How to study in Germany in English

How to study in Germany in English

by Jakob Straub

Updated November 10, 2022

International students from all over the world flock to Germany: it’s among the most popular destinations for “study tourism”. Many come to study in Germany in English, though this doesn’t apply to all programs and universities.

The country and its universities are attractive, offering quality and renowned degrees, a diversity of courses, degrees and programs, as well as practical experience. Read on to find out how to study in Germany in English, which institutions have tuition fees, and which resources will help you find the right German university for your studies of choice.

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Steps to studying in Germany in English

A majority of undergraduate courses at German universities are in German. However, institutions teach an increasing number of international programs completely in English, also at the Bachelor level. English-language graduate programs and courses at the Master’s level are more common, especially for studies of business, tech or social sciences. A medical degree with English-only studies, for example, is only available as a Master’s programme.

The difficulty or ease of studying in Germany in English therefore largely depends on the degree you want to obtain, the subject or programme you’re interested in and the educational institution you want to attend. Find the right match for you with our tools below, and remember that studying abroad is always a chance to learn the local language!

Find the programme and institution

Germany has tens of thousands of Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programmes, though regarding English-only courses, there’s an imbalance towards the Master’s track. The State examination leads to a degree as a medical doctor, lawyer, teacher or pharmacist in Germany and is commonly not available in English. In addition, your home country might not recognise this degree. Check our list of Germany’s best universities for overseas students!

Doctoral studies leading to a PhD are open to foreign students and international research. Germany’s Universities of Applied Sciences and technical colleges offer a different track, often leading to an engineering degree or diploma.

Dual study in Germany in English is also rare: The dual study programme combines a degree with vocational training, allowing students to gain practical experience within a company. For international students, these are of double difficulty as only few English-only opportunities exist.

Application process

There is no unified application process for German universities. Instead, each institution will have specific deadlines, which can also vary between subjects. The requirements for international students will also be different, so your first point of contact should always be the international office of the respective university.

Inquire about your specific prerequisites and get your secondary school certificate recognised to prove you qualify for university entrance. Other requirements can be aptitude tests or preparatory courses.

The financials of studying

While public universities in Germany are free, tuition can apply to foreign students in some states. Private universities will have tuition fees, and in most cases, you’ll need proof that you’re able to finance your stay in Germany. Luckily, scholarships and financial aid for foreign students are available from various organisations.

Before you arrive in Germany

Even when you’re accepted by a German university, there will be more bureaucracy before you can enter the country. Depending on your country of origin, you’ll need a student visa and valid health insurance. Apply for the right visa as some have German language requirements. You should also find at least initial accommodation before you board a plane. Check our top tips on how to move to Germany!

Tools to find the right study program in Germany

These tools and websites will help you with the steps outlined above to study in Germany in English:

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Tuition fees and how to study for free in Germany

Germany has some of the best universities in the world—and you can study for free. However, as with most anything, conditions apply. Yes, tuition fees in Germany are non-existent, but this only applies to public universities.

Private institutions can charge tuition, but to compete with the public education, they often offer benefits such as free material and devices, private counseling and specialised programmes. To save money, look at public options first and check eligibility for a scholarship if you opt for a private university.

If you enrol in a Master’s programme after a Bachelor’s, tuition doesn’t apply, but so-called non-consecutive Master’s are special programmes that can charge tuition. They’re rare, however, but when you want to get a second degree, that is another Bachelor or Master when you already have one, tuition fees can also apply. 

Currently, the state of Baden-Württemberg is the only one charging a tuition fee of €1,500 per semester from students outside of the EU. Most universities will charge an administrative fee per semester, often in exchange for free public transportation as a semester ticket. Depending on which area of Germany you live in, you can expect a minimum cost of living of roughly €10.000 to €12.000 per year.

The top 10 most international universities in Germany

If you’re certain about what you want to study in Germany in English, look at which German universities or Hochschulen offer your program of choice. But if you don’t know yet, why not succeed where others have succeeded before you?

Below, we summarize Germany’s top ten of the most international universities. This list by QS Rankings is based on the percentage of international students attending those institutions. A high percentage and high ranking therefore means you’ll meet fellow expats at a university that caters well to foreign students and their study tourism in Germany in English.   

  1. Technical University of Munich
  2. Technical University of Berlin
  3. RWTH Aachen University 
  4. Darmstadt University of Technology
  5. Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
  6. University of Stuttgart
  7. Ruprecht-Karls University Heidelberg
  8. University of Duisburg-Essen
  9. Free University of Berlin
  10. Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg

Are you ready to take off, or do you have some time before you’ll study in Germany in English? Either way, it’ll be helpful to know some basic German to navigate your daily life in the country. Make use of our tips on How to Learn a Language Before Studying Abroad!

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Jakob is a freelance writer in Barcelona, Spain, and his favorite books have pages all empty. As an expert storyteller, he publishes creative fiction in English and German and helps other authors shape their manuscripts into compelling stories. Thanks to an expertise in a wide range of topics such as writing, literature and productivity to marketing, travel, and technology, he produces engaging content for his clients. Apart from the escape that books offer, Jakob enjoys traveling digital nomad style and stays active with climbing and hiking. Find out more about him on his website, Twitter or on Goodreads.

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