- Do you have to speak German to study abroad in Germany? Short answer: No Many universities across Germany offer classes and even entire degrees in English
- Germany is a safe country with world-class universities and is a leader in internationalism in higher education
- There are three main paths to study abroad in Germany; direct enrollment, direct exchange, and through third party program
- Germany has big cities and small towns that all provide a fantastic experience for international students
- Student housing is the most popular and affordable way to live in Germany while studying abroad
- There are many scholarship opportunities to help fund your study abroad experience
If you're interested in studying abroad in Germany but hesitant because you're unsure if you can do so in English, we have good news for you! Since Germany adopted an international Bachelor and Master system, many courses are offered in English, and many Germans speak the language, especially amongst the younger generation.
While there is undoubtedly a language barrier for non-German speakers studying in Germany, here are ways to mitigate this and even get an entire degree in English.
Why study abroad in Germany?
Germany is one of the most popular destinations for international students for several reasons. Germany invests heavily in improving internationalism in higher education, meaning students from all across the globe can benefit from affordable tuition costs and a straightforward student visa scheme. Germany also has world-class universities that provide students with a high-quality education.
Germany is also located conveniently in the middle of Europe, making it the perfect base to visit other countries during breaks. Germany shares borders with the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Denmark. Many more countries are just hours of travel by train or plane away.
Germany is also a fascinating country in and of itself. You can find historic city centers, countless castles and fortresses, and amazing museums and exhibitions. You can go hiking in one of the 16 National parks and experience different ecosystems from the Wadden Sea in the north to the Black Forest and the peaks of the Alps in Bavaria.
Germany is also a very welcoming and inclusive country. Almost a quarter of Germans have a migration background, influencing German culture. You can find every kind of food in the big cities and hear many different languages spoken. German universities actively encourage international students to spend a semester in Germany and German students to spend time on exchange. In fact, a third of German students go abroad for at least a semester during their studies.
Germany is also a very safe country. It has a low crime rate and ranks among the 15 most LGBTQ+ friendly countries in the world according to The International LGBTQ+ Travel Association (IGLTA). So, you will definitely not regret your decision to study abroad in Germany in English.
How to study in Germany in English
There are different ways to study abroad in Germany. You can come for one or two semesters, take a few courses part-time, or do your entire degree in the country. Depending on your budget and goals, there are different paths that will suit you best.
With direct enrollment, you can finish your entire degree in Germany. You can directly enroll with the universities as long as your university entrance qualification is accepted. If this is not the case, you can take specific courses to bring it up to date.
You have to take a good look at the programs to see if they are all in English. Usually, it is easier to find a Master's or Ph.D. program in English, but you can also find Bachelor's programs. A great resource for support, information and scholarships is the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
Pros of direct enrollment:
- Typically the cheapest way to study overseas
- Provides the most flexibility in choosing programs and courses
- Forces students to immerse themselves in the community
Cons of direct enrollment:
- Students receive no support in applying for a visa, signing up for courses, making travel arrangements, or for any other logistical hurdles
- Harder to find entirely English-speaking programs
- Students won't have a community of study abroad peers to share the experience with
Additional Reading: The Ultimate Guide to Studying Abroad Through Direct Enrollment
The most common way to study abroad in Germany is through an exchange program through your university. You have to ask your university which partner institutions you can choose from in Germany. Often it is also possible to go to a university outside of the established options, but accreditation is much easier if you choose a partner.
If you decide to be part of a direct exchange program for your studies in Germany, enrollment and most logistics will be taken care of. Sometimes universities even help with accommodation, and in the ideal case, all the courses you take abroad count towards your degree in your home country. If you live in an EU country, the direct exchange programs are organized through the Erasmus program.
Pros of direct exchange:
- Requires the least amount of work from the student to set up
- Transferring credits is typically built into the program
- There is support from the school before, during, and after the exchange
- Easy to ensure the program is entirely in English
Cons of direct exchange:
- Students owe tuition costs to their home school and program fees
- Students have less flexibility in the courses they can choose
Third-party providers are independent organizations that coordinate study abroad programs with host universities. Students who study through a study abroad program provider will benefit from the expertise of the organization and will have options that best fit their budget and travel goals. Examples of third-party study abroad providers include CIEE, IES Abroad, and API. While these programs are usually more expensive than the other options, they take care of all the logistics to get you safely settled in-country and often include excursions and cultural experiences.
Pros of third-party programs:
- Logistical support for every step of the program
- Support staff available throughout the experience
- A structured program that includes activities outside of the university
- Students will be with a group of peers also studying abroad
- Access to provider-specific scholarships and financial aid
Cons of third-party programs:
- Generally the priciest option
Where to study in English in Germany
Germany has a wide range of quality institutions to study abroad, and the choice is not always easy. There are a number of cities that are amazing study abroad destinations. The bigger cities usually offer more opportunities for English speakers, though, and it might be easier to find other like-minded people to socialize with. Furthermore, cities like Berlin and Munich have an incredible number of things to do – from visiting museums, concerts and exhibitions to dancing the night away in clubs and discotheques. So here are four Universities to study abroad in Germany in English.
