Tips for Successful Studies
Study Structure – General Overview
The structure and classification of courses at TUM will likely differ from the system in place at your home university. In Germany, you enroll for a broad range of courses each semester, classified by type: lecture, seminar, etc. Read each course description carefully to find out how many credits a course gives and how long it meets for. 1 ECTS has a workload of 30 hours. The usual numer of ECTS per one semester is 30 ECTS. Some of the most common course types are listed below:
Course taught by a lecturer, often with many students in a large lecture hall. Examined by written or oral exam; sometimes accompanied by exercises and homework.
Practical exercise; accompanies lectures.
Seminar for bachelor-level students; introduces students to scientific research methods.
Seminar or Master-Seminar(“S”)
Advanced seminar for advanced bachelor-level or master-level students; advanced scientific methods.
Practical training in a subject area, including group work and presentations
Scientific talks by guest lecturers; no credits
German Academic Culture
Education in Germany is influenced by the Humboldtian idea of science and research, dating back to the early 19th century, and the ideals of the Enlightenment. As a student in Germany, you are encouraged to find your own way of thinking, and to engage in independent reflection and analysis. Professors will share their newest findings in research to discuss them with you before publishing them.That’s why you are expected to study and think independently, to pass constructive criticism, especially in lectures. Responsibility, organization,active involvement and time management are crucial for you to succeed.
As an international student, the German academic culture may take some getting used to, and you may need some time to figure out the right balance of courses. We recommend that, during the first few weeks of the semester, you visit all the courses you are interested in. That will help you to figure out which ones you want to stick with, and which ones aren’t for you. Additionally, it is fairly common for courses to meet at conflicting times, in these cases you will need to set your own priority and participate in one of the courses one semester or year later.
Attendance at lectures is generally not compulsory – in contrast to seminars, practical courses, and certain tutorials which may require attendance. However, we strongly recommend that you attend lectures regularly, as you will likely have serious challenges passing a course if you do not – topics are often covered in lectures outside of what is included in handouts and PowerPoint slides and of course you will never find ideas our researchers still want to publish. If you must miss a lecture, we recommend being in touch with the lecturer and with your classmates to go over what you missed.
Before the first lecture
- When should I arrive in Munich?
In order to take care of all administrative matters before lectures begin, you should plan to arrive at least two weeks before the start of the semester. Arriving after lectures have begun is highly discouraged – if you are not able to arrive in Munich before lectures begin, please postpone the start of your studies to the next semester
- How do I assemble my course schedule?
All informatics courses for the next semester are entered in TUMonline around the beginning of January (for summer semester) and the end of June (for winter semester). Search for the courses you are interested in by indicating the INxxxx module number in the search field of TUMonline, making sure to indicate the correct semester. Click on Time-Location to see the schedule. Check to make sure that the times of the courses you plan to take do not overlap. See the preview of courses if you have to postpone an interesting course.
- When do I register for courses?
In TUMonline there is a column titled “Reg.” that shows a green “T” when registration is open – usually about one month before the semester start. For lectures, there is typically no hurry to register as they usually have unlimited spaces available. For language courses and soft skill (support elective) courses (see below), it is better to register immediately when registration opens. You can deregister from a course without any problem. For seminars and practical courses deregistration has to be done in the first weeks of the semester; the exact dates will be announced by the lecturers. For lectures, deregistration is usually possible until the end of the semester.
- Am I allowed to take Informatics courses in German?
Yes. But in order to complete the Informatics course in German successfully you need to have a very high level in German.
Enhance your Study Skills
- At university students are expected to be highly motivated, to take responsibility for their own learning and to organize their resources and time efficiently. However, fulfilling all of these expectations can be difficult, especially when crucial study skills are not at hand. In order to give you the necessary equipment to master all kinds of studying situations at university, ProLehre supports you with workshops, online material via moodle, and consultation.
- When and how do I register for exams?
You must register for exams in TUMonline or you will not be allowed to take them. See the Registration for Examination page for details, including examination dates and registration deadlines. Usually you have until January (for winter semester) or June (for summer semester) to register, but it may differ, especially if you plan to take courses outside of the informatics department.
