The most important part of master’s degree admission – the deadlines

The application deadlines vary across German universities. However, most of the deadlines are planned around the following calendar schedule:

  • For the semester in September – you must apply before January 15 
  • For the semester beginning in the winter – you must apply before July 15

Make sure that you check the deadlines beforehand for each of your applications and submit your admission forms well in time. Late applications are not entertained!

Want to pursue a master’s degree from Germany? Know these languages!

If the master’s course you’ve picked is taught in Germany, then you ought to know it!

To learn Germany quickly and easily there are many resources: Learning German course

The good news is that most of the master’s programs are taught in the English language and in such cases, you are not required to have proficiency in the German language. 

However, if your course is in German, then you have to learn it. Here are a few things to remember:

  • If your master’s course is taught in English, you’ll not be required to prove your German language proficiency by clearing German language tests or submitting certificates. However, if you’re not a native speaker, you’ll be required to clear the English language proficiency tests such as TOEFL, PTE, and IELTS. If you’ve completed a bachelor’s degree in English, then you’ll not be required to sit for the English language proficiency test. 

If your master’s course is taught in German, you’ll be required to present the German language proficiency certificate during your admission process. Some of the accepted test certificates are DSH (Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang ausländischer Studienbewerber) and TestDaf (Test für Deutsch als Fremdsprache). A score lower than that of proficient will be accepted if you assure that you’ll continue learning the German language upon your arrival in Germany or during your master’s program.

Applying for a master’s degree before completing your bachelor’s degree – what’s next?

In Germany, it is a common thing for undergraduate students to apply for a master’s degree before completion of the undergraduate program. This is usually observed during the final semester of the bachelor’s program. Most of the German universities agree to this and accept provisional degree results, an attached summary of your progress in the current course, and a written statement from your mentor or teacher.

Health insurance for international students applying for a master’s degree in Germany

All German students are required to have health insurance to their name – postgraduate, undergraduate, doctoral, etc. Therefore, make sure you have health insurance coverage before you start applying to different German universities. 

Germany has two types of health insurances:

  • Statutory or public health insurance
  • Private health insurance

List of public health insurance firms in Germany:

  • DAK – Gesundheit
  • Barmer GEK
  • AOK Baden Wuerttemberg
  • TK – Techniker Krankenkasse
  • KKH – Kaufmannische Krankenkasse

Student Visa requirements for pursuing a master’s degree from Germany

There is a long list of documents that are required to apply for a Student Visa to study in Germany. Click here to know everything about applying for a student visa for Germany. Student Visa for Germany

Master’s degree in Germany – fee details

The fee depends on your choice of master’s course and varies between the consecutive master’s degree and the non-consecutive master’s degree. 

In the case of the consecutive master’s degree, you just need to pay the semester fees which amounts to 100-200€. This includes payment for the administrative services, the enrollment, the monthly public transport tickets, and the admission confirmation. 

You will be required to pay a tuition fee for a non-consecutive master’s degree depending on the course and the university you choose. The fees for a non-consecutive master’s degree starts from 6000€/semester and vary between universities. Non-consecutive master’s degree courses at private universities are especially costly.

Admission is done – now let’s get enrolled at the university!

Once you clear the admission process for the master’s program, the next step in enrolling at the university or getting matriculated. You’ll be required to apply for getting your courses registered to attend lectures or sit for examinations.

You’ve completed your master’s degree in Germany – let’s look at your prospects

The certificates offered by a German university are recognized worldwide and you’ll encounter great opportunities wherever you go if you are not planning to extend your stay in Germany. 

However, for those of you who wish to continue staying in Germany, there are numerous job opportunities for master’s degree holders. Your university will guide you regarding the current openings and employment opportunities once you complete your master’s degree.


Now that you have ample information about pursuing a master’s degree from Germany, you can get started and apply to a university of your choice. If you have any more questions you’d like us to answer, do let us know. We’ll be delighted to help you!

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