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Study for a graduate program in Cologne

Population: 1,017,000

City overview

As Germany’s fourth largest city and the largest city in the Rhine-Westphalia region, Cologne is a major destination for international students. Known as a media Mecca, this exciting city is home to more than 85,000 students.

Separated by the Rhine river, Cologne is a hub of industry in Germany, with several international trade fairs, car manufacturing and media stations all being based in the city. It’s large student numbers give the city a youthful feel, with plenty of bars, museums and gig venues spread out across the city for you to enjoy.

Education profile

Cologne is home to one of Europe’s oldest universities in the University of Cologne, but it also has several other well-regarded institutions where international students can study at, as well as the high-ranking Cologne business school.

You can study a graduate program in Cologne at some of the following institutions:

Graduate programs in Cologne generally last two years for taught courses, with research programs and PhDs taking up to three years to complete. 

Although international degrees are taught in English, many postgraduate courses will be taught in German. As such, you may have to take the German Language University Entrance Examination (DSH) to check your language suitability.

Immigration and visas

EU citizens are permitted to take a graduate course in Cologne without a visa providing they can demonstrate the following:

  • You are studying for more than three months
  • You have sufficient income or savings to support yourself during your studies
  • You are enrolled at an approved or accredited institution

Non-EU students will need to apply for a student visa (studentenvisum), which will normally be issued for an initial three month period before being extended on arrival. You cannot come to study in Germany on a tourist visa.

Life in Cologne

Cologne is well known as a cultural centre in Germany, with more than 30 museums to visit, several orchestras and an annual literary festival known as Lit Cologne. Its large number of students means that there are plenty of gig venues, bars and restaurants for international students to visit – Cologne even has its own beer known as Kolsch!

One of the biggest parties in Cologne happens every November. The Cologne carnival is one of Europe’s largest street festivals, starting each year at 11 minutes past 11am on November the 11th, continuing until Ash Wednesday. Expect to see street dancing, packed pubs and bars and a real party atmosphere.

One of the most popular areas for students to congregate in is the Aachener Weiher, a large pond located near Cologne University with plenty of parkland around it. As soon as summer hits expect BBQs, picnics and plenty of brewhouse beer.

Working in Cologne

Non-EU international students wanting to stay on to work in Cologne after their postgraduate course will need to apply for a work visa.
Cologne is well known in Germany for its media companies, with several TV production companies and publishing houses all based in the city, including RTL and Deutschlandradio. Another major employer in Cologne is insurance services, with AXA insurance and Zurich Financial Services both opting to base national headquarters in the city.

The largest employer in Cologne is Ford Europe, while Lufthansa, Germany’s national airline, has its main corporate headquarters in the city.

Accommodation

When coming to Cologne to study on a postgraduate course you will obviously have to find somewhere to live. Most students opt to live in postgraduate halls of accommodation provided by the university, as this is the easiest way to settle into university life and get to know fellow students.

Another option is to live in student accommodation that is run privately, and so is independent of your university. These residence halls will be shared with other students and may cost you around €200 per month, with all utilities included. A good place to look is through Deutsche Studentenwerk.

Weather and climate

Cologne is known as one of the warmest cities in Germany, with mild winters and warm summers. The main summer months run from June to August, with winter at its coldest between December and February. Despite its warmth, Cologne is actually pretty gloomy, receiving just 1427 hours of sun a year.

The city is regularly affected by flooding from the Rhine and is known as one of the most flood-prone cities in Europe.

What to do next

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