Germany is an utterly beautiful country in Western Europe known for its rich culture and countless study opportunities for international students.
Owing to the accessibility of free education at its public universities, Germany has emerged as a popular study destination for international students.
One of the primary factors that have put Germany on the global education continent is the access to free education in Germany, which attracts a generous amount of international students.
Why study in Germany?
Germany intends to provide world-class education by employing top-tier faculty at its prestigious universities. Not only does Germany provide high-quality education, but most public universities in Germany do not charge undergraduate tuition fees to both German and international students, regardless of nationality.
Aside from the undeniable fact that tuition fees are waived off for candidates, resulting in free education for students, Germany also provides world-class education by granting access to high-quality education and affordable courses, as well as reaping the benefits of a strong economy.
The following are a few compelling reasons why you should consider studying in Germany :
1. Top Quality Teaching
German universities ranked among the world’s most prestigious universities in terms of teaching and research. You will graduate with a degree that is internationally recognized, giving you excellent prospects in the global labour market.
German universities provide limitless courses, allowing students to specialize in any field of study. You can specialize by choosing from a wide range of international and inter-disciplinary degree programs.
Also, you can explore Germany’s natural beauty and diversity! There are countless ways to learn more about your host country when you take a break from studying.
You can, for example, visit a museum, a cinema, or a theatre, sit in a beer garden, walk on a beach, swim in a lake, climb a mountain, or visit an old castle.
3. Practice Ready
German universities offer outstanding academic programs, while universities of applied sciences provide a diversity of appealing, practice-oriented options. Many universities work with businesses. Many study programs combine theory and practice.
That will make it much easier for you to get started in your career.
4. Unlimited Potential
You can maximize your potential in Germany. You can freely develop your intellectual abilities and personal skills in this environment, allowing you to reach your full potential.
If you want to achieve great things, determination, motivation, and commitment will open many doors for you – both during and after your studies.
5. Secure Country
Germany is a safe country when compared to other countries.
You can move freely here, whether in town or the countryside, during the day or at night. Germany provides economic and political stability, making it an ideal study destination for you.
Who is qualified to study for free in Germany?
Tuition-free education is available to all students in Germany! That’s right: Germans, Europeans, and all non-Europeans can study in Germany for free – no tuition needed.
It makes no difference whether you are a member of the EU or the EEA. It is valid for nearly all research programs at public universities.
There is one small catch: if you are not from the EU, you must obtain a residency permit before entering the country and complete your studies in Germany.
Which universities in Germany offer free education?
Public universities in Germany are generally free to attend.
Germany has nearly 300 public universities and over 1,000 study programs in total, so you have plenty of options!
Among the largest public universities are:
- University of Cologne
- Ludwig Maximilians University Munich (LMU)
- Goethe University Frankfurt
- RWTH Aachen University
- University of Münster
- Ruhr University Bochum
- University of Duisburg-Essen
- Universität Hamburg
- FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg
- Technical University of Munich (TUM)
- University of Würzburg
Why are there no tuition fees at German public universities?
Tuition fees are charged by universities almost everywhere in Europe and worldwide, even if only from international students who come to study there.
Germany is one of the few European countries where you can study for free, even if you come from Asia, Africa, or elsewhere.
Germans, on the whole, believe that education should not be treated as a commodity and that free access to higher education ensures economic growth and welfare for the entire population.
Recently, legislation allowed public universities to charge meagre tuition fees of 1,000 euros per year.
Tuition fees were reinstated in 2014, following years of public outrage.
There are currently only a few exceptions where public universities can charge tuition fees.
How to Study for Free in Germany?
Students who want to study for free in Germany must take the steps outlined below.
1. Choosing your preferred course
It is crucial for students who want to study in Germany to choose the course of their choosing.
For candidates to choose from, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) maintains a database of over 17,000 programs offered by Germany’s top universities. Around 88 of these classes are taught in the English language.
As a result, it is always recommended that a candidate interested in studying at one of Germany’s public universities have a working knowledge of the German language before applying.
Candidates can check the course content and university information on the colleges’ official websites before applying.
2. University/College Selection
After you’ve decided on a course, the next step is to look into German universities and enrol in your preferred school.
While each college’s admission requirements differ, candidates should have their academic transcripts, work experience (depending on course), GRE/GMAT scores, English test scorecards, LOR, and SOP ready before applying to German universities.
3. Cost of Studying
In Germany, studying at a public university is free of charge.
In contrast, students would have to pay an administration fee at the start of each year or semester. It is a negligible sum. In Germany, education is taken very seriously, with every detail meticulously calculated.
