What does Numerus Clausus (NC) mean?

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What does numerus clausus mean? For which degree programs is this important and what are the admissions to study for? Here we clarify the most important questions about the NC!

What does Numerus Clausus (NC) mean?

The term numerus clausus comes from Latin. “Numerus” can be translated as “number” or “number”, “Clausus” means “closed”. Numerus Clausus can thus be roughly translated as “limited number”. Colloquially, Numerus Clausus is often abbreviated to NC and has the same meaning in terms of content as an admission restriction .

Explanation: What is the numerus clausus?

The Numerus Clausus (NC) is an instrument that universities use to reduce the number of applicants to the number of available places . If there are 100 places available for a course at a university, but there are 200 applicants, only those with the best grade – i.e. the NC – will be taken.

Since the numerus clausus is about supply and demand, the NC varies depending on the university and is determined every semester. The NC is oriented specifically to the respective university. It is only determined after the selection process of a university has been completed and is the current limit for the coming year.

NC: Alternative admission restrictions

The numerus clausus is not always used to screen applicants. Some universities and colleges have developed their own admission procedures , in which the graduation grade is only partially or not taken into account. Instead, proficiency tests or interviews are carried out.

Some courses have no admission restrictions. This is the case if there are fewer applicants than places to study anyway. However, this may change in the coming years.

Same courses with different NC

It can often be the case that different NCs exist for the same degree programs at different universities .

The explanation: There are more applicants in well-known and popular university or university cities. The numerus clausus is usually set very high at such locations. At smaller (or less popular) universities, on the other hand, there are fewer applicants and therefore a lower or no NC.

Common courses with Numerus Clausus

Some courses always have an NC due to their popularity or high standards.

These courses with NC include , for example:

  • medicine
  • pharmacy
  • psychology
  • various law and business courses

By the way: In the winter semester 18/19, almost 41 percent of all courses in Germany had a numerus clausus.

NC at private universities

At private universities , a numerus clausus (NC) is the exception. Most private providers rely on aptitude tests, motivation letters and discussions. This does not mean that the Abitur grade has no meaning. The selection process is only less rigid, you can compensate poor school grades, for example with internships or volunteer work .

Avoid the numerus clausus

Some of the study places – between 10 and 25% – are allocated to people on the waiting list . Semesters that have passed since leaving school count as waiting semesters . Studying in another subject does not increase the waiting time. Whoever waited the longest will be awarded the contract. The Abitur cut only counts if several people have the same number of waiting semesters.

Attention: A change is currently planned for medical courses . In the future, you will have to apply regularly to accumulate corresponding waiting times.

Shortly before the start of the semester, places will be raffled that have been vacated by cancellations. The dates for this distribution are set individually by the universities.

Criticism of the NC

The numerus clausus is often described as unfair or unsuitable . The procedure is rigid and depends solely on the grades. Interests and previous experience do not count . Likewise, pupils who had to fight their way through high school can flourish as students at the university.

Numerus Clausus is still common, the explanation for this can be found in the cost-benefit calculation. Alternative selection procedures are much more time and cost intensive .

However, some colleges and universities choose an intermediate route: they weight the Abitur grades depending on their relevance. For computer science courses, the math grade can be rated three times, German and a foreign language only once. In this way, personal interests gain at least some importance.

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