Skip to main Go to bottom

International Students at the Catholic University of the Applied Sciences

A warm welcome! Bienvenue à tous! Un caloroso benvenuto a voi! Een warm welkom voor u! The Catholic University of Applied Sciences of North Rhine-Westphalia (katho) warmly welcomes its students from abroad. A wide-ranging course of study, a real exchange on equal terms, a diverse range of activities in and outside the university, a welcome with open arms – that’s what makes studying at the katho so special.  

We are Germany’s largest church-sponsored university with state certification. Our 5,491 students are spread over campuses in Aachen, Cologne, Münster and Paderborn and attend degree programmes in social services, health science and practical theology. Our university is open to all students regardless of religious affiliation.

Our degree programmes provide academic rigor and a practical purpose while preparing students to help make a more humane society.

The Catholic University of Applied Sciences offers a low teacher-student ratio, a personal atmosphere, well-structured curricula and opportunities for applying theory to practice.

„For me, it was important where I would study - and at katho you can choose between four different locations in North Rhine-Westphalia. What I really liked right away was that the lecturers and students are in personal contact. I was welcomed with open arms, so I felt at home. That is something I value very highly."

Vanesa, exchange student (Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski, Bulgaria)

Exchange students

Students interested in expanding their horizons and making new contacts in Germany can complete a one-semester exchange at the Catholic University of Applied Sciences.  

Inform yourself of the various options below or contact us at incoming(at) for more information.

This course addresses central topics in social work. It is geared towards international exchange students and is offered every summer semester. Participants acquire 30 ECTS credit for successfully completing the course.

For more information, see Social Work and Exclusion.

Exchange students may attend some of the courses from our regular degree programmes. Please consult the instructor or the International Office beforehand. Because most courses take place in German, a German-language level of B2 or greater is required. Some courses will take place in English.

The application process for an exchange semester at the Catholic University of Applied Sciences differs depending on whether your home university is part of the Erasmus programme or has a separate cooperation agreement with us, or whether it is outside our partner network.


If your university is part of the Erasmus programme, report to your International Office. As soon as we have received an official nomination from your university, we will send you the documents for registration.

Cooperation agreement

If your university has a separate cooperation agreement with us, follow the same procedure above.

No agreement: Free Mover

If your university has neither an Erasmus agreement nor a separate cooperation agreement with us, you are known as a “free mover” and must apply directly. Contact us at incomings(at) Ask the International Office of your university about whether they offer any funding opportunities.

English study programme: "The most precious time in my study life so far"

In summer term 2022, nine exchange students from various international partner universities participated in the study programme "Social Work and Exclusion". The programme was held in English and encompassed courses at katho’s departements in Münster and Cologne. It also offered opportunities for networking with fellow students on site through a buddy programme and cultural events.

"It's hard to believe that it's already over. Germany is so diverse and interesting. For me, the semester at katho was the most valuable time in my study life so far," enthuses a participant in the English-language study programme "Social Work and Exclusion" at katho. Once again, students from all over the world were guests at the Rhenish-Westphalian university to enrich their studies in applied social sciences with a new perspective. 30 ECTS can be earned each summer semester at the Münster and Cologne campuses. The seminars, which are conducted in English, cover a repertoire of topics within social work. Students of special education or other related fields also find thematically interesting teaching content on social inequality, poverty, domestic violence, human rights, the medical background of disabilities, sex education, racism in times of the Nazi regime, intercultural competence and research methods. International students sit and learn alongside their local fellow students - intercultural exchange in the seminar room is included. In addition, the international students reflect on their stay abroad in courses which are planned especially for them. They visit social work institutions and use theatre techniques to learn first phrases of the German language. Those who have already mastered the German language at a higher level can choose freely from the entire range of courses offered. At the end of the study programme, participants take examinations. A transcript of records is issued, which they can use to have course content credited at their home universities.


Service (accommodation, buddy programme etc.)

Also in 2022, the majority of the seminars were located at the Münster campus, where the students also lived. Some other courses (mostly in block form) took place in Cologne. The guest students thus had the chance to breathe the air of the Rhenish cathedral city and at the same time get to know to another katho location. This concept will be continued in the future.

