How to Apply for Scholarships to Study in Germany: A Seamlessly Simple 101 Guide

When you make the decision to study in Germany, it represents not just an opportunity, but a chance for a new life as well. New academic doors open up to international students, offering access to world-renowned universities, and groundbreaking research opportunities. And obviously, the cultural experience!

One of the issues that hold back students from ging abroad is the financial aspect of it. Scholarships in Germany present a simple (yet complicated) solution to this challenge.

We have compiled our version of a comprehensive guide to ensure a smooth, hassle-free study in Germany experience for international students.

We are particularly concerned with how to successfully apply for scholarships to study in Germany. Our key aim is to make the application process easier, highlight key considerations, and provide practical advice to improve the likelihood of getting financial aid. 

Understanding the Process of Your Study in Germany

Germany’s education system is known for its emphasis on both academic and vocational training. While we have written about it time and again, we have tried to include a quick overview for your reference:

study in germany

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Types of Universities in Germany 

Germany has two main university types: public and private. 

  • Public Universities: Public universities dominate the landscape and are renowned for their excellent quality. Even more significantly, it is known among international students for their tuition-free status. These are funded by the federal states and ensure accessibility for qualified students regardless of financial background. 
  • Private Universities: Private universities typically charge tuition fees, but these may still be lower compared to other countries.

The Tuition-free Education System

The absence of tuition fees in Germany’s public universities is a major draw for international students. It allows access to top-tier education without the burden of high costs. Living expenses are still a factor, but scholarships and part-time work opportunities can help manage them.

Also read: 13 Stunning Facts on the German Education System

Academic Calendar and Language Requirements for Your Study in Germany

The German academic year typically runs from October to September, with semesters starting in October and April. The first thing international students need to be prepared for is to meet specific language requirements and have your statement of proposal ready. 

German (as expected) is the primary language of instruction, so proficiency is essential. Many universities also offer German language courses to help international students reach the required level.  

study in germany

That said, if you are anything like me and learning a course in a second language sounds terrifying, English-language programs are becoming more available. But, is absolutely essential to work on your German language skills as it will still be beneficial for daily life in Germany.

How to Research Financial Aid and Resources for Study in Germany?

Getting financial aid is absolutely important for many international students, and Germany is here to cater to that demand. They offer a wealth of scholarship opportunities. In order to get a headstart on them, early and thorough research is key to maximizing your chances.

Here’s a quick and simple overview of the different kinds of scholarship options available in Germany: 

Scholarship TypeDescriptionExample
Government-fundedProvided by the German government, often focused on specific fields or regions. Typically offer full or partial tuition coverage, and may include living expenses.DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) scholarships
Non-governmentalProvided by the German government, often focused on specific fields or regions. Typically offer full or partial tuition coverage, and may include living expenses.Scholarships from organizations like Heinrich Böll Foundation or Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung
University-specificOffered by foundations, charities, and private organizations. Selection criteria can vary, but may focus on academic merit, financial need, or specific fields of study.Scholarships offered by universities themselves
Types of scholarships in Germany

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Finding the Right Scholarship for the Right Courses 

It is often quite difficult to understand which particular scholarship will give you the right advantage at the right time. But, that’s what the official websites for scholarships and other guiding websites are for. 

  • DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service): This is the central hub for German government-funded scholarships for international students. The website provides a scholarship database and information on application procedures.
study in germany
  • University Websites: All universities maintain dedicated scholarship pages listing their own awards and external scholarship opportunities relevant to their programs.
  • Scholarship Databases: Independent platforms (like ours), collate scholarships from various sources. A few examples include ScholarshipPortal or Scholars4Dev.

Meeting the Requirements for a Scholarship When You Study in Germany 

There are as many scholarship opportunities in Germany as there are specific eligibility requirements for them. It is of umpteen importance to understand these criteria for a successful application.

We need to reiterate that different universities have different criteria for admission and granting scholarships. 

Qualifying the general criteria pretty much only offers you the basic eligibility to apply and does not assure guaranteed admission or scholarship to any of them.

However, if you are looking for somewhere to start, we recommend the common set of requirements given below. 

Common requirements include a strong academic track record, demonstrated by GPA or transcripts. Secondly, as German is the primary language of instruction, proficiency is usually essential. Additionally, English-language programs may have different requirements. Finally, some scholarships target specific fields of study, so relevant work experience, research experience, or specific coursework may also be required.

It’s vital to thoroughly read and understand the eligibility criteria of each scholarship you consider. And please, don’t hesitate to contact the scholarship provider for clarification if needed. 

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study in germany

Preparing the Application to Showcase Your Strengths During Your Study in Germany 

Once you’ve identified relevant scholarships, it’s time to craft a winning application. Here’s a breakdown of what you might encounter:

The first step is to fill out your application Form. It will have multiple sections that need to be filled in accurately and completely. Pay attention to deadlines and submission methods.

Motivational Letter is your chance to shine! You can explain your academic goals, why you’re drawn to studying in Germany, and how this scholarship aligns with your aspirations here. Take the opportunity to highlight relevant achievements, experiences, and personal qualities that make you a strong candidate. Be clear, concise, and passionate!

To truly stand out, focus on the motivational letter. Be genuine, enthusiastic, and showcase your unique story.  

The third step in the college prep process is to tailor your CV to German standards, focusing on academic achievements, relevant work experience, and skills. Make sure to avoid all kinds of fancy formatting and use clear structuring to call attention to key aspects.

This is probably the hardest part of the application process, to get your hands on a few letters of recommendation from your teachers, previous managers and other staff concerned. Essentially, they need to be people who can speak to your academic abilities, work ethic, and potential. You will need to provide them with information about the scholarship and your goals to help them write a compelling letter.

When you subbit your official academic transcripts, it needs to be translated into German or English (as required).

Finally, as we have repeated time and again, you need to upskill your language proficiency. This may look like submitting standardized test scores (e.g., TestDaF, DSH) to demonstrate your German language skills.

Always remember, proofread meticulously!  

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Building a Strong Foundation When You Study in Germany 

Remember, the scholarship committee considers your entire academic journey as a whole. Thus, if you are planning to apply abroad, your preparation starts months before, including maintaining excellent grades and actively participating in extracurricular activities that shows off your well-roundedness and commitment.

While we all have our first preferences when it comes to scholarships, apply for multiple scholarships that align with your profile. What this does is increase your chances of securing financial aid and make your German education dream more achievable.

study in germany

What to Expect After Submitting Your Application When You Study in Germany?

After submitting your application, there is always a waiting period you need to be aware of. This may change depending on the program, but most of the results come out within a month or two of applications. Some scholarships may decide to conduct interviews to assess your qualifications in more detail, or submit additional documentation to support your application. 

Putting Your Best Foot Forward With Your Scholarship Applications When You Study in Germany

Securing a scholarship to study in Germany is a goal well within reach for dedicated and well-prepared international students. We know, if you are reading this, you are definitely one of them! 

The journey toward achieving this financial support requires a thorough understanding of the application process, adherence to deadlines, and a clear demonstration of academic excellence and personal motivation. 

It is important for students to remember that earning a scholarship is not merely a financial victory but a recognition of their potential to contribute meaningfully to their field of study. 

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