Your route to higher education in Germany
- Universities (Universitäten) require you to have the German Abitur school-leaving certificate or an equivalent general university-entrance qualification.
- Universities of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschulen) require you to have the allgemeine Fachhochschulreife (academic standard required for attending such an establishment): if you have gained an unrestricted university-entrance qualification in your country this will generally suffice.
- Colleges of art and music (Kunst- und Musikhochschulen) may admit you even without a university entrance qualification if you are of special artistic ability.
Certain previous occupational qualifications (e.g. the title Meister, or master craftsman) may entitle you to study at higher-education establishments in Lower Saxony.
Before commencing your studies in Germany you must pass the Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang Ausländischer Studienbewerber (DSH) (German Language Examination for Admission to a Higher-Education Establishment for Foreign Applicants). You may be exempt from this requirement if, for example, you:
- hold the Goethe Institute's Grosse/Kleine Deutsche Sprachdiplom (Minor/Major German Language Diploma),
- have passed the Goethe Institute's Zentrale Oberstufenprüfung (Central Advanced Language Examination),
- present a certificate proving your suitability for study at a higher-education institution in Germany (Prüfung zur Feststellung der Eignung ausländischer Studienbewerber für die Aufnahme eines Studiums an Hochschulen in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland),
- have gained the Sprachdiplom der Konferenz der Kultusminister Stufe II (Language Diploma of the Conference of Education Ministers, Level II),
- have passed the Deutsch als Fremdsprache für ausländische Studienbewerber / TestDaF (German as a Foreign Language for Admission to Higher Education) test (www.testdaf.de),
- have gained the Abitur school-leaving certificate at a German school abroad; or
- have passed the US Advanced Placement exam in German.
Further details about the DSH and linguistic entrance requirements are available from the International Office (Akademisches Auslandsamt) or Admissions Office (Studentensekretariat) of the Lower Saxony higher-education establishment of your choice.
Standard German (Hochdeutsch) is spoken in Lower Saxony; this will make it easier for you to learn German here.
The entire process, from your initial enquiry to a higher-education establishment until the commencement of your studies, usually takes about six months. You should therefore request the application documents (in German or English) in good time from the International Office/Admissions Office at the institution of your choice, and complete and return them as soon as possible. The addresses can be found, for example, at the websites (see above) of the various establishments. Don't forget to enclose proof of your linguistic proficiency in German (see above) together with the application documents.
Citizens of the EU and certain other states (Australia, Canada, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and the USA) do not require a visa. All other students must apply for a study visa from the German consular authority in their native countries. For this you must present proof of admission to a German higher-education establishment or to a preparatory course (Studienkolleg). You should on no account travel on a tourist visa.