German Universities: Things you should know

Germany is renowned for its high-quality education system, and its universities are highly regarded worldwide. If you are considering pursuing your studies in Germany as an international student, it is important to familiarize yourself with certain key aspects. This article aims to provide you with essential information about German universities, helping you make informed decisions and have a successful academic experience.

Why Choose German Universities?

German universities are a popular choice among international students for several reasons:

  1. Academic Excellence: German universities are celebrated for their academic excellence and rigorous standards. They consistently rank among the top institutions globally, ensuring you receive a high-quality education. The universities in Germany have a strong focus on research and innovation, providing students with opportunities to engage in cutting-edge projects and gain practical experience.
  2. Affordability: One of the major advantages of studying in Germany is the affordability factor. Unlike many other countries, public universities in Germany do not charge tuition fees, even for international students. This makes studying in Germany an attractive option for those seeking quality education at an affordable cost. However, it is important to note that there might be certain administrative fees that students need to pay.
  3. Wide Range of Programs: German universities offer a vast array of study programs in diverse fields. Whether you are interested in engineering, natural sciences, humanities, or arts, you are likely to find a program that suits your interests and aspirations. The universities in Germany have a strong focus on practical education, and many programs offer internships or cooperative study options, allowing students to gain professional experience alongside their studies.
  4. Strong Research Culture: Germany is renowned for its emphasis on research and innovation. Universities collaborate closely with industries, providing students with ample opportunities to engage in cutting-edge research projects and gain practical experience. This research-oriented approach helps students develop critical thinking skills and prepares them for future careers in their respective fields.
  5. Excellent Infrastructure: German universities boast state-of-the-art facilities, modern campuses, and well-equipped research laboratories. You will have access to resources and technologies that facilitate a conducive learning environment. Additionally, the universities provide comprehensive support services to students, including libraries, sports facilities, and student organizations, ensuring a holistic educational experience.

Types of Higher Education Institutions in Germany

Germany offers a diverse range of higher education institutions that cater to different academic and professional interests. These institutions can be broadly categorized into the following types:

  1. Universities (Universitäten): Universities in Germany are research-oriented institutions that offer a wide range of academic disciplines. They provide comprehensive education and award bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Universities focus on theoretical and research-based learning, and students have the opportunity to engage in cutting-edge research projects. Examples of universities in Germany include the Technical University of Munich and the University of Heidelberg.
  2. Universities of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschulen): Universities of Applied Sciences are practice-oriented institutions that focus on applied research and teaching. They offer programs in fields such as engineering, business administration, social work, and design. The curriculum is designed to provide students with practical skills and prepare them for specific professional careers. Universities of Applied Sciences often collaborate closely with industries, providing students with internships and cooperative education opportunities. Examples of Universities of Applied Sciences in Germany include the University of Applied Sciences in Munich and the Berlin School of Economics and Law.
  3. Colleges of Art, Film, and Music (Kunsthochschulen): These institutions specialize in artistic and creative disciplines such as fine arts, music, design, and film. Colleges of Art, Film, and Music offer programs that focus on artistic expression, creativity, and practical training. Students are encouraged to develop their artistic skills and pursue innovative projects. Examples of such institutions include the University of the Arts Bremen and the Film University Babelsberg Konrad Wolf.
  4. Dual Universities (Duale Hochschulen): Dual Universities combine academic study with practical training in a specific field. These institutions offer programs that are structured as cooperative education models, where students alternate between theoretical study at the university and practical work experience in a company. Dual Universities are particularly popular for fields such as business administration, engineering, and information technology. Examples of Dual Universities include the Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University and the Duale Hochschule Gera-Eisenach.
  5. Colleges of Education (Pädagogische Hochschulen): These institutions focus on teacher education and offer programs that prepare students to become educators or teachers. Colleges of Education provide comprehensive training in pedagogy, subject-specific knowledge, and teaching methods. They also offer additional programs for professional development in the education sector. Examples of Colleges of Education include the University of Education Karlsruhe and the University of Education Ludwigsburg.
Choosing to study in Germany can be a life-changing decision, providing you with a world-class education and invaluable experiences. German universities offer a wide range of programs, excellent facilities, and a supportive environment for international students.

