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Admission to higher education


Entitlement to study in Germany (HZB)

If you are looking to study in Germany, you must have entitlement to study here (Ger. Hochschulzugangsberechtigung, HZB). This means that your educational background must qualify you to study at a German university. In Germany, students acquire this entitlement by taking their Abitur. Applicants without a German Abitur must provide proof of previous education corresponding to German Abitur level. This could be a secondary school certificate, in some cases combined with a university entrance exam. In part, the applicant needs to have made certain course achievements, in some cases right the way through.


Types of entitlement

There are four different types of entitlement. Entitlement is either direct or indirect, and at the same time either general or subject-specific.

  • direct: with direct entitlement, the applicant can start their degree straight away.
  • indirect: before beginning their degree, the applicant must take the Studienkolleg course and pass the Feststellungsprüfung assessment. Once this is done, the applicant will have direct, subject-specific entitlement.
  • general: with general entitlement, the applicant may study any subject.
  • subject-specific: if the applicant has subject-specific entitlement, they may only study subjects in a specific field. This subject field is determined by the subject that the applicant has taken in their homeland or passed the relevant exams in. In Germany, subjects are divided into five categories: Humanities and languages (G and S, sometimes combined as G/S), Social and Economic Sciences (W), technical and scientific subjects (T), and Medicine and Biology or related subjects (M).


The German ZaB and its "anabin" database

To lay the groundwork for comparing German and foreign leaving certificates with one another, the German Ministry of Education decided to found the Central Office for Foreign Education (abbr. ZaB, Zentralstelle für ausländisches Bildungswesen). The ZaB compares foreign education systems with the German one and establishes for all countries in the world which type of previous education corresponds to which type of entitlement to study in Germany. In its anabin database (currently only available in German), the ZaB publishes information on how education certificates from more than 180 countries are evaluated.


The uni-assist certificate database

You can also use the uni-assist certificate database to find out which foreign certificates lead to which form of entitlement to study in Germany. Here you will find the essential information together for countries where large numbers of study applicants come from. However, please note that you may only use this database to get an idea of what sort of entitlement you can expect with your educational background. You may use this as a guide, but we cannot guarantee that form of entitlement. The only binding information is in the anabin database.


At many institutions, there are not sufficient places for all applicants. Therefore these study programmes are restricted; they are also called NC subjects.

Contact the central student advice centre at the institutions for details of all additional requirements you need to meet to be entitled to enter higher education.

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