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The GLS High School Team in Berlin

High School Germany: Questions?

If you have questions concerning the academic high school program in Germany, just contact us! Maybe we can answer some of your questions already here:

Visa: EU and Non EU countries

As a EU citizen you do not need a visa for attendance of a German school (please note: important is EU citizenship - if you are living in the EU, but are a Non EU national, different visa regulationas may apply).

If you aren´t sure about your country, please check this list with the webadresses of all German embassies worldwide, so you can contact them directly and ask for instructions.


If you need a visa, we will establish a contact with a GLS partner in your home country who will support you in visa matters and guide you through the whole high school application.


As an exchange student you are obliged to have an accident, illness and health insurance which can be booked through GLS. If you organise insurance independently, GLS needs to check the papers to decide if all requirements are met. Your future host family will also receive a copy of the insurance brochure. The insurance brochure contains a claim form. Some doctors will ask for the claim form so that they can submit the bill to the insurance company themselves. Other doctors require payment when treatment is rendered. In such cases, you are responsible for the payment, and will be reimbursed later by the insurance company upon handing in the claim form and a copy of the paid bill.


  • Age: State schools - minimum age 14 years, maximum age 18 years at the time of arrival in Germany. Private and international schools - minimum age 11 and maximum age 18
  • Language requirements: Ideally German at level A2 and good knowledge of English
  • Academic requirements: ideally you are a good student, but even if your grades are mediocre, it is not a real obstactle. What you need is interest and enthusiasm
  • Personality: All school types - Necessary maturity and independence to study successfully at a German school and to adapt to life as a member of a German family; Willingness and understanding that you must follow GLS’ rules and regulations while participating in the GLS program

Then there are 2 options: Option 1 is to apply for an international school, where you need very good English, but German isn´t mandatory.

If you do NOT want an international school, but a German state or private school, you can do a German language course at the GLS German language school in Berlin beforehand. How long this preparatory course will last, whether 4, 6 or 8 weeks, depends on your level of German. Please note that an application for a high school program at a state school doesn´t make sense, if you don´t speak any German at all.

How and when to apply

Anytime all year round, if you opt for a stay of 2, 3 or 4 months. If you´d like to stay for half a year or even 11 months, then you can start in either autumn (usually Sptember) or spring (usually February). As Germany is a federal republic with different countries, starting dates may vary a bit from country to country.

When should I apply?
Ideally 6 months before your planned arrival Germany. We need some time to collect all documents, find a host family for you and talk to school officials. You can apply online by filling in the enrollment form for junior course.

After having sent your enrollment, you will receive a detailed application form that we ask you to fill in and to return together with a first payment of EURO 500. If you applied for a private or international school, we will also send you profiles of selected schools we cooperate with. In the detailed application form you will be asked

  • to give some more information about yourself, your hobbies, your family
  • to write a short essay on your motivation for wanting to attend a school in Germany
  • to write a letter to your prospective host family, introducing yourself
  • to provide a teacher´s comment on your level of German
  • to send a transcript of grades
  • to send a recommendation by your school
  • to include a medical statement

As soon as we receive this detailed application form together with the deposit of Euro 500, we can start the placement process: Now we have all the information necessary for finding a host family and a school that match both your expectations and your personal background.


A deposit of Euro 500 is due together with returning the detailed application form described above. Please note that we can not start the placement process without having received the deposit, and that a delay in paying the deposit entails a delay in the placement process, so that you may not be able to start school in time. Rest payment is due 4 weeks prior to your starting school in Germany.

Placement at a German school

Either by contacting schools where we already placed exchange students before or by follwing recommendations, that your prospective host family gives.

The most obvious difference between these 3 school types are prices: Private and international schools are several times as expensive as state schools, which doesn´t necessarily mean higher academic standards, but is due both to school fees and to extra services offered such as accommodation in a boarding house. (State schools are cheaper, because they don´t take fees, what you pay for are placement fees, GLS tutoring by a local coordinator and an expense allowance for your host family.)

A second difference are language requirements: Both at state and private schools you need to speak German on intermediate level at least (i.e. at least 3 years of German in school or Certificate of German as a Foreign Language (ZD)). At an international school, however, you do not need to speak German: Knowledge of German is desirable, but not obligatory - obligatory at an international school is very good English.

