Living in Germany
Germany / Cologne / Leisure
Germany is one of the most popular destinations for international students. It is not only an attractive place to study; a German university degree is also highly valued by employers worldwide. Students in Germany benefit from a world-class education system.
Germany is the largest economy in Europe and the fifth largest in the world. Science and research have a long tradition in Germany and are highly valued. Germany has been an immigration country since the 1960s – we are open-minded and tolerant. Over 80 million people live here – more than in any other country in the European Union (EU). Germany is one of the founding states of the EU and supports the growing integration and closer union between the European states. Germany is a safe country, also by international standards. And it can also look back on a long and famous tradition of higher education. Compared with other countries, the tuition fees at German universities are not very high, and the cost of living is at the EU average. Students also enjoy a lot of reduced prices, for example at theaters, museums, opera houses, cinemas, swimming pools and other facilities.
Germany is located in the heart of Europe. From here you can also easily explore its European neighbors.
German is one of the ten most widely spoken languages in the world and there are many ways to learn German, be it through a course or with German flatmates.
Its metropolitan vibe, diverse student scene and a cityscape abound with cultural and historical treasures make Cologne one of Europe’s prime university cities.
Cologne’s origins date back to the heyday of the Roman Empire more than 2,000 years ago. The former settlement of Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium soon flourished into a major trading hub. Today, Cologne is Germany’s fourth largest city with a population of slightly more than one million and has evolved as a main economic and cultural center at the heart of Europe.
The city’s characteristic landmark and source of pride for every Colognian is without a doubt the magnificent Cologne Cathedral, locally known as the Kölner Dom. Towering over the quaint Old Town of Cologne at 156 meters, this masterpiece of Gothic architecture is the world’s third-highest cathedral and boasts around six million visitors a year, making it Germany’s most popular tourist attraction.
However, Cologne is by no means all about its Cathedral and has plenty more charms to offer: More than 40 world-famous museums, 120 art galleries, the Cologne Opera, a vibrant theater scene, a plethora of concerts and musicals as well as a city-wide passion for sports all testify to Cologne’s reputation as an international art and cultural metropolis. Visitors from all over the world are bound to feel at home immediately, as Cologne is a true melting pot of cultures: Close to one-fifth of its inhabitants have an international background!
Cologne’s economy is characterized by its amalgamation of different industries and trades. Home to the country’s most influential television and radio stations, Cologne is unquestionably Germany’s media capital and plays host to some of the continent’s biggest trade fairs. Quite a few of the world’s most renowned enterprises call the metropolitan region their home, in particular corporations operating in the automobile industry, biotechnology and life sciences, chemicals and pharmaceuticals as well as commerce and banking.
As a multicultural metropolis, Cologne has a lot to offer when it comes to spending your leisure time: Cultural and sporting events, myriad restaurants, a multi-faceted nightlife and lots more. In light of the manifold cultural and recreational activities in Cologne, you are presented with endless options of spending your leisure time. Renowned museums and theaters, musicals and concerts by famous artists, international art exhibitions and sporting events: Cologne caters to everybody’s needs.
Visa / Residency Permit / Living expenses / accomodation
Students from the following countries only need a valid passport to enter Germany: EU countries, Andorra, Australia, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Canada, Republic of Korea, Liechtenstein, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland and the USA.
All other international students must apply for a visa at the German embassy in their home country. For this purpose, the ifs will send admitted students a letter of acceptance and admission.
All international students who do not hold an EU-citizenship and intend to stay in Germany for more than three months are required to obtain a residence permit at the City of Cologne’s immigration office upon arrival. Students must request this residence permit during the validity period of their entry visa. We recommend you do so immediately after your arrival in Cologne. The residence permit is issued as a chip card and bears the official German title ‘elektronischer Aufenthaltstitel (eAT)’. It is usually valid for one year and therefore needs to be renewed every year.
Generally, in order to obtain a residency Permit foreign students must present proof of sufficient resources to cover living expenses in the amount of EUR 735 monthly calculated for one year, which is equivalent to the current German student loan [BAföG] maximum rate. This can be done in several ways e.g. parental sponsorship, scholarships, or personal funds.
Living expenses in Cologne are difficult to estimate. However you should budget a minimum of EUR 700-800 per month. The cheaper rooms in student residence halls (approx. EUR 200-300) are taken up quickly. On the open housing market rents for shared and single apartments go for around EUR 300-400. You should additionally budget monthly costs of EUR 20-40 for electricity and around EUR 50 for telephone and Internet. For an estimation of the average costs of living in Cologne please see: www.th-koeln.de
The housing situation in Cologne is relatively difficult and so it’s very important to start looking for a place to live as early as possible. The ifs does not offer any accommodation finding services, but can provide you with helpful tips for your search.
