Higher Education In Germany



The Federal Republic of Germany – the land of poets, philosophers and Nobel-prize winners – is situated in the heart of Europe and is one of the most economically powerful countries in the world. Due to its central position, Germany functions as a bridge to the Central and Eastern European states and plays an important role in European and global relations. 80.7 million people live in Germany, of which 8.2 million are foreigners. Besides its medieval towns and castles, its beautiful landscapes and great national parks, its fairy tales and of course its cars – true master pieces of German engineering – the country is also famous for its excellent education system.

There are more than 400 officially recognised institutions of higher education throughout Germany. In total, they offer almost 18,000 degree programmes, allowing students to choose a course that matches one’s individual needs.

The main types of higher education institutions in Germany are

  • Universities and Technical Universities (TU) (108 in total)
  • Universities of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschulen-FH) (216)
  • Colleges of Arts and Music (52)

Universities in Germany emphasizes on research and the combination of teaching and research. Full universities offer courses in basically all subject areas. Some universities, however, specialise in specific subject areas, e.g. the Technische Universität (Technical University) or the Medizinische Hochschule (Medical School). Only universities (and technical universities, medical schools etc.) can award doctoral degrees.

Universities of applied sciences (Fachhochschulen) offer more practice-oriented studies and applied research. They are extremely popular with Malaysian students, the majority of which embark on engineering courses at a Fachhochschule. Research at these institutions is primarily directed towards practical requirements. In teaching and research, they often closely cooperate with local industries. Fachhochschules only offer Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.

Colleges of art, film and music prepare students for careers as professionals in the fields of art, music, design, media and film.

University studies generally take place over two semesters:

Winter semester October – February
(application deadline: 15th July)
Summer semester April – July
(application deadline: 15th January)


There are basically two options of higher education within the German education system:

  • Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral programmes (German language instruction)
  • International Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD Programmes (conducted either completely in English or bilingually).

(A) German Study Programme
Traditionally, Germany degree award system is different from the common system of tertiary education (Bachelor, Master, PhD). However, following the Bologna Declaration in 1999 to harmonize European higher education internally and with the rest of the world, Germany has adopted the common system of Bachelor, Master and PhD. Currently, most institutions of higher learning in Germany offer courses in German language.

(B) International Degree Programmes
Numerous German institutions of higher education offer international degree courses. These courses are of particular interest to foreign students. Subject areas are: engineering sciences, computer science, mathematics, natural sciences, agriculture and forestry, regional planning, development co-operation, environmental science, medicine, public health, medical engineering, economics, law, social and cultural studies, psychology, humanities, music, art and design and a variety of other disciplines. Except for a small number of special cases, the predominant or exclusive language of instruction, at least in the first semester, is English.

The University of Applied Science Aachen offers a Freshman Programme for SPM leavers leading to Internationally Oriented Studies. The fields of study are Bachelor’s in Applied Chemistry, Biomedical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Physical Engineering. The standard duration of the Bachelor’s degree course is 4 (freshman+3) years. For further information please contact freshman@fh-aachen.de or visit www.fh-aachen.de/freshman.html

Degrees & Programs in Germany
For a complete listing of all International Degree Programmes, visit the online database at www.daad.de/idp. For a complete listing of all courses in German universities, visit the online database at www.study-in.de 


Admission Requirements for Students from Malaysia:
To enter a higher education institution in Germany, applicants from Malaysia are generally required to have STPM, A-Levels or International Baccalaureate (IB). These are regarded as equivalent to the German Higher Education Entrance Certificate (Abitur).
German universities generally do not accept foundation and pre-university programmes for admission. Currently, only the University of Duisburg-Essen and FH Aachen accept The Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) for admission.

Ms Mazuin Neri
General Manager
Tel: +603-89118396
Email : _mse.my@mercatoreducation.com_
Web:    http://mercatoreducation.com/

Subject Requirements:
The subject requirements for STPM, A-Level and IB are as follows:
For STPM, the results will be combined with SPM results. A minimum of five subjects (SPM+STPM) is required, which includes a science, mathematics and two languages (e.g. Bahasa Melayu, English, Chinese, Tamil, etc ).

For A-Levels, both Cambridge and Edexcel are accepted. Four subjects are required:
–            AS-Language (compulsory; English, English Literature, Mandarin, Tamil etc.)
–           Mathematics or a science subject (compulsory)
–           one subject related to the course of study, and
–           the fourth subject is optional.

For IB, six subjects are required.

