Updated: 2020-08-14 | Duration: 3:00 min.

Requirements for a Master’s Degree in Germany (as an international student)

You only need to fulfill three eligibility criteria to qualify for a Master's program in Germany

If you are at the beginning of your journey of becoming a Master’s student at a German university, the road ahead may seem long and winding. But it is much easier than you may think:

With only three (!) things international students are eligible to get a Master’s degree in Germany.

As soon as you meet with these three criteria, you have gone the biggest and first step to start a Master’s program in Germany: You will know whether you are generally qualified for the Master's level (or not). Once you are done with that, you can take the second step and find out which admission requirements the program of your choice requires (e.g. a certain GPA, specific credit points or professional experience).

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The three (and only) eligibility criteria for a Master in Germany

To demonstrate that you fulfill the eligibility criteria for a Master’s program in Germany, you will have to collect three pieces of paperwork:


A First Academic Degree (undergraduate)

German universities accept Bachelor’s degrees or equivalents from all other countries. Learn more about how to get your degree recognized in Germany here.


An English or German Language Certificate

You can study in Germany in English or in German.  Learn about how to prove your language skills to a German university here.


A Visa or Residence Permit (if applicable)

Did you know that only about ⅔ of the international students coming to Germany from the top 20 countries of origin actually need a visa?  Entering Germany as a student is easier than you think. Get tips on getting a student visa here.

An Important Difference: Eligibility Criteria vs. Admission Requirements

“But wait…” you may think now “why then do the programs I look at have way longer lists of requirements?” The answer to this question is easy: The German higher education system differentiates between the three general eligibility criteria and additional admission requirements.

The eligibility criteria are formulated by German law. Every prospective Master’s student needs to fulfill them – irrespective of the program they choose. In German, this is called “Zugangsvoraussetzung” (entrance requirement). Once you meet these criteria you are generally qualified to become a Master’s student.

On top of the eligibility criteria, each university can decide on further admission requirements according to which they admit their students. These requirements are set up independently by the universities and vary from program to program. In German, this is called “Zulassungsvoraussetzung” (admission requirement).

It is important to understand that once you fulfill the eligibility criteria, you can find a program that has admission requirements you comply with as well. Some might be harder for you to reach. But there will be programs that fit your profile and your talents so that you can easily get in.

infographic showing the difference between the elegibility criteria and admission requirements

Infographic: Eligibility Criteria vs. Admission Requirements

Infographic: Eligibility Criteria vs. Admission Requirements *GPA: The Master’s programs with a GPA (grade point average) criteria require on average a minimum grade of 2.5 in the German system. Click here to convert your grade into the German system. Even if you do not have the grade stated on the university website, it might make sense to apply nevertheless. This is because German universities reserve a minimum percentage of their study capacities for non-EU international students.

No Admission Tests or Interviews needed (Thumb Rule)

It may surprise you that German universities usually select their applicants based on their written application only. This means that there are almost no entrance examinations or personal interviews to get into German universities.


This is great news for international students: It is easy to apply from abroad and you only have to mail in your documents instead of showing up in person. In all likelihood, you won’t have to fly in from around half the globe to sit some entry exam or to take part in a personal interview.


Of course, every rule needs its exception! You may encounter some universities that will ask their students to take part in entrance examinations or personal interviews.


Some highly demanded universities

To give you one example, applicants to some Master’s programs at Technical University Munich (TUM) can expect to take part in a personal interview, which may also be conducted over the phone.

Arts and sports

In programs such as arts, theatre, music, or sports, applicants are normally expected to show up in person and either hand in their portfolio, act, play music or pass a sports test in front of a selection committee.

Summary Box

The eligibility criteria for international students to study a Master’s degree in Germany are:

    · First Academic Degree (Bachelor’s/undergraduate degree or     equivalent)
    · English or German language certificate
    · if applicable: Visa & Residence Permit (including financial proof and health insurance)

Additional admission requirements can be defined by each university (e.g. practical work experience, minimum GPA, letter of motivation…).