Special Admission Process


Applications for admision are assessed against agreed selection criteria. Although these criteria are to ensure that all applicants are treated equally and according to verifiable standards, they cannot do justice in every individual case.

Some applicants find themselves in special situations, and such candidates cannot be fairly assessed according to criteria such as “average grade” and “waiting period.”

Therefore, in jusitfied cases, it is possible to submit special applications. These serve to consider possible disadvantages of candidates in the selection process.

Below we provide you with an overview of valid reasons to submit a special application.


Overview of Possible Petitions

Volunteering: Voluntary Military Service, Federal Voluntary Service, Voluntary Ecological or Social Year

The following services are recognized:

  • Voluntary military service or military service lasting up to three years
  • Federal voluntary service and service abroad in accordance with § 14 b of the German Civilian Service Act (Zivildienstgesetz, ZDG)
  • Voluntary social year
  • Voluntary ecological year
  • European Voluntary Service
  • European Solidarity Corps
  • International Youth Volunteer Service
  • Federal voluntary service
  • Voluntary service of all generations
  • German-French Voluntary Service
  • Cultural voluntary service "Weltwärts" and "Kulturweit”
  • Service as a development worker lasting at least two years
  • Caring for a natural or adopted child under the age of 18 or another relative in need of care (up to three years)
  • Foreign service, e.g. military or civilian service abroad, is taken into account if it is equivalent to German service.

Service must be carried out for at least six consecutive months, except for development aid.

In principle, involvement in one of these services can only be considered a subordinate selection criterion. This always applies if individual applicants are equally ranked. Proven completion of service is used as a so-called "subordinate selection criterion" for this purpose. When you apply, you, therefore, need to upload proof that you have completed the service in the application portal RWTHonline. If you are still completing service at the time you apply, we require a certificate that you have started the service and are completing it to date.

The following activities are not recognized services by law:

  1. Au pair
  2. Work and travel
  3. Internships
  4. Other social or humanitarian services

Prospective students wishing to complete service should definitely apply for an NC degree program before or during the service because admission before or during the service can be "applied" once the period of service has been completed. Please keep your admission letter in a safe place, reapply after service, and include the copy of this admission letter and the certified copy of the service certificate with the application. This will usually result in immediate admission. Thus, you will not be disadvantaged by a possible stricter NC during your service.

Be careful with very small courses of study: Here, the number of prospective students eligible for re-selection may be higher than the number of study places. The places will then be allocated via a lottery!

Exceptional Circumstances (Petition for a "Nachteilsausgleich")

Due to special circumstances, some prospective students are at a disadvantage when applying for a place at university. Due to illness or family circumstances, for example, their Abitur grade may have been lower than expected or it may have taken them longer to finish school by no fault of their own (competitive athletes may also be affected here!). In such cases, a better Abitur grade can be determined in cooperation with the school or additional waiting time can be credited.

Exceptional Circumstances (Petition for a "Härtefall")

In other cases, for example, an illness may mean applicants cannot wait even one more admissions round to commence their studies. If their circumstances are recognized as a "hardship case", they will be admitted to the course of study immediately. The exceptional circumstances must be special social or family reasons that make it absolutely necessary for the applicant to commence their studies straight away.

The legislator has determined that a small number of study places can be allocated to applicants for whom non-admission to the desired course of study would mean an exceptional hardship.

However, before you submit your application, please check very critically whether you truly fulfill the criteria, since not every reason that you consider relevant can be recognized as a “Härtefall” when awarding a study place. The reasons stated must implicate a serious restriction.

The Registrar's Office will inform you individually about these exceptions, the correct evidence, and the rights that those concerned have. In any case, you will need school reports, medical certificates, or other evidence.

Regulations for Top Athletes

The state of North Rhine-Westphalia and RWTH Aachen University are both committed to supporting top athletes.