The third difference affects the duration of your high school program: At a state school can can stay for a maximum of 11 months; at a private or international school you can stay as long as you like.

And the fourth difference: At a private school you can do "Abitur", and at an international school the "International Baccalaureate" which is accepted by universities worldwide. Prerequisite: a stay of minimum 2 or 3 years, as both "Abitur" and "International Baccalaureate" don´t mean just a final exam session, but include all credits you collected during the two years prior to final exams. ( Please note: you can NOT do "Abitur" or "International Baccalaureate" at a state school, bcause at state schools you are not allowed to stay longer than 11 months, i.e. not long enough to qualify for "Abitur").

Abitur & school certificates

Abitur: If you attend a private school: yes - at a state school: no. The reason is this: The "Abitur" isn´t just a final exam session, but includes all credits you collected during the two years prior to final exams. Which means, that you need at least 2 years at a German high school in order to do "Abitur". And this - an attendance of minimum two years - is possible at private schools only: As they take fees, they will accommodate you as long as you pay. State schools, however, insist on a maximum duration of 11 months, which cannot be extended. To sum it up: If you want to do the "Abitur", you have to spend at least 2 years at a private school.

International Baccalaureate: The IB is absolutely equivalent to "Abitur", recognized as university entrance diploma both in Germany and abroad. An International Baccalaureate you can do only at an international school. And to do the IB, you have to attend an international school for at least 2 years.

Whether you stay for just 3 months or a full academic year - your German school will issue a certificate, that will document how long you attended that school and in what class. It usually also includes a comment on your academic performance. This certificate certainly will be of great help later on, when you start looking for a job: Potential employers will see, that you showed initiative by going abroad and stood the test of having lived in a foreign environment for some time. Plus, of course, having a German school certificate will imply, that you speak German quite well and are familiar with German culture.

Yes, if you are a EU citizen and did your "Abitur" / "International Baccalaureate" with good grades. If you did pass your "Abitur", but need a visa, you may have to go back to your home country first in order to get the type of visa needed for university studies, obtainable only with acceptance letter by a German university.

Host family

GLS does high school programs both way - receiving foreign students in Germany and sending German students abroad. Quite often German families whose son or daughter is on a GLS high school program in Brazil for example, or in Australia, decide to take in a foreign student while their kids are abroad. A second source are friends and aquaintances of GLS staff at the Berlin office as well as at other GLS offices all over Germany.

There is no such thing as a typical host family. Your hosts can be a single mother as well as a complete family, a professor as well as a factory worker. Decisive is their interest in cultural exchange and their willingness, to integrate you in their everyday life. All host families are carefully selected and inspected, and all are fully briefed on their responsibilities.

Your host family provides full board - breakfast, evening meal and packed lunch Monday to Friday; breakfast, lunch and evening meal on Saturday and Sunday. We ask the host family to cook as they would for themselves. You have access to usual facilities such as showers/baths, laundry (normal family laundry), use of telephone (on a pay-as-you-use basis), access to common living areas, etc. 

If they want to do so, we strongly recommend that they visit you after you finished your high school program. According to experience, it´s no good idea to come while you are still in the process of integrating into your German host family. Often you´ll find yourself torn between obligations to both "old" and "new" family, and your German host family may be made to feel a bit uncomfortable as well.

GLS experience & services

GLS has been placing foreign students at German high schools for more than 10 years now, and even longer, since 1983, we have been sending Germans abroad to high school programs in the Americas, to Australia, Asia, Africa and several European countries. GLS is a member of DFH Deutscher Fachverband High School (German Association for High School Programs).

Included in the program price are the following services:

  • starter weeked on the GLS campus in Berlin (in FEB and AUG)
  • placement at a German high school
  • accommodation as booked, in a dormitory or in a carefully chosen host family, single room, full board
  • supervision by a member of GLS staff
  • providing of all necessary information material
  • a certificate of attendance, issued by the German high school
  • 3 GLS reports per year, 2 per semester
  • transfer from the nearest airport or station to accommodation
  • letter of invitation for visa application
  • help with all questions and problems from GLS office Berlin and the respective regional office

Not included are:

  • pocket money - ca. Euro 150 - Euro 200 per month
  • books and course material
  • travelling expenses between school and accommodation
  • insurance - ca. Euro 40 per month (obligatory)
  • preparatory German language course