- Can I deregister from exams?
Yes, usually up to one week before the exam takes place.
- Can I register for a repeat exam even if I did not attend the regular exam?
Yes, in informatics you can – for other departments, please inquire directly with the department
- Can I repeat an exam if I passed, but with a bad grade?
- What happens if I fail an exam?
The fail grade will be entered in your transcript but not in your certificate. You can either repeat the exam or choose another course if it is an elective, seminar, or practical course.
- Is there a late registration for exams?
No. If you miss the registration period then you need to wait for the next one to register.
- What should I do if not all credits are listed in my transcript correctly (e.g. credits missing, credits not adding up correctly etc.)?
Get in touch with your secretary of the examination board.
Academic progress, length of studies, and applications of prolongation
- How long is the master’s program?
It is designed to take two years (4 semesters) to complete. You will need to earn 120 ECTS total, 30 ECTS per semester – which is the usual workload.
- Is it a problem if I do not complete 30 ECTS in a semester?
It is acceptable for you to earn 20 ECTS every semester. You are required to complete 30 ECTS after the third semester, 60 after the fourth, 90 after the fifth, and 120 after the sixth (see below). Do not try to take more than 30 ECTS in one semester because you did not manage to complete enough in the previous semester. The more exams you have in one semester, the less time you will have to prepare – which means there is a greater risk for you to fail. If you run into any problems, come and see the academic advisors – they have a lot of experience and can advise you on how to best proceed in each situation.
- How long may I take to complete the master’s program?
You may take a maximum of seven semesters to complete the master’s program. You must successfully complete at least one of the module examinations by the end of the second semester and earn at least 30 ECTS by the end of your third semester, 60 after the fourth, 90 after the fifth, 120 after the sixth. If you do not have 120 after the sixth but 90 after the fifth all missing exams are marked "faíled once" and you have one more semester to complete any missing coursework and/or the thesis.
- What can I do if I see that I will not be able to earn enough ECTS to meet the minimum semester requirement due to personal problems?
Please visit the academic advisors as soon as possible. They can help you to file an application to prolong your studies. Come together with your TUMonline examination report. Your application has the form of a letter and has to be sent to the secretary of the examination board. It has to contain a verifiable proof about the reason of the prolongation of your studies. Additional, you have to write a plan, that makes the successful completion of your study program believable. Don't forget personal information like matriculation number, your specific study program, amount of semesters and reached credits. Your application has to be discussed with the study advisors, because the examination board wants them to give a statement. The final decision, whether the application is accepted, is done by the examination board! You can file an application for prolongation of deadline for credit limits (all credit limits are set back for one semester), an application for suspension of deadline for credit limits (credit limits aren't proved in the running semester, but again regularly one semester later) or an application for suspension with optional prolongation (credit limits aren't proved in the running semester, and, in case you reach a credit amount of an individual plan, you can apply for a prolongation for the next semester). The verifiable reason about the period, you weren't able to study, has to fit to the application!
- What are acceptable reasons for a prolongation and how do I prove them?
A prolongation will be accepted, if you aren't able to study for a longer period because you had a psychological or physical disease. Please contact a doctor, a psychologist or the TUM psychological counseling (look here). You need a medical certificate, that confirms the period of your study disability and that contains a prediction about the near future. Requirements for medical certificates can be seen here; just adopt it to being not able to study instead of being not able to participate in an examination. Attention: You won't get a prolongation, if you feel sick for one day only and cannot take part in the exam. Here you have the possibility, to repeat the exam in the second period. Moreover, there is a latitude in reaching the credit limits. In case of a short disease, please withdraw from the exam (look here --> Withdrawal from examinations), ask your doctor for a certificate and save it. Maybe, if this happens more often, you can apply for a prolongation in the future.
- When do I have to file the application for prolongation
Please contact the study advisors as soon as you notice, that you will come in conflict with credit limits because of your personal problems. The latest time to file is the end of second examination period of summer or winter semester!
