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Updated: 2020-12-27 | Duration: 6:30 min.

Academies of Arts, Music and Film in Germany

Information for international students who are interested in studying art or music in Germany

Academies of Arts, Music, and Film (German: Kunsthochschule, Musikhochschule, and Filmhochschule) are one out of three types of higher education institutions in Germany (besides the Universities and the Universities of Applied Sciences). As the name of these academies suggests, they focus on a variety of fine arts subjects, which can include arts, music, and film, but also acting, design, dance, and other artistic fields.

 

Rather than being trained as academics through scientific and research-oriented training, students at these academies are provided with the sphere to develop as artists. A study program here thus significantly differs from most programs offered at other higher education institutions in Germany: Students get freedom and practical support in realizing their own artistic projects, they may get one-on-one training by their professors, and the courses offered focus on supporting the students’ practical artistic skills.

Differences between the three university types

  University University of applied sciences Academies of arts, music, and film
Focus Research-oriented, scientific, theoretical. Application-oriented, scientific, practical. Artistic training-oriented; science in relation to arts; artistical.
Degrees offered Bachelor’s, master’s, state examination (German: Staatsexamen), doctorate degrees. Bachelor’s, master’s, no doctorate degrees*. Bachelor’s, master’s, in some cases: doctorate degrees, artistic degrees.
Official degrees issued Yes.
Subject range

All subjects (incl. medicine, law, pharmacy, teaching).

Applicable subjects
(incl. engineering, business, social sciences).

Artistic subjects (fine arts, design, architecture, theatre, music).

Teaching staff requirements Scientific qualification (doctorate degree & habilitation). Scientific qualification (doctorate degree) & work experience. Artistic oeuvre; and/or scientific qualification (doctorate degree & habilitation).

 

*Exceptions exist in Hessia, Saxony-Anhalt & North Rhine-Westphalia.

Students who are interested in pursuing a scientific rather than an arts education are better served with one of the other types of higher education institutions in Germany. Universities (German: Universität) are rather theory-driven and research-oriented. Students here get academic training that is most commonly associated with university education: Theoretical and focused on scientific research methods. Universities of applied sciences (German: Fachhochschule/ Hochschule für angewandte Wissenschaften), on the other hand, offer more practically oriented programs. They are unique in that they focus on applied research and subjects and are therefore a great choice for students who are looking to combine theory and practice.

 

BUT it would not be the German higher education system if it were that easy and clear-cut: Even at academies of arts, music, and film, students partially get the opportunity to pursue scientific study programs in relation to the arts, such as art history or musicology, and at some institutions, even doctorate degrees. But let’s not spoiler you too much, since the peculiarities, details, and variations of this type of higher education institution are precisely the topic of this article. We will give you an overview of:

 

  • The (German) terminology for this type of higher education institution.
  • Why studying fine arts in Germany is an option worth considering.
  • The characteristics of fine arts academies in Germany.
  • How to gain admission to a fine arts program in Germany.
  • Which art school in Germany is best (for you).

University vs. Academy - What’s in a name?

woman wearing glasses thinking about something

You may be wondering why we use the term academy to describe this type of university and -more importantly- if this means that academies are somehow “less” than universities. The good news first up: There is no difference in quality between this type of higher education institution and the other two types.

 

If you look at the German titles institutions of this type carry, you will see some institutes that are called Kunst- or Musikhochschule (English: University of Fine Arts or Music). Others are called Akademie (English: Academy), and yet others Institut (English: Institute) or Schule (English: School). In the city of Münster, you even find the Kunstakademie Münster – Hochschule für Bildende Künste, which carries both names in its official title: Academy and University.

No matter what they are called, all of these institutions belong to the same type of higher education type. The different names merely reflect the roots and historic predecessors of the respective institutions.

Historically speaking, different names have different connotations. Hochschule or university recurs to these education types belonging to the higher education system. Many institutions that carry this name offer the ability to pursue scientific Ph.D. degrees. Akademie or academy reflects the fact that practical artistic training, or vocational training for artists, is offered. However, this does not mean that institutions here do not offer scientific degrees or even doctorate degrees, as well. This shows that it is not (anymore) possible to differentiate between art academies and universities.

 

The reality of all fine art institutions is that they combine scientific-theoretical aspects and practical artistic training. We chose to go with the term academies of arts, music, or film because what is unique about this institution type is that it offers creative fine-arts degrees that present students with lots of opportunities to work practically and artistically, which is different from the other two types of universities. In other texts, you may also find translations such as colleges of arts, music, and film. To cut this long story short: What’s in a name? - Not too much.

