How To Study in Germany Without Knowing German?

Jan 23, 2020Get Started, Study in Germany

Germany offers free education for local and international students, why not take advantage of this? German Universities are ranked as the world’s leading higher education institutions. To study in a financial and educational European center you don’t need to speak german, there are plenty of English degree programs.

You can study in Germany without speaking German. To enroll at university you need to prove proficiency in English. TOEFL with a minimum score of 71 and IELTS with a score of 6.5 are accepted. However, English bachelor programs include high tuition fees, yet master often can be free.

A wide range of German cities is featuring plenty of courses taught in English. Nevertheless to find English programs online isn’t easy, since the choice is so big and university websites are difficult to navigate. This article will provide you all the necessary information about how to study in Germany without speaking german.

Study in Germany in English – All You Need to Know

Germany became one of the most popular study abroad destinations in the world in recent years, for both German and English speakers alike.

It happens due to the fact that many of the largest universities in the country are shifting degree programs from German to a combination of English and German. Currently, there are 370,000 international students enrolled at German universities.

Nowadays is possible to complete a full degree in Germany without having to take a single course taught in the German language.

You can check all existing courses in English on the www.daad.de, it’s the main platform for international students and academic exchange/research.

International students that have zero knowledge of the German language should opt for bigger cities in Germany like Munich, Berlin, and Hamburg.

However, little knowledge of the German language would broaden your opportunities to interact with local people and non-English speaking students. It would also enrich your skills and provide better networking opportunities.

Keep in mind, if you don’t know German at all, you’d be limited to specific foreign language programs that some universities offer. What can be expensive, for example, the bachelor program at private Jacobs University in Bremen will cost you 20,000 EUR per year.

Germany is quite an international country, with so many global companies, Germans are more than aware of the importance of an understanding of English, especially in the business world.

Add to that the fact that Germany is home to some of the most innovative and exclusive academic programs in the world for studying the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields.

Germany is a fantastic choice for study abroad, whatever your goal is to gain academic knowledge and learn about your field, making memories by traveling Europe or making long-lasting friendships. Even if you have no ability or desire to learn how to speak German.

The opportunities available to English-speaking international students are almost endless, with most universities offering full semesters of courses taught entirely in English, as well as all English-speaking student housing to boot.

Studying in Germany is an experience, which will take you out of your comfort zone, will teach you about yourself and valuable lessons. Germany also provides an opportunity to work after graduation what is an amazing start for your international professional life.

Universities Offering English-Taught Programs

While many German universities offer at least a combination of German and English-taught degrees, some have it fully in English.

These universities have the best facilities for foreign students and are located in big cities or within a short train ride from them.

Best English-taught Bachelors 

116 bachelor programs in Germany completely taught in English, among them 60 programs without tuition fees. Some of these are private universities that set their own fees, many of which are below 10,000 EUR per semester. 

Some majors will have fewer English options than others, for example, Business, English/American Studies, and Engineering are easy to find. Be ready to pay up to 20.000 EUR per year for Bachelor’s degree, Master will cost you much less, in fact, it’s mostly free (except administrative costs).

Bachelor in Business Administration and Economics

  1. FH Aachen – University of Applied Sciences – Global Business and Economics, B.Sc.
  2. University of Heidelberg – Economics
  3. University of Applied Sciences Europe, Berlin – Business and Management Studies, B.Sc. 
  4. Fulda University of Applied Sciences – International Business and Management, B.Sc. FREE
  5. Berlin School of Economics and Law – International Business Management B.Sc.
  6. University Bonn-Rhein-Sieg – International Business B.Sc.
  7. Cologne Business School – International Business B.Sc.

Bachelor in Engineering

  1. Hamburg University of Applied Sciences – Information Engineering BSc.
  2. University of Applied Sciences of Mannheim – Electrical Engineering with a focus on Automation and Industrial Internet of Things BSc.
  3. Technical University of Ingolstadt – Engineering and Management BEng.
  4. University of Applied Sciences of Darmstadt – Expanded Realities
  5. Institute of Technology of Deggendorf – Industrial Engineering / Maintenance and Operation BEng.
  6. Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences – Mechanical Engineering BSc.