A buddy programme brought together local and international students. Regular katho students helped the international guests throughout the entire period of their stay: pick-up from the train station, arrival at the dormitory, first steps in Münster. The buddies were also available as contact persons at the university. In addition to a guided campus tour, they explained the electronic systems and showed the most important teaching and meeting places for students. The mentors themselves had the chance to gain intercultural experience, improve their foreign language skills and, of course, make international friends in the process. The buddies were there for, of course - a social contact, a friend in the initially unfamiliar city: so they met the international guests for a coffee, went on an excursion to the surrounding area of Muensterland, met for a sociable pub tour in the old town or had a picnic together at the local lake. Some internationals also took part in the annual katho camp. This event is organised by a student organising committee. From 27 to 29 May, almost 200 katho students spent two nights at the campsite in Ankum. A colourful programme awaited them with workshops, parties, campfires, a flunkyball tournament and of course lots of fun and games!


„katho goes Berlin“

But destinations outside the region were explored as well. Already before the study programme started, the motto was "katho goes Berlin". Besides the international students, regularly enrolled students from all four departments took part in the four-day Berlin excursion organised by the International Office.

Thanks to a multi-faceted programme, they were able to gain numerous insights into German history and the present, into the political structures of the Federal Republic of Germany and, of course, into the modern life of Berlin itself. In addition to the classic city tours and guided walks, there was also a visit to the Hohenschönhausen memorial and a guided tour of the Kreuzberg neighbourhood.

Another central aspect of the Berlin excursion is, of course, always socialising. Despite the tired feet from the day's programme, people took their rest jointly, gathered in the evening, reviewed the events of the day and thus got to know to each other better.


„The experience and planning was excellent as we had time to learn and also had fun and the possibility to get to know each other better“. 

[Quote from a feedback sheet]


Cologne – the heart of the world

That's how the people of Cologne like to describe their city -one more reason to visit the town with the world-famous cathedral. On the occasion of the study programme at the Cologne campus the exchange students were offered a guided tour of the cathedral and the city, climbed the viewing platform "Köln Triangle Cologne View" and visited a typical Kölsch brewery. Here again, domestic students participated as well.

The programme allowed the participants - in addition to getting to know the city of Cologne - to meet people of other nationalities and improve their intercultural and language skills.



International studies in 2023

The programme will be offered again in the summer semester 2023. Information on the seminar programme is already online:


For more detailled information, please contact the International Office:

Degree-seeking students

The Catholic University of Applied Sciences offers nine bachelor’s degree programmes (in social services, health science and practical theology) and two master’s degree programmes (in social services and health science). Some degree programmes are offered at multiple campuses and in different variants.

For more information on our degree programmes, have a look at the list of degree programm (only available in German).

For general information on the application process, deadlines and our online application portal, see the application pages (only available in German).

University entrance qualification: Along with the general admission requirements for each programme of study, the university will review your university entrance qualification (typically a secondary school diploma) to see if it meets the criteria for Germany.

You can check whether you meet the requirements for study in Germany by consulting the DAAD Database on Admission Requirements.

Language skills: Students must demonstrate sufficient German language skills by receiving passing marks on one of the following exams:  Test Deutsch als Fremdsprache (TestDaF), Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang (DSH-Prüfung) or the German section of the assessment test.

All students pay a fee for social services and public transport each semester. The amount of the fee is determined anew each semester. The fee includes:

Social services: Part of the study fee goes to funding local student services. 

A public transport pass: The study fee also includes a public transport pass, allowing you to travel free of charge throughout North Rhine – Westphalia. 

AStA fee: Another part of the study fee supports the work of the Allgemeiner Studierendenausschuss, a student-run committee representing all students at the university.

Living and studying in Germany

You will no doubt have many questions about studying in Germany, both before and after you arrive. Below we provide answers to some of the most important questions..  