Every year, the university would request that a monthly sum be provided for the student to help with living expenses and finish his education. This money is deposited in a Blocked Account, according to the prevailing economic conditions and the relevant fees structure.
The fees vary by state and are typically around €853 per month or €10,236 for the entire academic session, including their lodging, living expenses, and even the cost of a travel pass.
4. Cost of Living
The cost of living in Germany depends on where the student is residing in Germany. To live in a well-known German city, the cost of living can range from €400 per month for a single room in Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, or Heidelberg. As the country with the third-largest international student population, these cities also have more affordable residence hall options for students, but they are not without flaws.
In other words, it would be not easy to find a place in the residence halls. The idea is to either find a university in a lesser-known city or start early and try to find a position in one of the less-expensive accommodations to minimize your cost of living in Germany.
The remaining expenses and overheads are pretty consistent throughout Germany. The mandatory Health Insurance and other uniform expenses contribute to the cost of studying in Germany.
Once you’ve decided on a university, a course of study, and arranged your finances, you’re ready to go.
The following step would be to apply.
It is strongly advised to begin the application process several weeks before the official application deadline. This will allow the aspirant ample time to complete his application form and avoid any last-minute hassle.
Candidates seeking an education loan to study in Germany must keep all supporting documentation on hand for ease of application submission.
Candidates are asked to provide all information as accurately as possible for the application process to run smoothly.
Application procedure for German Student Visa
If you need a student visa for Germany, you should apply as soon as possible and at least three months before your planned transfer.
To do so, contact your home country’s German embassy or consulate.
You would typically need the following documents:
- Completed application form
- Valid passport
- Two photographs
- Acceptance letter from a German university
- Transcript of academic record
- Acceptance letter from a German university
- Certificate of German language proficiency or evidence that you want to take a language course in Germany (if studying in German)
- Evidence confirming that you have sufficient funds to finance yourself in Germany.
- A certificate showing you’ve purchased health insurance
- Declaration of the authenticity of documents submitted
You may also be required to provide evidence that you have no criminal record, depending on the embassy.
Depositing a security payment into a blocked account – which means you won’t be able to withdraw the money before you arrive in Germany – is one way to demonstrate that you have ample funds to study in Germany.
If you want to study in Germany for more than 90 days, you can apply for a National Visa for study rather than a Schengen Visa, which only allows you to stay for three months.
In addition to your student visa, you may need to apply for a residency permit upon arrival.
How to Apply for a Resident Permit?
You must register with the local Alien Registration Office (Bürgeramt or Einwohnermeldeamt) within two weeks of arrival.
To study in this country, you must first apply for a study permit.
- The documents you’ll need are the same as those needed for the visa:
- Proof of valid private or public health insurance
- Certificate of enrolment from your university
- Proof of sufficient finances
- Valid passport
- Current visa, if you have one
- Certificate of health (if applicable)
- Your tenancy agreement (if applicable)
- Biometric passport photos (if applicable)
- Residence permit fee
While evidence of language proficiency would have been requested as part of your university application, you will be required to provide this information again to obtain your residence permit.
International students must have a TestDaf or DSH score for German-taught courses or a TOEFL or IELTS score for English-taught courses.
This residence permit is valid for two years and should be extended until it expires if necessary.
The initial cost of a residence permit is €100 (US$120), with an additional fee of up to €96 (US$115) for each extension.
Is there a tuition fee in Germany?
In general, you can study for free in Germany. However, there are a few exceptions where you must pay tuition fees:
Tuition-free education is only available at public universities.
If you study at one of the roughly 100 private universities, you must pay tuition, which is comparable to what you would pay in countries like the United Kingdom or Ireland.
However, to compete with the low-cost public universities, private schools in Germany tend to offer specialized programs and other benefits to ensure that you get your money’s worth.
You might also be eligible for a scholarship.
Universities in Germany differentiate between “consecutive” and “non-consecutive” Master’s programs.
Consecutive programs are those that you can start right after you finish your Bachelor’s degree. Students with post-Bachelor work experience are typically required for non-consecutive programs.
Even at public universities, such non-concurrent study programs usually incur tuition fees. They are uncommon; typical examples include “Executive MBAs” and some specialized Master’s programs.
Since 2017, non-EU/EEA students at public universities in Baden-Württemberg have been able to pay tuition fees.
Stuttgart, Karlsruhe, Mannheim, Freiburg, Heidelberg, and a few other cities have universities. Tuition fees are set at 1,500 euros per semester, which is still significantly less expensive than tuition in many other European countries.
