Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Change of subject or course

Have you decided to change your course, your core or second subject or your minor field? Information as from February, 2024.

If you are still unsure whether this will help you realise your objectives, you could arrange a meeting with the Study Advisory Service. If your mind is made up, the following suggestions may help you put your plan into practice.

Do I need to start in the first semester of the subject again?

  • Yes, if you want to start studying a completely new subject.
  • No, if your study and exam credits for the new subject can be recognised, which means that you are classified in a higher semester for the subject. You must have passed the exams set down in the examination regulations and acquired the academic achievements required by the course regulations. Assessment and classification to a semester are part of the application or enrolment process.
    For your own orientation and preparation, we recommend to consult the Course and examination regulations and compare them to your previous course. If you have any doubts as to whether classification to a higher semester is realistic, you can ask the person responsible for recognition and classification in the specific subjects. Please consult that person only.
  • As a rule, you can only change in a semester during which the courses are offered. Please verify this in the ’Course catalogue’.
  • Students who are enrolled in a combined Bachelor's programme at HU can also apply to change only one of the two subjects and continue with the other subject.
  • Please note that the semester classification in the context of the application is not the same as the recognition of your achievements already made. You must apply for the latter later at the examination board of your faculty or institute, which is possible right after your enrolment.
  • You will receive information on the application process and everything you need to know about the documents to be submitted as part of the online-application, and generally in advance on the portal for prospective students under "Application".
  • Students from another university who wish to transfer to HU and have obtained their higher education entrance qualification abroad can find information on how to apply at

When can I change?

There are fixed deadlines for this:

  • If you want to start in the first semester of a subject, with a few exceptions  (see ‘Course catalogue’), you can only change in the winter semester.
  • If you want to start in a higher semester of the subject, you may also be able to change in the summer semester (please check this in the ’Course catalogue’).

You can find the application and matriculation deadlines at

How do I manage my studies until then?

There is no single answer to this question. It depends on your personal wishes, objectives and circumstances.

  • You should certainly consider whether you want to remain enrolled or whether you should ex-matriculate. The advantage of the latter is that you acquire waiting semesters that may help you when you apply for the first semester in future.
  • If you only want to change one subject of a combined bachelor’s programme, a different question may arise: What can I do to avoid losing time due to the changeover? You do not need to devote equal time to the core subject and the second subject all the time. You can consider studying the subject you want to keep more intensively and devote less time to the other. Or you can prioritise classes on career-related additional qualifications or teacher-training elements. However, bear in mind that permission to change to a different subject is not guaranteed! Would you carry on with the old combination if you had to?

Can I start attending classes on the new subject?

Yes, this is possible. However, it depends what objective you are pursuing.

  • If you want to make sure that the desired subject meets your expectations, it may make sense to attend classes. This also gives you the opportunity to talk to other students about the subject.
  • However, if you are thinking you could get a head start and take modules and exams: this is not possible. You need to be enrolled for the subject before your course and exam credits can be recognised.

What are my chances of getting a place?

That is hard to say, given that almost all first-semester and higher-semester subjects at HU have limited capacity (see ’Course catalogue’). No one knows how many prospective students with which qualifications will apply for a new subject.

  • If the subject has no capacity restrictions (no NC*), you are guaranteed to get a place.
  • For subjects with limited capacity (NC*),you will be matriculated or registered when all applications have been considered. If there are more applications than places, we fall back on a selection process.
  • In the selection process for the first semester, you compete with all new students once again. As everyone knows, your average mark in the secondary school leaving examination or its equivalent, waiting semesters and academic qualifications (see the ’How high is the numerus clausus?’ FAQ) are what matters for the basic courses.
  • This is different if the selection is being made for higher semesters: Only places that become free can be re-filled. Here, the selection criteria are course and examination achievement and social circumstances. Your average mark in the secondary school leaving examination or equivalent qualification) and waiting semesters are, therefore, no longer relevant. Also remember that students who want to switch to HU to continue studying the same subject (also called ‘university change’) take precedence over those switching from another subject (‘transfer of an advanced student’).
  • As you can see from these considerations, it makes no difference whether you are already studying at Humboldt-Universität.

*Statements on the numerus clausus (NC) can be found in the current Course catalogue.

Can I switch my core subject and second subject - simply ‘re-register’?

No, you need to go through the above procedure. Also remember that some subjects are only offered as second subjects. The combination must also be permitted, for example, if you are intending to go into teaching. You can find tables containing relevant information in the ’Bachelor’s and master’s courses’ FAQ and the ’Teacher training programme’ overview.

What else do I need to consider?

Please check whether any of the following circumstances apply to you and make sure you resolve any associated issues as early as possible.

  • Do you satisfy the special admission requirements, e.g. for subjects such as Sports Sciences or English? You can find information on this in the HU ’Course catalogue’.
  • If you receive financial support (BAföG, foundation, or a bank loan), you need to know and obey the relevant rules relating to change of subject. Otherwise you may jeopardise your funding.
  • If you do not satisfy the general university admission criteria and are only permitted to study specific subjects, you may not be able to change subjects. Consult the Initial Counselling for Degree-Seeking Students for information on what subjects are open to you. This will help you avoid applying for unsuitable subjects and the risk of having to wait another year until you can re-apply.

You can find information resources and contacts related to the application/matriculation procedures in the HU Portal for prospective students.

Can someone give me support?

The Counselling and Information  services are at your side with information resources and advice. The faculties and departments themselves provide help and support via Course Advisory Service and the Peer Counselling office.

Also refer to the following FAQ/overview:


Note: For information on medical programmes please contact Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Referat Studienangelegenheiten, Virchowweg 24, 10098 Berlin, Germany Hotline +49 30 450-576042, Internet:

Social Counselling for Students

Studierendenwerk, BAföG Office (BAföG: Federal Education and Training Funding Act)

Information according to EU-DSGVO


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