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Private Universities in Germany

Expatrio 2024-02-27
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Attending a private university in Germany could be an excellent choice for your future career path. These universities also often have more flexible curriculum requirements, allowing you to tailor your degree to your specific interests and goals. Of course, there is a lot to consider beforehand. Most importantly, you need to choose the right university that fits all your needs. 

On this page, we will introduce you to the five top private universities in Germany and discuss the advantages of studying at one!

Facts about private universities in Germany

  • 106 universities in Germany are private.
  • 244,000 students study at a private university
  • 8,5% of all students in Germany study at private universities
  • 2.300 students attend each private university on average
  • 25% of students are older than 30

Some of these universities offer more than 150 different courses, including very specialized ones such as orthobionics or music therapy. However, most students at private institutions study business subjects (almost 70%).

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The top 5 private universities in Germany

For the uniRank 2021 university ranking, the top private universities in Germany were evaluated according to a very specific set of criteria. Only universities that were founded, licensed or accredited by the relevant German higher education organization, which offer at least four-year Bachelor's or postgraduate (Master's or doctoral) degree programs, and that offer courses predominantly in a traditional, face-to-face, and non-distance education format were eligible for the ranking. 

Check out the top 5 private universities in Germany:

1. Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin (located in Berlin)

Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin is a medium-sized (approx. 7.000 students) coeducational German higher education institution. Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin offers courses and programs leading to officially recognized higher education degrees such as bachelor's degrees, and doctorate degrees in several areas of study. The university offers programs leading to state-recognized university degrees in various fields of study.

2. Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt (located in Eichstätt)

The Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt is the only Catholic university in the German-speaking region. With around 5.000 students, including 800 students from universities of applied sciences, it is one of the largest non-state universities in Germany.

3. ESMT Berlin (located in Berlin)

With a focus on leadership, innovation, and analytics, the European School of Management and Technology publishes outstanding research in top academic journals. In addition, the international business school offers an interdisciplinary platform for discourse between politics, business, and science. ESMT Berlin is the also accredited by the AACSB, AMBA, and EQUIS.

4. Frankfurt School of Finance and Management (located in Frankfurt)

The Frankfurt School of Finance and Management offers Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Ph.D. programs. The school is state-recognized and accredited by AACSB. The Master's programs are among the best in Europe and the world. Classes are very international, and the school also has a good reputation for working with industry experts who guide students in various business and management techniques.

5. University of Witten/Herdecke (located in Witten)

As one of the first universities founded in Germany in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Witten/Herdecke University is very popular with students seeking education in the field of health and medicine. It is strategically located amidst companies in the healthcare industry and offers students a hands-on education and study program. This university is also very popular for nursing courses, both for national and international students.


The largest private universities in Germany

If you want to study at a larger institution, you are spoiled for choice! The largest private university has over 70.000 students and offers more than 100 degree programs. One of the other “big ones” has campuses all over Germany and you can simply choose your preferred city!

Take a look at the top 3 largest private universities in Germany:

FOM is Germany's university for working professionals. The university is state-recognized and offers a wide range of undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs in business administration and economics. FOM is one of the largest universities in the country. The different time models of the lectures ensure that part-time study is optimally compatible with working life.

IU offers numerous study models. For example, students can take up a distance learning program, complete a dual degree program or take a combined degree program. The studies can be pursued completely online and in English.

Fresenius University of Applied Sciences is located throughout Germany - giving students full flexibility in choosing where to study. Even during their studies, students can move to another location, expand their circle of friends and acquaintances, and get to know new cities.


Advantages of studying at a private university in Germany

  1. Small learning groups and individual support: These universities usually have smaller class sizes. Often, only a few students are admitted per class. Overcrowded lecture halls are common at public universities, while private universities have much smaller learning groups. Accordingly, individual support from professors and lecturers is possible. This means that you will get more individual attention from your professors and they will be able to give you better feedback on your work. In addition, private universities often have a more personal approach to education. They are also more flexible when it comes to adding or removing courses from your schedule.
  2. Good learning environment and modern technology: Thanks to funding from tuition fees and often additional support from businesses, private universities have the financial means to offer their students a good learning environment including modern equipment and technology. Public universities can only offer this privilege in exceptional cases.
  3. Close contacts with the business community: They often have closer relationships with businesses and organizations. Many universities, especially in the field of economics, maintain excellent contacts with important companies and representatives from the business world. This could lead to better job prospects after graduation. It is therefore not surprising that students from these universities find jobs more quickly in some areas. 

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What is the difference between a private university of applied sciences and a private university in Germany?

A university of applied sciences is a university that offers application-oriented courses of study. It's all about applied research. Like universities, they offer a wide range of courses in the natural sciences, social sciences, business, technology, and the arts.

Studying at a private university of applied sciences is primarily about establishing a link to practical application. This is achieved through structured curricula and a practical semester to get an early taste of the “working world.” Many universities of applied sciences also have technology transfer centers that provide the link to industry.

A special characteristic of a university is that it is based on two pillars: Research and teaching. Universities do not limit themselves to imparting knowledge, but also create new knowledge through research. A university is the most important independent research institution in Germany. Every year, German universities register several thousand new patents.

When studying at a university, the focus is therefore on conveying methodological and theoretical knowledge. Practical skills are traditionally less important than at a university of applied sciences.


Which private university in Germany is the best for international students?

The best private university for international students is Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin. It has a very cosmopolitan location in the heart of Berlin and made #1 in the Top Private Universities 2021 ranking. It also has many high-profile international master programs like the Medicine & Dentistry program or the International graduate program Medical Neurosciences. Furthermore, Charité offers many additional (extracurricular) programs, such as university sports, a language center, or a language exchange!


The reputation of private universities in Germany

Established private universities from Germany are internationally known, which means that graduates are also in demand among international companies. In addition, students are considered to be very well educated because they are taught in smaller groups and receive better supervision than at public universities.  

These universities also often maintain close contacts with commercial organizations or are even co-financed by them - a real advantage for graduates when looking for a job. Especially in the field of economics, studying at one of these university is considered a career stepping stone. Partnerships create strong collaborations, and with the right partners, even societal challenges can be addressed. In such alliances, completely new opportunities open up for these universities and they gain in reputation, social acceptance, and relevance.


List of best private universities by discipline

The above guide covers everything you need to know about private universities in Germany, from the advantages of studying at a private university to the best private universities by discipline! If you're interested in studying at a private university in Germany, we recommend that you check out our above-mentioned best private universities in Germany!

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