Therefore, RWTH Aachen University has made use of the option granted by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia in its admission statutes.  Applicants who belong to a federally formed

  • Olympic squad
  • Perspective squad
  • Supplementary squad
  • Junior squad 1
  • Junior squad 2
  • National squad

of a national professional association of the German Olympic Sports Confederation, in short DOSB, will be given preference in the local selection and admission procedure of RWTH for admission to the first semester. This means that they will get a place at university regardless of their Abitur average.

If you belong to a corresponding squad, you can register this as part of the online application. You must prove your membership by submitting a corresponding certificate from the relevant association (confirmation of top-level sport).

To confirm your squad membership, please use our form "Confirmation of Top Athlete" and upload it (with a confirmation from the respective national professional association of the German Olympic Sports Confederation, DOSB for short) in due time as an upload in our application portal RWTHonline. You will find this form on this page in the download area below as well as in our application wizard RWTHonline.

The top associations whose members are entitled to make use of this provision are listed on the website of the German Olympic Sports Confederation. If you do not belong to one of these associations, your application cannot be considered in the context of top-level sport.

This quota does not apply to study places awarded in the nationwide selection process (medicine and dentistry).


Two percent of the study places are reserved for applicants who will still be minors at the time lectures begin and whose main residence is with their parents in the districts or cities assigned to RWTH. The details are regulated by § 23 of the ordinance for the allocation of study placements in North Rhine-Westphalia (Vergabeverordnung NRW) in the currently valid version.

Applicants are only considered in this special quota if no place can be allocated in the standard quotas (grade, waiting period, and selection).


A certificate of registration stating that the applicant lives with their parents in the districts or cities assigned to RWTH Aachen University.

A second degree program

Three percent of study places are available for 1st semester second degree applicants.

You belong to the group of second degree applicants if, at the time of application, you already hold a certificate of completion for a first degree program at a German university and now wish to take up a (second) admission-restricted course of study.

A course of study is considered completed when the required state final exam (Staatsexamen) or academic final exam (for example Bachelor's, Master's, Diplom, or Magister examination) has been successfully passed.

The certificate’s date of issue must be no later than the application deadline (July 15 to begin studies in the winter semester or January 15 for starting in a summer semester).

If you have not yet completed a first degree at a German university, you cannot apply for a second degree study placement. Accordingly, should you currently be in the final phase of your first degree program and are interested in enrolling in an additional course of study, you will only be able to apply for placement as a first degree student since you won’t yet have proof of a first degree.

If you won’t receive your first degree certificate until after you have already submitted your application, but will, at that later time, still be within the application deadline, you must change your application to a second degree program application. To do this, please inform the Registrar’s Office of the change in circumstances right away by sending an email to them at  that includes your RWTHonline applicant number (1-.......).

Application and Supporting Documents

Your application must include the following supporting documents:

  • the diploma for your first degree. The final grade with which you completed your first degree program must be shown on your diploma or on a special certificate that has been issued by the body responsible for issuing diplomas. Otherwise, the worst passing grade must be used as a basis for the application.
  • supporting documents and evidence of academic achievements and other activities, and, where appropriate, suitable evidence in support of your application for a second degree if you have taken any family leave
  • a detailed written explanation of your motivation to pursue a second course of study, including information about your previous education and professional activities as well as your intended career goal. This statement of reasons should conclusively contain all the different aspects explaining your need to obtain a second degree; the case group under which you want to apply should be explicitly mentioned.

All required documents must be uploaded either when you first submit the application in RWTHonline or afterwards via the status view of your application.


The study places are allocated according to the criteria “final exam grade of the first degree” and “reasons for the second degree.” Points are awarded for both criteria and a priority ranking number is assigned.