Berlin International University of Applied Sciences is a fantastic option for STEM students interested in living in a vibrant and artsy German city. As the capital and one of the largest cities in Germany, it is also a paradise for student activities. There are plenty of museums and cultural activities to keep any student busy for months. With an easily navigable public transportation system, it is easy to take in the entirety of the city during your semester abroad. Most international students in Berlin choose to focus their studies on Science, Management, Administration, and International Business.
Frankfurt is Germany’s business and economic center. As the home of the European Central Bank, Stock Exchange, and numerous business schools including the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, which offers many courses and even entire degrees in English. Frankfurt is very expat-friendly and locals there are used to non-German speakers living in the city. It’s also one of the most livable metropolises in the world.
Munich lies in the south of Germany, near the Austrian border and at the foothills of the Bavarian Alps. Munich is also the home to Oktoberfest, and nicknamed ‘the Capital of Beer.’ As a popular study abroad destination, locals are used to students coming through the town. Traditional music and baroque architecture have their homes here. Study Media and Communication in Munich, and reduce your worries of things getting lost in translation. There are plenty of English speakers to befriend in Munich, and English courses are available at the Technical University of Munich (TUM)!
Hamburg is a slightly smaller city that still boasts an environment-friendly to non-German speakers. If you are a fan of the water, this city is for you. With beaches and canals to paddle down in a boat, you can’t go wrong in Hamburg. Its close proximity to Denmark and the Netherlands makes it a fantastic launching point for travel all over Europe. Hamburg is a port city and a worldwide trading center full of great shopping spots, nightlife, and plenty of cultural attractions. The University of Hamburg is popular for students studying Engineering, Management, or Media and Communications, and offers courses in English.
How to find housing while studying abroad in Germany
Finding a place to stay during your studies in Germany can be difficult, specifically in the bigger cities. If you are going with a direct exchange program or a third-party provider, the program's coordinators will help you with this, though. Even if you plan to do your entire degree in Germany, you can ask the coordination office or your supervisor for support in looking for accommodation.
Student residences are very common in university towns in Germany. Usually, students have their own room and share a kitchen and a bathroom with fellow students. This is also the most affordable way of living, and often these residences are close to campus. The best part about living in student accommodation is the opportunity to make friends from all over the world.
Another common way of living as a student in Germany is so-called WGs (Wohngemeinschaften), where several students share a flat as roommates. This is also a great way to meet people and learn about German culture.
If you're searching for housing in Germany but don't know where to start, Uniplaces allows you to input your university and filter rooms, flats, and apartments available near campus.
The cost to study abroad in Germany and funding options
Germany is a top-rated destination for students from all over the world because of its affordable tuition cost. If you directly enroll at a public university, you will only pay a so-called semester contribution for your studies which covers the administrative costs and can range from 50 Euros to around 300 per semester (except for some specific cases). Private universities charge more, and the price range here varies widely. Additionally, there are added expenses for third-party programs and exchanges.
Living in Germany is not very expensive, considering the living standard. The most significant expense you will have is rent, and particularly in a city like Munich, this number might be quite high. If you cook and do not eat out a lot, you will be able to live quite well on a limited budget with discounters like Aldi and Lidl in every city.
Additionally, there are many scholarship and financial aid opportunities for students studying abroad in Germany. For example, DAAD is a publicly funded organization in Germany that funds international exchange for students. Additionally, program providers often have need-based scholarships for study abroad students who go through one of their programs.
Here at Go Overseas, we provide our community with resources to find scholarships and grants for their study abroad experiences based on their circumstances. Be sure to apply to as many scholarships as you potentially qualify for to maximize your chances of finding funding.
Additional reading: How Much Does it Cost to Study Abroad in Germany?
Study in English -- but be immersed in German
German is the most widely spoken native language in the European Union, and knowing some German can work as a door opener during your time studying in Germany. So, while this whole article focuses on how you can study in Germany in English, you might find inspiration to study the language while immersed in it. If that happens, there are many German Language Schools Abroad where you can learn some language skills and dive a bit deeper into German culture.
Studying Abroad in Germany in English is a great way to broaden your horizon and spend time in a wonderfully diverse country with a vibrant culture. Germany is a great destination, not only because of its location and the low cost but also because it is welcoming towards international students and provides people from across the globe with access to a world-class education system.
Are you're interested in taking on the challenge of studying abroad in Germany but don't know where to start? You can find scholarships, answers to frequently asked questions, and hundreds of programs and real reviews from previous alum on the Study Abroad Programs in Germany page. Studying abroad is a monumental decision, and we're here to help make it as easy as possible.