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Before the studies

Before the studies

There are many things that you need to know, consider and do before starting your studies and arriving in Germany. Below you will find a variety of information - but you should keep in mind that this is not a complete guide in the sense of an instruction manual, but only hints and suggestions.

University admission

What exactly you have to consider when registering for a degree depends on your school leaving certificate and country of origin. Detailed information is provided by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) on the page Information for Foreigners → The requirements.

The knowledge of the German language is in any case a basic requirement for a study visit in Germany. Although many people speak English both inside and outside the German universities, you still need solid knowledge of German as a key to integration in your studies as well as in everyday life. And even after you return to your home country, language proficiency is a great advantage for you in regard to applications. It would be best to take German language courses at home, because your application for a place in Germany requires proof of language skills or the completion of certain language examinations. More detailed information can be found at the DAAD on the page "The German language".

Entering the country

Often, international students need a visa to enter Germany, and may also need a residence permit. Whether this applies to you depends on which country you come from and how long you want to stay. The DAAD has listed on its page "Visas" all the information that is important for your entry. In any case, you should apply for your visa early if necessary!

A place to live

There are basically two types of student housing in Germany:

  • Dormitories of the Studentenwerk (student services)

    The Studentenwerk OstNiedersachsen manages student dormitories at its various locations. They are close to the university and centrally located. Rooms in such dormitories are much cheaper than rooms or apartments in the private housing market. Most of the rooms are furnished, which is extremely convenient for international students. Moreover, it is quite easy to make contacts with other German and foreign students.
    More than 45 % of all international students in Germany live in dormitories of the Student Services. Accordingly, these accommodations are highly sought after and often scarce – so you should apply as early as possible, preferably from your home country! But even if you apply early, we cannot guarantee you a place in our dormitories. Detailed information about our dormitories and the registration process can be found on the pages of your desired study location.

  • Private accomodations
    Naturally, there is also the possibility to search early for a private accommodation on the Internet, whether in the form of a private apartment, a furnished room or a shared flat (WG). Shared flats are very popular among students: you rent a flat with two or more people and you share rent and ancillary costs. Kitchen and bathroom are shared, and every resident has their own room. This solution not only saves money, but may also have a social reference point.


Financing your studies is of the utmost importance: if you don’t have a secure financial basis, it makes no sense to consider studying abroad! Therefore, you should plan this point carefully and act only when you can really afford it.

Video Copyright: Servicestelle Interkulturelle Kompetenz, DSW

Study costs

The online portal International Students of the Deutsches Studentenwerk (DSW, Union of German Student Services) provides general information on training costs in Germany. There are also references to the cost of living (rent, food, clothing, etc.).

Financing opportunities

Meanwhile, a large proportion of international students is funded by their parents. In addition, there are alternative ways to finance the study at least in part:

  • Scholarships
    One possibility of financing the studies is a scholarship. The competition for scholarships is very high, so you should apply as early as possible. Which scholarships are suitable for you can be found out in the Scholarship database of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
  • Government funding
    Foreign students receive state funding only in exceptional cases. General information can be found in the Internet portal International Students of the Deutsches Studentenwerk (DSW) on the page "Government funding". In case of doubt you can naturally get in touch with the social counselling of the Studentenwerk OstNiedersachsen, the contact can be found in the consultation area on the respective site pages.
  • Jobbing

    Many students work alongside studying to supplement their budget. For international students, however, the job opportunities are legally limited, and it isn’t easy to finance the study with gainful employment.
    Important information can be found in the Internet portal International Students of the Deutsches Studentenwerk (DSW) on the page “Working during studies”.
    The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) also offers a detailed information sheet on the employment of international students as a PDF.

Tips for International Students - How do I finance my studies in Germany?

This video by the Deutsches Studentenwerk explains requirements and options for financing studying in Germany for international students. It explains legal restrictions in the area of jobbing, and provides practical tips for planning your studies in Germany. An extra section on Covid 19 also summarizes the most important sources of information on studying in Germany during the pandemic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdFbyummzSc

Checklist – got everything?

The following list is designed to help you to take along all necessary documents if possible. It is intended solely as a suggestion – whether you really packed everything, you obviously have to make sure yourself!

  • Tickets

  • Airline, train and / or bus tickets
  • Identity cards

  • Birth certificate
  • Identity card and / or passport valid for the entire duration of the study (an extension is only possible in your home country!)
  • Visa, if required
  • Vaccination passport (did you have all necessary vaccinations done before you travel?)
  • Emergency cards, if available
  • International driving licence or German translation of the driving licence (you should clarify in advance whether your driving licence will be recognised in Germany!)
  • International student card (ISIC), if available
  • Youth hostel card, if available
  • Several biometric passport photos
  • Documents

  • Certificates of secondary education (higher education entrance qualification) and, if available, the university qualifications with certified translations. Official certifications are also issued by Germany’s diplomatic missions in your home country.
  • Language certificates
  • Admission letter or application confirmation from the German university
  • Proof of financial resources
  • Confirmation of statutory or private health insurance
  • Money and cash cards

  • Cash (Euro): if you have foreign currency, you should exchange enough money for the first few days to pay for public transport, food, maybe the first nights at the hotel or in the hostel and other things.
  • Credit card, if available
  • Necessary medication