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Your guide to studying in Germany

Everything you need to know if you want to study in Germany – tips, links and info on universities, study programmes, requirements and scholarships.

Christina Iglhaut, 19.06.2019
International, innovative, free – studying in Germany
International, innovative, free – studying in Germany © LMU/Jan Greune

Which is the best uni in Germany? How do I apply for a student visa? Which scholarships are there in Germany? And which requirements do I have to meet to study in Germany? This is where you’ll find the answers to all these questions – and many more besides.

Studying in Germany

Germany is considered an attractive study destination worldwide. On a global comparison the Federal Republic ranks fourth on the list of the most popular countries among international students. Some 13 percent of all students at German universities came from abroad in 2018. And there are plenty of reasons for that.

Why study in Germany?

Employers worldwide value German degrees. And there is a huge range of courses on offer: Germany boasts more than 400 higher education institutions with over 19,000 different study programmes. Whether you want to study medicine, environmental engineering, robotics, agricultural sciences or peace and conflict research, you will find the right course. Find out here exactly how.

Every years sees new, innovative, practice-based and above all international study programmes are launched in Germany. In Berlin, for example, the new “Code University” was opened in 2018. Here, founder Thomas Bachem outlines how they want to train the creative digital class of the future.

Moreover, since 2014 German and international students at state universities have not had to pay study fees – only a small semester fee is charged. As you can see, studying in Germany is not only highly diverse, but also virtually free of charge. You can find more reasons to study in Germany here.

Requirements to study in Germany

You need to fulfil certain requirements to study in Germany on undergraduate or doctoral programmes. What is more, applications differ greatly from those for a job, for instance. Your first port of call is the Akademisches Auslandsamt (AAA) of the university you wish to attend in Germany. At some universities it is called the “International Office” or “International Center” (IC). There advisers are on hand to provide comprehensive information on the application process: admission requirements, deadlines, application requirements, language courses and much more besides.

Applying to study

Applying to study for a PhD

Study in Germany in English

There is a wide variety of international programmes on offer, meaning you don’t have to be able to speak German to study in Germany. The DAAD database International Programmes in Germany lists more than 160 mostly English-language Bachelor’s courses and around 1,100 international Master’s programmes.

And should you nonetheless want to learn German before studying or undertaking a research trip in Germany, tips on learning the language and plenty of useful links are available here.

Study in Germany with a scholarship

Numerous organisations offer scholarships for international students in Germany. These tips will help ensure that you too have the best chances at winning a scholarship and studying in Germany with success.

Applying for a student visa in Germany

Obtaining a visa is one of the most important and first steps for prospective students from abroad. Germany offers various kinds of student visa, for which you can apply from the German Embassy or German Consulate in your home country. Make sure you get one before arriving in Germany.

Click here for tips on getting a student visa.

If you are looking to study in Germany, this checklist will help get you off to a successful start:

  1. Know your goals
    Which study course or programme do you want to take?
  2. Check all requirements
    Among other things, you will need proof of financial resources – you can also find out about a scholarship
  3. Apply for a student visa
    Contact the German Embassy or German Consulate in your home country
  4. Get health insurance
    Personal health insurance is obligatory in Germany
  5. Register your new address
    Within your first two weeks in Germany

Study in Germany

Tertiary education institutions in Germany

Germany has a total of 426 institutes of tertiary education, of which 106 are universities, six are teacher-training colleges, 16 theological colleges, 52 art academies, 216 universities of applied sciences, and 30 public administration colleges. Most higher education institutions cooperate with several universities and institutes abroad.

German higher education institutions are international, innovative and globally networked: Five success factors of German universities.

Top universities in Germany

The magazine Times Higher Education (THE) publishes an annual ranking of the top 1,000 universities in the world. Ten German universities are among the top 100. These are the highest-ranking unis:

  1. Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (32nd place)
  2. Technische Universität München (44th place)
  3. Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg (47th place)
  4. Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (67th place)
  5. Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg

Deutschlands innovativste Universitäten

Unis of superlatives

In addition to the quality of instruction however, there are a range of other superlatives that apply to German universities. The following are Germany’s most innovative, largest, oldest and most international unis:

  • Most international uni: Barenboim-Said Akademie Berlin
  • Most attractive uni: Universität Rostock
  • Largest uni: Fernuniversität Hagen
  • Smallest uni: Hochschule für evangelische Kirchenmusik Bayreuth, Lutherische Theologische Hochschule Oberursel
  • Oldest uni: Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
  • Most feminine uni: AMD Akademie für Mode & Design Berlin/Hamburg/Düsseldorf/München

More information on the top universities in Germany is available here.

Cost of studying in Germany

Studying at a public tertiary education institution in Germany has been free of charge since 2014. Nonetheless, the costs of rent, food and mobility quickly add up. If you want to save money here it is worth taking costs of living into account when choosing a study location. Click here for a list of the cheapest and most expensive university towns in Germany.

In addition, the German Federal Education Ministry offers refugees a special package of measures to facilitate access to study programmes. You can read here about how universities are becoming places of integration in Germany.

The German education system

The German higher education system enjoys a sterling reputation internationally and is well known for its excellent conditions. Click here to find out more about education in Germany and the higher education system: Information and related links on school and education.

Deutsches Schulsystem

If you wish to study in Germany, we also regularly post articles on this topic on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


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