Generally the Kölner Studentenwerk (KStW) is responsible for allocating places in the affordable student residence halls. However, due to the high number of applicants no places can be guaranteed.
This is why we advice you to also search for accommodation in the open housing market.
enrollment at the Th köln / health insurance
Enrollment at the TH Köln
The TH Köln (University of Technology, Arts and Sciences) is a cooperation partner of the ifs. The enrollment at the TH Köln may be mandatory for international students: This depends on your citizenship status and the duration of your stay in Germany. Enrolling may be very useful since it provides students with low-cost tickets for public transportation and the opportunity to use the services of the international office, student sporting facilities etc. In any case, the enrollment is a prerequisite if you want to apply for BAföG (the Federal Student Financial Aid Program) or a scholarship of a German foundation. The current enrollment (tuition) fee at the TH Köln is € 249,50 (state: September 2015).
To enroll at the TH Köln, all international students must by law show proof of sufficient health insurance coverage. Foreign students can either get health insurance in Germany, or obtain a certificate from one of the German public health insurance companies attesting that their health insurance coverage from their home country meets German standards.
Useful link: www.daad.de
Financing & Scholarships
To finance tuition fees and to support living expenses, students may apply for an interest-free loan from «The Friends of the ifs internationale filmschule köln Society». The granting of loans is dependent on the economic situation of the applicant and the resources available. Repayment of the loans begins six months after graduation. Bachelor’s degree students may apply from the third semester. Master’s degree students may apply from the second semester.
Students are generally eligible for BAföG, the Federal Student Financial Aid Program. The responsible Federal Student Financial Aid Office decides upon applications for student state loans or grants. A prerequisite for the application is the enrollment at the TH Köln, the ifs cooperation partner (tuition fee for the Winter Semester 2015/2016: € 249,50). This grant includes all the services of the TH Köln as well as the semester ticket. Both German and foreign students are eligible applicants. Foreign students must observe: BAföG § 8
Another way to finance your studies is to apply for a repayable loan. The collection of links in the following is not exhaustive and is only sorted in alphabetical order.
Education and/or Student Loans:
– Career Concept AG
– DAKA – Darlehenskasse der Studentenwerke im Land NRW
– Deutsche Bildung
– Deutsche Kreditbank
– Erasmus+ Master degree loans (MA students only)
– KfW Bank
Bachelor’s program »Film«: «The Friends of the ifs internationale filmschule köln Society» currently offers third-semester students four scholarships that run until the end of the Bachelor’s program, for outstanding academic achievement. These scholarships cover the tuition fees as well as an additional monthly allowance to cover living expenses, paid throughout the course of studies until completion of the Bachelor’s program. Two of the scholarships cover living expenses up to € 15.000 until the end of the Bachelor’s program. The other two scholarships cover living expenses up to € 3.500 until the end of the Bachelor’s program.
Master’s program »Serial Storytelling«: «The Friends of the ifs internationale filmschule köln Society» offers second-semester students two scholarships that run until the end of the Master’s program, for outstanding academic achievement (one scholarship for each “Track”). These scholarships cover the tuition fees as well as an additional monthly allowance up to € 500 to cover living expenses (up to a total of € 9,000), paid throughout the course of studies until completion of the Master’s program.
Master’s program »Digital Narratives«: «The Friends of the ifs internationale filmschule köln Society» offers second-semester students one scholarship that run until the end of the Master’s program, for outstanding academic achievement. This scholarship covers the tuition fees as well as an additional monthly allowance up to € 500 to cover living expenses (up to a total of € 9,000), paid throughout the course of studies until completion of the Master’s program.
Overview of German Scholarship Funds:
Several German foundations offer scholarships. The requirements for the award of a scholarship vary between individual foundations. In any case, the enrollment at the TH Köln, cooperation partner of the ifs, is mandatory.
– ELTERNKOMPASS (BA students only)
– Kölner Studentenwerk
– Master and More (MA students only)
– Stipendienlotse des Bundesministeriums für Bildung und Forschung
– Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (SPD-nah)
– Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung (FDP-nah)
– Hanns-Seidel-Stiftung e.V. (CSU-nah)
– Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen-nah)
– Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung e.V. (CDU-nah)
– Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung (Linkspartei-nah)
– Avicenna-Studienwerk e.V. (für muslimische Studierende)
– Cusanuswerk (für katholische Studierende)
– Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich Studienwerk (für jüdische Studierende)
– Evangelisches Studienwerk e.V. (für evangelische Studierende) / (BA students only)
– Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst e. V. (DAAD)
– Hans-Böckler-Stiftung (DGB)
– Kölner Gymnasial- und Stiftungsfonds (BA students only)
– Stiftung der Deutschen Wirtschaft – Studienförderwerk Klaus Murmann
– Stiftung Begabtenförderung berufliche Bildung (BA students only)
– Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes e.V.
