Application for Studies Abroad

You found „your“ college in the land of your dreams? Then it goes into the application phase. Applicants‘ requirements vary according to the university and study programme, which means that application for study abroad can take more or less time. Therefore, it is important to plan ahead! In order to ensure that the application documents are submitted in good time and, above all, in full, it is essential to obtain detailed information on all application procedures for studying abroad. Sometimes it can be quite bureaucratic. So that nothing goes wrong, you will find many valuable tips on the following pages.

Fill in forms

One of the most important documents for applying to study abroad is the application form. The necessary application form can usually be found on the website of the respective university. You can download the application forms of our partner universities directly in the download area of College Contact. There you will also find detailed application instructions for the individual study programmes. Care should be taken to ensure that the form is complete.

Prove performance

Which certificates must be submitted for an application to study abroad depends on the respective university and / or the course of study. The crucial question is whether it is a full or partial course of study or just a summer session. It is important to enclose only certified copies of certificates with your application. If necessary, the school leaving certificate must be translated. You can either do this yourself (translation must be certified by the school that created the original) or you can have it done by a certified translator.

An application for study abroad also includes a Transcript of Records. The Academic Transcript provides the basis for continuing your studies abroad in Germany or completing individual semesters abroad. This is a tabular list of all academic achievements made up to the time of application in English. In most cases, German universities have corresponding forms containing explanatory translations of the German grades. The transcript must also be certified for the application by the university at which the services were rendered.

Obtain references for applying to study abroad

In Anglophone countries in particular, it is customary to enclose at least two letters of recommendation with your application for study abroad. A letter of recommendation is also often expected in various exchange programmes. The letter is usually written by lecturers or professors whose courses you attend or at which you have written one or more seminar papers or thesis.

Former teachers may also be considered. Those who are socially committed can also turn to a person in this environment. In any case, it is important that the author is a superior person who is considered to be an integrity and knows the qualities of the student.

What is a good letter of recommendation for an application to study abroad? Here it depends on the special case: Is it a semester abroad, a master’s degree or a doctoral project? In addition to the personal qualities, the assessor should emphasize professional skills and knowledge as well as achievements in the course of studies or at school.

Some universities may prefer to fill in questionnaires. Here, the appraiser must answer pre-formulated questions. Either way: The correct choice of words in the letter of recommendation for the application for studying abroad is decisive and each sentence should be checked to see whether the reader could possibly take it negatively. Finally, it is important to make it clear that the author of the letter of recommendation fully recommends the candidate.

Show motivation when applying to study abroad

Whether a letter of motivation is required and how this should look in detail depends on the universities. Sometimes a short statement is sufficient, in which the applicant briefly describes how the choice of study was made; others in turn require a letter of motivation in the form of a multi-page essay for the application to study abroad. This is particularly common in Master’s and PhD programs.

Especially in the second case, sufficient time should be allowed for the application and writing of the essay, because the motivation letter is the admission ticket for the study place. The point here is to make a positive first impression, to give good reasons for studying abroad and, above all, to choose a higher education institution and a course of study. When writing the letter of motivation, it is essential to ensure that the style and formal rules are observed.

Prove the ability to study

In some countries – mainly in the USA – standardised admission and ability tests are widely used. The applicants‘ skills and their suitability for the respective studies can be better assessed and compared with each other. These tests must be completed in the run-up to the application and the results obtained must be submitted together with the other application documents for study abroad. As a rule, admission tests only play a role in relation to full studies, although there are different tests for the Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.


The SAT and ACT are standardised tests for measuring the ability to study in the course of an application. Both are widely used by universities and colleges in the USA and are generally accepted as an equivalent alternative. For locals, SAT / ACT is almost always a mandatory component of the application. International applicants for Bachelor’s degree courses in the USA have to take one of the two tests frequently, but not always – so it is advisable to check the application requirements of the desired university in advance. However, those who have already started their studies in their home country and would like to transfer to a higher semester within the Bachelor’s programme at a university in the USA do not usually have to take the SAT / ACT.


The GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) is a standardized test for measuring the academic abilities of prospective MBA students. Originally conceived and applied in the USA, it is now used by business schools all over the world as an admission criterion for applications. This is mainly due to the fact that MBA programs are often very heterogeneous in terms of their participants. The GMAT score guarantees better comparability and must therefore be passed by both domestic and international applicants.

GRE and other admission tests for applying to study abroad

The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is a cross-curricular admission test, which is often recognised as an alternative to the GMAT. There are also a number of other admission tests for specific study programmes. They are primarily geared to the field of study, such as MCAT for medical students and LSAT for prospective lawyers.

Prove language skills

Most universities expect their international students to provide proof that they are able to communicate in the respective national language when applying for study abroad. Whether basic knowledge is sufficient or the language must be mastered can depend on several factors. It is obvious that Master’s degree and doctoral programmes often require a higher level of language proficiency than Bachelor’s degree programmes. The language requirements may also vary according to the degree programmes, depending on how important the use of language is in each subject area.

Proof is provided either via standardised language tests (e. g. TOEFL or IELTS for English) or via language certificates (such as CAE or CPE from Cambridge English Language Assessment). When applying for individual semester stays abroad, it is often sufficient to provide proof of language skills, such as the DAAD language certificate.

The standardized proof is not only available for English, but also for many other foreign languages. Since the requirements of the universities often differ with regard to the required language level or the number of points to be achieved in the language tests, you should always inform yourself in advance about the necessary levels or scores. After all, it would be very annoying if the application to study abroad fails due to an insufficient proof of language proficiency.