Study Abroad

Top 11 Universities in Germany for International Students

Studying abroad in Germany is a smart choice for students seeking an internationally-recognized and affordable education.

If you’ve been thinking about studying abroad in Germany, now is the perfect time. Germany is home to world-class universities at a price point that makes studying abroad for a semester or a full degree accessible to students around the world.

The 11 universities included in this article are part of the Excellence Initiative which seeks to cultivate high-powered research institutions comparable to the US Ivy League or the UK Russell Group. These universities are Future Concept 2019 award winners, chosen for their innovative research projects and commitment to academic excellence, so you can be sure you’ll be getting a globally respected and recognized education.

Why study abroad in Germany?

Mountains loom behind a street with storefronts.

There are countless reasons why you should study in Germany. Here are some of the things that make this country stand out:

  • Affordable universities: Many public universities offer low or free tuition for international students.
  • Good quality of life: Germany has a very affordable cost of living when compared to other major European destinations for international students. That combined with quality housing, stellar infrastructure, and a thriving culinary scene means your life as a student in Germany will be comfortable.
  • Quality education: Germany is home to countless internationally ranked universities, including four in the top 100 globally.
  • Large selection of programs in English: International students who aren’t proficient in German can study a wide range of subjects in English, including full degrees at the postgraduate level. If you’d like to learn German though, there are tons of opportunities to do so, often for free, on campus.
  • Scholarship opportunities: The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) offers countless scholarships for international students at universities nationwide.
  • Large international community: More than 350,000 international students studied in Germany during the 2021/2022 school year. Many love it so much, they never leave!
  • Great location in the heart of Europe: Living and studying in Germany means you are well-connected to the rest of Europe. Plenty of opportunities to travel!

How much does it cost to study abroad in Germany?

Thanks to many tuition-free public universities and a low cost of living, studying abroad in Germany is an affordable option for students from all over the world. Though it sounds too good to be true, Germans believe that education isn’t a commercial product to profit from. There is also a belief in the importance of immigration and its role in supporting the economy and society as a whole. Because of this, public universities are tuition-free for both German and international students.

Students can expect to pay around $100-$375 USD a semester in administration fees if attending a public university that doesn’t charge tuition. This fee usually includes an unlimited transportation pass. Should you have to pay for the pass separately, it will cost between $25-$215 USD extra per semester.

In the state of Baden-Württemberg, international students will need to pay around $1,600 USD per semester in tuition at all universities. While this is more than what you would pay in other German states, it’s still leaps and bounds lower than tuition anywhere in the US.

Should you choose to attend a private university, tuition can run you anywhere from $10,700-$21,400 USD a year. It’s important to note that in Germany, paying more doesn’t mean better quality. The beauty of studying in Germany is that even tuition-free universities offer a world-class education.

Can I study in Germany for free?

Yes! Germany is one of the few countries in the world that offers free tuition to international students. Many public universities do not charge tuition and only require students to pay a small amount in administrative fees. This is one of the many ways Germany makes higher education more accessible to students around the world.


Even with free tuition, the semester fees combined with living costs may still make it difficult for some students to study abroad in Germany. As of January 2023, prospective students must demonstrate they have access to around $1,000 USD for each month of their studies. If you’re applying for a year student visa, you’ll need to apply with proof of around $12,000 USD in your account. If this would be difficult for you, don’t despair. There are scholarship opportunities available to help you pay for your education.

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) offers support in the form of research grants, undergraduate and graduate scholarships, and paid internships. Funding is merit-based and competitive but the effort will be well worth it!

Monthly cost of living in Germany

Below is a rough estimate of the average monthly costs for students living in Germany. Of course, your budget will vary based on your shopping, dining, and nightlife habits.

  • Room in shared housing: $300-$550 USD
  • Groceries: $150-$200 USD
  • Transportation: usually included in your university fees
  • Cell phone plan: $10-$20 USD

Sources: Study in Germany, HousingAnywhere

1. RWTH Aachen University

Great for tech research

Blue skies over the Aachen University campus in Germany.

📍 Location: Aachen
💰 Average fees for a semester of direct enrollment: $340 USD
🏠 Average cost of room in shared house: $570 USD per month

Located in the northwest of Germany near the borders of Belgium and the Netherlands, Aachen is a lively university city known for its thermal springs and spas, the prominent Aachen Cathedral with its ties to Charlemagne, and of course, RWTH Aachen University.

