Skip to content

Studying in Austria vs. Germany: What's the Difference?

Expatrio 2024-02-26
A student sitting on the floor and typing on a laptop


So you've decided to study in Europe, but you don't know whether to choose Austria or Germany? Then you've come to the right place. Both countries have a lot to offer international students, but there are some key differences that you should consider before making your decision. 

In this article, we will compare and contrast the two countries in terms of tuition fees (public vs. private), location (big city or smaller town), safety (personal safety and crime rates), health system (quality of healthcare services), employability after graduating (percentage of graduates who find a job within six months), language barrier (how easy is it to get by without speaking German), weather (climate and average temperatures), and many more.

Why are these factors important?

To study abroad, you should consider a few factors, such as your budget, lifestyle preferences, and study goals. The aspects outlined in this article should serve merely as a guideline to steer you in the right direction. But we hope that this article helps you make a more informed decision about what country to choose for your studies in Europe.

Tuition fees

Tuition fees in most public universities are free for EU and non-EU students in both Germany and Austria. However, students will still have to pay a semester fee covering administrative, student union membership, and local public transportation costs. In Germany, the semester fee ranges from €200 to €500, while in Austria, it's slightly higher at €726.72 per semester.

Living costs

The cost of living in Austria is just slightly above that in Germany. In Austria, the living cost is estimated at around €1,100 per month. While in Germany, it is estimated to be €934 per month. However, the cost of rental properties is lower in Austria than in Germany. You can easily pay approximately €400 per month for a one-bedroom in a big city like Vienna, compared to Berlin's €700 per month.

University admission rate

The admission rate to universities in Austria is much lower than in Germany. Top universities, such as the University of Vienna, do not even publicly disclose their admission rate. Your chances of getting accepted into a German university are higher because the country has a higher number of universities and colleges.

Option to work while studying

Both countries allow students to work while studying. In Austria, however, only international students from certain nationalities are allowed to work. And for those permitted to work, there is a limit of 10 hours per week for Bachelor's degree students and 20 hours per week for Master's students.
These are a lot more simplified in Germany, where all international students are allowed to work part-time for 240 days or full-time for 120 days per year.


The more money you make in Austria, the higher your income tax will be. You could potentially pay taxes of up to 55% in Austria and only up to 45% in Germany. You definitely need to consider this aspect when comparing the two countries.

Visa requirements

Germany and Austria are both countries within the Schengen Area, so visa requirements are very similar for citizens of all member states. To study in either country, you will generally need a valid passport, proof of sufficient financial resources, such as a Blocked Account, and mandatory health insurance. The most significant difference here is the processing time, as student visas are generally processed faster in Austria (between 2 and 4 weeks compared to Germany's 6 to 12 weeks).

Option to live and work after graduating

Both countries offer international students the option to stay on and work after graduation. You can start a business or find a job within one year after graduating from an Austrian university, with the possibility of an extension of up to 2 years after getting a permanent position.
In Germany, you're given 18 months of stay in the country after graduation, which is more than enough time to gain full-time employment. 

Number of international students

Approximately 100,000 international students choose Austria every year, while Germany has more than triple the number of international students - currently at around 350,000. This fact means that you're likely to meet fewer international students in Austria and have a more local experience. However, this also depends on your lifestyle. If you want a more diverse experience, Germany presents more diversity.


Germany is a much larger country than Austria, and its universities are located in different parts of the country. This aspect gives you more options to choose from when it comes to finding a university that suits your needs and preferences, with varying degrees of cost.
Austria is a smaller and more centralized country. Its universities are located in Vienna and Salzburg, which might be a pro or con depending on your personal outlook.


Both Austria and Germany are safe countries to live in, with low crime rates. However, petty crimes such as pickpocketing and theft do occur more often in big cities in Germany than in Austria, but this is a common theme in any large city.

Health system

The health systems in both countries are excellent, with hospitals and clinics being well-equipped and both doctors and nurses being highly qualified. Germany and Austria require international students to have health insurance coverage to be approved for a student visa. However, in Austria, you can request to enroll in the national insurance scheme if you stay for more than six months.

Employability after graduating

Germany offers excellent job prospects for international students after graduation, with the employability rate being relatively high. Unfortunately, this is not the case in Austria, where about a third of the international student population decided to leave within three years. Another positive aspect for Germany is that having German as a language skill is no longer an essential requirement to find a job, making it easier for foreigners to find a position in the market.

Language barrier

If you're planning on studying in Austria, you will need to be proficient in German as most classes are taught in the language. Many universities offer English-taught programs in Germany, which makes it an excellent choice for international students who don't speak German. However, learning at least some language basics is still recommended to make your life a lot easier.

Tip: Use Expatrio Study Finder to find English-taught programs in Germany.


The weather in Austria is colder than in Germany, with temperatures ranging from -15 degrees Celsius in the winter to 25 degrees Celsius in the summer. In contrast, Germany has more variation in temperature, with occasional heat waves during the summer months.


Austria and Germany share a lot of similarities when it comes to culture. They are both considered very traditional countries, with a strong focus on family values. However, there are also some distinct cultural differences. For example, Germans are more direct in their communication, while Austrians are seen as being reserved.


What's the verdict? Should you study in Austria or Germany?

When it comes to deciding where to study abroad, it can be challenging to determine which country is right, especially with many factors. It really boils down to what you're looking for and what your priorities are. 

Austria might be the better choice if you're interested in a more traditional and centrally located experience. Germany is the better option if you're not confident in your language skills but still want a world-class experience. However, no matter what country you choose, you're sure to have a fantastic experience!

Expatrio Value Package

Simplify your move to Germany with Expatrio's Value Package! Get your mandatory health insurance and Blocked Account, plus other perks! 

Get Value Package

This might also be of interest to you

A group of students in a meeting

Studying in Germany vs. Canada: 15 Reasons Why

When it comes to deciding where to study, there are many factors that students need to consider. Two of the most popular destinations for...

German Degrees complete guide

German Degrees [Complete Guide]

Germany is one of the finest places in the world to study. With its huge network of universities, laboratories, and research institutes, skill-based...

Computer mit Daten

6 Best Data Science Courses in Germany [2022]

Germany has a long and storied history in data science. The country is home to some of the world's leading data science researchers and educators,...

Frau im Gebirge


ISIC is an internationally accepted student identity card that allows you to prove your student status worldwide and save a lot of money on various...

Graduation in Germany

Graduation in Germany

High school graduation in Germany is a pretty big deal. It signifies the student's achievements and persistence through Germany’s rigorous and...

Application Process to Study in Germany

Application Process to Study in Germany

Germany is one of the world's greatest academic centers. Famous for producing a stream of Nobel prize winners, the country hosts some of Europe's...

Frau am Laptop

German dual apprenticeship system

In Germany, school leavers have the option of taking up a vocational apprenticeship instead of choosing full-time academic education. Known as ‘dual...

Guide to TU9 Universities in Germany

Guide to TU9 Universities in Germany

Universities in Germany are administered by each state (Bundesland). Therefore, there are slight differences in how university education is...

How to Decide on a University Course

How to Decide on a University Course

Tips for International Students It's that time of year again – university application season! With so many universities and courses available, it can...