Each type of higher education institution in Germany has its own unique characteristics and strengths. The choice of institution depends on individual interests, career goals, and preferred learning styles.

Admission Requirements

To secure admission to a German university, you need to fulfill certain requirements. Here are the key factors to consider:

  1. Language Proficiency: Most undergraduate programs in Germany are taught in German. Therefore, you must provide proof of German language proficiency by taking recognized language tests such as TestDaF or DSH. It is important to note that some universities also accept English proficiency tests such as TOEFL or IELTS. However, an increasing number of programs are now offered in English, particularly at the graduate level. Make sure to check the language requirements of your chosen program before applying.
  2. Academic Qualifications: You must possess a secondary school leaving certificate that qualifies you for higher education in your home country. Additionally, you may need to meet specific academic requirements for your chosen program, such as prerequisite subjects or minimum grades. It is advisable to thoroughly research the admission requirements of your desired program and ensure that you meet all the criteria.
  3. Application Process: Each university has its own application process, and you must submit your application directly to the respective institutions. Typically, you will need to provide your academic transcripts, language test scores, a motivation letter, and letters of recommendation. It is important to pay attention to application deadlines and submit all required documents in a timely manner. Additionally, some universities may require you to undergo an interview or submit a portfolio, depending on the program you are applying for.

Student Visa and Health Insurance

As an international student, you will need to obtain a student visa to study in Germany. Here are some important points to consider:

  1. Student Visa: To apply for a student visa, you need to approach the German embassy or consulate in your home country. You will be required to present your acceptance letter from a German university, proof of financial resources, health insurance coverage, and a valid passport. It is important to start the visa application process well in advance to ensure a smooth transition to Germany.
  2. Health Insurance: Health insurance is mandatory for all students in Germany. You can either opt for public health insurance or private health insurance, depending on your specific needs. Public health insurance is generally recommended as it offers comprehensive coverage at reasonable costs. It is important to arrange for health insurance coverage before arriving in Germany to avoid any complications.

Cost of Living

While tuition fees are typically waived, it is important to consider the cost of living in Germany. Here are some aspects to keep in mind:

  1. Accommodation: The cost of accommodation varies depending on the city and type of housing. Student dormitories or shared apartments are more affordable options compared to renting an individual apartment. It is advisable to start looking for accommodation well in advance and explore different options to find the one that best fits your budget and preferences.
  2. Living Expenses: On average, a student in Germany requires around €800 to €1,000 per month to cover living expenses, including rent, groceries, transportation, and leisure activities. It is advisable to create a budget to ensure financial stability throughout your studies. Additionally, students can benefit from discounts on public transportation, museums, and cultural events by obtaining a student card.

Student Support and Integration at German Universities

German universities are committed to ensuring the well-being and integration of international students. Here are some resources and support services available:

  1. International Offices: Universities have dedicated international offices that provide guidance and assistance to international students. They can help with administrative processes, cultural integration, and general support throughout your studies. These offices can provide information on various topics like visa requirements, work permits, housing options, and cultural activities.
  2. Language Courses: Many universities offer language courses to help international students improve their German language skills. These courses are beneficial not only for academic purposes but also for daily life interactions. Learning the local language will enhance your cultural experience and facilitate better integration into the German society.
  3. Buddy Programs: Buddy programs connect international students with local students who can offer guidance and support. This fosters intercultural exchange and helps international students adapt to the new environment more easily. Buddies can provide insights into local customs, help with practical matters, and assist in overcoming any challenges that may arise.

