Studying in the Federal Republic of Germany
1. DAAD Contact Information
For free information material and further information please contact:
DAAD Information Centre Kuala Lumpur
Lot 20-01, Letter Box No. 33
Level 20, Menara Hap Seng 2
Plaza Hap Seng
No. 1, Jalan P. Ramlee
50450 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03 - 9235 1944
NEW! We offer consultations on Fridays only. Please register beforehand, because seats are limited.
If you live outside of KL, you can also register for our online (webinar) sessions.
For registration details, and our opening hours, please log on to our website: www.daadkl.org
All over the world German higher education institutions enjoy an excellent reputation. German degrees carry great prestige while teaching and research provide key impulses for innovation and progress. Institutions boast state-of-the-art equipment and labs to provide students with the very best conditions for successful studies. At a very competitive price, more than 300 institutions offer thousands of degree programmes, making Germany’s higher education landscape diverse and affordable.
As a result, students can choose a programme that matches their very individual needs, often at a fraction of the cost involved in studying at other popular study destinations. They can take a research-oriented programme at a university, a more practice-focused course at a university of applied sciences or an artistic programme at one of the many colleges of art, film or music. Over the past ten years more and more students from Malaysia and other Southeast Asian countries have taken advantage of these opportunities and selected Germany as their best choice. Today, more than 35.000 students from Southeast Asia (including China and India) are undertaking courses in Germany, among them more than 900 Malaysians.
3. Courses and degrees
Germany’s higher education institutions are passing through a period of extensive change. To raise the international competitiveness of European universities, the governments of some 45 countries have signed up to the so-called Bologna process which aims at creating a single European Higher Education Area by 2010. This involves introducing comparable programmes and degrees at institutions in the participating countries so that the range of studies offered throughout Europe is both transparent and compatible. As a result of this, German universities will continue to offer two parallel degree structures until 2010: one the one hand, these are the traditional degree courses leading to a Diplom or Magister Artium degree, which will be gradually phased out; on the other hand, they are already offering the new two-cycle system of Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees and will continue to extend the range of such programmes. Some courses, in particular those run under state supervision, such as law, medicine or teaching degrees, may not be affected by the changes.
a. Traditional German Degree Programmes
Traditionally, German degree programmes are divided into two parts. The first four to five semesters serve to familiarise the students with the subject matter and methodology of the chosen discipline and are typically completed by a written or oral intermediate examination, which is not considered a degree. The second half of the programme is then dedicated to more advanced and also more independent studies. The most well-known traditional degree is the Diplom. Students reading arts and humanities subjects generally gain the Magister Artium (M.A.). Other subjects (e.g. teaching, law, medicine, pharmacy) are completed with examinations held under state supervision. The degree awarded is called the Staatsexamen. They are all equivalent to the Master’s level and the requirement for entering doctoral studies.
b. Bachelor’s and Master’s
The Bachelor’s degree, which is the first degree in countries following the Anglo-Saxon model such as Malaysia, has now also been introduced at German universities. A full Bachelor programme at a German university takes normally 6 or 7 semesters (3 to 3.5 years). Students who hold a Bachelor’s degree and wish to specialise in a particular area can take up a Master’s programme – either directly after completing their Bachelor’s or after working for a few years. The chosen degree programme must be closely related to the Bachelor’s subject. A Master’s degree is roughly comparable to a university Diplom degree, a Magister or a Staatsexamen. The majority of Master’s programmes offered by German universities take two years (4 semesters) but there are also some programmes with a shorter duration.
c. International Degree Programmes
Numerous German institutions of higher education offer international Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD programmes alongside their regular German degree courses. These courses are of equal interest to students from abroad and their internationally-oriented German counterparts and, on average, 50% of the participants come from a variety of countries, making the classroom an exciting multinational and multicultural environment. International Degree Programmes (IDPs) in Germany provide particularly intensive support, guidance and supervision. Except for a small number, these courses are run predominantly or exclusively in English, at least in the first semesters. The DAAD website offers further information on these 400 and more programmes in the so-called IDP database: www.daad.de/idp. Visit the database to get a detailed overview of what is available. Corresponding brochures can be obtained free of charge from the DAAD Information Centre in Kuala Lumpur (see below for contact details).
d. Doctoral Studies
Anyone wishing to gain a doctorate (PhD) needs to have completed a course of academic studies up to Master’s level with above-average grades. In most cases, candidates will need to find an academic supervisor for their dissertation and therefore need to find out as soon as possible which university suits best their area of research. The Higher Education Compass (www.higher-education-compass.de) offers a good overview and further assistance in identifying potential supervisors is available from the DAAD Information Centre in Kuala Lumpur.
