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It is prudent to start well in advance, as the procedure is a long one. A student should also enroll into a German language program as soon as he decides to pursue higher education in Germany. The doors of a university are open to a student only after he proves that he's entitled to be admitted to an institution of higher education. This is good for those whose educational qualifications or certificates are recognized as equivalent to those in Germany. If this is not the case, the student must undergo an eligibility test. In this case, each Federal State lays down the decisive criteria for evaluation of foreign qualifications required for admission. The preparatory institutions attached to the institutions of higher education are responsible for preparing students to take the eligibility test.
The following documents are generally required:
A certified copy of the certificate for admission to higher education or in other words the foreign high school qualification.
A translation (from an official translator) of the high school certificate.
A passport-size photograph
Bio-data with exact information about one's education (schools visited, exams taken etc)
Proof of higher studies attended till now if applicable
Language certificate as proof of required German language knowledge
An officially certified photocopy of the assessment test to determine the eligibility of foreign applicants to studies at institutions of higher education in Germany with subjects and mark list, if the test has been taken.
Certified copies of your academic transcripts and degree certificates. If the certificates are in a language other than English, German, or French, you are expected to send official English or German translations of the certificates.
Personal Statement or Statement of Purpose
Most universities may ask you to send an essay or personal statement. This should include the reasons for you wishing to pursue a particular course in Germany, and specifically in that particular university. Your essay is assessed not only for its content but also for your clarity of thought, your language ability, your goals, and other relevant things.
Recommendations are expected to be from your professors, lecturers or employers. A lot of weightage is given to the letters of recommendations in making the admission decision. Some universities send their own recommendation forms with ratings, while others may expect them on official letterheads. The recommendation letters have to be sealed and the person recommending you should sign on the cover.
Deadlines and Submission
German universities are very particular about deadlines. Any application reaching late is not processed, no matter how impressive. The deadlines are as follows:
Winter Semester (October)---July 15th
Summer Semester (April)---January 15th
In case you need to send your applications for central assessment first, then the deadlines are as follows:
Winter Semester (October)---May 15th
Summer Semester (April)---November 15th
After your qualifications are cleared, you have to then apply to the respective universities before the above-mentioned deadlines.
Preparatory Studies for Foreign Students
Applicants whose certificates aren't recognized still have a chance to study in Germany. They can enroll at a College of Preparatory Studies for Foreign Students (Studienkolleg). Enrollment for the preparatory courses is handled by the university. As with every other authority in Germany, one needs to apply in writing. The Foreign Students' Office (Akademisches Auslandsamt) at the various universities will provide you with more details.
The preparatory program lasts for one year at the end of which foreign students have to take a final examination. If they pass the exam they are considered to be up to the academic level they need to study at a German university and can apply for admission.
The preparatory courses are conducted in German, so language proficiency is a must.
The German language diploma of the Culture Ministers, Level 1 ("Deutsches Sprachdiplom") as well as the GoetheInstitute's "Zentrale Mittelstufenpr fung" are considered proof of your language fluency.