Study at a German University
There are many options when it comes to studying at a German university. First, you must decide on the type of university (die Hochschule). You will find the following types of universities in Germany:
- Requires a diploma from German secondary school qualifying for university admission or matriculation (Abitur) or an equivalent qualification
- Purpose: lectures, academic studies, and research
- Offers D. programs (Promotion)
University of applied science
- Requires a diploma, which entitles to study at a university of applied sciences acquired through a qualified school leaving certificate and vocational training or equivalent (das Fachabitur) or an equivalent qualification
- Purpose: application-oriented lectures and studies – often in cooperation with local companies
- Does not offer Ph.D. programs (Promotion)
Germany has had 423 universities at the beginning of the winter semester (Wintersemester) 2021/2022. 108 have been universities, 211 universities of applied science, and 52 art colleges. In Germany, more than 20,000 courses are offered, which are attended by almost 3 million students.
Universities in Germany
Universities are divided into departments (der Fachbereich) / faculties (die Fakultät). A dean (der Dekan/die Dekanin) is the head of a department or faculty. Here are some examples of faculties at German universities:
- Medizin – Medicine
- Rechtswissenschaften (Jurastudium) – Law
- Geschichts- und Kulturwissenschaften – Historical and cultural studies
- Politik- und Sozialwissenschaften – Political and social sciences
- Erziehungswissenschaften und Psychologie (Lehramtsstudium) – Educational science and psychology (teaching degree)
- Mathematik und Informatik – Mathematics and computer science
- Wirtschaftswissenschaften – Economics
Many of the courses offered are not restricted in admission (nicht zulassungsbeschränkt); i.e. there is no numerus clausus. Medical courses and courses to get a law or teaching degree typically have a numerus clausus. You can find out whether a degree program has admission restrictions on the university’s website.
Lectures (die Vorlesung) are held by a professor (der Professor / die Professorin) or a freelance lecturer (der Dozent / die Dozentin). Depending on the course, participation in the lecture is optional or mandatory.
How much does it cost to study in Germany?
Public universities usually do not charge tuition fees (die Studiengebühr) for undergraduate studies (bachelor’s degree or comparable). This also applies to students from other countries, although some federal states have special rules for students from non-EU countries. Depending on the federal state, long-term students also have to pay tuition fees. The tuition fees are between EUR 500 and EUR 1,500 per semester.
However, all students must pay a semester contribution (der Semesterbeitrag). This fee includes contributions to the student union, administration fees and a semester ticket for local transport. The Semesterbeitrag is set by the university and is between 200 and 400 EUR.
If you don’t live near the university, you can either rent a room in a dormitory (das Studentenwohnheim) or a shared apartment (die Wohngemeinschaft). The costs depend on the local rental market; i.e. they are significantly higher in Munich, Stuttgart, Berlin, and Frankfurt than in other cities. In addition, the students have to take care of their own meals.
Institutions at German Universities
- Studierendensekretariat (Registrar’s Office): This is where applications and enrolment (die Einschreibung) are processed. At the beginning of a new semester, every student must re-register (sich zurückmelden), i.e. report that they are continuing their studies and show that they have paid their semester contribution. The students will then receive their current student ID card (der Studentenausweis).
- Akademisches Auslandsamt: Responsible for looking after foreign students and helping with all questions regarding studying abroad.
- Studentenwerk: Institution for the social, economic and cultural support of the students
- Mensa: University canteen where students can get discounted hot and cold meals upon presentation of their student ID.
Of course, there is much more to talk about and things are changing all the time. Nevertheless, I hope that I was able to give you an overview of studying in Germany.
Do you still have questions? Just write them in the comments!