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The Best Universities in Germany

Expatrio 2024-02-15
Student lies ein Buch in der Bibliothek


When it comes to choosing a German university, there’s a lot to consider. This includes choosing the right study program, in the right location, as well as looking at the quality in general.

On this page we consider the different ranking systems and also take a look at the top five in Germany.


Facts about German Universities


Founding Year of the Oldest German University

Universities in Germany

+ Mio.

Immatriculated Students in Germany


Learn more about the academical site of Germany and get to know the ranking to find your ideal place to study!


Important Rankings

Looking into popular Rankings can help you with your decision where to study in Germany.


CHE Ranking

The CHE ranking system only applies to German universities. The Center for Higher Education Development in Germany (CHE) releases both its ‘Excellence Rankings’ and ‘Research Rankings’ each year.

These rankings are released in Die Zeit newspaper and universities are ranked differently according to each subject.

These rankings are ideal for someone looking for the university for a certain subject, rather than more generally.


QS World University Ranking

Released annually by Quacquarelli Symonds, the QS rankings are the most commonly referenced university ratings in the world.

Based largely on peer reviews by scholars, academics and recruiters, the rankings also take student: teacher ratio into consideration.

According to the QS rankings, the top German universities are Munich’s two main institutions, the TMU (Technical University of Munich) and LMU (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich).


Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings 2019

Created by a leading UK newspaper, the Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings rates institutions according to 13 performance indicators, grouped into five key areas; teaching, citations, research, industry income and international outlook. There is much more weight given to teaching, citations and research.

According to the THE rankings, TMU, LMU and Heidelberg are the top German universities.


Academic Ranking of World Universities

One of the oldest ranking systems, these ratings are compiled by ShanghaiRanking Consultancy.

These rankings are made according to numbers of published articles, Nobel prizes and Fields medals and do not use peer reviews, surveys or even the quality of teaching to assert rankings.

According to the Academic Ranking, the top German universities are University of Munich, Heidelberg and TMU, which both appear in the top 50.


Top 5 German Universities

Ranking form 1-5, we list the top German universities, using a combination of the above-ranking systems.


LMU Munich

The Ludwig-Maximillian University in Munich is one the largest and arguably the most prestigious universities in all of Germany, which 46 associated Nobel prizes.

Founded in 1472, it is most well-known for is Medical Faculty and associated University Hospital, as well as its degree courses and research in Literature, Humanities and Physical Sciences.


Technical University of Munich

Frequently grappling with LMU for the top spot in the national rankings, the TU Munich is considered the best technical university in Germany, delivering a wide range of degrees. It’s especially celebrated for an entrepreneurial and innovative spirit.


Humboldt University of Berlin

The Humboldt University of Berlin was founded in 1810. It’s a leading institution for medicine, and has 55 Nobel prizes associated with it.

Located in central Berlin, it’s popular with those hoping to get a prestigious degree whilst living in one of Europe’s most exciting cities. The university’s much copied ‘Humboldtian model of education’ has earned it the name ‘the mother of all modern universities’.


University of Freiburg

This research university was founded in 1457, making it one of Germany’s oldest universities. Its full name is the Alfred Ludwig University of Freiburg.

Its most prominent academic areas are the natural sciences, humanities and social sciences.


University of Heidelberg

The University of Heidelberg is the oldest in Germany and one of the oldest in the world even, having been founded in 1386.

Major areas of study include the humanities, natural sciences, medicine and social sciences. It’s one of Germany’s most prestigious universities.


Best public universities in Germany

Many international students are wondering what the best public German universities really are.

Given the sheer amount of universities all over Germany, we took a look at the most prestigious ones:


University of Tübingen

The University of Tübingen, founded in 1477, ranks 89th internationally and shows particular strength in research. Eleven Nobel Prize winners are associated with the university, the majority of them from medicine and chemistry. The university is popular mainly for its teaching in humanities, natural sciences and theology, and is in contact internationally with more than 150 institutions in 62 countries.

The university has also gained global recognition in medicine, economics and law. In WS 2019/20, 27196 students were counted at the University of Tübingen, of which approximately 17.3% were international students. Among the most famous graduates are Pope Benedict XVI, Horst Köhler and Ernst Albrecht.


