Why should I study in Germany?

The country of Bach, industry and football...

How to Study in Germany

Landlocked by nine countries, Germany is situated right in the middle of Europe. More than 80 million people live here – the most populous country in the European Union. From the north and Baltic Sea to the Alps Germany offers a wide variety of landscapes to explore.

The German higher education system

In 2020/21 2.9 million students were enrolled at 423 higher education institutions. The German higher education system is dominated by public universities: Only 8% of all students are studying at one of the 108 private institutions. Germany is one of the most popular destination countries for international students: In 2019/20 more than 320,000 international students were enrolled at German universities. Germany is also among the most popular destination countries among Erasmus students. Germany has a diversified higher education system with different types of institutions: universities (Universitäten), universities of applied sciences (Fachhochschulen) and art universities (Kunsthochschulen). While all three types are awarding Bachelor and master degrees, only universities (and some art universities) are entitled to award doctorate degrees.

In line with the Bologna Process, the degree-structure is three-tiered for the overwhelming part of subjects/programmes: bachelor, master and doctoral degrees. Furthermore, there are special degrees (‘state license’) for some regulated professions (for instance, lawyers, pharmacists, medical doctors, teachers).

Germany’s Higher Education System in International Comparison

In this section, we highlight the overall performance of German universities on the institutional level per U-Multirank dimension. The table below shows the national breakdown of German universities and how they stand across the spectrum of above average (receiving a score of ‘A’ (very good) or ‘B’ (good)), versus below average (receiving a score of ‘D’ (below average) or ‘E’ (weak)).

In doing so, U-Multirank offers a clear picture of the country’s strengths and areas for improvement. It becomes apparent that in general Germany’s HEIs perform particularly well in international orientation, research as well as in knowledge transfer. The results of teaching refer to graduation rates and completion time.

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National performance: Germany

Percent of all Universities 100% 80% 60% 40% < below Average above > 40% 60% 80% 100% Teaching & Learning 46% 34% Research 33% 50% Knowledge Transfer 46% 44% International Orientation 17% 63% Regional Engagement 32% 45%

How much does it cost to study in Germany?

Germany has a federal higher education system. This means that the 16 states are responsible for higher education; hence regulations on admission and fees vary among them. While there are no tuition fees for EU students, all public universities charge “immatriculation” fees (“Semesterbeitrag”) both for national/EU and international students. These consist of an administrative fee up to 75€, a fee for the “Studentenwerk” between 50 and 80€ and for many universities a semester ticket, which costs between 150 and 200€. Only Baden-Württemberg introduced a general tuition fee of 3,000€ per year for Non-EU students. Private universities are free to set their own tuition fees. For more information on financing click here.

Addition of information on fees and financial support

Source: Eurydice 
Reference year(s): 2020/2021

Fees

In this section we highlight the fees for studying in Germany. The fees are shown in the national currency and address all fee types: tuition, enrolment (part- or full-time, etc.), certification, or other administrative costs. Students that are exempt from fees are also described, as well as information on international student fees if they differ.

  • There are no tuition fees in either first- or second-cycle in any German Länder. In eight Länder, administrative fees ranging from EUR 50 to 75 are charged to all students. In addition, in Sachsen, HEIs may charge examination fees EUR 25 to 150, and in Niedersachsen, students above the age of 60 pay EUR 800 per semester.
  • Students in six Länder are liable to pay fees of EUR 500 (in Saarland, up to EUR 400) per semester when exceeding the regular study period.
  • International students defined as students from outside the EU and EEA countries, have to pay EUR 1,500 per semester in Baden-Württemberg. In other Länder, they pay the same fees as home students.

Source: Eurydice - National Student Fees and Support Systems in European Higher Education – 2020/21.

Financial Support

In this section we highlight the financial support system implemented in Germany. The types of support covered in this section include: grants, loans, tax benefits for students' parents (or students themselves) and family allowances.  How these terms are defined, are outlined below:

