Germany is one of the best countries to study abroad: It offers a unique combination of great universities and high quality of life, and rivals other popular destinations such as the United Kingdom or Holland.
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And not only is Germany home to some of the best universities in the world - you can actually study there for free. If you want to learn more, check out our list of frequently asked questions about tuition fees in Germany:
Everyone can study in Germany tuition-free! That’s right: Germans, Europeans, and all non-Europeans can study in Germany free of charge - without tuition fees. It does not matter if you are from the EU or EEA.
This applies to almost all study programmes at public universities. There is a tiny catch: If you are from outside the EU, you will need to get a residence permit before you arrive in the country; and you will have to finish your studies in Germany.
In Germany, you can generally study for free at public universities. There are almost 300 public universities in Germany, and there are more than 1,000 study programmes in total - so you have lots of options!
Some of the largest public universities include:
Almost anywhere in Europe and the world, universities charge tuition fees - if only from foreigners who come to that country for their studies. Germany is one of the few countries in Europe where you can study for free, even if you are from Asia, Africa or elsewhere.
Germans generally believe that education should not be treated as a commercial product, and that free access to higher education ensures economic growth and welfare for the greater population. In the recent past, there was legislation allowing public universities to charge very modest tuition fees of 1,000 euros annually. But after years of public protests, the tuition fees were abolished again in 2014. Today, there are only very few exceptions where public universities can charge tuition fees.
Also, Germany’s governments of recent years have understood the economic and social benefits of immigration. Germany wants to get the smartest minds to study into the country, and ideally to stay and work after graduation. That is why there are no general tuition fees for foreigners, as well.
Far from it! Germany’s universities are among the best in the world, and you can expect to receive a world-class education as a foreign student. Many of the larger institutions regularly rank among the top 100 in international rankings.
Regardless of a university’s ranking, you can always expect high-quality teaching. Germany has very strict standards for accrediting its educational providers.
The fact that higher education at public universities is tuition-free is a purely political decision by the German government. A degree from a German university will be respected around the world and open many doors for your career choices.
Generally, you can study in Germany for free. But there are a few exceptions in which you have to pay tuition fees:
Baden-Württemberg, in South-West Germany, is the only of the 16 German federal states where students from outside the EU have to pay tuition fees at public universities. Tuition fees in Baden-Württemberg are 1,500 euros per semester; or 3,000 euros per year.
These tuition fees apply to all public higher-education institutions in “BaWü”, of which there are around 50.
Students who are citizens of the EU are treated the same as German students and therefore do not pay any tuition fees.
While there usually aren’t any tuition fees at public universities, you normally have to pay something called a “semester fee” (“Semesterbeitrag”) or “administrative fee”. But that’s a small amount: often around 300 or 400 euros for the whole semester. This then also covers a public transport ticket for your city and sometimes even the surrounding areas, at a fraction of what you would normally pay for such a ticket.
For a Western European country, Germany is otherwise very affordable. Here is an overview of typical cost of living as a student in Germany:
|Item||Average cost per month|
|Rent and utilities||350 to 500 €|
|Food and drink||200 to 250 €|
|Health insurance||100 €|
|Phone and internet||30 €|
|Leisure and hobbies||50 to 100 €|
You can get by on 900 euros per month, give or take a bit, depending on what city you study in. (If you are a student that needs a visa, you would be required to set up a blocked account into which you pay the estimated cost of living for a year before you apply for the visa.) Larger cities like Munich, Frankfurt or Hamburg are known to be more expensive than smaller towns.
There are many scholarships for foreign students in Germany. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has an official scholarship database which allows you to search for suitable scholarship options, e.g. based on your country of origin.
Yes: International graduates of German universities can stay in Germany while they look for a job. And that applies to all students, regardless of the country of origin. If you are a citizen from outside the European Union, you can apply for an 18-month residence permit for after graduation.
With such a “job seeker visa” (or “post-study work visa”), you can search for a job that fits your qualifications; and you are allowed to take any job during those 18 months. The German Federal Government offers more information about the graduate residence permit.
Learn more about studying in Germany.1100 Programmes in Germany