All you need to know to be prepared for Germany
The German university system is amongst the best in the world, with over 300 public universities including both traditional academic institutions and Universities of Applied Sciences. German universities are committed to both excellence in research and internationalism. Consequently, a large number of internationals study for a Doctorate or take a Guest Scientist residency in Germany, either being granted a scholarship, being employed or also being completely self-funded.
Guests scientists, sometimes known as visiting scholars, play an integral role in the German university system. All German universities offer positions for international researchers/scholars, and also welcome international PhD students. Each year in Germany 28,000 students complete a doctorate, 5,000 of those have an international background.
Scholarship holders, PhD students and international Guest Scientists in Germany will find DeGiS network as a vital source of information, support and advice to help them when planning the move to Germany and during their time of studies.
There are two routes to gaining a PhD in Germany, either on a Structured PhD Programme or via an Individual Doctorate. As well as proving academic excellence, applicants will also need to demonstrate a suitable level of German language proficiency in order to apply. Applications are made directly to the university. Once an offer has been made prospective students will often need to open a blocked account and gain health insurance before applying for a visa. These are essential steps and no visa can be acquired without them. Read more in our visa section.
International PhD students will often need to open a Blocked Account and deposit sufficient funds to prove they can cover their living costs for the duration of their studies. This account needs to be opened before a visa will be granted. Guests Scientists usually do not need a Blocked Account but will need their invitation letter from the university, proof of agreed payment or allowances or a scholarship contract in order to apply for a visa.
It is mandatory by law that all residents of Germany have health insurance, and this includes foreign academics, i.e. Scholarship holders, self-funded Guest Scientists and PhD candidates from outside the EU/EEA. Most of the population have public healthcare insurance whereas this is not always possible for foreign academics. Therefore, please read the DeGiS health insurance guide with particular attention.
If you have an employment contract in Germany or if you are an international PhD candidate and have been covered by statutory health insurance from any European country in the past, you can conclude any statutory health insurance. All other Scholarship holders, self-funded Guest Scientists and PhD candidates from outside the EU/EEA only have the option of taking out private health insurance in Germany.
For the private health insurance cover, you can opt for one of the most prominent providers:
Please be advised that the above mentioned tariffs may not cover all the treatments you wish to have covered (like the inclusion of pre-existing conditions, preventive assessments, existing pregnancy & childbirth, high-quality tooth treatments, etc.). Please also pay attention that depending on the local Foreigners Office handling the residence permit application, the above-mentioned tariffs might not be accepted as they do not qualify as a so-called “substitutive” health insurance, so basically they do not offer the coverage on the same level as the public health insurance. Therefore, DeGiS always recommends concluding a “substitutive” private health insurance for a stay of more than 90 days. Several providers do offer a private health insurances qualifying as sufficient, but only a few tailor them to the special need of foreign academics, as listed below.
|Name tariff||DeGiS 1||DAAD||DeGiS 2||FlexMed Global|
|Insurer||(Care Concept & Hanse Merkur)||(Continentale)||(Hallesche)||(AXA)|
|Acceptance group||Open for every scholarship holder.||Open for every scholarship holder from DAAD partner universities.||Open for every scholarship holder.||Only for scholarship holders from Max Planck Institute or Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.|
|Acceptance age||Up to 34 years||Up to 55 years||Up to 64 years||Up to 79 years|
|Acceptance health condition||Detailed health questionnaire. Exclusion of customers with severe pre-conditions.||Exclusion of customers with the following pre-conditions: HIV, cancer, kidney failure, blood disease or multiple sclerosis.||Open to all applicants, also with severe pre-conditions.||Open to all applicants, also with severe pre-conditions.|
|Price||Between €69,62 and €95,68 per month, depending on age.||Flat €160 per month.||Between €182,25 per month and €513,81, depending on age.||Between €188,86 and 981,52 per month, depending on age.|
|Other factors||Liability and accident insurance can be added for €6 per month.||Price includes liability and accident insurance, worth ~€6 per month (see DeGiS 1).||Has to be concluded within 6 weeks after coming to Germany.||/|
|Conclusion||Good coverage for a great price - fist choice for young and healthy scholars with no or non-severe pre-conditions.||Good coverage with a high price - available also for older scholars with certain pre-conditions.||Good coverage for a high price - ideal for scholars with pre-conditions, also severe ones.||Good coverage for a high price - ideal for scholars with pre-conditions, also severe ones, but only for MPI and AvH scholars.|
|Link||DeGiS 1||DAAD||DeGiS 2||FlexMed Global|
The German Association for international students (DeGiS) has developed the group insurance 1 together with Care Concept, is open to every scholarship holder and usually offers a comparably cheap price with comparably high coverage. It can be concluded up to the age of 34 and starts from €69,62 per month with the maximum price of €95,68. If desired by the applicant, a private liability and accident insurance from Care Concept can be added for a small additional cost or concluded separately with another provider. The advantage is the cheap price, the disadvantage is, that it is only possible to conclude for young scholarship holder in a good health condition with no or little pre-existing conditions – in other cases, the insurance might reject your application. More information in different languages and the application can be found here: DeGiS 1
If you are a scholarship holder at a partner organization of the DAAD, it is possible to insure yourself in the DAAD’s group insurance. The price for this tariff is €160 including a basic private liability and accident insurance. The advantage of this tariff is, that also persons over 55 years of age can insure themselves, with the possibility of also getting insured if pre-existing conditions would exclude the scholar from other alternatives (excluding HIV, cancer, kidney failure, blood disease or multiple sclerosis). More information and the application can be found here: DAAD
DeGiS has also developed the group insurance 2 together with Hallesche. It is open to every scholarship holder. It can be concluded up to the age of 64 and with exemplarily costs of €213,38 per month for a 30-year-old scholar and €219,48 for a 35-year-old one, with the possibility of also getting insured if pre-existing conditions would exclude the scholar from other alternatives. More information and the application can be found here: DeGiS 2
If you are a scholarship holder with Max Planck Society or Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, you can also apply for private health insurance coverage with FlexMed Global starting at €188,86 per month with the possibility of also getting insured if pre-existing conditions would exclude the scholar from other alternatives. More information and the application can be found here: FlexMed Global
There are many different providers and possibilities for health insurance coverage. DeGiS strongly advises international scholarship holders, PhDs or self-funded Guest Scientists to compare the available options and make a sound decision based on the price and coverage.The DeGiS group insurance 1 offers by far the cheapest price for young and healthy scholars, whereas for all others the DAAD tariff is advisable. In case of pre-existing conditions which are not covered by DAAD, the DeGiS group insurance 2 is the only choice. In case of questions, applicants can contact the dedicated DeGiS insurance department (Referat 4: Visum & Versicherungen) for further information under email@example.com.