German universities offer a variety of courses designed to help you prepare for the linguistic and content-related sides of your degree in Germany. The following is an overview of the three most important courses and an explanation of what you should bear in mind when applying for any of them.
Studienkolleg courses prepare study applicants for the content and language aspects of their degree course in Germany. These preparatory courses are offered for various subject fields and last for one year (two semesters). They end with the Feststellungsprüfung (FSP), an exam taken to determine how suited foreign study applicants are for starting a degree at a German university. Once you have passed the FSP exam, you may then apply for a Bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) in your chosen subject field.
It is also possible for you to apply for an external Feststellungsprüfung. If you do this, you will not take the Studienkolleg course but will prepare for the FSP exam yourself. External FSPs may involve different deadlines and requirements than if you apply for a Studienkolleg, and not all Studienkolleg courses will enable you to take an external FSP.
In any case, study applicants do not have a free choice as to whether or not they want to take a Studienkolleg course. This is determined by whether or not the applicant is already entitled to study at university in Germany:
- Applicants whose foreign certificates already correspond to German Abitur level can apply directly for a subject degree. They are not allowed to take a Studienkolleg course.
- In some cases, however, applicants who are only entitled to study subjects from one particular domain may take a Studienkolleg course to broaden their scope of possibilities. The applicant will then be entitled to study subjects from a different domain.
- Applicants who do not have any entitlement at all to study in Germany are not allowed to take a Studienkolleg course either. Such applicants must first qualify in their home country for admission to the Studienkolleg course.
Overall there are five different types of Studienkolleg course. The subjects taught on these courses vary according to subject field.
- G course: for Humanities subjects.
- S course: for language subjects (some universities also offer a combined G/S course).
- W course: for Social Sciences and Economics (or related subjects).
- T course: for technical or scientific subjects. Also for mathematics.
- M course: for Medicine or Biology (or related subjects).
Please note: Studienkolleg courses do not cover all courses and are not offered by all universities. In the German counties of Brandenburg and Nordrhein-Westfalen (North Rhine-Westphalia), the Studienkolleg is generally not offered. Please refer to the following website for information on the range of courses currently on offer: www.studienkollegs.de
Most degree subjects belong to just one subject domain, however at a number of universities some subjects belong to more than one domain. For example, the subject Psychology is seen by some universities as a Humanities subject and by others as a Medicine subject. If you have taken a 'G' Studienkolleg course, you cannot apply to study Psychology at any universities who view Psychology as a Medicine subject. Furthermore, some study courses are made up of components spanning two different subject domains – for example, if you are looking to study the subject Industrial Engineering (Ger. Wirtschaftsingenieurwesen), please contact the university in advance to find out whether this subject is seen by that university as a Social Science or technical subject.
Studienkolleg courses are designed to prepare participants linguistically as well as content-wise for their degrees, therefore the courses will always be taught in German. If you pass the Feststellungsprüfung, this will be taken by any university in Germany as proof that you have sufficient German language skills for your degree course, i.e. comparable with a DSH 2 certificate.
However, a good command of German will be necessary anyway before you can be admitted to a Studienkolleg course. In general, applicants will at least need a language certificate at B1 level, although sometimes the requirements are even higher (or in isolated cases, lower). A small number of universities offer a language course before the Studienkolleg begins, so that applicants can reach the level they need for the Studienkolleg.
You are also required to fulfil German language requirements if you plan to study an entirely English-language degree, since German is the teaching language for the Studienkolleg.
Before you can be admitted to a Studienkolleg course, you must complete an entrance exam at the same place as where the Studienkolleg will take place. This entrance exam will test your command of German and basic level of knowledge in your chosen subject field.
How to apply correctly for the Studienkolleg
When applying for your chosen study course, please write the subject that you wish to study once you have completed your Studienkolleg. It is important that you do this, because the study subject will determine which Studienkolleg you need to take. Please do not write the name of the Studienkolleg course here! Please write the name of a degree subject actually being offered by the university, and one that you are entitled to apply for. If you do not do this and instead write the Studienkolleg course down, this will count as an invalid study course and unfortunately uni-assist will have to reject your application on behalf of the university.