RWTH Aachen is a great destination for international students as it hosts a higher-than-average amount of global students when compared to other universities in Germany. It is also particularly appealing to those interested in studying IT, engineering, and the natural sciences. RWTH Aachen is a leading technological research university in Germany, facilitating international collaborations and driving innovation.

2. Free University of Berlin

Great for political science

📍 Location: Berlin
💰 Average fees for a semester of direct enrollment: $333 USD
🏠 Average cost of room in shared house: $850 USD per month

Students with a passion for politics and international affairs will find top-notch programs at the Free University of Berlin. Ranked 20th in the world for politics by QS World University Rankings, it is home to the Otto Suhr Institute of Political Science, a leading political science institute in Germany. With focuses on environmental research, international relations, area studies, and European politics, the Free University of Berlin is a great place to start or extend your political science studies.

As if the university wasn’t enough of a draw, Berlin is a popular destination for students and tourists alike with its vibrant arts scene and range of historical and cultural attractions.

3. Humboldt University of Berlin

Great for social sciences

📍 Location: Berlin
💰 Average fees for a semester of direct enrollment: $337 USD
🏠 Average cost of room in shared house: $850 USD per month

Humboldt University of Berlin ranks 1st overall in Germany for the social sciences, making it an especially attractive destination for students majoring in anthropology, sociology, psychology, and economics. More notably, the university is known for trailblazing the Humboldtian model of higher education which has heavily influenced higher education in both Europe and the US through its belief in the importance of conducting research alongside academic studies.

This historic commitment to free thought has made Humboldt University of Berlin a place where students can actively engage in campus politics and activism. There are also numerous clubs and community initiatives students can get involved with to pursue their interests and meet new friends.

4. Technical University of Berlin

Great for engineering

A drone view of Berlin at night.

📍 Location: Berlin
💰 Average fees for a semester of direct enrollment: $247 USD
🏠 Average cost of room in shared house: $850 USD per month

Aspiring engineers are guaranteed to expand their technical knowledge and increase their employability by studying at the Technical University of Berlin. Aside from its designation as a University of Excellence, TU Berlin is also part of the TU9, a group of leading technical universities in Germany dedicated to quality research and advocacy in the field.

TU Berlin offers a wide range of bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil, mechanical, automotive, space, and ocean engineering to name a few. The university research areas focus on sustainability, digital transformation, and the advancement of health and education which means your education is sure to be relevant to society’s greatest needs and challenges.

5. Heidelberg University

Great for health and medicine

📍 Location: Heidelberg
💰 Average fees for a semester of direct enrollment: $1605 USD
🏠 Average cost of room in shared house: $625 USD per month

Germany’s oldest university, Heidelberg University, founded in 1386, is also one of the most prestigious universities in the country. It’s a founding member of the League of European Research Universities, a consortium of research-intensive universities. Heidelberg University offers over 100 fields of study, plus a sizable amount of graduate degrees taught entirely in English.

If your career aspirations lie in health and medicine, Heidelberg University ranks 1st in Germany for clinical medicine, public health, and pharmacy. World-class research and training is conducted in conjunction with the Heidelberg University Hospital. Boasting 50 specialist departments, it is one of Europe’s most modern medical centers. Students can be proud to be at the forefront of cancer research thanks to close ties with the German Cancer Research Center.

6. University of Konstanz

Great for small-town campus feel

📍 Location: Konstanz
💰 Average fees for a semester of direct enrollment: $1,797 USD
🏠 Average cost of room in shared house: $800 USD per month

Despite being founded in 1966, the University of Konstanz has made a name for itself as a top university in Germany. It’s the youngest university to join the Excellence Initiative and it enjoys ties with top-tier US universities like Johns Hopkins, Yale, Harvard, and UC Berkeley.

The University of Konstanz is unique in its approach to fostering an inclusive small-town community feel for students. Classes are held in small seminar rooms rather than lecture halls and the compact campus opens up endless opportunities for inter-departmental collaboration. Located within walking distance of Lake Constance, students can enjoy a scenic study break in nature between classes.

7. University of Bonn

Great for top-level research

📍 Location: Bonn
💰 Average tuition for a semester of direct enrollment: $345 USD
🏠 Average cost of room in shared house: $628 USD per month

German universities place a large emphasis on research and the University of Bonn is one of the most research-intensive institutions in the country. Researchers at the university have made important contributions to the fields of physics, mathematics, the natural sciences, and the humanities notable graduates include 11 Nobel Laureates.

