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Tuition fees in Germany

Education is one of Germany's biggest draws. As a science and engineering power, the country attracts thousands of students from across the world, and finance is a major preoccupation for almost all of them.

How much do German universities charge for BAs, MAs, or PhD's, and could you afford to study for one? Let's find out more.

Abolition of Tuition Fees in Germany

Wouldn't it be wonderful to live in a world where education was free?

Where you could train in any subject for virtually nothing? Well, Germany hasn't reached that stage yet, but in the grand scheme of things, it comes pretty close.

Are there tuition fees in Germany?

Since 2014, Germany has been experimenting with a bold academic policy. In that year, the state abolished all tuition fees at public universities. This removed the annual fees that students used to pay for their education.

This law only applies to public universities. Germany also hosts numerous private colleges and universities, which are free to charge whatever fees they desire. This can rise to as much as €20,000 per year.

Are universities in Germany free for international students?

As usual in Germany, the tuition fees law avoided discriminating against international students. All fees were eliminated, for locally born and foreign students alike. However, since 2016 fees for non-EU students have begun to return.

The state of Baden-Württemberg now charges €1,500 per semester for first degrees. And this could be extended across Germany in the near future.

Are Masters degrees free in Germany?

The 2014 law only applied to undergraduate fees. Anything above that level was excluded, including Masters degrees.

So, most Masters degrees are not currently free for any students. However, some courses are either free or very cheap. In other cases, fees of €500 - €1,000 per semester may apply, and this varies from course to course.

Consecutive Master

This often only applies to "consecutive" Masters, which directly follow a BA at the same university. So if you are studying for a BA, feel free to ask about consecutive funding.

Is gaining a PhD free in Germany?

If you succeed in your Masters, you may have the option of continuing to PhD level. PhDs involve in-depth study of specific subjects and generally require years of work. So the financial demands can be high.

The 2014 law didn't cover PhDs, but fees aren't high. In fact, fees at public universities don't start until the fourth year of study.

Semester Contribution in Germany

While Germany may have removed traditional tuition fees, the country hasn't made higher education totally free

Semester contributions still apply wherever you study. Universities are free to charge small amounts per semester to cover their operating expenses. However, these come with some handy benefits, such as semester-long bus and train tickets.

How much are university fees in Germany?

Supplementary fees will generally be between €150 - €350 per semester, and around €700 per year.

BAföG

It may also be possible to reduce or waive these fees for low-income students and those receiving BAföG grants. So not everyone needs to pay.

Living costs for a student

Besides the cost of education, what additional expenses must students pay?

So far, we've been focusing on tuition and admin fees, but these are small portions of the cost of obtaining a degree in Germany.

Students will also need to pay for accommodation, which can be a major expenditure in German cities like Berlin or Munich. They will also need to fund their transportation, food, and other basic living costs.

Moreover, students must pay for health insurance - a condition of obtaining a student visa.

How much does a Bachelor’s degree cost?

When you take those costs into account and add in the administrative fees, it's not uncommon for German Bachelor's degrees to cost €800 - €900 per month. For a three year course, that could total around €30,000. So working during courses and applying for student finance is often essential.

How much does a Masters degree cost?

The cost of a Masters will depend on your institution and location. If tuition fees apply, the cost can be as much as €35,000 for a 2 year Masters, living in an expensive city. But in some cases, those costs can be dramatically reduced. So it really depends on what you study, where you do so, and how much the university charges.

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