Application for a scholarship as a foreigner

Germany relies on foreign specialists to fill gaps in the market. In order to increase the attractiveness of the abroad program, many scholarships are offered in Germany. Some of these are intended to help particularly foreign students.

A scholarship often also serves as a way to obtain proof of funding, which is required for issuing a visa.

In order to simplify navigation, the article is divided into two sections: on the one hand, the application for a scholarship and, on the other hand, an overview of scholarship programmes with high attractiveness for foreign students.

The criteria for a full scholarship in Germany:

Volunteering and commitment

Many foundations and private companies require that you show great commitment. Only good achievements in school, internships or studies are not enough!

You can show political interest by campaigning for democratic values, giving social minorities a chance or taking social things forward.

But beware: No miracles are expected! Biographical peculiarities such as flight or migration and the associated demographic hurdles are also taken into account.

To prove your commitment, a documentation or a letter of recommendation is usually required

Good school or study achievements

A very important prerequisite for a scholarship is good school performance or academic achievements.

In many cases, students fear that they would need very good grades without being allowed to show weakness. That’s so not true. It is important that you have good grades in those subjects which promise a high chance of success for your studies.

Applications from Germany: How to apply!

If you would like to apply for a scholarship during your studies, it is best to do so during your studies, for example after you have received the grades for at least one semester. In preparation, you should show some form of social commitment in Germany.

What providers are there?

There are 3 groups of providers of scholarships:

a) Specialised scholarships for specific professions
b) Regional or university scholarships
c) Nationwide scholarships (see table)

Name of the provider Scholarship for
Studies / doctorate
application deadline When to apply?
Before studies / whilst studying
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung yes / yes 30. April and 31. October no* / yes
Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung yes / yes 15. April and 15. October no / yes
Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung yes / yes 1. March and 1. September yes / yes

Exception if you comply with § 8 BAföG. Then you can apply before your studies begin!

We think this selection is already very valuable!

Are there any more scholarships?

YES! But many scholarships require that achievements have already been made at the university. Only then can the student receive a letter of recommendation (especially in the case of scholarships within the university). It is seldom (!) possible to receive internal scholarships while still living abroad and not studying.

Private scholarships can be found via free public databases on the Internet, which are also freely accessible. Often, these positions are limited to 10 to 20 scholarship holders, which is why they are not included in our list.

To improve your chances, you should start with an exciting volunteer position as soon as you have the time to do so. This will increase your chances of getting a positive and meaningful letter of recommendation!

What is there to keep in mind?

In order to receive a scholarship in Germany, some prerequisites must be fulfilled. Although only a limited number of students receive a full scholarship, a large number of students receive at least one partial scholarship during their studies in Germany.

There are two typical distinctions when applying for a scholarship:

A) You are not yet a student in Germany
B) You are a student in Germany

Scenario: Not yet a student in Germany

The big advantage for applications before the start of your studies can be that you can be sure about the burden of costs during your studies.

The disadvantage of scholarship applications before the start of your studies is that there are many applicants for the scholarship who all come from abroad.

But that’s no reason to try and apply in Germany anyway.

Applying for a scholarship: Here’s how it works!

If you would like to apply for a scholarship before studying in Germany, it is best to do so after you have sent your application or after receiving your letter of confirmation from a university or college.

What’s the next step?

After you have sent your application, you will usually receive a reply very soon.

As a rule, the scholarship is tied to matriculation in Germany. This means that the scholarship will only be paid out at the beginning of your studies in Germany. (Exceptions may be special scholarships for travel expenses).

Scenario: You are a student in Germany

The big advantage of applications from Germany is that you can really prove your interest with your application.

But there are more advantages…

If you have already achieved very good results during your studies in Germany, you can usually easily get a letter of recommendation for your good achievements from that particular professor.

Applying for a scholarship

The following documents are always needed.

What is required for an application?

1. your motivation letter (usually 2 pages)
2. your curriculum vitae
3. your school-leaving certificate (in German or English, certified)
4. your Bachelor’s certificate (if you apply for a Master’s degree)

Some providers also require proof of knowledge of the German language.


A certified translation is usually obtained from a notary public. Because you already have a certified translation for your application, there are usually no extra costs for you if you send the documents online.

You must also attend the mandatory Foundation events!

Arrival in Germany

Enrollment and Registration
Support: Important Steps

Gain Experience



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