Going abroad while completing a semester of classes also entails costs, from new books to dining in the canteen to high rental costs and travelling costs. As it is, some of these expenses can be funded with the help of scholarships or part-time jobs. In this section we give an overview of scholarships: the providers, types, conditions and some additional information for those interested in staying longer (for a whole degree) in Germany. Some useful information on part-time jobs is presented as well.
There is a variety of organizations that help students financially by providing funding for short-term stays in Germany (up to a semester), but the main institution that mediates between international students and financial aid is the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutsche Akademische Austauschdienst = DAAD). Additionally party-affiliated foundations, religious organizations and commercial enterprises provide funding. Students outside of and from Europe may also take advantage of the Erasmus+ and Erasmus Mundus program (a database where you select your country of origin to see if the scholarship suits you) provided by the European Commission. Sometimes though, scholarships or other funding opportunities available from your university and home country may be better options and best suited to you than the others we have listed.
A large and very detailed overview of different scholarship providers can be found here. Be mindful that there is a great variety of bilateral programs, thus looking up in depth whether there is a program suited for you can be very worthwhile.
If you are interested in scholarship information in other languages than English (23 in total) from the European Commission you can also read its program guide.
Types of scholarships
Two different types of scholarships exist in Germany: monetary and non-monetary ones. What this means is that if you get a full scholarship you will be awarded a fixed amount which will cover you financially for the whole duration of your studies. Or, if you get a partial scholarship you should look for other means to further fund yourself, such as organizations that sponsor talented students or part-time jobs. Especially advanced students and graduates are encouraged to apply.
Non-monetary scholarships are constituted, for example, by free invites to lectures, workshops, company visits/projects, language courses and scientific conferences where the aim is to establish connections between excellent students, universities and companies. By attending these events, you also become part of a larger network consisting of current and former scholarship holders. This exchange of ideas is not just personally interesting, it can also provide professional benefits in the form of contacts, networks or even an internship position or full-time job.
Good results are important, but you can also receive a scholarship without a perfect grade point average (GPA). Besides good grades, many foundations also place a great deal of importance on the social commitment of applicants. Others grant scholarships and support specific target groups based on social, family or personal criteria. On average, one in every three scholarship applicants receives the funding that they have applied for. The chances of success with smaller, less known foundations are often better than with the major scholarship organizations. The reason that a scholarship is turned down is often not due to the high requirements, but rather to the application itself: 80 percent of all students in Germany have never applied for a scholarship.
To study abroad with Erasmus+, you must be registered in a higher education institution (university or university of applied sciences) and enrolled in studies leading to a recognized degree or tertiary-level qualification (institute of higher education, university of applied sciences or a master craftsman qualification). For students in the first mentioned group, you need to be at least in the second year of your studies.
Your period of studying abroad must be relevant for your degree-related learning and personal development needs, as well as be a part of the study program you are enrolled in.
Your home institution and the receiving institution must have an inter-institutional agreement between themselves for you to be able to take advantage of Erasmus+.
Both institutions must also have signed the Erasmus Charter for Higher Education (if they are in program countries). Institutions from partner countries commit to the principles of the Charter when signing the inter-institutional agreement.
CHECKLIST FOR THE APPLICATION
- Does the selected scholarship provider actually match my personal and subject profile?
- Do I meet the formal requirements for the scholarship program – matching academic status, country of origin, subject specialization?
- Am I able to provide evidence of the relevant requirements – appropriate academic results and social commitments?
- Can I obtain all the necessary application documents within the current application period?
Add this information to your application when possible:
- Where appropriate, proof of German language proficiency
- The extent to which the applicant will be able to apply the experience gained in Germany back in the home country
- Give concrete examples of how your academic development relates to the work of the organization you are applying to
- Put an effort in presenting a well-thought plan of how you want to take advantage of the opportunities offered to you by the scholarship program
- Show in your statement of purpose that you actually conducted research on what the organization does or believes in
- Quality over quantity! Don’t apply to all scholarships. Instead, apply to those where you can commit to preparing a top notch application.
Long term scholarships (Bachelor, Master, Ph.D and internship)
In general, most scholarships are provided for students looking for long-term opportunities in Germany, yet these do not always cover the whole degree.
Most scholarships for Bachelor degrees, for example, only take applications after the first semester, up until the third semester of studies.
Scholarships for Masters of Ph.D. students work in a somewhat different manner. Usually, you have to apply to these well in advance (especially if funding for your Ph.D. project is at stake). The following links provide more in-depth information on this topic.
Websites for scholarships:
Here you can find general information, downloads and forms for scholarships.
Party-affiliated foundations, religious organizations and commercial enterprises also provide scholarship options when studying long-term.
Financing your stay abroad through a part-time job is highly dependent on your migratory status. Hence, there is a big difference if you are a EU national (this includes all EEA countries), someone coming from abroad with a German passport, or a non-EU national. The first two categories are free to work as they please and usually are eligible for all scholarship programs and state funding (BAFöG or Kindergeld).
In contrast, non-EU nationals face very different conditions. Depending on the kind of visa you receive, you will be able in most cases to work for 120 full work days or 240 half work days. This allows you to work for a limited amount of time in any job you find employment and interest in. Additionally, most student visas allow you to work in a “Studentische Nebentätigkeit” (student job), such as a research assistant (HiWi) or tutor without limits.
For more detailed information on part-time, student jobs and where to find them, as well as related information on taxes, see the following links: