A. Prerequisites and preparation

show Content A 1. Am I an eligible candidate for the M.Sc. Photonics program?

The answer strongly depends on your previous education. You should have a Bachelor's (B.Sc.) degree in Physics or Engineering Sciences. In the latter case, eligibility will strongly depend on your background in physics and mathematics. If you have a Bachelor's degree in Computer Sciences, Computer Engineering or Telecommunication Engineering you might also be an eligible candidate for the Master's degree program.

Students commencing their studies at our School should ideally have basic or in-depth knowledge in

  • mathematics (complex numbers and functions, function theory, linear and vector algebra, ordinary and partial differential equations, vector analysis, integral theory) 
  • physics (electromagnetic field theory/Maxwell's equations, solid state physics).

Please emphasize your experience in the field of optics or photonics within your academic education or your professional career in your Curriculum Vitae as well as in your Letter of Motivation.

show Content A 2. Which English language proficiency level or test is required?

Proof of your English skills is a requirement for admission. Since the Master of Science in Photonics is an all-English program, applicants should be proficient in both written and spoken English. Please see our preferred score levels below. While we understand that the results of these language proficiency tests do not perfectly reflect your real capabilities, we believe that the following test scores (minimum points/grades) indicate a level at which you will be well prepared for the courses of our Master's degree program:

  • TOEFL PBT (550)
  • TOEFL CBT (215)
  • TOEFL IBT (85)
  • TOEIC (780)
  • IELTS (6.5)
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE) or Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE)

Please note: We do not accept TOEFL ITP assessment tests.

(Due to COVID-19 we will not insist on a renewal if your test has already expired, but please double check with your visa requirements.)

The following students are exempt from providing proof of their English proficiency:

  • Nationals from the USA, U.K., Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, or BSc and MSc graduates who obtained their qualifications in one of these countries.
  • BSc and MSc graduates who have been taught their previous higher academic education completely in English (language statement from the University is required)
  • If you have received a German Abitur and have taken English classes at a German Gymnasium for a minimum of 8 years, we will also accept your Abitur as sufficient proof of your English language skills.

We encourage you, however, to provide us with an additional language certificate to elevate your chances of acceptance.

show Content A 3. I have not yet taken an English proficiency test. Can I apply without one?

Proof of your English skills is a requirement for admission. Therefore, the Online Application System will ask you for a valid English proficiency test. If you cannot submit the test right away, you will be asked to indicate a date on which you will take the test. You will have to provide it before the final application deadline.

Please be aware that in some countries, such as Bangladesh for instance, German embassies require a valid TOEFL or IELTS test score for processing visa applications, even if you have been accepted at a university without such proof. In this case you should make sure that a missing English test result will not inconvenience your visa application.

(Due to COVID-19 we will not insist on a renewal if your test has already expired, but please double check with your visa requirements!)

show Content A 4. What is meant by "Native Language/Bilingual", "Medium of Instruction", or "English as a Foreign Language"?

We regard strong language skills as a crucial prerequisite for our Master of Science in Photonics program. Since the terms "Native language/Bilingual", "Medium of Instruction" and "English as a foreign language" are the basis for your application, we would like to clarify their definitions. Please take your own situation and background into careful consideration before choosing the option which applies to you.

Native Language/Bilingual: If English is your first language (mother tongue), you are a native speaker. If English is one of 2 or more of your first languages, you are bilingual.

Medium of Instruction: If your previous academic education (e.g., at university) has been conducted entirely in the English language, we consider English to be the "Medium of Instruction" within the scope of your academic career. In this case, please provide us with proof of this, for example an official letter from the Registrar's Office of your university or with a note to this effect on your Transcript of Records. Please note: Statements of attendance to language courses offered by your university or claiming that your pre-academic education (e.g., in school) was offered in English are not sufficient proof for the option "Medium of Instruction".

English as Foreign Language: In all cases not covered above, English is regarded as a foreign language. This includes: if you grew up in an environment, in which English is an official language, but not commonly spoken; if you have learned English in your primary or secondary education; or if English was only part of your academic education.

show Content A 5. Do I need German language abilities as a requirement for the program?

No, German is not a requirement for acceptance and admission. We especially do NOT require any DSH (German language proficiency test for entrance to a German higher education institution), TestDAF, attendance to a Studienkolleg (German study preparatory course) or Feststellungsprüfung (German certification for the ability to study in a German university).

However, we strongly recommend engaging with the German language in order to integrate into the culture and manage daily life. For this reason, the Abbe School of Photonics offers a presessional German language course to all of its international students in September each year in addition to German language courses during the study period. This course is highly advisable, and students benefit a lot from this course.

show Content A 6. Are there particular requirements concerning my GPA or the GRE?

We do not set any requirements for our applicant's GPAs (Grade point average) since these numbers differ enormously depending on the university and the country. The Online Application System will ask you for several certificates and your Transcript of Records. We will base our decision mainly on these documents. For this reason, we ask you to provide us with your GPA as stated on your certificates and diploma. See also here.

A Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or any other similar test is not required and will not be taken into consideration for your application.

show Content A 7. What should my CV include?