1. Final Exam Grade of the First Degree

The following points are given for the final exam results:

  • Excellent and Very Good grades: 4 points
  • Good and Fully Satisfactory grades: 3 points
  • Satisfactory grade: 2 points
  • Sufficient grade: 1 point
  • Grade not verified: 1 point 

2. Reasons for Attaining a Second Degree

Case Group 1 - Urgent Professional Reasons

A profession is sought which can only be exercised by completing two courses of study. Embarking on further studies will enable the student to take up a profession which requires successful completion of two courses of study. This includes, for example, the professions of oral surgeon (medicine and dentistry) or staff pharmacist of the Bundeswehr (pharmacy and food chemistry). It also applies to priests who, after studying theology, wish to study to become teachers in religious schools.

If case group 1 applies, 9 points are awarded.

Case Group 2 - Academic Reasons

Academic reasons exist if a candidate envisages a position in science and research in the future that, on the basis of their previous scientific and practical activity, calls for further academic qualification in another course of study.

If case group 2 applies,

  • 7 points shall be awarded if the academic reasons are substantial and supported by the educational background.
  • 9 points shall be awarded if the academic reasons are of particular weight and supported by prior academic performance.
  • 11 points shall be awarded if the reasons are of outstanding academic importance, supported by outstanding achievements and are of particular general interest.

In distributing the points, the following criteria are to be taken into account, using a strict standard:

  • Educational background                                                                                                                                          Previous scientific and practical activities, in particular, should be taken into account.
  • Seriousness of the desire to pursue an interdisciplinary career and the necessary studies  Here , significant scientific activities (for example, participation in federal competitions such as “Jugend forscht”) or contributions to research projects during a candidate’s studies, for example, are to be acknowledged.
  • Academic significance of the intended interdisciplinary career. What matters here is that the position sought is objectively of academic importance.

If you wish to apply for admission to a second degree program for academic reasons, an expert opinion will be drawn up at the university, which will comment on your academic qualifications.

For this expert opinion, it is necessary that you explicitly indicate in your statement of reasons that you wish to apply on academic grounds. You must also submit documents with this statement of reasons that can prove your previous academic and practical activities as well as the academic activities you have planned for the future and upload them to RWTHonline as part of your application (in particular proof of publications, proof of previous activities in science and research (collaboration in research groups, for example as student assistant) which were not carried out as part of the first degree, topic and contents of a doctorate already begun).

The following can serve as a guide:

  • Your previous professional and/or academic career should be described.
  • How are the first and second degree studies connected? How do they fit together in terms of content?

If there aren’t any ties, academic grounds cannot be invoked.

If you wish to apply for a second degree in medicine or dentistry for academic reasons, the previous paragraph does not apply to you. At the end of these notes you will find information on second degree studies for academic reasons for the Medicine and Dentistry courses of study.

Case Group 3 - Special Professional Reasons

Special professional reasons exist if an applicant’s professional career is considerably improved by having a second degree that complements the first degree in a meaningful way. This is the case if the career sought by the applicant through supplementing their first degree with a second one, can be seen as a combination of two course of study-specific career fields, which cannot typically be performed by graduates of just one of the two degree courses and the applicant demonstrably seeks this particular career. This evidence can be provided, for example, by submitting relevant job postings,  applications for positions, or rejections of applications due to lacking the second degree.

In this case group, the decisive factor is the question which professional career the applicant is pursuing and in what way both degrees are conducive to preparing for this career. The decisive factor is the applicant’s specific, tailored career plan. It must be possible to establish a solid connection between the curriculum of the completed first degree and the intended second degree.

The applicant must show in detail that their professional situation is improved considerably as a result.

They must demonstrate that the first degree is complemented by the second degree in a meaningful way, particularly according to the following aspects:

  • Which prerequisites for the desired career goal has the applicant acquired so far, as evidenced by their prior professional training and career (for example, by completing their first degree)?
  • Which requirements will be fulfilled by completing the second degree that will allow the applicant to achieve their desired professional career?

If the purpose of taking up a second course of study is merely a change of occupation, it cannot be accepted as special professional reasons. On the other hand, it is irrelevant in which field of study the focus of the future professional career lies or in which order the two courses of study are pursued.

