Prep courses and foundation courses: Jumpstart for international students

If your school-leaving certificate is not recognised in Germany, you can still study at a German university by participating in a “Studienkolleg” (foundation course). Foundation courses take one year to complete, and conclude with the “Feststellungsprüfung” (university qualification assessment examination). Attending a prep course is the ideal preparation for the demands of German universities.

by the Editors

Group of international students © Hagenguth/DAAD
Group of international students . © Hagenguth/DAAD

If your secondary school-leaving certificate is not deemed sufficient to qualify you for university study in Germany, you will be required to pass a special examination called the “Feststellungsprüfung“. You can prepare for it by taking a foundation course in Germany. Foundation courses are provided by institutes at the universities and offer courses in specific subject areas.


You must meet the following requirements to gain admission to a foundation course:

Your knowledge of German must correspond to the B1 level as put forth by the European Framework of Reference for Languages. If you didn’t have the chance to acquire the necessary language skills in your home country, you can improve your German in language courses in Germany. You have to prove that your language skills are sufficient for participating in the foundation course in an entrance examination.

Students at a desk © DAAD
Students at a desk . © DAAD

University qualification assessment examination

At the conclusion of the foundation course, you will be tested in several subjects, which pertain to your desired major. This examination is called the “Feststellungsprüfung”, one section of which is a language test.

Foundation courses last two semesters. If you make very good progress, you can try taking the “Feststellungsprüfung” after just one semester. Foundation courses provide 28 to 32 hours of instruction per week. As a course participant, you are required – like all students – to pay the semester contribution.

Prep courses

If you want to get your master’s degree, you don’t have to attend a foundation course. You can take a propaedeutic course instead. This ideal preparation enables you to equip yourself for the demands of German universities before the actual degree course begins. Then, when you begin your university studies, you get used to everyday life at a German university far more easily.

There are courses

  • for foreign students who have already been admitted to a degree course in Germany,
  • for foreign students who have not yet gained admission but already meet the formal requirements for studying at a university in Germany and
  • for foreign students who have not yet met the formal requirements for a higher education entrance qualification.

 Prep Courses you can find in the database of the DAAD.