Germany is one of the most popular countries for study abroad, and with good reason. Germany's approach to higher education and commitment to internationalism in the German education system makes it one of the best and most supportive destinations for international students to study. Additionally, Germany has a reasonable cost of living, and international students pay the same tuition fees as local students, while public universities do not charge any tuition fees.
Furthermore, English is becoming more and more common as the primary language for courses in German universities, to the point where it is possible to earn your entire degree or complete your course without having to take a single class in German. However, if you are a German student, there are still plenty of classes offered in the local language. Additionally, you can even find programs specific to German language immersion if you're up for it!
There are hundreds of universities in Germany located throughout the country, and more than 10 of them rank in the top 200 worldwide. Wherever you want to study abroad in Germany, and whatever you want to learn, you can likely find a university that is a good fit. To help you out in your selection, here’s a list of eight of the best universities in Germany for international students.
Best Universities in Berlin
Berlin is home to some of the highest regarded universities in all of Europe, and students who study abroad in Berlin can take advantage of a wide variety of different course options. Many courses are taught in English as well as German, which is good news for our friends who don't sprechen Deutsch!
1. Freie University of Berlin
A top-ranking research university and the largest of four research universities in Berlin, Freie Universität Berlin expects one-third of its student population to consist of overseas students in the future.
The university ranked 130th on the QS World University Rankings in 2021 and is particularly strong in arts and humanities, and social sciences. The university has branch offices in the United States, Belgium, Russia, China, Egypt, and India, allowing it to form strong partnerships with many universities and better serve students from those countries.
2. Humboldt University of Berlin
More than 10% of the student population of Humboldt University consists of international students. For those looking for a historic German university, Humbolt is one of the oldest universities in Berlin. It ranked 117th in the world in the 2021 QS World University Rankings.
Humboldt is a hardcore research university with opportunities to work with world-renowned faculty in fields such as the history of science, quantitative economics, and climate and sustainability research. Students interested in scientific research are highly encouraged to apply.
Best Universities in Munich
As the largest city in the state of Bavaria, Munich (or Munchen as the locals call it) is a city enriched in German culture and history. Studying abroad in Munich is an easy choice considering the number and quality of German universities for international students there.
3. Technical University Munich
Germany’s highest-ranking university, Technische Universität München, or TUM, comes in 50th on the World University Rankings in 2021. TUM excels in the more technical disciplines, like engineering. The university hosts over 15,000 international students, making up about 34% of its total student population.
The university’s strength in research and engineering has led to over 160 international partnerships, including prestigious universities such as MIT, Stanford, Cornell, and Georgia Tech. The university also has strong partnerships across Europe and Asia.
4. Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
One of Germany’s oldest universities, LMU ranks 63rd in the 2021 QS World University Rankings, falling in between rivals TUM and Heidelberg. Almost 15% of its student population is international students. The university offers more than 100 areas of study, and an increasingly large number of its classes are offered in English to cater to international students, particularly in business, management, psychology, and physics.
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Best Universities in Smaller German Cities
Baden-Württemberg, a state located in southwest Germany, is a popular destination for international students due to its highly renowned universities and beautiful landscapes. As universities here are in smaller cities with fewer expats, students in this area are often looking for a more immersive study abroad experience.
5. Heidelberg University
Founded in 1386 and ranking 64th in the 2021 World University Rankings, Heidelberg University is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Western Europe. It performs best in the sciences. More than 20% of the student body consists of international students from around 130 countries.
Also, more than one-third of its doctoral students are international students. Many of the university’s classes are in German, so this is a better option for international students with prior German experience looking for language immersion.
6. Schiller International University
Schiller International University is a true international university, with campuses in the US and Europe. The main campus is actually in Florida, but the first and largest campus is in Heidelberg, Germany and originally began as a study abroad program in Germany for Americans.
Germany tends to be a very inexpensive country to study abroad in, as overseas students pay the same tuition fees as local students, and many universities do not charge any tuition fees at all.
Schiller International University now serves students from over 100 countries. Many study abroad programs utilize the university because it is accredited in the United States and based on the American education system. All classes on all campuses are taught in English. The programs offered are generally more career-based, including two-year and four-year programs.
7. Hochschule Furtwangen University
HFU is a small university located in Baden-Württemberg, focused on the applied sciences. Despite its size, Furtwangen University is highly regarded as one of the best universities in Germany for international students. The university, which is comprised of about 16% international students, ranked first among all universities in Germany in one survey of international student satisfaction, and it has more than 100 partner universities.
8. University of Freiburg
With 18% of its student body coming from 120 nations besides Germany, University of Freiburg in Baden-Württemberg aims to please international students. The university also offers popular intensive German language courses at its Language Teaching Center, which draws students from more than 50 countries during semester breaks to learn German. The Global Studies Program, a distinguished international master's program in English, is also a big draw for international students.
9. Leuphana University Lüneburg
If you want to immerse yourself in German history and language, head to historic Lüneburg and Leuphana University. The university may not draw as many international students as more popular German study abroad destinations, but you'll have the chance to practice your German skills, continue taking classes in subjects of interest, and experience north-central Germany in the process. Lüneburg is also an easy train ride away from Hamburg if you start to crave the big city for a weekend trip.
Enjoy Studying in Germany (Maybe Even For Free)!
Germany is a popular destination for international students to study abroad or get a degree due to its world-class universities, cultural belief in access to higher education and internationalism, and the opportunities to take courses in English. Choosing the best university in Germany to study abroad depends on your individual circumstances, but regardless of where you choose, you’ll receive an excellent education while being immersed in German culture.
Additionally, Germany offers financial help, including the DAAD scholarship, which funds masters and doctorate programs for international students.
Learn more: Core Scholarship Opportunities in Germany