RWTH Aachen University

The Rhenish-Westphalian Technical University of Aachen was founded in 1870 and focused on teaching engineering and the local mining industry. Internationally, it ranks 87th and scores best in revenue. RWTH Aachen gained global prominence primarily with its faculties of natural sciences and engineering. However, the university also offers courses in medicine and philosophy.

With 47173 students, of which approx. 26.4% are international and represent 138 countries, RWTH Aachen is the largest university for technical studies in Germany. Five Nobel Prize winners, including Philipp Lenard, Wilhelm Wien, Johannes Stark, Peter Debye and Karl Ziegler, studied or taught there. In addition, Aachen is located relatively centrally in Europe and is, therefore, part of the heart of Europe.


Top private universities in Germany

Other than public universities, in Germany, there is a wide range of private universities, too.


FOM Hochschule für Oekonomie und Management

With more than 42,000 students, FOM is Germany's largest private university. FOM is supported by the non-profit Stiftung BildungsCentrum der Wirtschaft (Education Center of the Economy Foundation) based in Essen. It offers working professionals the opportunity to gain academic qualifications parallel to their job and obtain state and internationally recognized Bachelor's and Master's degrees. Teaching focuses on practice-oriented courses in the fields of economics, business & law, health & social services, IT management, and engineering.

Lectures in the modern lecture halls and seminar rooms take place outside regular working hours in the evenings and on weekends at 29 university centers nationwide. Unlike distance learning, this face-to-face concept allows students to receive optimal support. They are in personal contact with their lecturers and fellow students, exchange ideas about the course material, and discuss experiences or problems. This promotes the learners' motivation - and at the same time, improves knowledge transfer of what has been discussed into practice.

Carl Remigius Medical School

The goal of Carl Remigius Medical School is to secure and further develop the high level of healthcare in Germany. To this end, the school trains specialists and managers urgently needed in the industry in a targeted and future-oriented manner. The Carl Remigius Medical School prepares students in a targeted manner for the challenges of the market through the high level of practical orientation in their studies. Their degree programs and apprenticeships have an interdisciplinary and holistic orientation.


List of German Universities by discipline

Check out our list

The choice of university can already lay the foundation for a successful future. This does not mean that you have no chance with a degree from a university that scores less in the university rankings. But it can be an advantage if recruiters associate good graduates and a sound education with your university.

The ranking (compiled by Wirtschaftswoche and Universum) shows which universities in various faculties are particularly sought after by recruiters and where you can graduate with a degree that will really score you points in your subsequent application. The percentage in parentheses indicates how many of the recruiters surveyed said they would like to see graduates from this university as applicants and have had good experiences with students.


University ranking for business administration

  • 1st University of Mannheim (27.5%)
  • 2nd Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (21.2%)
  • 3rd University of Cologne (19.3%)
  • 4th Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt (16.6%)
  • 5th Frankfurt School of Finance & Management (private: 15.8%)


University ranking for VWL

  • 1st Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich (17.9%)
  • 2nd University of Cologne (17.2%)
  • 3rd Free University of Berlin (17%)
  • 4th University of Mannheim (16.9%)
  • 5th Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt (16.9%)


University Ranking for Computer Science

  • 1st Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen (23.9%)
  • 2nd Technical University of Berlin (23.9%)
  • 3rd Technical University of Munich (22.9%)
  • 4th Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (19.9%)
  • 5th Technical University of Darmstadt (17.8%)


Interested in a full overview of German universities for different fields?

We got you! Check out these resource pages and find out more about top German universities for each respective field:



What is the best university in Germany for international students?

The Technical University of Munich has the highest proportion of international students at almost a third, arguably making it the best choice for non-German students.


What is the best university in Germany for MS?

The top German universities for completing a Master of Science are the Technical University of Munich, RWTH Aachen, the Technical University of Berlin and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.


What is the largest university in Germany?

The University of Hagen with almost 90,000 students is by far the largest university in Germany. That is because it offers distance learning courses. The next largest university in Germany is the LMU (Ludwig-Maximillian-University, Munich) which has over 50,000 students.


How many universities are there in Germany?

There are almost 400 higher education institutions in Germany. About one-fifth of these are private universities, 110 are academic universities, 220 are universities of applied sciences, and 58 are art/music/film universities. The rest are specialized institutions of higher education.

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