  • Grants are provided in the national currency and are differentiated between merit-based and need-based (or universal, where applicable). All main public financial support that does not need to be paid back is included, with the exception of grants for study abroad (i.e. mobility grants). Information is also presented on the proportion of students (in the short, first and second cycle) who receive grants.
  • Loans: information focuses on the existence of a student publicly-subsidised loan system and the percentage of students that take out a loan. Information on the interest rate and modalities for the repayment of loans may also be provided.
  • Tax benefit is any tax relief that is granted to parents whose child is a higher education student or to students themselves. The information aims to cover the amount of the tax relief, how it can be claimed and who is eligible to apply.
  • Family allowances for students' parents: this part provides information on their amount and the eligible population.
  • General public student support (BAföG) is in place. This support provides half of the individual amount awarded as a grant, and half as an interest-free loan. Total amounts (grant + loan; depicted on the diagram) range from EUR 10 to 861/month for 12 months/year. The support is available to students in full-time first- and second-cycle, and comparable studies (e.g. state exam studies in law or medicine), who progress normally in their studies and are under the age of 30 (35 for master studies). Eligibility and amount are determined by assessment of student need based on income, family situation, housing situation and disability. A maximum of 77 monthly instalments of maximum EUR 130 (EUR 10,010) must be paid back, but the amount can be reduced on account of low income. The average amount awarded in 2018 was EUR 5,916 per year (EUR 493 per month). In 2018, 12.3 % of the total number of first- and second-cycle students received BAföG.
  • Different types of merit-based grants are awarded. The amount is often determined through an evaluation of student need. Total amounts of scholarships (co-)funded by the Federal Government range from EUR 300 to 1,161/month for 12 months/year. Additional support is determined by assessment of the family financial situation. Deutschlandstipendium (EUR 300 per month) and a lump-sum fee for studies of Begabtenförderungswerke (EUR 300 per month) are given independently of economic conditions.
  • An education loan (Bildungskredit) covers living costs which are not covered by BAföG. The absolute maximum amount that can be taken out is EUR 7,200. Repayment of EUR 120 per month must start four years after the start of the loan. The Federal Government guarantees the repayment credit and the interest. A study loan with favourable terms (KfW-Studienkredit) of up to EUR 54,600 is also available, though it is not publicly guaranteed. Both loans are paid out in monthly instalments.
  • Students' parents receive a monthly family allowance (child benefit) of EUR 204 (2021: EUR 219) for the first two children, EUR 210 for the third (2021: EUR 225) and EUR 235 (2021: EUR 250) for any further child, or a lump sum tax benefit (relief) of EUR 3,906 per annum, per child, per parent, until students are 25 years old.

What are the entry requirements for German Universities?

If you come from an EU country, from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland and have a school-leaving certificate that qualifies you for higher education in your home country, it will usually also allow you to study in Germany. If you come from outside the EU, two or three semesters of study in your home country are often sufficient, depending on where you are from. In artistic subjects, especially talented applicants are sometimes admitted based on work samples or aptitude tests alone. For more information on entry requirements, please click here.

How to get a Scholarship in Germany?

No matter the reason, paying high tuition fees can be a source of stress for many. However, there are many options for financing your studies, including the use of scholarships. There are various scholarship opportunities available for international students looking to study in Germany. Depending on your country of origin and the level of studies, there are different options for funding. To explore what scholarship options are available, check this scholarship database.

Do I need a Student Visa for Germany?

EU/EEA/Swiss citizens are not required to obtain a visa, but simply need to register with the local authorities (Einwohnermeldeamt) within two weeks after their arrival. These authorities will furnish you with a student residence permit. Generally, all non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens must supply documentation on the reasons of their stay, how they plan to support themselves for the duration of their stay as well as their accommodation arrangements in order to obtain a visa. You have to apply for the Visa at the respective German embassy or the respective consulate in your country of origin or residence. Citizens of some select countries may apply for a visa after arrival in Germany, i.e. Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, South Korea and the United States of America. For more information on visa requirements, please click here.

 

How do German Universities fare in U-Multirank?

  1. In 2021, U-Multirank presents data on 100 German higher education institutions, including universities as well as universities of applied sciences.
  2. Comparing the performance of German institutions with the global U-Multirank sample shows they perform strongly in the International Orientation and Research dimensions.
  3. 15 German institutions achieved top group positions (‘A’ scores) in more than ten indicators; among them are two universities of applied sciences (Reutlingen and Macromedia UAS). The institutions with the highest number of ‘A’ scores are: Technical University of Munich (14), Jacobs University (13); followed by Kühne Logistics University, WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management, Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) (each 12).
  4. The technical universities among them received most of their top scores in the Research and Knowledge Transfer dimensions, whereas private universities/business schools scored highest in International Orientation.
  5. German institutions reached 8 global ‘Top 25 Performers’ positions: Three universities of applied sciences in Co-Publications with Industrial Partners (Technische Hochschule Ingolstadt, University of Applied Sciences Mannheim, and Pforzheim University of Applied Sciences), and four private institutions in Student Mobility (International School of Management (ISM), Kühne Logistics University, Munich Business School, and WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management). UAS Reutlingen is also among the top25 in our new Collaboration Index.
Germany's Higher Education Performance in U-Multirank

Where to study in Germany

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Student report: Germany

Video: Study in Germany

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