Study in Germany for free: What you need to know

Germany is one of the greatest places to study abroad because it provides a rare combination of excellent educational institutions and a high standard of living that rivals that of other well-known locations like the United Kingdom or Holland.

Additionally, you can study for free in Germany, which has some of the greatest universities in the world. Check out our list of frequently asked questions about tuition costs in Germany if you want to learn more

Who can attend school for free in Germany?

In Germany, there are no tuition fees! That’s true, there are no tuition expenses for Germans, Europeans, or any non-Europeans to attend school in Germany. Whether you are from the EU or EEA is unimportant.

This holds true for nearly all academic programmes at public universities. There is a small catch: You must complete your studies in Germany and obtain a residence permit if you are from outside the EU before you may enter the nation.

Which German universities provide free tuition?

In Germany, public colleges typically offer free tuition. You have a lot of possibilities because there are more than 1,000 degree programmes offered at the nearly 300 public institutions in Germany.

Some of the largest public universities include:

  • University of Cologne
  • Ludwig Maximilians University Munich (LMU)
  • Goethe University Frankfurt
  • RWTH Aachen University
  • University of Münster
  • Ruhr University Bochum
  • University of Duisburg-Essen
  • Universität Hamburg
  • FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg
  • Technical University of Munich (TUM)
  • University of Würzburg

Why are there no tuition costs at public colleges in Germany?

Universities almost everywhere in Europe and the rest of the world levy tuition fees, if only from international students who travel there to pursue their education. Even if you are from Asia, Africa, or anywhere else, Germany is one of the few places in Europe where you can study for free.

The widespread consensus among Germans is that education should not be viewed as a commodity and that free access to higher education promotes economic development and general wellbeing. There used to be legislation that permitted public colleges to charge very low tuition fees of just 1,000 euros each year. But in 2014, the tuition fees were once more eliminated following years of widespread demonstrations. There are currently very few circumstances in which public colleges may collect tuition.

Additionally, in recent years, German administrations have recognized the positive economic and social effects of immigration. Germany aims to attract the brightest brains to study there and, ideally, to remain and work there when they graduate. Because of this, overseas students do not also pay general tuition.

Does the fact that there is no tuition mean that the universities aren’t very good?

Not at all! As an international student, you may anticipate receiving a top-notch education at one of Germany’s top universities. Numerous of the bigger universities consistently place among the top 100 in global rankings.

No matter how highly ranked a university is, you can always count on excellent instruction. Germany’s accreditation requirements for educational institutions are extremely stringent.

Tuition-free higher education at public universities is a decision made solely on the basis of politics by the German government. A degree from a German institution will be valued globally and give you several employment options.

In Germany, are there any tuition costs?

In general, studying in Germany is free. However, there are a few instances where you must pay tuition fees:

Tuition-free universities are only public ones. You must pay tuition to attend one of the about 100 private universities, and those costs are comparable to what you would spend in the UK or Ireland. Private schools in Germany do, however, frequently provide specific programmes and other incentives to ensure that you receive your money’s worth due to competition from the less expensive public universities. Naturally, you also might be qualified for a scholarship.

There are “consecutive” and “non-consecutive” Master’s programmes in German universities. Those programmes that you can enrol in right away after earning your bachelor’s degree are known as consecutive programmes. Students normally need to have post-Bachelor job experience for non-consecutive studies. Even at public universities, tuition is typically charged for these non-consecutive academic programmes. They are somewhat uncommon; examples are “Executive MBAs” and other specialist Master’s programmes.

Since 2017, non-EU/EEA students can pay tuition at public universities in the state of Baden-Württemberg. The universities in Stuttgart, Karlsruhe, Mannheim, Freiburg, Heidelberg, and a few other cities are included in this. The semester tuition is set at 1,500 euros, which is still significantly less expensive than in many other European nations.

In several federal states, you must pay 500–650 EUR in tuition fees each semester to pursue a “secondary degree” (Zweitstudium). This is not applicable if you enrol in your first bachelor’s programme or a Master’s course after earning your bachelor’s degree. Instead, obtaining a “secondary degree” refers to enrolling in a Master’s programme that is not consecutive (see above), a Bachelor’s programme when you already have a Bachelor’s degree in another field, or a Master’s programme when you already have a Master’s degree in another field.

How expensive are classes in Baden-Württemberg?

Only one of the 16 German federal states, Baden-Württemberg in South-West Germany, charges tuition to non-EU students attending public universities. In Baden-Württemberg, tuition costs 1,500 euros per semester or 3,000 euros annually.

There are about 50 public higher education schools in “BaWü,” and all of them must charge the same tuition.

European Union citizens are treated equally with German students and do not have to pay tuition.

What additional expenses must I budget for while studying in Germany?

While there are typically no tuition costs at public colleges, there may be what is known as a “semester fee” (“Semesterbeitrag”) or “administrative fee.” But that’s only a tiny sum—typically between 300 and 400 euros for the entire semester. Then, at a fraction of what you would often spend for such a ticket, this also covers a public transport ticket for your city and occasionally even the neighbouring areas.

For a Western European country, Germany is otherwise very affordable. Here is an overview of typical cost of living as a student in Germany:

Item Average cost per month
Rent and utilities 350 to 500 €
Food and drink 200 to 250 €
Health insurance 100 €
Phone and internet 30 €
Leisure and hobbies 50 to 100 €

900 euros a month, give or take a little bit, will suffice depending on the city you attend school in. (If you require a student visa, you must create a blocked account and deposit the projected cost of living for a year there before requesting the visa.) It is well known that larger cities like Munich, Frankfurt, or Hamburg are more expensive than smaller ones.

What scholarship is offered for studying abroad in Germany?

Germany offers numerous scholarships to international students. You can look for relevant scholarship alternatives using the official scholarship database maintained by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), for example depending on your country of origin.

Upon graduating from college, am I permitted to remain in Germany?

Yes, foreign university graduates are permitted to remain in Germany while seeking employment. And it holds true for all pupils, no matter where they are from. You can apply for an 18-month residence permit for after graduation if you are a citizen of a country outside the European Union.

You can look for a job that meets your qualifications with such a “job seeker visa” (also known as a “post-study work visa”), and you are free to accept any employment during those 18 months. More details on the graduate residency permit are available from the German Federal Government.

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