Examples of well-known German Universities

well-known German higher education institutions, grouped by federal states:


Technical University of Munich (TUM)
Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU)
University of Passau
University of Erlangen-Nuremberg
Augsburg University of Applied Sciences


  1. University of Stuttgart
  2. Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
  3. Heidelberg University
  4. University of Freiburg
  5. Mannheim University


  1. Free University of Berlin
  2. Humboldt University of Berlin
  3. Technical University of Berlin
  4. Berlin School of Economics and Law
  5. Berlin University of the Arts

North Rhine-Westphalia:

  1. RWTH Aachen University
  2. University of Cologne
  3. University of Bonn
  4. University of Duisburg-Essen
  5. Cologne University of Applied Sciences


  1. University of Hamburg
  2. Technical University of Hamburg
  3. Hamburg University of Applied Sciences


  1. Goethe University Frankfurt
  2. Technical University of Darmstadt
  3. Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences

Lower Saxony:

  1. Leibniz University Hannover
  2. University of Göttingen
  3. Clausthal University of Technology


  1. Technical University of Dresden
  2. Leipzig University
  3. Dresden University of Applied Sciences


  1. University of Mannheim
  2. Heilbronn University


  1. University of Mainz
  2. University of Koblenz-Landau
  3. Mainz University of Applied Sciences


  1. Kiel University
  2. Flensburg University of Applied Sciences


  1. Friedrich Schiller University Jena
  2. Bauhaus-Universität Weimar


  1. Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
  2. Magdeburg-Stendal University of Applied Sciences


  1. University of Potsdam
  2. Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg


  1. University of Rostock
  2. University of Greifswald


  1. Saarland University
  2. University of Applied Sciences Saarbrücken
  3. Trier University

Please note that this list is not exhaustive, and there are many other excellent higher education institutions in Germany. The ranking and reputation of universities can vary depending on different factors and criteria.

Questions and answers on German Universities

  1. Why should I choose German universities as an international student?

    German universities are known for their academic excellence, affordability, wide range of programs, strong research culture, and excellent infrastructure. These factors make studying in Germany an attractive option for international students seeking quality education and practical experience.

  2. What are the admission requirements for German universities?

    To secure admission to a German university, you need to fulfill certain requirements. These include language proficiency in German or English, possession of a secondary school leaving certificate, and meeting specific academic requirements for your chosen program. Each university has its own application process, and you must submit the required documents in a timely manner.

  3. What do I need to know about student visa and health insurance in Germany?

    As an international student, you will need to obtain a student visa and have health insurance coverage in Germany. To apply for a student visa, you need to approach the German embassy or consulate in your home country. Health insurance is mandatory and can be either public or private. It is important to start the visa application process and arrange for health insurance coverage well in advance.

  4. What is the cost of living in Germany for international students?

    While tuition fees are typically waived, international students should consider the cost of living in Germany. Accommodation costs vary, and it is advisable to explore different options. On average, a student requires around €800 to €1,000 per month to cover living expenses. Creating a budget and obtaining a student card for discounts can help ensure financial stability throughout your studies.

Alternatives to traditional German Universities

In addition to pursuing a traditional university education in Germany, there are alternative pathways that provide valuable opportunities for career development. One such option is the dual study program, which combines academic learning with practical work experience. Dual study programs are offered by universities of applied sciences and involve alternating periods of classroom instruction and on-the-job training. This allows students to gain industry-specific knowledge and skills while earning a recognized academic degree.

A student preparing for studies at German Universities
By familiarizing yourself with the admission requirements, visa process, and cost of living, you can better prepare for your journey in Germany. Embrace this opportunity, immerse yourself in a rich cultural experience, and embark on a fulfilling educational adventure in one of Europe’s academic powerhouses.

Another alternative to traditional university studies is the dual vocational training system, known as “duale Berufsausbildung.” This system provides a hands-on learning experience through apprenticeships in various fields, such as engineering, healthcare, or business administration. Apprentices receive practical training at a company while attending vocational schools to acquire theoretical knowledge. Upon completion, they obtain a recognized professional qualification.

Apart from these options, there are also specialized academies and schools that offer focused vocational training programs. These institutions provide intensive training in specific fields, such as art, music, dance, or sports. Students can develop their talents and skills under the guidance of experienced professionals, paving the way for careers in these specific industries.

These alternative pathways offer individuals the opportunity to gain practical experience, enhance employability, and enter the workforce at an earlier stage. They cater to different learning styles and career aspirations, providing a diverse range of options for those who prefer more hands-on and industry-specific education.

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