Bachelor in Social Sciences

  1. Bard College Berlin, a Liberal Arts University – Economics, Politics, and Social Thought BA.
  2. Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences – Gender and Diversity BA. 
  3. University of Applied Sciences for Intercultural Theology Hermannsburg – Intercultural Theology, Migration and Global Cooperation BA.
  4. Freie Universität Berlin – North American Studies BA.

Bachelor in Mathematics and Natural Sciences

  1. Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg, Rheinbach – Applied Biology BSc.
  2. Technical University of Applied Sciences of Cologne – Digital Games BA
  3. Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences – Bioengineering BSc.
  4. Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences – Mobility and Logistics BSc. 
  5. The University of Freiburg – Liberal Arts and Sciences BA/BSc.

Best English-taught Masters

You will find a wide variety of English taught Master programs. All universities above offer English Master, additionally, you can check the daad.de database. You need to be careful in choosing a study program, cause many of them are taught only partly in English.

You might face difficulties to find an English degree program in these fields:

  • Language and Cultural Studies (except American and English Studies)
  • Art, Art Theory 
  • Sport 
  • Medicine and Veterinary Medicine

Requirements to Study in Germany in English

Germans as a whole sincerely want people from all over the world to visit their beautiful country and study at their universities, and consequently, they have made the whole process extremely simple and easy for non-German speakers.

Students who are applying for an international course in Germany can enroll without the compulsion of showing proficiency in the German language. In this case, they have to show their level of English, tests TOEFL and IELTS are accepted. Only non-native English speakers have to do so.

Exchange students who usually stay in Germany for one or two semesters are not required to show any language proficiency at most German universities.

It’s advisable to learn the basics of the German language to enable you to communicate more effectively with the locals.

Main Requirements

  • Your Diploma or School Certificates must be recognized in Germany
  • Equivalence to German Education
  • English Skills Certificate
  • Financial Proof
  • Health Insurance

How to Apply to Universities in Germany

Admissions processes vary between institutions, so make sure you check the information given by your chosen university beforehand.

If you’re unable to find the entry requirements of a program you want to apply for, or you aren’t sure how to apply, visit the university’s International Office (Akademisches Auslandsamt) and either read the information provided online or contact the office directly.

Generally, you’ll be asked to provide the following documentation with your application:

  • A certified copy of your higher education entrance qualification (e.g. a high-school diploma) and any other relevant qualifications in the original language
  • A translated overview of the subjects and grades of your qualifications
  • A passport photo
  • A copy of your passport (personal information and photo ID)
  • Proof of language proficiency (a test certificate or online equivalent)

For most public German universities, the application period for winter enrolment is the end of May to the 15th of July and the beginning of December to the 15th of January for the summer semester.

You should expect to receive a formal acceptance or rejection approximately one to two months after the deadline has passed. This can be very disappointing since you will have only a short period of time to organize a visa, your accommodations, and many other things.

The winter semester starts on October 1 and ends on March 31. The summer semester begins on April 1 and ends on September 30. You must have free time for organizing all these formalities, the visa process can take up to 3 months.

To ensure the best chances of acceptance, take care to provide all the documentation asked for, make sure all your documentation is translated and certified. Copies of some documents must be notarized and education certificates must have an apostille from awarding organizations.

Check with your university which exactly documents you need to provide and in which form, it depends on your nationality as well as on university.

Don’t forget to sign for the health insurance before and after coming to Germany.

We made the selection of health insurance in Germany easier for students. As an international student, you have a wide range of insurance providers to pick from, but we compared the best of them in this article.

International students, exchange students, interns, trainees, or researchers will find the best coverages at affordable rates.

Is It Necessary To Learn German if You study in Germany? 

Enrolling at one of the few hundred English-taught Bachelors available in Germany will make your academic life easier. Plus, you will meet other international students like you to hang out with. However, when it comes to everyday life, knowing a little German really makes a difference.

Daily Life

Just like most other places in the world, German people in small cities, the older generation, business people prefer speaking their native language. Sometimes people feel uncomfortable speaking English, because of their strong accent.

