Here we answer short frequently asked questions about study and research in Germany and DAAD funding opportunities. Have a look...

How do I open a bank account in Germany as a student?

On Study in Germany, you will find answers to this question and many more. Read more about opening a bank account in Germany here.

What type of higher education institutions are there in Germany?

Hochschule is the generic term used to refer to any institutions of the German higher education system.

A University is a doctorate-granting institution. After completing an intermediate examination, university students work towards the final examination, leading to a Bachelor's or Master's degree or the Staatsexamen, depending on the area of study. A Promotion (PhD) can follow.

Originally, a Technische Universität (technical university) restricted its teaching to technical and engineering disciplines. However, in the course of time, technical universities have developed into more  comprehensive higher education institutions. Hence, students can now also study arts and humanities degree courses at the technical universities. Nevertheless, the focus of their activities continues to be directed towards engineering and science.

Universities of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschulen and Hochschulen für angewandte Wissenschaften) offer practice-oriented academic courses. The focus is more on professional application than theory, and the training is adapted to the requirements of professional life. As at universities, the first degree is the bachelor's, and the second is the master's. The range of subjects comprises fields such as technology, economics, social work or medicine. During the practical phases, which form part of the course of study and can last one or more semesters depending on the degree programme, the focus is on work placements and longer project phases at companies in Germany and abroad.

Colleges of Art, Film and Music – In art, film and music colleges you can study artistic subjects, such as music, architecture, visual arts, drama, dance, industrial and fashion design. At universities for modern media, directors, cinematographers, screenwriters and other film and television professionals are trained. Admission requirements for these courses include a specific talent which you must demonstrate at an entrance examination. Exceptionally talented candidates may sometimes even apply without a Hochschulzugangsberechtigung (certificate of aptitude for higher education). Please note that most art, film and music colleges teach in German.

Dual Universities – Alongside a classic University of Applied Sciences course, a cooperative study programme gives you the opportunity to link your academic training more closely to your entry into professional life. If you like "learning by doing", are highly motivated, have a good knowledge of German and want to progress quickly into employment, the dual university is the right place for you. Universities of applied sciences and universities of cooperative education, as well as individual universities, offer these types of degree course. If you choose a cooperative studies course, you will also have to sign a contract with a company. The training then usually takes place at two separate locations: on the company's premises and at the higher education institution. In most cases, the work phases and tuition fees are paid.

Research Institutions – Additionally, there are many respected institutions that specialize in advanced research only, for example the institutes of the Max Planck Society and the Fraunhofer Society, as well as several research institutions of federal agencies.  Click here to visit for more information about the major research institutions in Germany.

How do I write supporting documents such as the letter of motivation and research proposal for my application for DAAD funding?

On the DAAD's main website , guidelines have been stipulated to help you write the letter of motivation and research proposal for your application for DAAD funding. You may view the guidelines here.

Which university in Germany is the best?

This question is often the wrong approach to studying in Germany. Because Germany's higher education system is so differentiated with many different options on offer, it is difficult to say which university is objectively the best. In Germany one can choose between traditional research-intensive universities, universities of applied sciences, where the study is much more praxis-oriented, and colleges for art, film and music. The most important thing is to do proper research and find the best institution for you, your field of study and your interests! Here you can search through international degree programmes offered in English in Germany and here you may find more information on studying in Germany.

This website contains the latest ranking of German higher education institutions, which is compiled by examining 39 subjects from a range of subject areas and currently covers 314 higher education institutions. Over 150 000 students and around 9000 professors took part in the latest surveys. The findings of the survey are not simply added together to produce a total score. Rather, the survey produces a multidimensional ranking: several league tables, arranged on a basis of various criteria, reflect the strengths and weaknesses of the individual faculties and departments. To use this free service, you have to register on the website.

What does a DAAD individual scholarship entail?

