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 studying in 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) and
  • physics (electromagnetic field theory/Maxwell's equations, solid state physics).

Please emphasize in this case your experiences 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 program is held entirely in English, applicants should be proficient in the language both in written and oral form. Included in the list are the preferred score levels. We understand that results for language proficiency tests do not reflect real challenges perfectly, but we assume that with the following test scores (minimum points/grades): 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 English Proficiency (CPE) exam or Cambridge English Advanced (CAE) exam

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

The following students are exempted from providing the proof of English proficiency:

  • Nationals from the USA, U.K., Ireland, Australia, New Zealand or Canada, or BSc and MSc graduates who obtained their qualification 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 received a German Abitur and, therefore, had English classes at a German Gymnasium for at least 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 enhance your chances of application 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 an 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 and will have to provide it before the final deadline has passed.

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


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 to be a crucial prerequisite to successfully master the Master of Science in Photonics program. Considering the sporadic uncertainty of the terms "Native language/Bilingual", "Medium of Instruction" and "English as a foreign language" we would like clarify their definitions which we use as a basis for your application. Therefore, please take your own situation and background carefully into consideration before wrongfully choosing an option which does not apply to you.

Native Language/Bilingual: We regard English as your native language if you are raised in a country where English is the commonly spoken, and at least one of your parents (or equivalently: legal guardians) is also a native speaker of English. You are bilingual, if you have grown up completely in a country where English is the first language and neither of your parents is a native speaker of English, or you have grown up in a country where English is not the first language but one of your parents is a native speaker of English and you have had significant exposure to English for the entire time you grew up.

Medium of Instruction: If your previous academic education (e.g. at university) has been completely conducted 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 Transcript of Records where the fact that all lessons have been held in English is noted. Please note: Statements of attendance to a language course offered by your university or claiming that your pre-academic education (e.g. in school) happened in English language do not serve as sufficient proof for the option "Medium of Instruction".

English as Foreign Language: In all cases not covered above, English is regarded as your foreign language, even if you grew up in an environment, where English might be the official language but is not spoken commonly or you have learnt English in your primary or secondary education or English was only a 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 you to learn German language in order to integrate into the culture and manage daily life. For this reason the Abbe School of Photonics offers, in addition to German language courses during the study period, a presessional German language course to all of its international students in September each year. 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 not 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 as positive if there are no gaps in your CV so please take the effort to list all the chapters in your life so 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 life style, in which city you stay and at which university you are enrolled. 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 places to live, there are many options. The first and best option is to stay in a university dormitory (Studentenwohnheim), because the fee is also normally subsidized. Monthly rent will cost you approximately 150- 300 Euro. In addition, you will need money (at least 200 Euro / month) for food and drinks as well as other costs like laundry, clothing, phone, internet and other communication, entertainment, travel expenses etc. which will cost you around 100 - 300 Euro. The university normally has cafeterias and dining halls (Mensa). The meals offered in Mensa come at favorable price, 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 students do not have to pay any tuition fees, a semester contribution must be paid each semester in order to matriculate. The semester contribution is approximately 250 Euro. Covered by this amount are fees for the Student Government Body (Studentenschaft), Student Services (Studierendenwerk) and the Semester Ticket (JeNah and Deutsche Bahn). The Semester Ticket allows all students to travel with local transportation within Jena and the regional trains within Thuringia. First-semester students must pay an additional one-time fee of 20 Euro for the issue of their student ID card, called THOSKA.

Insurance: Health insurance costs ca. 105,- Euro/month for students (=85 Euro health insurance fee + compulsory long-term care insurance ca. 15 Euro + a small administrative fee of the health insurance, depending on the company ca. 4-6 Euro, for all students under the age of 30). 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 have health insurance that meets the requirements of German law. Students are required to be insured starting from the first day of their first semester (i.e. beginning 1 October for winter term, regardless of date of arrival). This reduced student fee applies to all students under 29 years of age and if their home country has no bilateral agreements on recognition of local health insurance in Germany. For students over 30 years of age or with children, a different price rate applies. 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 travelling to Jena and for the time before the semester starts on Ocotber 1st).

Books and course materials: Many books and course materials can be borrowed at the university library. However, there will or may be additional materials that you need to purchase that cannot be found at the library. Calculate approximately 150 Euro (or more) per semester for these costs (copies, books, course material etc).

Electronics devices: as parts of the teaching will be online, you will need a computer or laptop with microphone and 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. In general, it is comparably easy and straight forward to get a visa for studying in Germany - so do not be afraid of this! 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 in your home country at the day you submitted your application about the procedure and make sure you apply early enough.

Citizens of certain countries can enter Germany without having 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. A short overview of Visa requirements/ exemptions for entry into the Federal Republic of Germany you can find here.

If you do not have a valid passport, you should immediately apply for 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 you can. 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 federal territory of 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 in order to 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 at the latest at enrollment at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena.