Rules of the procedure

This chapter summarizes any rules the application process for undergraduate courses of study is based on and that you have to keep in mind on your way to begin your studies in order to organize it the best way possible.

The legal basis of the dialogue-oriented service procedure can be learned from the information posted under the German page Rechtsgrundlagen.

Higher education entrance qualification

As already mentioned under Requirements, a higher education entrance qualification (Hochschulzugangsberechtigung – HZB) recognized in Germany is the most important basis for applying. As a rule, it is differentiated between a General Qualification for University Entrance (Allgemeine Hochschulreife), a subject-specific qualification for university entrance (Fachgebundene Hochschulreife), a qualification to enter a university of applied sciences (Fachhochschulreife) and a professional qualification to enter a higher education institution.

  • A General Qualification for University Entrance generally entitles to study at a higher education institution. The most known form of a General Qualification for University Entrance in Germany is the “classic” Abitur.
  • A subject-specific qualification for university entrance also entitles to study at a higher education institution. This entitlement, however, is restricted to the subjects specified on the certificate.
  • The qualification to enter a university of applied sciences (widely known as „Fachabitur“) entitles to study at certain kinds of higher education institutions and may be restricted to a certain kind of academic studies either: With this HZB you may study at Fachhochschulen (Universities of Applied Sciences) and Gesamthochschulen (Comprehensive Universities) as well as (depending on the respective German state) individual courses of study at universities. Further information on this topic may be taken from the certificate (from the so called “Reifevermerk”). If you have any queries in this regard, please contact the higher education institutions directly. They will be pleased to help you.
  • The German states have enacted statutory regulations in their Hochschulzulassungsgesetze (Acts on Admission to Higher Education) permitting persons that have achieved a special professional qualification to take up academic studies at a German higher education institution. The higher education institutions will be pleased to help you also in this regard. Moreover, we have compiled any relevant information pages of the German states as well as the Kultusministerkonferenz (Standing Conference of German Ministers of Education).

Selection by the higher education institution

Success of your application is depending on various criteria that are considered by the higher education institution systematically.

In applying for an admission restricted place in higher education, the average grade resulting from your higher education entrance qualification is the centre of attention that means selection is done according to this grade.

The higher education institutions may, however, consider or give a special weighting to further criteria in their respective selection processes such as the waiting time. This waiting time is determined on the basis of the half-years that have passed since the higher education entrance qualification has been achieved, irrespective of any gap year having been taken to do voluntary work in the social sector or a vocational training having been done, for example. Only that period of time during which the applicant was already enrolled at a state recognized German higher education institution prior to the current application is not taken into account as waiting time.

Please note in this regard, that any rules concerning the waiting time may vary depending on the German state!

If you want to receive in-depth information on the criteria by which a higher education institution organizes the selection process of your desired course of study or how any waiting time is considered in detail, please contact the respective higher education institution directly. The same applies, of course, for taking advantage of any special or exception rules within the application or selection process, as the case may be.

The relevance of ranking lists

During the selection processes regarding admission restricted courses of study, the higher education institutions create ranking lists according to various selection criteria. A ranking list includes a list of applicants that are first of all classified according to their average grade, the waiting time or other criteria (such as test results or the evaluation of selection interviews within the selection process of the respective higher education institution).

That applicant that has the most favourable selection criteria takes first place in the ranking list. The other applicants follow in corresponding order. With regard to applicants having the same “main selection criteria” (e.g. the same average grade), less important selection criteria decide on the actual ranking place (for example: the proof of a service done). Any particulars are specified by the Zulassungsrecht (admission law) of the German states or by the selection statutes of the higher education institutions.

How many applicants of a ranking list may be selected and admitted to study, depends on the amount of the respective selection rate (percentage). The Zulassungsrecht (admission law) of the German states or the Satzungsrecht (statutes law) of the higher education institutions stipulate different rates for selection according to the respective criteria.

Usually, the greater part of the places in higher education is allocated according to the selection rate subject to the average grade, the waiting time and within the selection process of the higher education institutions. Besides, other rates exist (in a smaller scale) for special groups of applicants - for example interested persons from abroad.

Studying in the German states ("Bundesländer")