Germany, the most popular destination for non-English speaking international students, hosts more than 380 universities, offering over 17,000 programmes of study. Clearly a popular choice for international students, it is ranked as the 3rd most popular university destination globally, behind only the UK and the US. It is no wonder that, at present, 357,000 foreign students are currently studying there.

Why Study in Germany

Germany offers a wide range of experiences to the international student community, depending on the choice of location for study. From oh-so-cool Berlin to the metropolis of Frankfurt to the towering mountains of Bavaria, Germany has something to offer everybody. And if the bustling cities get to much for you during term time, you won’t have far to go to find a peaceful countryside retreat.

However, the main reason to study in Germany is for the free tuition! German government policy means free university tuition for both domestic and international students. Most, but not all, German universities are free of tuition fees.

There are a small number of private universities that do charge. In 2017/18, there were just 19 private universities and 93 private Universities of Applied Sciences charging these fees, making up less than 10% of universities in Germany overall.

Whilst some international students do choose to attend the private universities, tuition-free public universities are still the top choice.

Germany is also highly regarded for its teaching and learning. Known as the ‘land of poets and thinkers’, many great scientists, such as Einstein, Planck and Born, came through the German higher education system.

It is known for its ongoing modernisation of learning, with the most up-to-date and effective approaches to teaching and research being continually implemented. With its excellent reputation, employers recognise the high quality approach to teaching and research that students at German institutions will have experienced, making them an attractive choice for employment.

German Education In Comparison With The USA

The biggest difference, as mentioned above, is the non-existent tuition fees for international students in Germany. In the USA, Canada, and Australia, international students would expect to pay anywhere between $10,000 to $50,000 per year in tuition. Studying in Germany offers a low cost experience, lowering the amount of debt students will graduate with at the end of their studies.

Public Institutions

It is important to note that most courses taught in universities in Germany will be taught in German. However, with a goal to host 350,000 international students by 2020, degree programs taught in English are becoming increasingly common.

If you are looking to study for a Master’s degree, you will find many English medium courses, particularly in business and the social sciences, available to you.

If you are looking to study at undergraduate level, you would benefit from using the International Program search tool (from the DAAD – German Academic Exchange Service) to help you.

Currently, the tool shows 121 results for bachelor’s degrees taught in English only. However, only 60 of these are at no-fee institutions. So if you want to study in English in Germany, you may need to also consider private institutions.

Although this will mean paying tuition fees, these private universities are able to set their own fees and many charge less than €10,000 per semester, which is still cheaper than international study in other locations around the world.

Another consideration, if you are looking for a business degree, is to study at ESCP Europe. This course allows you to study in three capital cities, including Berlin and London, on its Bachelor of Management program. Whilst this offers a degree program taught completely in English, it will set you back €18,000 per year as a non-EU student (€13,600 for EU students).

International Students

Fees for International Students

As mentioned earlier in the article, tuition is free at public universities in Germany for domestic and international undergraduate students. The only exception to this is at universities in the Baden-Württemberg area, where students pay €3,000 per year for tuition fees (excluding refugees and PhD students). This includes universities in Freiburg, Heidelberg, Hohenheim, Stuttgart and Ulm among others. Some exemptions from this fee are made, for students from Erasmus member states, those with EU permanent residency and students who have a HE entrance qualification from Germany.

Despite universities being tuition-free, all students are required to pay a fee to cover costs, such as enrolment, administration and student support. This fee will differ across institutions but is normally around €350.

Master’s level students sometimes need to pay tuition fees. Fees are charged to those deemed “non-consecutive” students, meaning that the student has not completed a bachelor’s degree in a German university in recent years. If tuition fees need to be paid for a master’s degree, this can cost up to €20,000 per academic year. Those students entering master’s programs straight from an undergraduate degree that was completed in Germany will normally pay little or no tuition fees.