Studienkolleg – preparatory course for academic studies at a German university

Some internationals need to complete a university qualification exam before they are allowed admission to a German university. The preparation for this exam is conducted via the Studienkollegs. These are special education institutions that transfer the required skills for the planned study programme.

Studienkollegs differ in type and university fit – therefore, it is essential to carefully select the right institute for you. Even if it looks like additional study time, the preparation is supposed to make your university career more successful and less stressful by being equipped with the relevant skills to master your study life smoothly.

What is a Studienkolleg and who needs to visit it?

Not every international school-leaving qualification allows students to directly enter the German university system. Depending on the degree, students need to visit a preparatory course before they are entitled to start their studies in Germany. These courses are called “Studienkolleg”. The word stands for the institution where the preparatory course is held at as well as for the course itself. These academic bridging courses prepare university applicants for doing a degree programme at a German university.

The Studienkolleg normally runs for one year (two semesters) and ends with a university qualification exam, the so-called “Feststellungsprüfung” – short for: “Prüfung zur Feststellung der Eignung internationaler Studienbewerber für die Aufnahme eines Studiums an Hochschulen in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland” (exam to assess the qualification of international student applicants for entering studies at universities in the Federal Republic of Germany). Passing this exam grants the student access to the German university system.

Students will visit classes depending on their planned studies as well as for the German language. The objective is to equip students with general and specialist competences as well as language proficiency essential for successfully completing a (German) degree programme.

Requirements for and application at a Studienkolleg

To attend a Studienkolleg, you must have a higher education entrance qualification from your home country. In addition, for some countries, further years of study at a university are required before you are granted permission to study at a German university. The anabin database gives detailed information on the requirements for school leavers from different countries.

Also, a certain knowledge of German (B1) is required as classes at a Studienkolleg are almost exclusively taught in German.

After checking the entitlement, students need to first choose a Studienkolleg and then take an entrance exam. The application is directly done at the selected Studienkolleg. Some Studienkollegs, especially when associated with respective universities, have their applications handled by uni-assist.

With admission to a Studienkolleg you can apply for a student visa. Prerequisites for the visa are proof of financial resources (most of the time a blocked account) and sufficient health insurance coverage. You can find more details on the visa requirements for students here.

How to choose the right Studienkolleg

There are different types of Studienkollegs. They can be state-owned or private, related to universities or to universities of applied sciences.

First, it is important to consider what subject you want to study in Germany and if you prefer a university or a university of applied sciences. For both types of universities, there are different types of Studienkollegs and each will only allow you to either commence your studies at a university or a university of applied sciences.

Often the university of choice has its own Studienkolleg and students can directly apply there. Processes are often aligned, and timelines go hand in hand. However, some universities do not offer their own Studienkollegs, so students can apply at their institute of choice.

At the same time, even if a Studienkolleg is associated with a certain university, students are free to apply at their university of choice after having passed the final exam.

We recommend to always check with your university that the Studienkolleg you are planning to visit is accepted for admission later to avoid any unnecessary complications.

Studienkollegs can be state-run or private. The former are allowed to take the university qualification exam (“Feststellungsprüfung”). If you visit one of the latter, you must register for the exam at a public Studienkolleg as an external visitor.

Here you can find a list of all Studienkollegs in Germany.

What will I learn at a Studienkolleg?

The classes at Studienkollegs prepare students for their specific university programmes. This means students are equipped with general, specific and language competencies that are required to succeed at studying at a German university. Depending on the study programme chosen you will have to apply for a different course at Studienkollegs, equipping you with the necessary skills and knowledge to pick up your studies.

General competencies for degree programmes

All students at Studienkollegs learn about the teaching and learning culture at German institutions of higher education to build up confidence in successfully engaging at the university environment. As key criteria in the German education system, students learn about the importance of skills like team spirit, time management and self-organised and independent learning and working.

Specific subject competencies for degree programmes

The courses differ between preparatory classes for universities and universities of applied sciences. The following courses exist:

For study programmes at universities

  • M-course – for prospective students of dentistry, medicine, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, biochemistry, bioinformatics, biology and other medicine, biology or pharmacy degree programmes
  • W-course – for prospective students of business administration and economics (BWL and VWL) and other economics and social science degree programmes
  • G-course – for prospective students of all humanities and foreign language degree programmes
  • T-course – for prospective students of all natural science degree programmes, except biochemistry and biology, and other mathematical, scientific or technical degree programmes
  • S-course – for language studies

For study programmes at universities of applied sciences

  • TI-course – for prospective students of technical and engineering degree programmes
  • WW-course – for prospective students of economics degree programmes
  • GD-course – for prospective students of creative and artistic degree programmes
  • SW-course – for prospective students of social science degree programmes

German language at Studienkollegs

All Studienkollegs teach in German as most study programmes at universities in Germany are taught in German as well. Even if a programme is taught in English, acquiring a good level of German is key if you want to integrate into everyday German life and later maybe start your career in a German company. Studienkollegs promote language proficiency up to level C1 of the Common European Framework of Reference.

Here you can find more information about learning German.

How much does a Studienkolleg cost?

State-run Studienkollegs do not charge tuition fees, however, a general charge of € 100.00 to € 400.00 per semester applies in most cases. Private Studienkollegs usually charge fees, which need to be checked with the respective institution directly.

Key things to remember about Studienkollegs in Germany

To wrap up, it is essential to check before applying for a German university if your high school leaving diploma allows you to enter the university system directly or if you need to visit a Studienkolleg first.

Places at Studienkollegs are in high demand, so check well in advance, which Studienkolleg might be the best to later study at your university of choice (remember: This depends also on the type of university you want to study). Apply in time and prepare for the entry exam. Do not forget about German language requirements imposed by the institutions and never underestimate the time required for the visa process.

And once you made it through the bureaucratic challenges, enjoy your time at the Studienkolleg and keep your university qualification exam in focus – your entry to the German university system is very close now.

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Last update: March 10, 2023