- Will the results of the repeat exams I take at the beginning of next semester count towards the ECTS calculation for the current semester?
- Are additional courses that do not count towards my degree included in my ECTS calculation?
I have personal problems (e.g. illness, family problems, etc.) – who can help?
Many students face personal challenges outside their studies – it is more common than you may think. There are many people to support you, see also Personal Counseling and Assistance. There are help desks for students at the Studentenwerk München, on campus, and the academic advisors have years of experience helping students and can guide you confidentially.
Do not hesitate to contact us - we are dedicated to the wellbeing of our students.
When you change your health insurance you must send a notice to the Admissions Office (city campus). You can only re-enroll for the next semester if you have a health insurance. Therefore you must send a new and up to date confirmation of your insurance.
- Does TUM offer language courses?
Yes, TUM has a language center that offers many languages, including German.
- Can language courses count toward my degree?
Yes, they can count as support electives. Please see this page for detailed information. We especially encourage you to enroll in German language courses, as they are specially designed for international students.
Seminars and practical courses
When do I apply for seminars and practical courses?
You must apply for seminars and practical courses at the end of the preceding semester. See this page for up-to-date information on deadlines and the application process.
How do I find support elective courses?
Support electives are offered not only through the department of Informatics, but also through the Carl von Linde Akademie (in German), UnternehmerTUM and the language center. View the support electives page for an overview of electives available, the general concept and links to the lists of accepted courses for each study program. Only these lists are legally binding.
Interdisciplinary Project (IDP)
Please see this page for the slides of the latest Let's talk about IDP @in.tum event, a How-to, and the registration form for the IDP.
- Can I do the IDP while studying abroad?
Yes, if you find a professor at our university who is willing to be your supervisor.
Or in a company?
Yes, if you find a professor at our university who is willing to be your supervisor.
Or at the LMU?
Yes, if there is no equivalent department at TUM (e.g. Computer Linguistics).
- How do I pass the IDP?
The IDP is considered as passed if you earn an average grade of 4.0 or better; the grade is calculated by weighting lecture : project with 3:7. Even if you fail the lecture portion of the IDP, you can still pass the IDP as a whole. If you fail the lecture you may retake it once.
- When and how is the grade entered into my TUMonline account?
Your supervisor gets the approval of the application of your IDP together with a grading form for the IDP. When you handed in your project to your supervisor and presented it, s/he has to send back the filled-in grading form. Together with the lecture's exam the grade will be computed and entered into TUMonline.
- Do I have to do an internship?
No, internships are optional, but some students do an internship for typically half a year. See this page for hints on how to find an internship.
- Can I take a semester of leave for an internship?
If it fits into your studies, you may apply for a semester of leave in order to pursue an internhsip. If you choose this option we recommend applying for leave for the semester just before you would start your master's thesis. In order to apply for a semester of leave, you will need a certificate from the academic advisors. Please send your TUMonline grade report, your TUMonline student progress certificate, your internship contract, and a job description to email@example.com.
- Is there any financial support for internships?
If you do an internship in Europe, you may apply for financial support through the Erasmus Student Mobility Practicum (SMP) Program.
- Can the internship be used to replace the practical course?
No. The master practical course can only be completed at our department.
- Ranking at the end of your studies
Together with your certificate you get a grading table which lists the distribution of the grades of all degrees of your study program from the last two years before your certification date.
- Ranking at the end of a semester
Starting from December 1st resp. June 1st you can apply for a semester ranking at the administrative contact of your study program, see 'Contact' of your program on your program's web page.
A ranking will only be given for those students who have achieved at least 90% of the required ECTS for their corresponding semester.
- How do I find a thesis topic?
Your bachelor's or master’s thesis at TUM is always related to a research area being pursued by a professor in the TUM department of Informatics. Use the list of research chairs as a starting point, and browse the web pages of those professors who are currently researching topics that interest you. Then contact those persons, usually Ph.D. students at the chair who work in interesting projects, and let them know why you are interested in the research area and what special knowledge or skills you may be able to contribute. There is also a platform for thesis offers which can help you to get an idea about possible topics.