Tuition fees of 500 to 650 EUR per semester are also expected in some federal states if you want to pursue a “secondary degree”.
That does not apply if you enrol in a Bachelor’s program for the first time or in a (consecutive) Master’s program after completing your Bachelor’s degree.
Instead, “secondary degree” refers to enrolling in a non-consecutive Master’s program, enrolling in a Bachelor’s program if you already have a Bachelor’s degree in another subject, or enrolling in a Master’s program if you already have a Master’s degree in another subject.
What other costs to budget for while studying in Germany?
Although there are no tuition fees at public universities, you must typically pay a “semester charge” (“Semesterbeitrag”) or “administrative fee.”
But it’s a small sum: usually about 300 or 400 euros for the whole semester.
This then includes a public transportation pass for your city and, in some cases, the surrounding areas for a fraction of the price you would usually pay for such a ticket.
Germany is otherwise quite affordable for a Western European country.
Here is a description of the average cost of living in Germany for a student:
Monthly cost average
- Rent and services range from 300 to 500 €.
- 200-250 € for food and drinks
- 100 € for health benefits
- 30 € for phone and internet
- 50-100 € for recreation and hobbies
You can live on 850 Euros a month, give or take a few hundred depending on where you study.
Larger cities, such as Munich, Frankfurt, and Hamburg, are well-known for being more expensive than smaller towns.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Studying in Germany
Bachelor’s students have been able to study for free in 16 German states since 2014. They only have to pay a small fee, which is mainly used to cover administrative costs.
The good news is that it applies to domestic and international students, which means that tuition fees are fixed and the same for everyone, regardless of where they come from.
However, it is recommended that you double-check with the desired institute.
Highest Ranked Institutes
The best universities in Germany are spread out across the country, giving students a choice of 40 student cities.
Germany has 47 universities ranked among the best in the world, with Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich ranking first and the Technical University of Munich ranking second.
High Salary Expectations
Germany’s unemployment rate was 3.1% in February 2019, making it one of the lowest in Europe.
Furthermore, according to statista.com, graduates from German universities can expect to earn between €33000 and €58000 per year.
This is dependent on the students’ level of education and the major they pursued.
The world’s fourth-largest economy
Germany has one of the world’s strongest economies.
Indeed, the country is home to many multinational corporations, providing students with the opportunity to gain work experience through internship programs, many of which are paid.
Learning the Language
Many students are perplexed as to why they should learn German.
In Europe, German speakers outnumber Italian, French, and Spanish speakers. Many iconic figures, such as Franz Kafka and Friedrich Nietzsche, spoke German.
Sigmund Freud, Mozart, Beethoven, and Albert Einstein all spoke and wrote about it. Germany is the world’s second-largest exporter and a technological and scientific powerhouse.
It may not be easy to learn the language, but it is worthwhile to give it a shot!
Relocating to Germany
Even though living in Germany is less expensive than in other European countries, according to student polls, the average monthly cost of living is around €850, which includes a phone package, books, clothes, groceries, health insurance, education fees (if any), and rent, which is the highest of all.
German is Highly Recommended
Even if your course is taught in English, arrive in Germany with a basic understanding of the German language. Not only will this assist you in difficult situations where miscommunication may occur, but it will also allow you to study at prestigious universities.
In addition, many universities provide free German classes to international students. And every student enjoys getting freebies.
Many of Germany’s public universities are underfunded.
You might not find laboratories with high-tech computers or a well-organized student centre, for example.
Even if these amenities are available, they may be prohibitively expensive for students.
A monthly gym membership on campus could cost as little as €20.
Structure of the Course
It is not intrinsically a downside of studying in Germany, but it is something that a foreigner should consider before deciding to study there.
The way universities operate in Germany varies from that of American institutions, which is why students must pay careful attention to academic regulations.
You may have a lot of independent work to do, or you may have to register for an exam yourself.
You would not be able to participate if you do not apply for it.
Non-European students studying at a German university are only permitted to work 120 full days or 240 half-days per year.
If students need to work more hours, they must obtain permission from German labour officials, and their request can be denied.
Scholarships to Study in Germany
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) offers many scholarships for international students to study in Germany at various degree levels. Click the link to view the DAAD scholarships database.
The largest provider of scholarships for study in the EU, Erasmus+ is led by the European Commission, funding international students to study in Europe. It provides grants towards living costs when participating in an exchange program to study in Europe.
Scholarships for international students at all levels wishing to study in Germany at an accredited institution. (The deadline for the 2019 round of applications has passed. Please check back later for the 2020 round.)