Chennai Central @The Hindu in association with DAAD India, hosted a Facebook chat last week on higher education in Germany. This is the first of a two-part series. Read the German Ambassador's note here

Padmavathi Chandramouli, Information Officer at the DAAD Information Centre, answered over 200 questions. Here we publish the most relevant questions with answers. Around 23,000 people viewed the post on Chennai Central's Facebook page.

I want to enquire about undergraduate courses in German universities. What is the eligibility for getting admission in a German university? Is there any entrance examination?

Every university in Germany is autonomous and has its own criteria for admitting students. But in principle, Indian students need to fulfil one of the following conditions after successful completion of class XII to be eligible to apply for Bachelors:

Successfully completing the first year of a bachelor programme from a recognised university in India in the relevant subject field.

Successfully clearing the IIT Joint Entrance Examination for admission to courses in technology and natural sciences.

Passing the qualification assessment examination in Germany, known as Feststellungsprüfung.

Studienkolleg is a foundation course, which helps one prepare for this examination. Studienkolleg is a full-time course focusing on subjects relevant to the degree programme and German language proficiency. It takes two semesters to complete and is offered only in Germany. Details here.

I am in my third year of Mechanical Engineering and am interested in pursuing a Masters in Automobile Engineering. Where can I find the courses? What is the eligibility criterion? Is it mandatory to have work experience? What is the CGPA required?

A user-friendly database of International Degree Programmes offered by German universities is available on www.daad.de/international-programmes. These courses are offered in the English medium and there are over 1,100 of such courses. Every university in Germany is autonomous and has its own set of criteria for admitting students. Once you get the basic information from the DAAD database, do check the university website, and specifically the programme you are interested in to find out about the exact admission requirements. For most of the programmes, there is no mandatory requirement of work experience, nor do they have a set CGPA cut off. It is the quality of the application and the competition that is the deciding factor. Universities often require TOEFL/ IELTS scores in case you are planning to pursue a course in the English medium. A few universities may ask you to give the GRE/GMAT.

I am a first-year B.Tech student in Industrial Biotechnology at Anna University. I would like to know when I should start preparing for higher studies in Germany.

The ideal time to start preparing for the application is a year before you wish to start with your Masters, that is, third year of B.Tech in your case. Start by getting information about the courses you might be interested in by logging on to www.daad.de/international-programmes and getting the necessary documents in place. Application windows are open from March-June for the winter intake (semester starting October) session and November-January for the summer intake (semester starting April). Not all courses have two intakes. So, do check this carefully.

I have finished my post-graduation in Physics from the University of Madras, Chennai. I am interested in pursuing my doctoral studies in Astrophysics in Germany. I would like to know how to go about approaching universities/professors in Germany for Ph.D. and what are the procedures and pre-requisites involved.

There are two ways of going about a Ph.D. in Germany — the traditional way and the structured Ph.D. model. More information about these can be found here.What you are referring to is the traditional way. For this you need to do your groundwork, both on your research topic and establishing contacts with a professor who is wiling to guide your Ph.D.. You can do this with the help of your teachers, seniors, scientific journals and of course websites like Research Explorer. You are required to develop your research proposal in consultation with your guide. This system offers a lot of freedom with deadlines or curriculum, but calls for a great deal of personal initiative right from identifying a topic in your research field. This kind of doctorate takes about 3-5 years to complete.

I am a final year student of M.Sc. Physics at Hyderabad Central University. I am planning to pursue my PhD in Germany. I would like know about the new structured doctoral programme and the possible scholarships I can apply for. I would like to know how effective it is when compared to the traditional approach.

Structured doctoral programmes are internationally oriented, conducted largely in English and are comparable to Ph.D. programmes offered in English-speaking countries. You can read more about this on DAAD New Delhi. These programmes lead to a Ph.D. in about three years. There are over 600 such programmes. The DAAD has selected some of these for funding. More information can be found here.

To be continued