If case group 3 applies, 7 points are awarded.

Case Group 4 - Other Professional Reasons

Other professional reasons can be claimed if the second course of study is needed to improve the candidate’s professional situation for other reasons, in particular, to compensate for an unreasonable professional disadvantage or in order to expand their employment possibilities in the career pursued on the basis of the first course of study.

Although the second degree does not complement the first degree in a meaningful way, the professional situation is considerably improved by the second degree for other reasons. To claim other professional reasons, you must submit at least some proof regarding your professional career up to now, which you have based on only the first degree and which you aim to improve.

If case group 4 applies, 4 points are awarded.

Case Group 5 - Other Reasons

All other second degree candidates are assigned to case group 5.

If case group 5 applies, 1 point is awarded.

Those who are seeking to reintegrate or re-enter the workforce after a period of family leave are eligible to receive an additional 2 points when applying for a second degree. This bonus can be considered if for family reasons (e.g. marriage, raising children), the former occupation had to be given up or if, out of consideration for family interests, it was necessary to forgo taking up suitable employment after completing the first degree. The amount of bonus points is based on the extent of the missed opportunities. The extent of the burdens (e.g. number of children, duration of time spent as a stay-at-home parent) must be taken into account in an appropriate manner.

Please note that it is essential that your statement of reasons describes your current professional and personal situation. It should contain information about your previous education and professional activity as well as your specific career goal – no need to explain your motivation. Please describe briefly and precisely to what extent your professional situation will improve or change as a result of completing further studies.

3. Calculations, Priority Ranking and Ranking List

If several reasons apply, they will not be combined; the most favorable case group is always taken as a basis for the ranking. The bonus points for applicants who have postponed their second degree for family reasons are independent of this; they are granted in addition.

The points for your completed studies and your statement of reasons for taking up second degree studies are added to your priority ranking number. This number will determine your ranking on the list of applicants for a second degree program. Applicants with a higher ranking number take precedence over those with a smaller number.

In this way, there is a clear ranking among those who have applied for the same degree program. Selection will be made in this order until all places have been allocated.

Second Degree in Medicine or Dentistry for Scientific Reasons

If you have already completed a university degree in Germany (see above) and are interested in a second degree in medicine or dentistry, please note that the following only contains information regarding applications for academic reasons.

Please carefully read the information provided by the Stiftung für Hochschulzulassung (University Admissions Foundation) first:

Information on second degree courses on the Hochschulstart site

If you would like to take up a second degree in medicine or dentistry for academic reasons, you must first apply through Hochschulstart and submit the following documents there, among others:

  • a certified copy of the diploma of your first degree showing your grade
  • certified copies of all supporting documents and evidence of academic achievements and other activities in support of your application for second degree studies
  • a detailed written explanation of your motivation to pursue second degree studies, including information about your previous education and professional activities as well as your desired career goal (including all aspects that are relevant for second degree studies)
  • brief confirmation/notification that RWTH Aachen University has been asked to prepare an expert opinion

At the same time, you have to submit the following documents to the RWTH Registrar’s Office, Super C, Templergraben 57, 52062 Aachen:

  • a certified copy of the diploma of your first degree showing your grade
  • certified copies of all supporting documents and evidence of academic achievements and other activities in support of the application for second degree studies (expert opinions, letters of recommendation, publications, contributions)
  • a detailed written explanation of your motivation to pursue second degree studies, including information about your previous education and professional activities as well as your desired career goal (including all aspects that are relevant for second degree studies)
  • Resume in Tabular Form
  • Completed form "Aufnahme eines Zweitstudiums aus wissenschaftlichen Gründen" (admission to a second degree program for academic reasons), which you will receive from Hochschulstart

The documents submitted to the Registrar's Office to have an expert opinion prepared must be submitted by June 20, 2023, at the latest.

As soon as they have received all the necessary documents, the team will forward them to the Medical Faculty of RWTH Aachen University to have an expert opinion prepared.