Americans wanting to attend university in Germany

Advice on requirements, tuition, best places, etc.

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I've been to Germany twice and I really love it there...
I'm 16 and I have 2 more years of school left here in the states, however I'd like to go abroad for my last year of high school and stay with a former exchange student in Verden (near Bremen)...
After that I'm thinking of not coming back to the states for University but instead staying in Germany for University. My father has a friend who works as a professor in Darmstadt, and he told me that it's generally around $200 per semester for university in Germany (although I suspect this varies depending on Bundesland, etc.) even for American students like myself. One thing I'm worried about is my German, which I hope to work on when I spend my last high school year abroad in lovely little Verden. Apart from International Universities, I'm pretty sure a fairly high level of German is necessary to go to universities there...
And aside from tuition and German skills, could anyone recommend some (not technical) universities? Naturally, I should check out Heidelberg... I really like Northern Germany, and I think I would like to major in Politics/International Relations.

Oh, and something unrelated...
I also want to go to South Africa in 2010 for der Weltmeister! But If I go abroad next year, I won't really have enough money for a plane ticket. I could get a job and even open up a Sparkasse account, but maybe I'm dreaming too much and won't be able to go to South Africa in the end... What do you think I should do?

With only one year, no German highschool can graduate you (fixed 2-year period at the end going into final results, no way around it). If your highschool at home accepts your German credits for that year, and graduates you, you'll likely have to pull in a number of college credits first to have an "equivalent" entry status for German university.

150-200 Euro is correct - before tuition, which is usually another 500 varying on state, in those states that have tuition. Heidelberg is 604 Euro for next semester, for example. Also, to get into Politics at any German university, you better make sure you have top grades. One of the harder courses to get into, unless you want to study at a random unknown university somewhere in the middle of nowhere.
In response to a similar question, I believe highered once posted that if your SAT score is high enough, that, along with a US high school diploma, can qualify you for direct entry to a German university- but check with the individual universities you are interested in attending. You'll probably also need to pass a language test such as the Test DaF (once again, go to the university websites and verify all this).

As for South Africa 2010, it will probably be very difficult to get tickets.

Good luck...
I believe highered once posted that if your SAT score is high enough, that, along with a US high school diploma, can qualify you for direct entry to a German university-
You rang?
A US high school diploma that meets pretty basic minimum criteria, combined with a 1300SAT score (verbal+math; yes, I know the SAT has three sections now) or a 28 ACT score is basically the equivalent to a German Abitur and allows direct entrance to all subjects (though some subjects at some schools have special admissions rules). And, as Conquistador notes, you will need to pass a language test for most programs--TestDaF is offered abroad; each university offers their own DSH (the latter is not standardized across Germany). There are some 'international' programs (info available from and, though most of them are at the Master's level; these programs have looser German-language requirements (and maybe none prior to admission).

These posts and their associated threads may be of interest:
Unless you find some international degree programme that's taught in English, you will certainly need to prove your German knowledge, this usually being as Conquistador said - a TestDaF - Mittelstufe 2, normally.

I came here not knowing a word of German and after a 5 month crash course, i get complimented almost daily on my German. So, you will obviously learn fast being in the country, and being young enough to have not completely destroyed your brain due to excessive substance intake (pick your poison).

Berlin doesn't have extra fees on top of the typical "Semesterticket", which is about €240. Then you have health insurance, roughly €350 per semester. Other german states have as mentioned, additional student fees, usually around €500. So, as you can see, it's worth it to study here.

I'm not sure whether you're interested in international universities. If you are, you might consider Jacobs University Bremen, which is where I did my BSc. It's in Bremen (northern Germany), English-medium - you don't need to know German at all (though you can take German courses there) and offers the BA programs "International Politics and History" and "Intercultural Relations and Behaviour", among others. It's intensive but rewarding.

Financially speaking, scholarships for tuition are available if you're academically qualified, but with very few exceptions you have to pay your own living expenses. Tuition is of the order of 16,000 euros a year (not certain as it's been some time).

Here's the website:

And a more traditional German university is the University of Bremen, which is also good, I believe, though German-medium. I'm not certain about tuition requirements but I think they're similar to most other German universities. I think it offers programs that might interest you:

Bremen's a wonderful city

Good luck!

M. Grace
Sort of an extension on what other people said-

Before you can apply to a German university, you need the Bundesland (Ministry of Education or something similar) to recognize your "school leaving certificate". This is what I had to submit in Bayern in June (a bit overkill, but it worked out for me ):

High school diploma
High school transcript
College transcript (2 years completed of 4 year program)
SAT score report
ACT score report
AP score report
Test DaF score report

If you did International Baccalaureate in the US, I believe that should be recognized as the equivalent of the German Abi (someone please correct me if I'm wrong!)

If you are interested in studying in Bayern, which has several good Unis (technical and non), you should probably try to take the Test DaF instead of the DSH (which is being phased out anyways?). The Test DSH from this year covered a lot of complicated grammar, as opposed to the DaF, which was the standard reading+speaking+writing+listening.

Good luck!
Owain Glyndwr
I think you are right about the Inter-Bach but it wouldn't surprise me if one or more of the Bundesländer didn't recognise it.
Ditto on taking TestDAF. As long as you are making your point in a concise manner, grammar doesn't count. Even if your grammar is sound, it definately takes a bit of pressure off if you forget the gender of a word and have to declinate it. I know that when grammar counts and I forget, I end up choosing another word so I don't lose points.
This thread may help with some of your questions.
The IB is indeed accepted, but there are some requirements as to the courses it includes for direct admission:
I wasn't offered IB at my last school, and I just moved from Seattle to freaking Hawaii because of my dad's job so now I'm enrolled in a private school which offers IB. Is it too late to start taking some IB classes?
And also, if I go abroad to Germany next year, I would be placed in 11th grade at Domgymnasium Verden, which is equivalent to 12th grade in the states (apparently). So I would avoid Abitur but I would still acquire my high school diploma. And this year I'm taking the ACT and SAT... Shit I hope I'm not screwed, I feel like I don't have enough to get into German universities...

I did check out Jacobs University Bremen which was nice and those courses sound really appealing, however part of the reason I want to go to Germany for school is because it's generally less expensive than in the states (I also want to go because the men are cute, the food is good, the beer is great, and the culture is amazing). Maybe if Jacobs University was a little less expensive I'd really have my mind set on it... Private school in Hawaii is already $16.000 so half of my college money is gone

So... To be sure I get into a school, I guess I have to take some rigorous (IB) courses this year, get a high score on the SAT and ACT, and become fluent in German next year? Oh and get a job that will supply me with enough money to fly over... I hope I don't die trying to do all this.
Actually... I just got out of a meeting with my school counselor and he said if I go to Germany for 12th grade, I won't be able to get a US high school diploma.. what the hell? Maybe I'll just graduate from Domgymnasium, if they let me...

And um, Jacobs in Bremen aaactually is a good deal since it's about the same price as University of Washington for in-state students. My bad. I need to look into that. Thanks.
Talk to your US high school about the possibility of using CLEP and DSST exams for high school credit (also look at taking summer classes at your local community college).
Alright, will do...

I just realized I'm in a pretty bad spot. If I go to Germany in 12th grade, I still won't be able to even graduate there seeing as how there are 13 grades, and they won't change it to 12 grades in Niedersachsen until 2011... Poor me. Maybe I'll check out Hamburg? Shoot.
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