In Germany, we expect the CV to be a chronological list (with dates) of all the stages of your professional career, including school. We consider it an advantage if there are no gaps in your CV, so please take the time to list all successive chapters of your life thus far.

show Content A 8. How much will my studies in Germany cost? What expenses will I have each month?

Living expenses in Germany are very dependent on your lifestyle, which city you stay in, and which university you are enrolled at. For Jena, it is recommended to have about 860 Euro available per month. For a rough estimation, the following expenses must be taken into consideration:

Living expenses: When it comes to accommodation there are many options. The first and best option is to stay in a university dormitory (Studentenwohnheim), because the fee is subsidized. Monthly rent will cost you approximately 150 - 300 Euro. In addition, you will need some budget (at least 200 Euro / month) for food, drinks, and other living expenses such as communication costs, entertainment, travel expenses etc., which will cost you around 100 - 300 Euro. The university is equipped with cafeterias and dining halls (Mensa). The meals offered in the Mensa come at favorable prices, compared to having lunch in a restaurant or Imbiss (kind of snack bar). Another option is: cooking at home (which is cheaper). A broadcasting fee has to be paid (follow the link for the details).

Semester contribution: While our students do not have to pay any tuition fees, a semester contribution must be paid in order to matriculate. The semester contribution is approximately 240 Euro. This amount covers the fees for the Student Government Body (Studentenschaft), Student Services (Studierendenwerk) and the Semester Ticket. The Semester Ticket allows all students to travel by public transport within Jena (JeNah) and by regional trains within Thuringia (Deutsche Bahn). First-semester students must pay an additional one-time fee of 20 Euro to obtain their student ID card, called THOSKA.

Insurance: For students, health insurance costs ca. 105 Euro per month (= 85 Euro health insurance fee + compulsory long-term care insurance ca. 15 Euro + a small administrative fee of ca. 4-6 Euro depending on the health insurance company, for all students under the age of 31. The Abbe School of Photonics recommends students to organize their health insurance through the Abbe School of Photonics, rather than on their own. All students in Germany are required to be insured by law. Students are expected to be insured starting from the first day of their first semester (i.e., beginning October 1st for winter term, regardless of date of arrival). This reduced student fee applies to all students under 31 years of age and if their home country has no bilateral agreements on recognition of local health insurance in Germany. A different price rate applies to students over 31 years of age or with children. The university will not accept any private travel or emergency insurances as proof of insurance. The Abbe School of Photonics recommends, however, that students have travel insurance for their journey to Jena and for the time before the semester starts on October 1st).

Books and course materials: Many books and course materials can be borrowed at the university library for free. However, there may be additional materials that you might need to purchase. Calculate approximately 100 Euro per semester for these costs (copies, books, course material etc.).

Electronics devices: Since some parts of teaching will take place online, you will need a computer or laptop with a microphone and a camera.

show Content A 9. Do I need a German visa? How long will it take me to get one?

In general, you will need a visa, but don’t worry, it is comparatively easy and straight forward to get a visa for studying in Germany. The timeframe to get a German visa granted will vary from country to country and may take up to several months. Please ask the German embassy of your home country about the procedure as soon as possible after your application and make sure you apply early enough.

Citizens of certain countries can enter Germany without a visa:

  • EU members or the Schengen Treaty
  • Citizens of Australia, Canada, Honduras, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Norway, San Marino, Serbia, Switzerland and USA

All other applicants must apply for a student visa in their home country before departure. You can find a short overview of Visa requirements and exemptions for entry into the Federal Republic of Germany here.

If you do not have a valid passport, you should immediately apply for a new one. The issuance of a new passport can take many weeks. Accepted students should submit their Acceptance Letter from the Abbe School of Photonics to the embassy along with the visa application as soon as possible. Ask the German embassy in your home country about the visa requirements and how long the entire process of visa application might take. Do not - under any circumstances - enter Germany with a tourist visa.

Nevertheless, to have a valid passport and an appropriate visa when entering the German Federal Republic is your own responsibility. Please double check the requirements for your personal case with the German embassy in your home country.

show Content A 10. I do not have a passport. Can I submit my application anyhow?

For your application at the Abbe School of Photonics we accept a copy of your passport as well as copies of other identifying documents like an ID-card or a driver's license, if they are issued using the Latin alphabet. However, in order to enter Germany and successfully enroll at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena you will need a passport. Therefore, you should make sure that you apply for a passport as soon as possible after your acceptance.

show Content A 11. May I apply although I have not (yet) finished my current academic degree?

Yes, you can apply with a preliminary Transcript of Records including all completed courses (or any other overview of attended classes and achieved grades officially issued by your education institution) thus far. This document needs to be uploaded to our Online Application System, as it is required to evaluate your application.

However, the earlier we receive your Academic Degree Certificate and your official Transcript of Records the better. Please provide us with both documents as scanned PDF-files as soon as possible. If these certificates are not issued in the German or English language please also provide a certified translation.

Your Academic Degree Certificates and your Transcript of Records (as well as certified translations if necessary) will have to been shown upon your enrollment at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena at the latest.