years-experience access-alumni-network airfare airport-pick-up assistance-with-application-process community-service-placement continuous-support cultural-trips domestic-transport emergency-support field-trips global-competence-certificate grade-transcripts host-family-placement housing individual-contact-person internship-placement language-instruction meals medical-insurance orientations-during-your-time-abroad other pre-departure-orientation product-materials re-entry-orientation school-dipolma school-materials school-placement school-transport school-uniform stipend teaching-materials vaccinations visa-and-passport-fees visa-application-assistance world-wide-presence

Study Abroad at a High School in Germany

Germany is a world of majestic palaces, charming villages, and cutting-edge cities brimming with cosmopolitan delights. Known as the land of “Dichter und Denker” (poets and thinkers), Germany is an epicenter of artistic innovation and thought-provoking conversations. Famous for world-class musicians like Wagner and Bach, opera, theater, and classical music are popular, easily accessible, and inexpensive.

Develop fluency in the German language and cultures by staying with a host family and attending school at a local Gymnasium, Realschule, Gesamtschulen, or Stadtteilschulen. You’ll be a vital part of your host family and community. You’ll be so much more than a tourist.

Still, you’ll be able to explore this enchanting country. During your high school study abroad in Germany, you might scale or ski the Bavarian Alps. You could also marvel at medieval fortresses or Renaissance palaces recently converted into modern hotels, restaurants, or museums.

Germans are generally direct communicators, valuing honesty and openness. They also tend to be punctual and orderly, so you can expect trains and buses to arrive on time. If you’re environmentally-conscious, you’ll appreciate Germany’s emphasis on recycling and conservation!

What's included in your experience

  • 70 Years Experience


Graduates Eligible? Yes, high school graduates are eligible to participate.
Minimum GPA 2.5
Age Range 15 yrs, 6 months to
18 yrs, 6 months at start of program
Language Skills
Semester Program Required
Year Program Preferred, not required
COVID-19 Vaccine Not Required

Based on differences in culture, strict government regulation of medications, and other local customs, it has been our experience that not all of our international AFS partners are able to support students with certain diagnoses, including but not limited to, severe allergies, strict dietary restrictions, ADD/ADHD, and those currently taking or who have taken psychotropic medications and/or received counseling for mental/psychological issues within the past year. If this applies to you, please get in touch with an AFS Study Abroad Specialist early so that we can determine the right experience for you.

Your Journey to Germany

In the months before your departure, AFSers have the opportunity to participate in various preparatory activities, including an online Student Learning Journey, which is an interactive course that brings AFSers from around the world together to learn how to develop essential global skills, intercultural communication techniques, and practice social impact, maximizing the outcomes of the AFS learning experience. 

AFS-USA will coordinate and share your international travel with you. You will need to coordinate your own travel to the point of international departure. From there, your journey in Germany will begin when you land, where you’ll be met by staff, volunteers and meet your fellow AFSers from around the world. Shortly after arrival, you will attend an arrival orientation and get a crash course on German culture, living with a host family, safety, and support structures.


Your High School in Germany

You’ll most likely attend a college prep school called a Gymnasium, but you could also be enrolled in a Realschule (which only goes up to grade 10), Gesamtschule (a comprehensive public school), or Stadtteilschulen. In Germany, students usually go to school Monday through Friday, though in some areas they also go to school on Saturdays. High school in Germany usually begins around 7:30 or 8:30 am and ends by 2 pm. The relationship between students and their teachers is usually both friendly and respectful in Germany.

Even if your teachers are casual, they will expect you to come to class on time, complete homework in a timely fashion, and participate actively in class.


Because most German students don’t attend high school in the afternoon, many teenagers are involved in local sports clubs (Verein) or music lessons. Most host families will encourage you to participate in after-school activities – they’re a great way to make friends and learn about German culture.


Your Accommodations While Studying Abroad in Germany

AFSers have lived in communities all throughout the country, but you’re most likely to be hosted in a small town or rural area. Family life and social order are important in Germany, but so is independence. You can count on the support of your host parents while also getting the chance to explore on your own.

Like anywhere in the world, all families in Germany are different. Most are industrious, thrifty, and organized. Many Germans like to discuss politics, sports, culture, philosophy, or the environment, so you should be prepared to share your opinion. Deep and wide-ranging intellectual conversations are generally preferred over small talk. And, again, direct and honest communication is common and appreciated. Be open with your host family and you should learn a lot and find a respectful mutual understanding.


Punctuality is pretty important. Don’t be too early or too late; be on time. The German language could sound a little harsh and attitudes may seem reserved or stiff at first, but don’t take it personally if you receive fewer smiles or laughs than you expect. Germans may take a little longer to make friends, but they are undoubtedly true companions.

Scholarships and Aid

We believe that studying abroad should not be contingent on personal finances. When you apply, we work with you to understand your family’s needs and match you with available scholarships and aid. 100% of accepted applicants with demonstrated need receive funds.

Learn More

What's Included

  • 75+ years of experience delivering high-quality programs through a worldwide network of 32,000 dedicated volunteers
  • Accommodations with a vetted host family
  • Round-trip international airfare for the designated program dates
  • School enrollment fees
  • Worldwide, 24-hour emergency assistance
  • Access to an in-country support team and network, as well as our Participant Support Department based here in the U.S.
  • Free Language Proficiency Testing: after your immersive study abroad experience, take an AAPPL (ACTFL Assessment of Performance toward Proficiency in Languages) language proficiency test to be able to add your language skills to your resume or possibly your high school transcript!
  • Orientations and intercultural education before and during your program
  • International secondary medical travel coverage
  • Visa support and guidance
  • Inclusion in a worldwide returnee and alumni network of over 1,000,000 people

Visa Info

Do I need a visa/residence permit for Germany? YES. Residence Permit
How do I apply for the visa? (By mail, In-person, In host country) In host country
Visa/Residence Permit Process Difficulty Level (Easy, Average, Complex) Easy
Estimated Visa/Residence Permit Expenses
($ – $$$)
Frequently Asked Visa Questions Visit our general visa FAQ page for more information.

Returning Home

“Life-changing” is hard to describe, yet it’s nearly always the first thing that AFSers say when asked about their experience abroad. “Transformed” is another one.
When you return home from high school in Germany, you’ll bring with you a sense of accomplishment unlike any other. You’ll have gained maturity and independence, discovered new passions, and developed the confidence and resilience to accomplish anything you set out to do.
That transformation isn’t only visible to you, though – others see it as well. AFSers gain critical skills for college and careers. Second language fluency, intercultural competence, creativity, and critical reasoning will help you succeed, whatever path you take. “Life-changing” means it’s only the beginning.
It’s not just an adventure abroad; it’s a whole new reality. The perspectives and personal connections you gained will stay with you and likely draw you back to the second home you found in Germany.

In fact, our alumni reviews have made AFS one of the top-rated organizations in the study abroad industry.