Germany has become an extremely popular study destination for international students due to its combination of world-class education and low costs. Over 300,000 international students are currently attending university in Germany – and for good reason!
Studying in Germany offers the unique opportunity to gain a prestigious degree from well-ranked universities at little to no tuition fees. Cost of living is relatively affordable compared to other European cities as well.
In this guide, we will provide an overview of studying in Germany including tuition fees, universities, cost of living, timelines and tips for applying, and more. Read on to learn why Germany is one of the top picks for affordable education abroad!
Tuition Fees at German Universities
The main appeal of studying in Germany is the incredibly low tuition rates – including no tuition at all at public universities!
Germany has a long history of tuition-free education for its citizens. When fees were introduced in 2006 for long-term residents and internationals, massive student protests erupted.
As a result, in 2014 Germany once again abolished tuition fees across the country for German and EU students pursuing their first undergraduate degree.
For international students outside the EU, tuition fees are still charged but remain quite low compared to other study destinations.
On average, international students in Germany pay:
- €1500-3500 per year for undergraduate degrees
- €2000-5000 per year for postgraduate degrees
Specific fees depend on the federal state, university, and program. Degrees in the arts, humanities and social sciences tend to have lower fees while STEM and medical degrees have higher fees.
But these costs are a fraction of tuition abroad in places like the USA, UK, Australia or Canada. Overall Germany remains one of the most affordable and accessible study destinations in the world.
Top German Universities For International Students
Germany has over 400 universities offering degree programs for international students taught in English.
Choosing the right university depends on your field of study, budget, language skills, location preferences and other factors. Some top picks across disciplines include:
- RWTH Aachen University
- Technical University of Munich
- TU Berlin
Excellent for engineering, computer science, natural sciences degrees.
- Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
- Humboldt University of Berlin
- Freie Universität Berlin
- Heidelberg University
Strong in sciences, humanities, social sciences and more.
- Berlin University of the Arts
- Bauhaus-Universität Weimar
- Hochschule für Bildende Künste Hamburg
Leading art, fine arts, design and architecture programs.
- WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management
- ESMT Berlin
- Frankfurt School of Finance and Management
Top ranked business degrees and MBA programs.
This is just a small sample – every major city in Germany has great public universities to consider. Use university rankings to compare programs in your field of study.
Many universities also offer affordable preparatory or pathway programs where you can improve language skills before starting your degree too.
Cost of Living in Germany
In addition to low tuition, Germany features an overall lower cost of living compared to other European hubs like Paris, London or Amsterdam. Of course expenses depend on your lifestyle and city choice. But Germany remains relatively affordable for students.
Some typical costs are:
- Shared student housing: €200-600 per month
- Public transportation: €50-100 per month
- Food and basic supplies: €200-300 per month
- Health insurance: €80-150 per month
- Miscellaneous – phone, internet, leisure etc: €100-150 month
This puts average student living costs at €700-1000 per month or around €8400-12,000 per year. Rents are higher in places like Munich but it’s possible to get by on a modest budget.
Many universities have student dorms offering discounted shared housing for international students. Taking advantage of group meals, student discounts and public transport passes also helps cut costs.
Having around €720-850 per month should allow you to live comfortably as a student in Germany without too many financial struggles.
Timeline for Applying to Study in Germany
Applying to universities in Germany takes time and preparation. Here is an overview of the application steps and timeline:
12+ Months Before
- Research programs and universities
- Check admission criteria such as grades, tests, CV
- Begin studying for any required exams like GRE/GMAT
- Start preparing other documents (transcripts, letters etc)
6-12 Months Before
- Take any necessary admissions exams
- Ask teachers and employers for recommendation letters
- Write a draft personal statement for applications
- Contact potential supervisors, if required
4-6 Months Before
- Finalize list of universities to apply to
- Submit online applications before deadlines
- Ensure all required documents are ready
2-4 Months Before
- Interview with potential supervisors, if applicable
- Check application status frequently
- Begin student visa application process
1-2 Months Before
- Accept university offer and enroll
- Look for housing such as student dorms
- Purchase insurance, book flights, arrange finances
Planning ahead is key! Give yourself 12+ months to prepare a strong university application and visa documents to study in Germany.
Tips for Applying to Universities in Germany
Here are some top tips for creating a successful German university application:
- Meet language requirements – Have B2 proficiency in German and/or English with required test scores
- Focus on academics – Maintain high GPA with challenging courses relevant to your program
- Plan early – Apply 6-12 months before you intend to start studies
- Write a strong personal statement – Explain your motivations, interests, goals for studying in Germany
- Secure letters of recommendation – Ask teachers and employers who know you well
- Submit all documents – Transcripts, CV, certificates, proofs of language ability etc.
- Check admission factors – Master’s programs may require supervisor approval, interviews, GRE exam scores etc.
- Apply to multiple universities – Increase chances of admission by having back-up options
- Enroll on time – Accept your spot, pay deposits, and complete registration
With smart preparation and attention to detail, you can successfully gain admission to top German universities as an international student.
Obtaining a German Student Visa
Once accepted, international students will need to obtain a student visa for Germany before arrival to study. Requirements include:
- University admission letter
- Proof of financial resources to support yourself
- Valid health insurance
- Passport and photos
- Visa application form + fee
- Some nationalities require additional documents – check embassy website
Submit your complete student visa application at your nearest German embassy/consulate in your home country. Processing times range from 4-12 weeks.
Some applicants may need to do an in-person visa interview as well before approval. Be sure to apply for your student visa with plenty of time before classes start!
Work Opportunities For International Students
One great perk of studying in Germany is part-time work opportunities. As a student, you can work up to 120 full or 240 half days per year. This is a great way to earn extra income and gain professional experience.
Popular jobs for international students include:
- Server, bartender or cook in restaurants/cafes
- Tutor or teacher assistant in English, math, sciences
- Office assistant for university departments or private companies
- Freelance work (web design, writing, translating etc.)
- Internships related to your degree (great for future careers!)
Just make sure any side jobs do not conflict with your study schedule. And you need a work permit – your student residence permit allows part-time employment in Germany up to 120 days per year.
Experience Life in Germany as an International Student!
Does studying in Germany sound exciting? With renowned universities, English-taught programs, low tuition fees and reasonable cost of living, Germany offers an incredible education experience.
Gain cutting-edge knowledge at globally ranked technical and research universities for just a fraction of the cost of other study abroad destinations.
Live in cultural hubs like Berlin, Munich and Hamburg alongside new German and international friends. Explore castles, festivals, Christmas markets and beautiful landscapes across the country.
Begin your adventure studying abroad in Germany by researching programs, estimating costs, and preparing your applications today. Follow this guide, and an affordable world-class education can be yours