Admission Restrictions, Application, Matriculation

You have attained the Abitur? Congratulations! Now you can find out if you have to apply and which application procedure is required to study your desired course. Some study programs are subject to national or local admission restrictions.

About 39 percent of all undergraduate study programs have admission restrictions, according to the German Rectors’ Conference (winter semester 2022/23). Applicants should be aware that they may not be accepted to a study program for which they have to meet specific criteria.

When do admission restrictions apply?

In general, when there are too many applicants for one study program, admission restricitons are common. The higher education institution calculates the number of places in these study programs and defines the respective local admission restrictions. All universities in Germany have admission restrictions for medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry and pharmacy. In German, this is referred to as bundesweite Zulassungsbeschränkung (national admission restrictions). Find further information at the Stiftung für Hochschulzulassung (www.hochschulstart.de).

What does „N.c.“ mean?

A silver pen marks on a calendersheet the 21th day.
Foto: Bundesagentur für Arbeit

„N.c.“ is an acronym for the latin phrase „Numerus Clausus“, which means „Closed Number“. A course has an N.c. if only a limited number of places is available and the institutions have set selection processes. By the average grade, the waiting time and perhaps other selection criteria the university constitutes a ranking order of the applicants. Colloquially “N.c.” means the threshold of the overall average grade at which the last university place was given in the past semester.

An example: An N.c. of 2.2 means that all applicants who attained an average grade of 2.1 or higher – as well as the grade 2.2 – will be admitted. In most cases, not all applicants with the same average grade can be admitted because the number of places is limited. In this case, secondary criteria (usually the number of semesters the applicants had to wait) will be used to decide whether or not an applicant is admitted. In some N.c. lists you may find, for example, the grade 2.2 with the supplement (3). It means all applicants with an average grade of 2.1 or higher as well as all applicants who had a 2.2 average and have waited for at least three semesters were admitted. Applicants with an average grade of 2.2 who waited less than three semesters were not enrolled.

Some people believe these thresholds are “determined” by the institutions before the study program begins.

However: Only the number of study places is predetermined. The threshold originates every semester and during every new admission procedure because of the competition against other applicants. It is a result of an enclosed admission procedure. The threshold value can give certain evidence to estimate the own chances, but it is an unreliable source when it comes to assessing future admission because the number of applicants and places as well as the selection criteria may change.

Tip: In no case should you withdraw an application for a study program only because your overall average grade doesn't meet the N.c. of the last procedure.

Selection processes at a glance

Places in national and local study programs that are subject to admission restrictions are awarded based on diverse processes that differ in terms of the selection rules and criteria as well as the offices to which applications must be sent.

Info: You will find information about the selection process of your study program on the website of your university.

National admission restrictions

There are four programs for which places at universities in all federal states are allocated through hochschulstart.de: medicine, veterinary medicine (this program can be started only in the winter semester), dentistry and pharmacy.

Local admission restrictions

If the subject you want to study at a state-run higher education institution is subject to a local rather than a national N.c., you must adhere to the deadlines to apply at the institution.

Dialog-oriented service process

Hochschulstart.de is partly supporting higher education institutions by implementing their internal selection processes, offering a dialog-oriented service process (Dialogorientiertes Serviceverfahren, DoSV) for study programs subject to local admission restrictions. Please take a look at your university's website to determine whether your study program is taking part at DoSV. In this case you will also have to take a look at the process information at hochschulstart.de.



The Stiftung für Hochschulzulassung (SfH) provides information on how to apply for study programs that are subject to national admission restrictions as well as to DoSV.

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Find information and application tips in German on this website published by the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit):


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