Probably at university, most people will speak English with you but outside maybe not always. Bank clerk, a lady in bakery, a cashier at the supermarket, policeman they all might face some difficulties to switch conversation on English or it will be very awkward.

So, if you want to make Germany your home, you should consider taking some German-language courses while studying abroad.

German for Your Future Plans

If you plan to return home or move to an English-speaking country, after finishing your studies in Germany, then you don’t need to worry about learning german.

BUT if you would like to do an internship here, start your Master or find a good job and have some future in Germany – consider starting to familiarize yourself with the german language already at the beginning.

Most likely it will take some years before you will be fluent in it. Remember that most jobs in Germany are in the local language, you will do yourself a favor by starting the learning process as soon as possible. Even to take employment while you are studying with some level of german will be much easier.

Knowing the local language is always an added advantage if you are living in a non-English-speaking county. It would be helpful to you in a part-time job and post-work. You can easily take german courses at your university, it might even be free.

Learning German is not so bad as you will know the language of one of the most powerful countries in the world and many job-related opportunities will open up for you if you plan to stay in Germany after your studies.

German for Unforgettable Experience

However, keep in mind that one of the ultimate goals of studying abroad is to meet and interact with a new culture very different from your own. If you plan to simply attend classes taught in English and interact only with fellow English speakers you limiting your experience abroad.

Maybe better will be staying at home and saving the effort needed to study abroad in Germany. Learning German will give you all the insides of the german way of life, local culture, mentality. Only through learning their language, you will deeply understand the country and people.

If you want more in-depth experience abroad learning German is a must.

What’s The Difference Between a University and a Fachhochschule?

The University of Applied Science is the official translation for Fachhochschule. The main characteristic of Fachhochschule, that it represents a close relationship between higher education and the employment system.

These institutions focus on the practical side of higher education, and so offer more concrete specializations relevant to the labor market.

Fachhochschule (FH) doesn’t offer a PhD degree, they focused on practical education. Most FHs have established connections with companies in the region. Each student has to complete at least 3 months-long internships and one semester abroad. Schedules and degree length are fixes.

Majors like philosophy, German studies, history, and other humanities are not available at FH, well as to law and medicine.

I dedicated an entire post about differences between University and a Fachhochschule, you can read it here.

Can You Work in Germany During the Studies

Yes, you surely can. This is a big advantage of pursuing a high degree in Germany. It costs almost nothing and you can earn some money at the same time! Here are regulations for working students:

  1. If you are a full-time EU or EEA student (or from Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland) you can work for up to 20 hours per week.
  1. If you are a full-time student from Non-EU/EEA countries, you will be limited to working up to 120 full days or 240 half days per year and max. 20 hours per week. You don’t need the approval of the German Employment Agency (Arbeitsamt) to take employment. However, non-EU/EEA students cannot become self-employed or work as a freelancer.

Keep in mind that internship in Germany during the study period counts as a regular job – even if it is unpaid (for Non-EU/EEA).

Stay in Germany after Completing Studies

Graduates from German universities are allowed to extend their residence permit for 18 more months for the job search. It’s applicable for all international students, who completing English and German degree, bachelor’s and master.

It’s the beauty of studying in Germany, that they give such opportunities for foreign students.

After finding a suitable job you can apply either for EU Blue Card if the salary is high enough, or a German residence permit for a work purpose.

EU Blue Card

EU Blue Card is issued for a maximum of 4 years, with the minimum annual salary of 53,600 EUR and 41,808 EUR for professions from the shortage category.

After 2 years of possessing the EU Blue Card professionals can apply for a permanent residence permit. Read more about the EU Blue card in my separate post.

Germany Employment Residence Permit

This residence will be valid depending on the length of a work contract. In case of extension of the contract, it can be extended too. For the successful application annual salary must be at least 48,800 EUR.

It is possible to continue your stay in Germany after graduation and many people do so. The only obstacle you might face is to find a job with this level of salary. Luckily, graduates could also start their own business if a job search wasn’t successful.

Recommended products and services in Germany:

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