– VFF Verwertungsgesellschaft der Film- und Fernsehproduzenten (BA students only)
Working besides studies
Every student must decide for himself whether it is possible for him to persue a job while studying. Our study programs are full-time degree programs. In the following you will find information on the specific scope of our study programs:
The study workload is assessed using a credit point system, according to the principles of the European Credit Transfer System. 30 credits are awarded per semester. In the standard 7-semester period of study, 210 credit points are required to achieve the »Bachelor of Arts« degree. The FILM program is a fulltime study program. Courses usually require 80 percent compulsory attendance.
MA Serial Storytelling
The program is a full-time master’s degree with 120 credit points over two years. In the first three semesters, we expect attendance at the school for a period of 11 weeks each semester, with courses running five days a week from 10:00 am till 4:00 or 5:00 pm. Inbetween lecture periods there will be extensive writing assignments. During the fourth semester while the master’s thesis is being written there is no obligatory attendance, but at the end of the fourth semester students will be expected to attend a colloquium and presentations.
MA Digital Narratives
The program is a full-time master’s degree with 120 credit points over two years. In the first three semesters, we expect attendance at the school for a period of 8 weeks each semester, with courses running five days a week from 10:00 am till 4:00 pm. During the fourth semester while the master’s thesis is being written there is no obligatory attendance, but at the end of the fourth semester students will be expected to attend a colloquium and presentations. During semester break, the project work will also partially continue.
Tips for international students:
Citizens of member states of the European Union, the European Economic Area (EEA) – that is Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein – as well as Switzerland have equal legal status on the labor market as German citizens. This means that they have the same access to the labor market as German students and are permitted to work as much as they would like to without having to obtain prior approval of German authorities. Students are advised, however, not to work longer than 20 hours a week, as you would have to pay social insurance contributions should you exceed this number of hours.
International students from countries which are NOT member states of the EU, the EEA or Switzerland are normally permitted to work 120 full or 240 half days per year if they are in possession of a valid residence permit for Germany. The immigration office will record these provisions in your residence permit. Should you wish to work more days per year, you will need to obtain approval from your immigration office and the German Federal Employment Agency.
Financial Assistance for further education programs
Bildungsscheck (Training Voucher NRW): Under certain conditions, participants can turn to the Bildungsscheck NRW for financial support. You can find more information at: www.bildungsscheck.nrw.de
Bildungsprämie (The Grant Voucher of the Continuing Education Grant): Financial support to cover the program fees is possible through the The Grant Voucher of the Continuing Education Grant (Bildungsprämie/Prämiengutschein). It is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research as well as the European Social Fund of the European Union. The “Bildungsprämie/Prämiengutschein” covers 50 percent of the course fees of further training measures, whereat the course costs may not exceed a total fee of maximal 1000 Euros. You can find more information at www.bildungspraemie.info
A funding of the participation fee for our further education program »Costume Design« is possible via the following procedure:
The ifs is recognized as a certified training institution by the German Federal Employment Agency according to AZAV (Akkreditierungs- und Zulassungsverordnung Arbeitsförderung – Accreditation and Approval for Promotion of Employment). On behalf of the German Federal Employment Agency, the ifs promotes measures for vocational further education according to Paragraph 81 of the third volume of the German Social Welfare Code (§ 81 SGB III). Participants can be funded by the German Federal Employment Agency.
foreign education certificates
International applicants can obtain information about whether their degree, certificate or diploma fulfills the ifs admissions requirements at the following site: http://anabin.kmk.org (German only).
If your degree does not fulfill the ifs admissions requirements but you have a recognizable talent and previous adequate experience, you may be invited to a separate admissions procedure to demonstrate your individual artistic aptitude.
The general rule requires the applicant to provide proof of a German language proficiency level B 2 (CEFR) with the application in the form of a completed examination. A certificate of attendance to the corresponding course is not sufficient.
Latest by the start of studies, students must have passed the German Language Examination for University Entrance (DSH – Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang). The minimum level required is DSH II. Due to the franchise agreement, students can sit this examination at the TH Köln for a fee of EUR 130.
