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Outstanding universities in Germany

Superlative higher education: these are Germany’s most innovative, largest, oldest and most international universities.

Germany is home to many universities of international standing.
Germany is home to many universities of international standing. © dpa

Germany’s best universities


Times Higher Education (THE) publishes an annual list of the world’s 1,000 best universities. 7 German universities rank among the top 100:

  • Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (32)
  • Technische Universität München (44)
  • Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg (47)
  • Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (67)
  • RWTH Aachen (87)
  • Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen (89)
  • Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin (90)
LMU © dpa

Germany’s most innovative universities

In 2019, 23 German universities are listed among Reuters Top 100 of Europe’s most innovative universities. The news agency Reuters compiles the ranking on the basis of ten criteria, including the number of patent filings and research paper citations. These are the three top spots:

  • Universität Nürnberg-Erlangen (2)
  • Technical University of Munich (7)
  • Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg (11)
Universität Erlangen
Erlangen © dpa

The German university to produce the most Nobel laureates

The Technical University of Munich has so far produced 16 Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry and medicine, the Universities of Heidelberg and Göttingen each have 14.

Germany’s largest university

Around 75,000 students are currently enrolled at Germany’s only state-funded distance education university in Hagen.

Fernuniversität Hagen
© FernUniversität in Hagen, Dirk Matull

Germany’s oldest university

Founded in 1386, Heidelberg University (originally named Ruperto Carola) is the oldest university in Germany and one of the oldest in Europe. It is one of the leading medical universities, and Heidelberg is also home to the German Cancer Research Center. Other areas of specialisation are neurobiology, physics, chemistry, mathematics and law. Heidelberg University is the first German university to establish branches abroad; in Santiago de Chile, New York, Kyoto and Delhi.

Universität Heidelberg
Heidelberg © dpa

Germany’s most international university

Almost one in four students at the Technical University of Munich comes from abroad. According to the THE 2019 ranking, the TUM has the highest proportion of international students, at 24 percent. The record-holder is a small, private music university in Berlin, however: at the beginning of the academic year in 2016, no fewer than 97 percent of the Barenboim-Said-Akademie’s 37 students came from a country other than Germany.


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