Doctoral students can also choose from a whole range of courses which are specifically designed for international (post)graduates. Thus, the International Postgraduate Programmes (www.daad.de/ipp) jointly offered by the DAAD and the DFG or the International Max Planck Research Schools (www.mpg.de, click on “institutes, projects and facilities”) feature a particularly international profile. They give highly-qualified German and international students the opportunity to prepare for their doctoral examination in research centres of excellence located throughout Germany.
Studying in Germany is an inexpensive option compared to most other popular study destinations, as public higher education institutions in Germany receive substantial state funding. As a result, German universities charge only very moderate tuition fees or even no tuition fees at all. What is more, international students are subject to the same fees as German students. Where fees are charged, they currently range from 350 Euro – 650 Euro per semester (RM 1.500 – RM 3.000) which means that a full Bachelor’s programme often costs as little as 3.000 Euro (RM 15.000). A Master’s degree frequently is no more than 2.000 Euro (RM 10.000) and at PhD level there are generally no fees at all! In addition to tuition fees there are usually some small administration or registration fees.
Compared to many other European countries living in Germany is also not that expensive. On average, you will need about 640 Euro per month (3.000 RM) to cover your cost of living. Compare the cost of studying in Germany to the expenses involved in taking a degree in other countries and you will notice: Germany is indeed exceptionally good value while providing education of the highest standard. For current information on postgraduate scholarships please visit the website of the DAAD Information Centre in Kuala Lumpur: http://ic.daad.de/kualalumpur.
5. Admission and Language Requirements
a. Academic requirements
Direct admission to study your desired subject at undergraduate level depends upon whether your higher education entrance qualification is considered equivalent to the German school-leaving qualification. Universities decide on admission in accordance with standardised regulations valid throughout Germany. It is the aim of this process to make sure all students beginning their studies are at the same level. For Malaysia the STPM or the A-Level examinations are generally recognised. There are also subject-specific requirements. Please contact the DAAD Information Centre Kuala Lumpur for detailed information. If you wish to take a Master’s degree in Germany, you should hold a related Bachelor’s degree from a recognised institution. Applicants for a PhD are generally expected to have obtained their Master’s degree.
b. Language requirements
Programmes in the German language
Before you can be admitted to a course with German as the medium of instruction, you have to provide proof that you have reached an appropriate level of proficiency in German. There are several tests which can be taken to show that you have the necessary command of the German language (see section “Learning German”). If you intend to learn the German language from scratch, please set aside a minimum of one year for intensive language studies before taking the proficiency test.
International degree programmes
International degree programmes vary in the level of German they require. Most undergraduate programmes expect applicants to have some basic knowledge of German, which can be acquired in a relatively short period of time. Postgraduate programmes often do not require any German at all, but will give students the opportunity to learn the language alongside their studies.
As research is frequently conducted in an international context with English as the main medium of communication, PhD students often do not need proficiency in German to embark on their project. Please enquire with your course coordinator or academic supervisor to find out if German is required at all and if so, what level you should have attained before starting your PhD.
Often, applicants from abroad need to apply directly to the International Office at the higher education institution at which they would like to study. The application form can be obtained from the institution or downloaded from the DAAD website for most of the courses (www.daad.de/en/form).
Around 90 German higher education institutions only process international applications once they have been formally screened by “Uni-Assist” (a certification service for international applicants). Uni-Assist will check the documents and contact you without delay if documents are missing. When all necessary documents have been submitted, the application will be forwarded to the selected higher education institution. There is currently a charge of 55 Euro (RM 250) for the first application and of 15 Euro (RM 75) for any subsequent application. For more information please check the Uni-Assist website: www.uni-assist.de.
7. Learning German
One of the advantages of studying in Germany is the fact that it will give you the opportunity to acquire an important world language together with your degree. There are some 100 million German mother-tongue speakers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, making German the language most widely spoken as a first language within the European Union. In addition, hundreds of millions of people speak German as a second language and a good command of the language can therefore give graduates a competitive edge over their peers and play a decisive role in your global career. Keep in mind: no less than 400 German companies are presently operating in Malaysia and - with Germany being Malaysia’s most important trade partner in Europe - a good command of German will open up a wealth of employment opportunities in Malaysia and abroad.
There are, of course, numerous language courses available at universities and private institutions in Germany. More information about those can be obtained from the section “Where can I learn German?” of the website www.learn-german.net. German language instruction, however, is also available in Malaysia, for instance at the Goethe-Institute in Kuala Lumpur, which offers language courses and examinations at all levels. The Kuala Lumpur branch of the Goethe-Institut offers extensive as well as intensive language courses for beginners (levels A1 and A2), intermediate (B1 and B2) and advanced learners (C1 and C2). Please contact the Goethe-Institut directly for more information on enrolement, fees and dates. (web: www.goethe.de/kualalumpur, email: email@example.com, phone: 03-21642011)
In Penang, the Malaysian-German Society offers German language courses (web: www.mgs.tripod.com, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: 04-2296853). Please note that international degree programmes may not require any proof of German language proficiency!