Diploma holders from a recognised university or polytechnic can be considered for admission to a “Studienkolleg” for Universities of Applied Sciences. A “Studienkolleg” is a one-year preparatory course. It is not a university course, but a pre-university programme leading up to an examination which will be considered as proof that the student has the qualification for study in a specific subject area. For details regarding “Studienkolleg”, please log on to http://www.studienkollegs.de/home.html.
Since German universities are usually very autonomous bodies, there may be further specific requirements by the respective university or faculty. Students are advised to check the website of the course of study and the university’s International Office for details on the specific admission requirements.

Admission Requirements for Students from Other Countries:
China PRC: Students holding a Secondary School Leaving Certificate with 12 years of schooling and a Study Certificate confirming that he/she has completed one academic semester at a recognised Chinese higher education institution can be admitted to the preparatory course (Studienkolleg). Students with a Study Certificate awarded by a central higher education institution can be admitted directly to higher education institutions. Admission to the assessment test at a university of applied science (Fachhochschule) is possible for students who have completed the first academic year of a 3-year degree course at a Junior College.

Hong Kong: The Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination (HKALE) and the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE) are considered as equivalent to the German School-Leaving Certificate (Abitur). Thus, Hong Kong school leavers are exempted from preparatory courses at the Studienkolleg.

Indonesia: Students holding a SMU with a Grade Point Average of 7.0 and intermediate level of the German language can be admitted to preparatory colleges (Studienkolleg).

Republic of Korea: Students holding a High School Leaving Certificate and having successfully passed the University Entrance Exam (62%) can be admitted directly to universities.

Singapore: Students holding an ‘A’ Level can be admitted directly to universities. A combination of ‘O’ Level and Diploma qualifies for entering the universities of applied sciences (after passing an assessment test).

Taiwan: Students who have successfully completed one year of higher education study can be admitted to preparatory colleges (Studienkolleg).

Thailand: Students holding a Matayom 6 and intermediate level of the German language can be admitted to preparatory colleges (Studienkolleg).

Vietnam: The High School Leaving Certificate plus one year successful study at a university qualifies for direct admission to German universities. Students holding only the High School Leaving Certificate and having passed the University Entrance Examination can be admitted to preparatory colleges (Studienkolleg).

Language Requirements:
A foreign student must show adequate knowledge of the German language. One can do so by taking the “German language proficiency test for college entry for foreign students” (DSH) or the “Test of German as a Foreign Language” (TestDaF). Students take the DSH-examination at the respective college that they have applied to. If one has taken one’s school leaving examination in a German-speaking school or wish to spend only one semester in Germany, one does not need to prove one’s language skills.
The TestDaF also provides the universally recognised proof of the language skills required for admission to any German university. This language test is held twice a year at the Goethe-Institut in Kuala Lumpur.

Most international study courses and some further training courses do not require any proof of German language proficiency. International degree courses require good knowledge of English to be proven by tests like the TOEFL or the IELTS (British Council). Most institutions accept equivalent tests (e.g. Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency).

There are many options to do Master’s and PhD entirely in English. However, there are only a limited number of Bachelor’s courses available in English.

One can check the offers at www.study-in.de. Those who are prepared to study in German will have more choices. Courses taught in German require a high level of proficiency.


The Goethe-Institut is a worldwide non-profit organization for the promotion of the German language and culture. It is the official German cultural institute and organized as a registered society. The main objectives are:

  • to promote the learning of the German language abroad
  • to encourage international cultural cooperation
  • to convey an all-round image of Germany by providing information on its culture, society and politics.

A total of 160 Goethe-Institutes in 94 countries provide information on culture, language, and other general aspects of Germany. There are over 246,000 learners of German language per year in Goethe-Institutes abroad in addition to over 20,000 of them in 14 institutes in Germany.

With its head-office in Munich, the Goethe-Institut organizes 10,000 cultural events every year around the world.

Learning German at the Goethe-Institut Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur
The Goethe-Institut Malaysia offers language courses for beginners (A1-A2), intermediate (B1-B2), and advanced learners (C1-C2). All classes are conducted in German and the instruction is based on communicative methods.

The courses are progressively structured and presented in a friendly and comfortable atmosphere. All tutors are trained teachers of German as a Foreign Language. They also share with learners social and cultural aspects of German speaking countries.

The course system is based on the European Framework of Reference for Language Levels, which defines the language skills being reached on completing a given course level. Each level leads to an internationally acknowledged examination.

There are 8-week super-intensive courses for students who wish to progress quickly. They start every four weeks, all year round, from Monday to Friday either in the morning or afternoon. This is ideal for those who plan to study or work in Germany.

For those who prefer to learn German after work or on weekends, there are extensive courses either once or twice a week, commencing in January, April, July, and October.

