Earn your degree abroad in the third most popular study abroad destination in the world. At almost any point it time, Germany has close to 2 million students studying at its array of higher education institutions. In addition to the top tier degree programs available in Germany, there is a great deal of learning to be had outside of the classroom too! Germany is the land of great philosophers, like Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche, and famous musicians, including both Bach and Beethoven. It is also jam packed with history and home to 5,752 museums (bet you can’t go to every one!). Choose to earn a degree abroad in Germany and you will never want to say Auf Wiedersehen!
As the capital city, Berlin is an excellent place to earn a degree in Germany. Berlin is home to Freie University, which happens to be the largest university in the country. Known as a “university of excellence,” Freie University is known worldwide for its Otto Suhr Institute of Political Science, the Charité, and International Summer and Winter University. Other top institutions in Berlin include Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin, and Berlin University of the Arts.
Located in the Bavarian region, Munich is another wonderful location for international students to earn a degree abroad in Germany. Munich is Germany’s third largest city; it has been ranked the most affordable major city in Germany, and is even ranked as the world’s 14th best city for students. Students will be able to enjoy celebrating the famous Oktoberfest (get your dirndl ready!) while earning a degree in Munich. Technische Universität Munchen (TUM), one of the top 100 universities in the world, is located in Munich and has partnerships with many famous American universities, such as Stanford and MIT, due to its strengths in technical areas, like engineering, and research.
Frankfurt is a great choice for degrees abroad in Germany as well. If you choose to move to Frankfurt you won’t be the only foreigner around, as almost one in three people living in Frankfurt do not hold a German passport! International students are sure to be drawn to this diverse city boasting Germany’s financial and business sectors, including the European Central Bank. The Goethe University of Frankfurt (full name: Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main) is based across four campuses around the city. Best known for its Institut für Sozialforschung (Institute for Social Research), Goethe University is also affiliated with several Nobel Prize winners!
Degree Programs in Germany
Due to the large number of higher education institutions in Germany, there are a plethora of degree program options for international students. Germany is widely recognized, specifically, for its excellence in physics degrees, and out of over 100 Germans who have won a Nobel Prize, 31 were given the award for physics; clearly earning a degree in physics in Germany can’t hurt! Oh and did we forget to mention the X-Ray was discovered by a German physicist too? On top of physics, chemistry is another very strong area of study in Germany (which is home to the inventors of both aspirin and morphine). Generally, science degrees in Germany are a good bet. In fact, seven German universities are in the top 100 universities in the world for the study of science! Mechanical engineering is another popular area of study in Germany, as many universities have strong technical degree programs.
In addition to the sciences and more technical fields of study, liberal arts is also a fantastic field to pursue through degree programs in Germany. Universities in Germany boast strong philosophy and history degree programs too, due in part to the nation’s diverse and rich cultural background. If someone asks you to think of a philosopher, chances are that you will come up with a German name!
A bachelor's degree in Germany usually lasts between three and four years, and students' workload is evaluated based on the ECTS system. Bachelor's degrees in Germany are worth between 180 to 240 ECTS (or credits). German universities have two semesters and the specific start and end dates depend on each university’s course calendar. However, the first semester usually runs from early October to the end of March and the second semester from the beginning of April to the end of September. All universities generally take a two-week break around Christmas and New Years.
It is a huge advantage to speak German if you want to earn a degree in Germany, because fluency will allow you to study basically anywhere in the country. However, there are a growing number of English degree programs in Germany too. English-taught degree programs are usually more popular at the postgraduate or master’s degree level (especially when degrees are related to international topics like business or social science).
Students who attend university in Germany are expected to be highly independent and develop reasoning and discussion skills throughout various academic discourse contexts. That being said, German professors tend to be very helpful and highly interested in their students, so you will never be on your own!
Scholarships & Costs
One of the best aspects of earning a degree in Germany is that tuition is free (for undergraduates) at public universities! There are usually only minor costs that need to be paid for administrative fees and some other miscellaneous costs every semester; these fees usually only add up to $200 to $300, depending on the university. In some instances, there may also be an additional charge of around $100 for a Semesterticket, which covers public transportation for six months. On the other hand, tuition at private universities can cost up to $22,850 per year, so it is worth considering earning a degree in Germany at a public university if your budget is limited.
The Germany Scholarship Program is just one type of scholarship available to those who wish to earn a degree abroad in Germany. This program provides financial and non-material support to high-achieving students from all over the world to attend participating universities in Germany. The scholarship is around $350 per month and is granted for at least two semesters. Another option is the DAAD Scholarship Program, which is an organization of Germany’s higher education institutions that is responsible for promoting international academic relations. The DAAD programs primarily focus on the exchange of students, academics, and researchers. A third option for international students in the Erasmus Mundus Scholarship Programs, which can help international students who are pursuing an Erasmus Mundus study program in Germany finance their education.
There are a range of other scholarship opportunities available for those earning a degree in Germany; check out GoAbroad’s Scholarship Directory to browse more options.
Accommodation & Visas
While low costs are a very attractive aspect of earning a degree abroad in Germany, the cost of living can still be pricey. Rent will usually be the most expensive part of your monthly budget, but it will still cost less than most places in Europe. On average a shared apartment costs around $350 and a student dormitory costs around $275.
You won’t need a visa to earn a degree in Germany if you’re an EU national or a citizen of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland. If you are not an EU citizen or citizen of the latter countries, you should expect to pay around $70 for your student visa. There are also fee reductions and waivers for Schengen visas. In order to fulfill student visa requirements, you will need to show proof that you have, or have access to, around $9,500 per year (or $770 per month) to cover your costs of living.
On top of a visa, you will also need health insurance as a pre-condition of registering for courses at a German university. If you’re a resident of a country within the EU or EEA, there should be a social security agreement between Germany and your home country, which means that if you have public health insurance, then you should be covered in Germany as well. If your health insurance is not valid in Germany, expect to pay between $90 and $180 per month for health insurance for the duration of your degree program.
Benefits & Challenges
Free Tuition. With tuition prices soaring in the United States, many international students are seeking out degrees abroad. Germany offers free tuition at its public universities, which appeals to everyone, everywhere!
German Language. If you are already close to fluent in German, you will have almost no issues adapting to classes in Germany. However, if you feel that you are struggling to become fluent, you may encounter some challenges while earning your degree in Germany. On the plus side, you can always opt to take a degree program in English!