If you have a concrete planning question that we do not address here, contact us directly at: international(at)

Preparing for your stay

  • EU and EEA countries and Switzerland: No
  • Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, South Korea, New Zealand, USA, United Kingdom and North Ireland: No.
  • Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco and San Marino: No, provided that students do not take up employment
  • All other countries: Yes

You can find an overview of country visa requirements or exemptions here: Federal Foreign Office.

The type of visa you need depends on the purpose of your stay and the applicable requirements. Please ask your country’s German mission about the visa issuing procedure at least one year before you’ll need the visa.

  • Language course visa
    Valid for the duration of the course. Cannot be converted to a different visa in Germany. 
  • Student applicant visa
    For those who have applied to a German university but have not yet been admitted. Valid for three months. Can be converted to a student visa after gaining entry to the university. 
  • Student visa
    For those admitted to a university or a “Studienkolleg”

Note: You may not use a Schengen visa to study in Germany. Schengen visas cannot be converted to student visas in Germany. 
More information on visa applications can be found on the website of the Federal Foreign Office.

  • EU and EEA countries: No, but you must register with the residents’ registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt)
  • Switzerland: Residence permit for CH
  • All other countries: Yes

Information on applying for residence permits can be found on the webpage of the Deutsches Studentenwerk.

  • EU and EEA countries together with Switzerland
    When reporting to the residents’ registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt), students must show that their cost of living is covered. For instance, this could take the form of a document demonstrating the receipt of a scholarship or showing the income and assets of parents, or a letter promising to support the student from a person residing in Germany.
  • All other countries
    When applying for a visa or a residence permit, students must demonstrate sufficient funding for their studies. As above, this could take the form of a document demonstrating the receipt of a scholarship or showing the income and assets of parents, or a letter promising to support the student from a person residing in Germany.

    Citizens of some countries must show that they have set up a blocked bank account at a German credit institute containing a fixed sum. 

More information on how to demonstrate sufficient funding (amount, forms) and create a blocked account can be found on the webpages of the  

For an extensive catalogue of scholarships, grants and stipends, see the database assembled by the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service).

Everyone in Germany is required to have health insurance. You must demonstrate proof of health insurance valid in Germany when you enrol at the university and when you apply for or extend your residence permit.

Students from the EU/EEA states or Switzerland are legally required to have insurance in their home countries. Hence, they need only submit their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to a German state health insurer to have their health insurance recognized. Students from these countries who have a side-job or are completing a paid internship must nevertheless have obtain German insurance.

Additionally, Germany has social insurance treaties with the following countries: Bosnia and  Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey and Tunisia. The treaties may entitle students from these countries to insurance in Germany, provided that they can demonstrate proof of state insurance in their home country. 

If your health insurance is not recognized in Germany, you must obtain insurance from a German provider. As a rule, students in Germany have insurance from a state insurer. 

More information on health insurance can be found on the webpages of the German Academic Exchange Servive (DAAD) and the Deutsches Studierendenwerk.

Student life in Germany

Finding a room or a flat in Germany can be difficult. It is best if you start before arrival.  

On average, living expenses for students in Germany total around 850 euros per month. (The figure is based on the 2019 survey carried out by the Deutsches Studentenwerk.)

Further details can be found, for example, on the DAAD website.

Students from EU and EEA states and Switzerland may work in Germany. However, those who work more than 20 hours a week must pay into the social insurance system. Students who work a part-time job or accept paid internships must have German health insurance.

International students from outside the EU are subject to the employment restrictions of their student visa and may not work more than 120 full days or 240 half days per year.

More information on working while a student in Germany can be found on the webpages of the German Academic Exchange Service and the Deutsches Studierendenwerk.

Numerous associations, student initiatives and student organisations offer assistance and events designed to facilitate social life for international students.  

Student unions: Studierendenwerk Aachen / Studierendenwerk Cologne / Studierendenwerk Münster / Studierendenwerk Paderborn

Student initiatives: ESN Köln; Erasmus Münster e.V.; AEGEE Aachen

Student organisations: KHG Cologne, KHG Aachen, KSHG Münster, ESG Aachen, ESG Cologne, ESG Münster

Aachen, Cologne, Münster, Paderborn – each of our locations offers its own unique environment for students.


Back to top