Please also answer 'yes' to the question of whether you are applying for admission to a Studienkolleg course. uni-assist will, however, still check each applicant’s entitlement to study at university in Germany and establish whether an applicant needs to take a Studienkolleg or not. Therefore, an incorrect answer to the above question will not affect your application.
Please also note: uni-assist is not responsible for every single application to its member universities. Some universities take it upon themselves to process applications for Studienkolleg courses and/or applications from those who have completed the Studienkolleg. Therefore, before you make your application please ensure you contact the university of your choice to find out who is responsible for doing the processing.
Many universities offer foreign study applicants the chance to acquire the language skills required for a degree by means of a pre-study German course. These courses generally last for one semester and end with a DSH exam. With a DSH 2 certificate, the applicant can be admitted to a degree course. Once you have passed the DSH exam at the university in question, admission to the degree course will usually take place internally and you will not need to apply via uni-assist again for this. However, this generally also means that when you make your application for the pre-study German course, you must already fulfil all requirements for your degree course.
Requirements for German courses can differ greatly from university to university – some universities only ask you to provide proof of a small amount of German language knowledge, while others demand a relatively high command. Only a small number of universities accept applicants with no prior knowledge. Not every university offers language courses for every level and a range of (in particular smaller) universities offer no language courses at all. If you are unable to meet the requirements of the university, you must complete a private language course first in order to learn sufficient German, then you will be able to apply.
When processing applications, uni-assist takes your chosen study course, your proof of language level and the range of courses offered by the university into account. For some individual universities, there are sometimes other particularities that we have to consider as well when processing applications. For example, some universities explicitly ask study applicants to apply for a pre-study German course, in which case the applicant is obliged to answer 'yes' to this question when making their application.
How to apply correctly for a pre-study German course
Please contact each university that you would like to study at and ask them for detailed information on the language courses they offer and the requirements that apply in each case. You cannot be admitted if you do not meet the university’s requirements, and this rule applies to applications for pre-study German courses as well. For some universities, a confirmation that the applicant has attended a certain number of teaching hours will be sufficient, however in most cases you will need to submit a certificate proving that you have already attained a certain level. Please also find out whether there is a 'blacklist' of certificates from certain language schools that the university will generally not accept. Finally, please remember to submit your proof of language skills in the form of officially authenticated copies.
Please check whether your proof of language skills meets the universities’ requirements, and please declare on all of your application forms whether or not you wish to apply for a pre-study German course. Please also note that such questions on the application form are standard questions, i.e. although the question asks you whether or not you wish to apply for a pre-study German course, this does not automatically mean that the university offers one!
A Propädeutikum is a preparatory or introductory seminar that generally lasts for one semester. Here new students can learn what they should know for their chosen course of study, although this knowledge is not necessarily compulsory. The term 'propadeutics', of Greek origin, means 'advance teaching'.
Many universities offer Propädeutikum courses for foreign students, in order to generally prepare them for studying in Germany and in particular for studying their specific course/subject field. Universities do this to try and help their foreign students complete their degree successfully within the usual time frame and reduce the comparatively high dropout rate. Most Propädeutikum courses focus on three different areas:
- Content-related preparation for the applicant’s subject degree: students from different countries tend to have varying levels of knowledge. The Propädeutikum course is designed to teach the basics that all students will need in order to follow and actively participate in their programme of study.
- Introduction to academic methods: every culture has its own methods of acquiring knowledge, using it and passing it on. On a Propädeutikum course, foreign students will learn how academics in Germany works.
- Linguistic preparation: great importance is also placed on the linguistic development of foreign students, thus the Propädeutikum tends to include a language course as well, or at least an introduction to technical jargon.
Please do not confuse the Propädeutikum with the Studienkolleg: the Studienkolleg course gives foreign study applicants a chance to gain their entitlement to study at university in Germany, so that they can actually be admitted to a Bachelor’s degree. To take part in a Propädeutikum, the applicant needs to have already gained entitlement and admission to study!
How to apply correctly for the Propädeutikum
The Propädeutikum is a course offered by the university to its foreign students, and for which applications are generally not sent via uni-assist. Please contact your chosen university directly for more information.
There are exceptions to this rule:
Propädeutikum at the TU Berlin
For further information, please visit the TU Berlin.
Preparatory course (Propädeutikum) at Ulm University
For further information, please visit the Ulm University.