A noteworthy aspect that attracts many international students to Germany is the fact that public universities are tuition-free. In other countries abroad, tuition prices have skyrocketed which makes pursuing an education near impossible without taking out student loans. In Germany, tuition fees are the exception and free tuition is the rule. However, every rule has exceptions, and Baden-Württemberg is one of them.
First off, students should note that the state of Baden-Württemberg is home to some of the best universities in Germany. Below are just some of the universities that rank in the top 250 worldwide:
- Heidelberg University
- University of Freiburg
- University of Tübingen
- Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
- Ulm University
- University of Mannheim
- University of Konstanz
- University of Hohenheim
In spite of this marginal tuition requirement, thousands of students seek degree programs in these institutions. So before you give up and settle for a program that is not your dream degree program, read through this article to inform yourself on how the tuition works as well as additional funding options you may have.
This article will provide an in-depth overview of the international student tuition-fee at universities in Baden-Württemberg with explicit information on what the fee is, exceptions, and extra funding resources for students. Additionally, university profiles will be highlighted, including some internationally top-ranked institutions in Baden-Württemberg.
Baden-Württemberg: Why tuition fees?
In the 2000s, general tuition fees were introduced in 7 German states (Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hamburg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, and Saarland). These fees applied to all students (i.e. including German and EU citizens) and came into force in the academic year 2007/08. Although the fees were moderate (mostly 500 € per semester), there was a considerable protest against the fees, so much so, that the state governments abolished them after only a few years.
Since then, no federal state has decided to reintroduce tuition fees - except for the state of Baden-Württemberg. The reason given for this decision was that the international students entering the country would thus contribute to the public education system, which is financed by taxes from all citizens.
There was considerable resistance to this argumentation - for various reasons:
Non-EU foreigners were discriminated in comparison to EU citizens.
Return of the fees
Only a small part of the fees is returned to education (most of it goes to the general state budget).
Studies show that Germany benefits considerably from international students in economic terms (cf. “Student mobility and its financial effects on the host country” published by DAAD in 2013)
Despite the criticism and a considerable drop in the number of applicants (at least immediately after the introduction), the state government continues to maintain the fees. The fees were implemented in order to keep universities open to non-EU students. The tuition fees which universities implemented are still significantly marginal in comparison to other internationally top-ranked universities worldwide. Moreover, there are exemptions and reductions for students from special circumstances (Baden-Württemberg Ministry for Science, Research, and Art).
The important facts
Since the implementation of the tuition, attendee rates at universities in Baden-Württemberg continue to remain high since the state homes some of the top-ranked institutions in Germany. In fact, many international students are enrolled at institutions in Baden-Württemberg. Therefore, this section will delve further into details of the tuition such as how much it is, who has to pay it, and who is exempt from paying it.
How much is it?
Starting in the winter semester of 2017, the state of Baden-Württemberg began charging moderate tuition fees to non-EU students. These fees amount to 1,500 € per semester. These fees do not include additional fees such as administrative fees, public transportation, etc.
Who has to pay it?
All non-EU or non-EEA (European Economic Area) students who wish to pursue their study program at a university in the German state of Baden-Württemberg.
Who is exempt?
There are exemptions for students from particular study programs or who have some ties to the EU. A list of these exemptions is found below:
- EU students (based on citizenship),
- family members of EU citizens,
- international students with a German Permanent Residence Permit (Niederlassungserlaubnis) and have lived in Germany for 15 months uninterrupted,
- displaced persons or refugees,
- students who graduated from a German school abroad (and pursued the German ‘Abitur’),
- applicants for professional master or Ph.D. programs,
- exchange students (e.g. Erasmus, double/joint degree programs, etc.),
- students in the Development-Related Postgraduate Courses funded by the DAAD program EPOS (Entwicklungsbezogene Postgraduiertenstudiengänge) - if they come from the “Least Developed Countries (LDCs)” or are DAAD-scholarship holders (EPOS).
For the full list of exceptions please check the website of the Baden-Württemberg Ministry for Science, Research, and Art.
Individual universities may also offer need-based tuition waivers or scholarships which students can put towards the tuition fee. This custom, however, can vary from university to university and is not a mandatory policy. Therefore, it is always best to contact program coordinators directly to see what tuition waivers, if any, you may be eligible for.
Baden-Württemberg fees in comparison with private universities
Public universities in Germany are free of tuition, with very few exceptions which are detailed in the table below. The Berlin Alliance universities are exclusively public. However, there are some exceptions to free tuition. Specialized executive degree programs (e.g. LLM, MBA, MPA, etc.) can sometimes charge tuition fees. Of course, this all depends on the university and the program as well, so be sure to check each study program page carefully. To provide a general idea, an overview of tuition costs in Germany is displayed below:
|Baden-WürttembergTuition Fee||Other German Tuition Fees||Semester Contribution|
Pays for study program*.
Pays for study program*.
|Pays for administrative costs, social services provided by the university, local public transportation ticket for unlimited use throughout the semester.|
|1,500 € per semester.||2,000 - 5,000 € on average but the amount can vary among study programs.||Averages 200 - 400 € per semester.|
|Charged by all universities in Baden-Württemberg.||Charged by private universities and specialized professional degrees (e.g. LLM, MPA, etc.).||Charged by all universities.|
*Administrative costs, social services, etc. are extra.
Keep in mind that while some programs are not tuition-free, that you shouldn’t overlook them on your master’s program search. Should you be interested in a program that charges tuition, keep your many funding options in mind. There are many scholarships available for international students. Also, be sure to refer to DAAD Scholarships for international students in Germany. For students who are tied by their finances, we recommend they search through the many tuition-free degree programs in our StudyFinder.
Baden-Württemberg universities with English-taught programs
To make the search process easier for students, we list the more than 200 English-taught degree programs from Baden-Württemburg universities on our site. Alternatively, you can click on the universities below to see the English-language courses they offer. Keep in mind that while there are many English-taught programs available, international students may also apply for courses taught in German. Whether you are applying for a study program taught in English or German, it is important to observe the language requirements of the program carefully to ensure you meet the requirements.