- Can I conduct my thesis at another department of TUM?
Yes, but you must always register your thesis with a professor in the TUM department of Informatics who will grade the final thesis. You will need to keep in close contact with both. There are some professors of other departments with a joint appointment at the Department of Informatics at TUM, they may directly register theses.
- Can I conduct my thesis at a company?
Yes, but you must always register your thesis with a professor in the TUM department of Informatics who will grade the final thesis. You will need to keep in close contact with both, the company and the TUM professor, throughout the thesis process, keeping them informed of your progress, and asking for feedback. Usually the company as well as the professor will assign a supervisor to you. Please do also see the TUM Handout Theses.
- Can I conduct my thesis at another university?
Yes, but you must always register your thesis with a professor in the TUM department of Informatics who will grade the final thesis. You will need to keep in close contact with both, the professor at the other university and the TUM professor, throughout the thesis process, keeping them informed of your progress, and asking for feedback. TUM professors often have close contact to colleagues at another university.
- Are there scholarships for writing a thesis outside of TUM?
For European countries you can apply for ERASMUS Studierenden Mobilität Praktikum (SMP). Outside of Europe you have the possibility to apply for Promos.
- How long will it take me to find a thesis topic and supervisor?
Please allow up to 2 months for the process of exploring and defining a thesis topic. If you plan to conduct your thesis at a company or start looking for possibilites during lecture free time, allow even more time for this process.
- Am I allowed to enroll in courses while working on my thesis?
Yes, enrolling in one or two courses is fine (e.g. a seminar or support electives).
- Is there further information on theses?
Here you can find general information of the Department of Informatics; at the pages of your study program, e.g. here for Master's Informatics you find more specific information.
Each winter semester we invite you to a meeting where we inform about (almost) everything around the bachelor's thesis - in German.
Each summer semester we invite you to a meeting where we inform about (almost) everything around the master's thesis - in English.
Please observe the announcements. There is also a blog on theses by Elmar Jürgens, the speaker of these meetings; here you can also find a recorded version of his talk on May 6th, 2015. Please note that it might be difficult to understand it without having attended one of these meetings.
Individual confirmation of my study progress
- My student visa expires soon and I need a confirmation that I have completed my studies. Who can help?
You can get the preliminary certificate which can be issued once all your grades are visible in your grade report in TUMonline (green). Please contact your secretary of the examination board so that s/he can launch your certificate at the examination office in Garching. At this office you can then get your preliminary certificate immediately.
- I need an individual singed and stamped confirmation of my study progress for the KVR, DAAD, a scholarship etc. Who can help?
If the grade report (which is valid without a stamp and a signature) and the confirmation of enrollment (print documents in TUMonline) is not sufficient please visit your Secretary of the Examination Board during her/his opening hours. Then it will be individually checked what kind of a confirmation can be issued.
End of studies
- When will I receive my degree certificate?
Your certificate can only be generated at the examination office in Garching when you passed all the necessary examinations and they are set valid in your TUMonline account. The certificate is applied for by your secretary of the examination board and then usually takes up to 6 weeks to process. Once the certificate is applied for the examination office can also issue a preliminary confirmation. Best you contact your secretary of the examination board at the end of your studies to discuss your certificate and the timeline.
When the examination office compiled your certificate you will be notified by post to the address given in your TUMonline account - please do always take care of a valid, current address!
For more information on graduation documents please visit the TUM webpage.
- Is there a graduation ceremony?
Yes, there is a graduation ceremony once a year, usually in December. You will receive an invitation to the ceremony through your tum.de e-mail account and by post sent to your home address listed in TUMonline. You can register for the next ceremony here.
- When will I be exmatriculated?
Please visit this page for TUM regulations .
- Can I apply to earn a Ph.D. at TUM?
Yes. For further information about Ph.D. programs at TUM, please visit this page.
- Can I work in Germany after I graduate?
Yes, you are allowed to stay in Germany up to a year after graduation to search for a job. Once you secure a position your visa is usually extended. For students graduating in the field of Informatics the chances of securing a job right away are very high.