The university offers many opportunities for students to work as research assistants, strengthening both their resumes and practical skills. Around 12.5% of the student population is international, making it a diverse learning environment where a range of backgrounds can collaborate together.

8. Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich

Great for natural sciences

A drone view of Munich.

📍 Location: Munich
💰 Average tuition for a semester of direct enrollment: $321 USD
🏠 Average cost of room in shared house: $1,170 USD per month

Situated in the capital of beautiful Bavaria, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) is a natural choice for students studying the natural sciences. LMU ranks 22nd in the world for biological sciences according to QS World University Rankings.

Aside from the sciences, the university offers more than 100 areas of study, and an increasing number of its classes are offered in English to cater to international students, particularly in business, management, psychology, and physics.

9. Technical University of Munich

Great for design and architecture

📍 Location: Munich
💰 Average fees for a semester of direct enrollment: $2,140-$6,421 USD
🏠 Average cost of room in shared house: $1,170 USD per month

Although the Technical University of Munich is renowned for its engineering faculty, it’s also a fantastic destination for international students interested in the arts, humanities, and architecture. Munich is home to some of Germany’s biggest museums and the city draws creatives from around the globe with its festivals, exhibitions, and galleries. Students will simply need to hit the streets after class to find inspiration in the mix of old and new architecture of Munich.

TUM maintains strong levels of impactful research which have led to numerous international partnerships, including prestigious universities such as MIT, Stanford, Cornell, and Georgia Tech. The university also has strong ties to leading research centers across Europe and Asia. Additionally, 12 faculty members in the Department of Architecture have been elected to the highly prestigious Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts.

10. University of Tübingen

Great for classical studies and history

📍 Location: Tübingen
💰 Average fees for a semester of direct enrollment: $1,605 USD
🏠 Average cost of room in shared house: $464 USD per month

What better place to study history and the classics than in the historic town of Tübingen? The University of Tübingen doesn’t have a dedicated part of the city for a campus. Instead, university buildings and student housing are located all across the city making it one of five classical “university towns” in Germany. Here, around 32% of the town’s population are students.

The University of Tübingen boasts one of the country’s top institutes for archaeology and ranks 12th in the world. The Institute of Classical Archaeology conducts a range of research into subjects like European prehistory and Mediterranean anthropology and history. It also runs a museum that allows students to learn directly from ancient artifacts and material culture.

11. Dresden University of Technology

Great for biotechnology

A view of Dresden from the river at sunset.

📍 Location: Dresden
💰 Average fees for a semester of direct enrollment: $285 USD
🏠 Average cost of room in shared house: $418 USD per month

Dresden is a fascinating and historic city that students attending Dresden University of Technology, also known as TU Dresden, will have plenty of time to get to know. Despite large-scale damage to the city during the bombing of Dresden in World War II, many of its Baroque buildings were meticulously reconstructed. Today, it’s referred to as the “Florence on the Elbe” for its beautiful architecture, numerous museums housing famous works of art, and reputation as a major cultural center.

TU Dresden is a well-respected research university specializing in biotechnology, bioengineering, and biomedicine. Their state-of-the-art Biotechnology Center engages in high-profile research projects covering topics like regenerative therapies, tissue engineering, and genomics. If you’re interested in getting involved in meaningful translational research that has the possibility to change lives, TU Dresden is the best place to do it.

Honorable mention: universities of applied sciences

Germany has more than 200 universities of applied sciences, abbreviated as HAW/FH, that act as vocational or technical schools. However, unlike US vocational schools, HAW/FH grant bachelor’s and master’s degrees that are equivalent to those granted at traditional universities.

Studies are focused on applied, hands-on learning and research and generally include required internships, lab projects, and practical semesters. Thanks to ties with national and international companies, graduates of HAW/FH have great job prospects post-graduation, with many earning higher starting salaries. This includes international students, too!

HAWs are located in fantastic cities across the country and generally don’t charge tuition fees. Many offer programs completely in English!


Ready to study abroad in Germany?

There are countless reasons why Germany is a great place to study and its stand-out universities are at the top of the list. International students will feel at home in this welcoming and diverse country while they earn an affordable and quality education. Consider pursuing higher education in Germany – you won’t regret it!

Read more about studying abroad in Germany:


Funding Opportunities to Study in Germany Through DAAD

The German Academic Exchange Service, known by its acronym DAAD in German, is an organization that offers various scholarships and research grants to study in Germany for all academic levels and fields. If you've ever considered studying in Germany, check out the informational page DAAD and Go Overseas have created together to provide comprehensive overview on studying in Germany.