With the secondary education leaving certificate “Abitur” international students qualify for higher education in Germany exactly like German students. Having applied successfully at a German university or university of applied sciences international students can continue their course of education in Germany with university studies.
Pathway to the Abitur
The final two years at the “Gymnasium” are called the qualification phase. Most marks reached during those two years already count for the final “Abitur” grade. This means that not only the final written and oral “Abitur” exams are relevant but also all school results during those two years are a very essential part (approx. 70%) of the final „Abitur“ grade.
For this reason, international students, whose German level is below native (C2) and who do not have a background in the German school system, usually cannot start their German school career in the qualification phase, i.e., in grade 11 (G8 system). Or, in other words, after the successful completion of their German course international students need at least 3 full years at a German “Gymnasium” to graduate with the “Abitur“.
The Abitur and university admittance in Germany
The “Abitur” qualifies students to apply for higher education in Germany (universities and universities of applied sciences).
University application with the “Abitur” is generally not restricted
- to any federal state in Germany, i.e., a student who graduates in North Rhine-Westphalia can apply for a university in Bavaria.
- to any subject, i.e., a student with a language profile at school can apply for studies in natural sciences, engineering or business.
- to any university, i.e., an applicant for a university in Munich (Bavaria) need not be a student from a Munich or Bavarian school.
University admittance restrictions may result from the final “Abitur” grade if a course of study at a certain university has a limited number of places or a so-called “numerus clausus”, which then holds for all applicants, i.e., only those applicants with the best final marks or final marks up to a certain mark are allowed to study the respective subject at this certain university. Those restrictions may vary not only from university to university but also from study year to study year depending on the respective number of applicants for the respective subject at a certain university.