Custom-made courses for companies, individuals or small groups can also be arranged.

The Goethe-Institut examinations and certificates meet the standards of ALTE – the Association of Language Testers in Europe. The examinations were developed by qualified experts, and are implemented and graded uniformly around the world. This has earned the examinations and certificates a world-wide reputation and the respect of educational institutions and corporations in many countries.

Other institutions providing German language programmes in Malaysia are Malaysian-German Society (Penang) and Mercator Office, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

For further information, please contact:

Goethe-Institut Malaysia
Suite 06-07, 6th Floor
Menara See Hoy Chan
No 374, Jalan Tun Razak
50400 Kuala Lumpur,
Tel + 60 3 21642011
Fax + 60 3 21646282
Email: info@kualalumpur.goethe.org
Web: http://www.goethe.de/malaysia 


Public universities in Germany do not charge any tuition fee. Usually, universities charge a small student body fee or administrative fee every semester that may include a public transport ticket valid throughout the semester and further discounts. Living expenses in Germany average 650-750 Euros a month (ca. RM 2900 – RM 3300).


The academic year in Germany starts in October (major intake). Some universities also offer a minor intake for programmes starting in April. For information on application deadlines, please visit the databases as mentioned above or contact the international office of the university.

To study at the German university of one’s choice, one must apply to the relevant foreign student office. Student will receive an Antrag auf Zulassung zum Studium/zur Immatrikulation (Application form for admission to studies/to register) and an information sheet called Zulassungsinformationen (Information on admissions). Those intending to study medicine, dentistry or veterinary medicine are required to take a central entrance examination, the Medic Test.

The “Application Services for International Students” (ASSIST) provides additional support to international applicants to about 160 universities in Germany. With ASSIST, applicants will have the opportunity to apply to several universities with one set of documents only. To find out if the university of one’s choice is a member of assist and for further enquiries concerning the assist-procedures, please check the web at www.uni-assist.de.


In order to study in the Federal Republic of Germany, a student visa issued by the German Embassy is required.

For information, one can log on to German Embassy Kuala Lumpur’s website: http://www.kualalumpur.diplo.de/Vertretung/kualalumpur/en/04/Visa/Visa__requirement.html. One can find the details for student visa under Visa Requirements> Residence Permit (Long-Term Visa).

Long term visas will be issued with the approval of the responsible Aliens’ Office in Germany; the visa can therefore only be issued when the Embassy has received the approval. A processing time of several months can be expected. 


The Aliens Registration Authority will stamp the passports of foreign students from outside the European Union with a note stating that they are only allowed to work work-permit-free for 120 full -days or 240 half-days. ( full-days=8 hours; half days=4  hours ) during the recess. This also applies to family members of students, researchers or scholarships holders.

If the student takes a job on campus, e.g. as a librarian, student assistant or research assistant, there is no day-limit.

Foreign graduates are allowed to work one year in Germany in order to gain working experience. Highly qualified specialists may then be offered a permanent residence status. In addition, foreign graduates can stay on for another 18 months after graduation to look for a job in keeping with their qualifications.


German institutions of higher education generally do not themselves award any scholarships. There are several institutions that award scholarships, e.g. the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). However, only advanced students may apply for DAAD-scholarships, all depending on the country of origin and course of study.

The following scholarships are available to Malaysians:

  • Research Grants for Doctoral Candidates and Young Academics and Scientists
  • Scholarship for Postgraduate Courses with Special Relevance to Developing Countries (Master’s Degree)
  • Special DAAD–Leibniz–Scholarships Programmes for Doctoral Candidates and Post-Docs
  • DAAD-Helmholtz Scholarships for Doctoral Candidates
  • Study Visits for Students to Germany
  • Other German funding institutions www.funding-guide.de


Information on higher education in Germany for aspiring foreigners students can be found at:

For further information, Malaysian students can contact:
DAAD Information Center Kuala Lumpur
German Business Center
Suite 47.05 Menara AmBank
No. 8 Jalan Yap Kwan Seng
50450 Kuala Lumpur,
Tel: +60-3-9235 1841(DL)
Fax: +60-3-9235 1838
Email: info@daadkl.org
Web: www.daadkl.org
Add on Facebook for scholarship updates: http://www.facebook.com/pages/DAAD-Information-Centre-Kuala-Lumpur/101165326592260

Ms Wee Hui Bieh AFMSA, June 2016

Information verified by:
German Academic Exchange Services (DAAD)
Information Center, Kuala Lumpur;
Goethe Institut, Kuala Lumpur

This post is also available in: zh-hans简体中文 (Chinese (Simplified))