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Colleges in Germany [Complete Guide]

Expatrio 2024-02-27
Colleges in Germany


No tuition fees for international students at German universities

In Germany, there are state and state-recognized institutions of higher education, which are usually divided into universities, universities of applied sciences, and colleges of art and music.

The German higher education system is highly respected and internationally renowned. In fact, Germany is the third most popular destination for international students in the world, after the US and UK.

One of the main reasons why so many students choose to study in Germany is because tuition fees are generally very low or even nonexistent. In addition, most German universities offer excellent programs taught in English, which makes them even more attractive to international students.

If you're considering studying in Germany, here's a complete guide to colleges in Germany, including information on tuition fees, admission requirements, and the most popular universities.


General Information

The majority of universities are financed by the state and are therefore state-run. However, there are also colleges run by the Protestant or Catholic churches and private colleges that are state-approved. Most private universities are universities of applied sciences.

There are around 400 institutions of higher education in Germany, including more than 100 universities, over 200 universities of applied sciences, and about 50 colleges of art and music.

Universities offer a wide range of academic programs leading to a Bachelor's, Master's, or Doctorate degree. Universities of applied sciences are characterized by a strong practical orientation. The range of subjects is generally not as extensive as at universities and usually focuses on technical engineering, economics and social sciences.

Universities in Germany regularly occupy top positions in international rankings. Whether you are interested in an MBA at one of the top business schools in the country, want to complete your Bachelor's or Master's degree, or simply want to take a course in a specific field such as psychology, philosophy, technology, or science, you are sure to find a prestigious school in your favorite city!


Is college in Germany free?

Top German universities do not charge tuition fees.

If you are looking into studying abroad and in search of information and data about costs, you will find out that Germany is a country where education at the best universities and institutions of higher education is completely free. Admission requirements, on the other hand, can be quite demanding, which is why you should thoroughly check the websites of the individual universities to which you plan to apply. Always check the due date of your application and how you can stay enrolled in your second year of study.

If you would like to pursue a Master after completing your Bachelor's, you can apply for the best Master's programs anywhere in the nation. There are no fees for international students who wish to continue their education after their first degree and remain in the country as a student. Just make sure you meet all the requirements on student visas and get advice from the student council or the International Office of your university.

Why is studying in Germany free of charge?

Following a decision by the Federal Constitutional Court in 2005, tuition could be charged from the first semester onwards. Until then, studying at a state university was free of charge (with the exception of semester fees). Only long-term students and visiting students (students from other universities who were not seeking degrees or writing exams) had to pay for their studies.

These fees were a hot issue in every election. Gradually, they were abolished again in all federal states. Since 2014, tuition-free studies at state universities and colleges have once again been possible in all federal states.

Private universities, on the other hand, still rely on fees as a source of funding - and will probably always do so since private universities do not receive any state subsidies.


Is it cheap to study in Germany?

The cost of living in German cities is quite favorable compared to other European countries.

Students in need an average of €900 per month to cover their living expenses. Prices for food, housing, bills, clothing and entertainment are essentially in line with the EU average. Monthly rent is the largest expense. These costs average €320.

Rental prices in university cities like Berlin vary widely. Housing for students is most expensive in cities with a large population, like Munich (€387 rent per month), Cologne, Frankfurt (€375 each) and Hamburg (€373). The eastern German cities are the most affordable, led by Chemnitz, Leipzig and Dresden.



Which are the best colleges and top universities in Germany?

The QS World University Ranking and the World Report of top universities in Germany show that technical disciplines (e.g., the Bachelor of Engineering at the Technical University of Munich) rank particularly high on the list for both Bachelor's programs and Masters. The nation is regularly in the news for offering one of the best educations in the world to students seeking schools with highly qualified professors and instructors.

The Global University Ranking has placed these top schools of higher education at the top of its list:

1. Technical University of Munich

The Technical University of Munich was founded in 1868 and is a member of TU9, an association of nine of the most renowned technical universities. TUM has 15 academic faculties and around 40,000 students, over 30% of whom come from abroad. It calls itself “The Entrepreneurial University” and aims to create a supportive environment for entrepreneurs.

2. Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich

Ludwig Maximilian University is recognized as one of the leading academic and research institutions in Europe. Since its founding in 1472, LMU has attracted dedicated scientists and talented students from around the world, keeping the university at the forefront of ideas that challenge and transform our complex world.

3. Heidelberg University

Founded in 1386, Heidelberg University is the oldest university in the country and one of the strongest research universities in Europe. Its successes in the Excellence Initiative and the Excellence Strategy, as well as its placements in internationally recognized rankings, attest to the university's leading role and outstanding reputation in the higher education landscape.

4. Humboldt University Berlin

The university was founded in Berlin in 1810 and was given the title “mother of all modern universities” in order to achieve a unity of teaching and science and to provide students with a comprehensive humanistic education. This concept spread throughout the world.

5. Free University Berlin

Freie Universität is an outstanding and forward-looking institution in the world-renowned German academic landscape. It has repeatedly been voted one of the best universities in the country and is distinguished by its international orientation, interdisciplinary approach, and social commitment.

There are many reasons to study at a college in Germany. The country has a long tradition of academic excellence, and its colleges and universities are among the best in the world. Additionally, the cost of living and studying in Germany is quite affordable compared to other European countries.

Finally, there is a wide range of colleges and universities to choose from, so you can find the perfect fit for your academic and professional goals.

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