As an alternative to the DSH II, the following documents are also accepted:
• Proof of successful attendance (higher education qualification) to a German-language school abroad
• DSDII – Sprachdiplom der Kultusministerkonferenz Stufe II, the German Language Diploma (Level II) from the German Standing Conference of Ministers of Education and Culture
• The Goethe Institute’s “Major” or “Minor German Language Certificate”
• The Goethe Institute’s “Central Advanced Language Test”
• The DAF test with a total minimum score of 16 points
• Successful completion of a German-language study program
MA Serial Storytelling
Applicants need to provide proof of their English language skills at B2 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, e.g. by a TOEFL score of 87 points (internet-based) or equivalent test results. Native English speakers are exempted from this. In addition, all applicants have to demonstrate the appropriate level of English during the selection process (interviews and writing assignments).
Applicants only need to speak German, if they apply for the „German track“.
MA Digital Narratives
Applicants Applicants need to provide proof of their English language skills at B2 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, e.g. by a TOEFL score of 87 points (internet-based) or equivalent test results. Native English speakers are exempted from this.
German language skills are not necessary.
International Relations & Exchange Programs
international partnerships and programs
An international orientation has been an essential part of the profile of the ifs internationale filmschule köln from the very beginning. During the past years, the expansion of internationality has been among the most important strategic aims. So now, there are numerous bilateral exchange programs, multilateral projects and international master’s programs. In addition, the school is an active member of CILECT, the International Association of Film and TV Schools, and its subdivision GEECT.
In respect to focusing on respective career possibilities and the expansion of international activities and cooperations, the ifs has established a “mobility window” that creates room for internships and a semester abroad. In the meantime, there is a considerable number of international university cooperations to choose from. There have been bilateral exchange programs with Dong-Ah Institute of Media and Arts (DIMA) in South Korea, Université Saint-Joseph in Lebanon, Film and Television Institute of India in Pune, Academy of Film and Multimedia Marubi in Albania, Department of Cinema and Digital Media of Izmir University of Economics in Turkey as well as Kyrgyzstan-Turkey Manas University in Kyrgyzstan.
During these exchanges, students learn to broaden their horizons and to deal with foreign cultures.
Several of our exchange programs have been awarded funding from the German Federal Foreign Office, CILECT, and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.
Over the past years, the ifs has participated in a number of multilateral European projects.
The Erasmus+-funded initial education program ESSEMBLE is a workshop series that seeks to integrate visual effects into the storytelling process, and has been conducted since 2011 by Universidade Lusófona in Lisbon together with Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design Budapest (MOME) and LUCA School of Arts, Sint-Lukas Brussels.
CIAKL (Cinema and Industry Alliance for Knowledge and Learning) is an EU-funded program aimed at fostering entrepreneurship among film students and graduates. The network of partners includes Universidade Lusófona in Lisbon, the University of Theatre and Film (SZFE) in Budapest, Universidade de Vigo in Spain, and Tallinn University Baltic Film and Media School in Estonia, along with several international industry partners. Set up as part of the CIAKL program, the pilot project ifs Media Entrepreneurship Lab took place from October 2012 until February 2013. Together with European partners from industry and the above listed European partners from academia, the project was designed to test and develop didactic methods for entrepreneurship education in the artistic and practical education and training of media professionals.
So far, there have been multilateral projects like A Triangle Dialogue (2007-2008) – a documentary workshop, realised by Sam Spiegel Film and Television School in Jerusalem, Andrzej Wajda Master School of Film Directing in Warsaw and ifs. There, a compilation of documentary short films was created. During the summer school People on Sunday for students of UCLA and alumni of ifs (2010-2011), German-American teams made short films and presented them as a compilation. Hives (2012) was a multinational episodic film made by students from five film schools: the Academy of Dramatic Art in Zagreb, the Sam Spiegel School in Jerusalem, the National Film and Television School/UK, and the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts (FAMU) in Prague.
international master's degree programs (and others)
The ifs offers international master’s programs with a range of notable European partners.
The master’s program Serial Storytelling took place for the first time in the autumn of 2013. The course is taught in English by top writers and script consultants from the American and European television industries. Potential program links to other film schools are currently being explored.
Presently, another international Master of Arts in Digital Narratives has been developed and is in the process of accreditation. The two-year full-time program will focus on the design and realization of new and innovative digital narrative formats. The master’s program will start in the autumn of 2016.
