FAQs for Admissions


Are all the students at the school German?

Our student population is very diverse with over 25 nationalities represented at the school. Germans make up the largest share, however, there is a significant number of international students from Central and South America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, as well as many students from the United States.

How will my child who is not from Germany integrate at this school?

In 1961, the German School was founded with the goal of offering students a learning environment in which they have daily and intensive exposure to German culture and language. Up to 650 students attend the German School from Preschool through 12th grade. Many of our families have lived in several different countries before moving to the Washington D.C. area. There is a variety of nationalities and experiences and we all learn from one another. Our student community is marked by tolerance which brings about respect and fairness, leading to a swift integration of new students.

What is the student-teacher ratio?


Due to open enrollment throughout the school year the average class sizes may vary.


Average class size 2017/2018


Elementary School

School Entry Level (SEL)



Grades 1-4


11 students



19 students

On average, a second teacher supports an SEL class for three hours each day. (double staffing).

Orientation Level

Grade 5

19 students


In grades 5 through 12 , every  grade level has two parallel classes with a homeroom teacher.

Intermediate Level

Grades 6-9


17 students

Upper Level

Grades 10-12


16 students


Our Preschool groups are organized according to the regulations by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and the Office of Child Care (OCC) and depend on the room size and the number of children.
Groups of 2-year-olds: 1 teacher for up to 6 kids
Groups of 3- and 4-year olds: 1 teacher for up to 10 kids

Where do the teachers come from?

We have over 70 teachers at the school from a variety of backgrounds. Around 12 of our teachers are sent to Washington by the German Government for a teaching period of 3 to 6 years to teach, upon completion of which they return to their home district and resume their previous teaching duties.  The rest of our teachers are hired locally with the vast majority coming from Germany and having settled in the Washington, D.C. area. All our teachers hold advanced teaching certificates and instruction is held according to  German curricula.

Where do GISW graduates study? What kind of career options will my child have?

Our students graduate with a dual degree which consists of the U.S. High School Diploma and the German International Abitur (DIA) www.internationalabitur.org. With these, our students are well-equipped to attend any prestigious university worldwide and to follow a promising and international career path. Despite the geographically often large distances, alumni are closely connected, cultivating friendships and maintaining professional ties worldwide. Our graduates have been accepted by a range of renowned universities, to name just a few:
- Carnegie Mellon University, USA
- Duke University, USA
- Georgetown University, USA
- Harvard University, USA
- Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany
- Johns Hopkins University, USA
- King’s College London, UK
- Ludwig Maximilian Universität München, Germany
- Oxford University, UK
- Princeton University, USA
- Stanford University, USA
- Technische Universität Berlin, Germany
- Yale University, USA

Does the German International School Washington provide bus service?

Yes, the school provides a fee-based bus service to many areas throughout Maryland, Virgina and Washington, D.C. for a fee. Information about the school bus service is under CAMPUS LIFE > Bus.

How can we as parents get involved at the GISW?

Parents play an important role at the German International School. For information on the getting involved please go to: ABOUT US > Parents' Association > Parent Involvement.


What does the enrollment process look like?

For information on the enrollment process, please go to: ADMISSIONS > Enrollment Process & Deadlines.

When are the enrollment deadlines?

For information on the enrollment deadlines, please go to: ADMISSIONS > Enrollment Process & Deadlines.

What is the timeline for application approval?

For information on the approval time, please go to: ADMISSIONS > Enrollment Process & Deadlines.

What are the costs for the German International School?

Please refer to the current Tuition and Fee Schedule at ADMISSIONS > Tuition.

How is the GISW able to offer comparably low tuition rates?

The German International School Washington d.C. is financially supported by the German government and the salaries of the faculty members who are sent from Germany are paid by German government as well. Other private schools in the area do not have this advantage.

Does my child have to speak German in order to attend?

Preschool students do not need to be fluent in German to succeed; however, it is beneficial to the child to have at least a basic understanding prior to attendance.

From School Entry Level through grade 12 a certain level of German language skills is required in order to follow academic classes. For non-native speakers, the German School conducts a German language evaluation in order to determine the German language skill level of your child.

What are the cutoff dates for Preschool and the School Entry Level (SEL)?

Please refer to this page for current cut-off dates: https://giswashington.org/age-entry-requirements.html

At the preschool level, for children who are turning the necessary age mid-year, enrollments during the year are also possible. Parents have the option to pay in order to reserve the spot until the child turns the required age.

Does my child have to be potty-trained to attend preschool?