With a DAAD scholarship with Germany as destination (Master or PhD in Germany, short-term research in Germany etc.) the DAAD generally awards the following to a successful applicant:

  • Travel allowance, should the applicant's home university not provide these funds
  • Health insurance for the entire stay in Germany
  • A fixed monthly allowance paid directly to the scholarship holder with which all of the scholarship holder's living cost must be covered. These include food, accommodation, entertainment, administration fees at the German institution ("semester ticket") etc.

The fixed monthly allowance differs depending on the scholarship holder's academic level. A master student, for example, gets a smaller allowance than a PhD student. Under no circumstances, however, can the DAAD pay out more to a scholarship holder than the appropriate sum for his or her level. The scholarship holder must use his or her own discretion in the spending of this fixed allowance. Some German cities are more expensive than others and so it is wise to consider these factors before electing an institution.

Furthermore, the DAAD does not provide funding for tuition fees in Germany. Private institutions of higher learning in Germany do charge tuition fees, as does some public institutions for certain courses. In the state of Baden-Württemberg, international students have been charged tuition fees at public institutions since September 2017. The DAAD does not provide funding for these, unfortunately. It is therefore in the applicant's best interest to do proper research concerning fees for the course/institution he or she is interested in. Most public institutions in Germany still charge no tuition fees, however.

A DAAD scholarship with South Africa as destination (the DAAD-NRF In-Country Scholarship, for example) functions much the same, except the scholarship holder does not receive a travel allowance and health insurance. He or she is still awarded a fixed amount per year, depending on his or her level. Some courses in South Africa are more expensive than others. Should the tuition fees of any given course in South Africa be more than the fixed amount paid out by the scholarship, the scholarship holder will need to supplement the required outstanding amount.

What are my options for a Masters in Germany with DAAD funding?

We have three main options available to African students for a Masters in Germany with DAAD funding. Two of them are in the development and public management fields and the the third provides funding for artists and architects. All of these Master courses with DAAD funding are offered in English.

The first option is called Development-Related Postgraduate Courses (EPOS). In the EPOS programme, funding is awarded for preselected Master courses at preselected German Institutions of Higher learning. One must have two years' post-degree work experience in order to be eligible for this funding. There are 44 Master courses in this progamme in the following fields:

  • Economics
  • Development Studies
  • Engineering and Related Sciences
  • Mathematics
  • Regional and Urban Planning
  • Agricultural and Forest Sciences
  • Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Medicine and Public Health
  • Social Sciences
  • Media Studies

Here you can regard all of the courses in the programme. Application deadlines for the courses are generally from August - November each year.

The second option is called the Helmut-Schmidt-Programme (Master’s Scholarships for Public Policy and Good Governance - PPGG). In this programme, the DAAD funds 8 preselected Master courses in the public policy, public management, law and economics fields at certain preselected German Institutions of Higher Learning. You do not need any previous work experience to qualify for this funding. Here is the Current Announcement for applications for 2019. Applications are open from 1 June - 31 July 2018.

The last option is funding for Master courses in Architecture, Music, Performing Arts, and Fine Arts, Visual Arts and Film. You need a first university degree in these fields in order to qualify for the funding. The application deadline for the funding is 30 November.

If none of these options appeal to you, you may search for more Master courses offered in English in Germany here. The DAAD, however, cannot fund any course that does not fall under the above mentioned categories.

How do I identify a supervisor for my research in Germany?

A student or PhD candidate often must identify a supervisor in Germany on his or her own. It is best to discuss the matter with your supervisor here in South Africa or Africa first. He or she might be in touch with a colleague in Germany who might be able to support your research. You may also get into contact with your university’s International Office and find out whether there are co-operations between your university and German universities. Your International Office should then be able to provide you with contact information of relevant persons at the German university. The following website is enormously helpful: DFG GEPRIS. Here you can check out who is doing research in your field at German universities. You can find out more about individual doctoral studies and how to find a supervisor in Germany here as well: Individual Doctorate. If you are still unsure, make an appointment for a consultation with DAAD South Africa: We would be happy to assist you!