In August 2016, EPAS will start as a pilot project (further education) of the EMAS curriculum development (European Master of Arts in Sound (EMAS) as an artistic discipline. Created by a consortium of European universities, film schools, art schools and arts organizations, the overall aim of the course is to produce practitioners to work in the creative industries, who are not only highly skilled but also individual, creative, critically aware, innovative and professional in their approach.
The ifs regularly organizes international excursions for its students and participants. These have included visits to the School of Sound conferences in the UK for its editing students and to London for its Production Design and Costume Design participants to conduct on-site research at film studios, prop stores, specialized craft shops, museums, and archives. Camera students are given the chance to visit the Plus Camerimage Film Festival in Poland and to assist their professor David Slama on one of his international film productions, the last of which took place in Lithuania.
Several students have shot their films abroad, whether during the documentary exchanges mentioned above or as their graduation films. Recent fiction and experimental films have been filmed on location in Azerbaijan, Montenegro, Turkey, Morocco and in Bangladesh.
Many of our students’ films have been screened at renowned international film festivals, including in Beijing, San Francisco, Berlin, Oberhausen, Dresden, Saarbrücken, München, Paris, New York, Rhode Island, Beirut, Prishtina, Tirana, Istanbul, Pune, Chennai, Reykjavik, San Sebastián, St. Petersburg, Montreal, Krakow, Bangkok, Auckland, and Sydney. What’s more, Elmár Imánov’s graduation film, “The Swing of the Coffin Maker”, won the Student Academy Award in Los Angeles for Best Foreign Film in bronze in 2012.
Faculty and staff at the ifs are also encouraged to expand their international network by attending conferences and workshops such as CILECT and GEECT events, academic symposia, and film and multimedia festivals.
Finally, the school draws on a pool of international industry experts who visit the school to teach courses and workshops. Many of these courses are taught in English, and ifs students also have the opportunity to take English language classes with a particular focus on film terminology.
We are sure that these intensified activities can offer our students an international perspective and strengthen their intercultural competence. We believe that it is necessary for future filmmakers to act and communicate transnationally in order to be prepared for the global market in the best way possible.
If you would like more information about our international programs or would like to discuss possible collaborations, please contact our International Relations Manager, Marieke Steinhoff.
Aalto University, School of Art and Design, Helsinki/Finland
Academy of Dramatic Art, Zagreb/Croatia
Academy of Film and Multimedia Marubi, Tirana/Albania
Andrzej Wajda Master School of Film Directing, Warsaw/Poland
Beit Berl College, Beit Berl/Israel
Dar Al-Kalima College, Bethlehem / Palestinian Territories
Dong-Ah Institute of Media and Arts (DIMA), Anseong / South Korea
Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts et Techniques du Théatre ENSATT, Lyon/France
Film and Television Institute of India, Pune/India
Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts (FAMU), Prague/Czech Republic
Izmir University of Economics, Department of Cinema and Digital Media, Izmir/Turkey
Kyrgyzstan-Turkey Manas University, Bishkek/Kyrgyzstan
LUCA School of Arts, Sint-Lukas Brussels, Brussels/Belgium
Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design (MOME), Budapest/Hungary
National Film and Television School, London / United Kingdom
National Film School of Denmark/EUCROMA, Copenhagen/Denmark
Netherlands Film and Television Academy, Amsterdam / The Netherlands
Saint-Joseph University, Beirut/Lebanon
Sam Spiegel Film and Television School, Jerusalem/Israel
Shanghai Theatre Academy, Media Investigation & Research Center, Shanghai/China
Tallinn University Baltic Film and Media School, Tallinn/Estonia
Tampere University of Applied Sciences, Art and Media School, Tampere/Finland
UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, Los Angeles / USA
Universidade de Vigo, Vigo/Spain
Universidade Lusófona, Lisbon/Portugal
University College Ghent, KASK School of Arts, Gent/Belgium
University of Salford, School of Media, Music and Performance,
Manchester / United Kingdom
University of Theatre and Film (SZFE), Budapest/Hungary
Student Advisory Service
Head of Studies
T +49 221.920188-220
Monday 3pm – 5pm (by appointment only)
Office of Student Affairs and Examination Office
Office of Student Affairs
T +49 221.920188-222
T +49 221.920188-223
Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 3pm – 5pm
Wednesday 9.30am – 12pm
T +49 221.920188-280
T +49 221.920188-280
Monday and Tuesday 9am – 4pm
Wednesday and Thursday 9am – 6pm
Friday 9am – 1pm
Studying with impairments or chronic illness
The website of our cooperation partner www.th-koeln.de contains helpful information on this topic. An enrollment at the TH Köln might be mandatory for using some of the offers of the TH Köln.