2-year-olds do not need to be potty-trained. Our staff changes diapers throughout the day. Children participating in the program for 3 to 4-year-olds need to be potty-trained prior to starting class.

What are the immunization requirements?

All students must be immunized in accordance with Maryland State Law. Please complete and submit all necessary forms that are posted at ADMISSIONS > Forms.

Please note U.S. vaccine requirements are different from those of the EU. Generally speaking, turning the health forms over to a pediatrician as soon as possible is recommended in order to ensure the appropriate and timely immunization of children.

The Curriculum

What languages are taught at the German International School?

German is the primary language of instruction. English is the required first “foreign language” taught at the school starting in first grade. Additionally, students choose between French and Spanish when they enter 6th grade, and they have the option to add Latin in 8th grade and Spanish in 9th grade. There is also remedial instruction available in English, French, Spanish, and German.

What level is the English language taught at?

Beginning with the basics of the English language in Elementary School up to complex analysis of literature in the upper level of the Secondary School, the German International School offers a comprehensive English program that teaches reading, writing and speaking, helping students reach native-level knowledge of the English language. By providing special attention and safety nets for beginners as well as offering demanding tasks and literature to advanced and gifted students, we prepare our students for their daily and professional life with interesting and challenging English classes. Living in their American host country, students have the opportunity to advance and deepen their knowledge of the English language through visiting theaters and museums, participating in Model United Nations, poetry and other workshops, lectures as well as in interdisciplinary projects.

What diplomas do students receive upon graduation?

Students earn the German International Abitur (DIA) and the U.S. High School Diploma upon completion of twelfth grade. For more information please go to ACADEMICS > Grades 5 through 12 > DIA & High School Diploma.

Students who join us from Germany and who are on the Realschul-Level are integrated in the classroom and graduate with the Realschulabschluss upon completion of tenth grade. Please contact our Admissions Coordinator at admissions@giswashington.org to discuss specifics.

Are students at GISW prepared for the SAT Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)?

Yes, German International School students can participate in PSAT and SAT preparation courses. For further information, please go to: ACADEMICS > Grades 5 through 12 > SAT Preparation & Exams.

Are Advanced Placement (AP) courses and exams offered at GISW?

Yes, Advanced Placement (AP) classes are part of the academic program. For further information, please go to: ACADEMICS > Grades 5 through 12 > AP Courses and Exams.

What sort of extracurricular activities does the school offer?

We offer a wide range of afternoon program activities from Computer Science, Conducting Experiments, to Fiber Arts and Hip Hop dancing. For older students SAT Prep and Model UN are available, as well. To see the overview of current afternoon courses please go to one of these pages:

> ACADEMICS > Elementary School > Afternoon Program
> ACADEMICS > Grades 5 through 12 > Afternoon Program

In the German school system the academic education of students has priority over their athletic development. Nevertheless, because of the influence of American culture, the German School offers a much wider range of athletic extracurricular activities compared to schools in Germany.

Having an indoor pool, several gyms and outside field space, the school provides opportunities for every student to participate in a variety of sports on a regular basis. In addition to regular physical education classes and extracurricular activities the school frequently competes with public and private schools in the area. Typical sports teams include Soccer, Volleyball, Basketball, Tennis and Swimming. Students participating in the Athletic Program work toward individual goals and in the direction of physical awareness, mental determination, social cooperation, respect and fairness. Throughout their development, the sports experience prepares the student to understand life’s many challenges. With the support of family and friends, our Sports Program encourages a lifetime obligation to promote physical health and wellbeing.

Campus & Facilities

Does the German School have a library?

Yes. The German School has libraries in the Elementary School building as well as in the Upper School building including a library for preschoolers. Together, these libraries dispose of about 36,000 books, CDs, DVDs etc. in German, English and other foreign languages. The Elementary School library has the largest collection of German language youth literature in North America.

> Library of the Preschool
> Library of the Elementary School
> Library of Grades 5 through 12

Do students have access to computers?

Yes. The school has two computer labs and a bank of computers in the library. In addition, there is a computer linked to a smartboard in every classroom.

What does the German School do regarding the environment?

As a model for environmental protection in Maryland, the German School has been teaching its students to separate trash since 2005 and has received several awards from Montgomery County for its successful recycling program. Students are not only taught to appreciate and preserve the environment, but the school also decided to build the Science Building (opened in 2011) in accordance with a green concept. The new building has been registered for certification with the U.S. Green Building Council for LEED Gold Status (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).