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Further Reading

University types in Germany - Guide through the German higher education landscape

Why study arts in Germany?

guy playing guitar using a slide made of glass

Studying fine arts subjects in Germany is very popular among international students: Cities such as Leipzig, Cologne, Frankfurt, Munich, and most prominently Berlin are very attractive and almost magnetic to artists around the world. This shows in the percentage of international students: In the winter semester 2019/20 (i.e. before the pandemic-related travel restrictions), one-third of students enrolled at this type of higher education institution were from outside Germany.

 

International students who decide to study fine arts in Germany get to enjoy a free-spirited and creative environment at this type of higher education institution. Since fine arts academies are dedicated exclusively to artistic training or arts-related subjects, your peers will be other artists or students with high interests in the arts. This makes for great exchange and opens up possibilities for cooperation.

 

Another important aspect when it comes to studying arts in Germany is that it is financially feasible. No matter if you are looking for institutions that focus on arts, music, dance, acting, or design, there are many state-run and therefore public opportunities available. In Germany, education at public universities is largely free of tuition, which provides you with the opportunity to study arts in Germany for free. Look for example at the highly renowned Berlin University of the Arts, Europe’s largest arts university. In the English language alone, you can choose from four programs that are completely free. If you speak German, you can choose from nearly 70 study programs in total.

 

In addition to free education, there are funding opportunities available specifically for international students of the arts. For example, master students can apply for DAAD scholarships in the fields of fine art, design, visual communication, and film; in the field of music; and in performing arts. On top of that, there are region-specific scholarships and scholarships by other organizations such as the Hezekiah-Wardwell-Fellowship by the Humboldt Foundation for musicians and musicologists from Spain. Furthermore, you can check out whether the institution you are interested in has grants or funding available, see for example the pages of the Berlin University of the Arts or the generously funded English-language offers at the Barenboim-Said Academy. Furthermore, there are funding and in-residence programs available for artists. Funding opportunities for arts projects in Germany are presented on the website of the fund for performing arts, and the fund for the arts.

 

When it comes to job chances for artists of different fields, there is - in Germany and everywhere else -  some insecurity: Not every artist has their big break - But you probably know that better than we do. If you are looking for some first-hand accounts about how artists fare in Germany, you can check out the pages of the Internationale Gesellschaft der bildenden Künste e.V. (English: International Society of Fine Arts) for useful info.

What is an academy of arts, music, or film in Germany?

a painter with a lot of buckets containing paint of different colors

To answer this question for you, and before we summarize the general characteristics of this type of higher education institution, let’s look at one example more closely: The Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste (Städelschule) in Frankfurt (Main). At this school, students can study programs in fine arts, curatorial studies, and architecture. Unlike some other academies of arts, music, and film, the Städelschule does not award doctorate degrees. As is typical for fine arts academies, the degree formats offered are not only master’s and bachelor’s degrees.

 

Take for example the fine arts program: Students enrolled in this program are organized in classes according to their artistic discipline. Thus, they are grouped into cohorts according to their artistic focus and in their cohort learn technical and theoretical skill sets. Students are provided with a spot in an art studio, so that they can easily put these skills into practice and dedicate the majority of their time to artistic practice, always in close exchange with their professors and teachers. After a study period of ten semesters, which amounts to 5 years, students are awarded a certificate for their study program and can apply for the German title of “Meisterschüler/in”.

 

The title of Meisterschüler/in translates to master student but it is actually a unique German fine arts degree that is comparable to a master’s degree. The title is available to students with extraordinary artistic skills and therefore equivated with artistic excellence. On top of that, the Städelschule also offers some master’s degree courses, for example in architecture.

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Study Architecture at Städelschule, the public academy of fine arts in Frankfurt am Main

For the fine arts program as well as for the master’s program, students have to prove their creative talent and artistic skills by handing in a portfolio of their previous work with their application. Applicants to the Städelschule hand in their previous work digitally by May 31st of the year in which they intend to start their studies. Successful candidates will then be invited to the next round of the application procedure, namely an entrance examination. While lots of academies of fine arts offer courses primarily in German, the Städelschule requires its applicants to speak German OR English.

 

One last aspect to clarify about academies of arts, music, and film is that the teachers here consist of a mix of artistic personnel and academic personnel. Academic personnel is qualified to teach art students because they obtained a relevant academic degree in the field. Take for example Prof. Philippe Pirotte, who is an art historian at the Städelschule. An example of artistic personnel at the Städelschule is Haegue Yang, who is an installation artist and teaches at the university not based on her academic qualification but based on her artistic oeuvre and talent.

Basic facts

Germany has 52 academies of arts, music, and film, and only 2% of the total number of students at German higher education institutions are enrolled in these academies. This means that students at one of these schools typically find themselves in a rather small and familiarized institution. This makes close contact possible between students and teachers and students often know each other, which gives great opportunities for corporations and a close network across the academy.

 

Academies of arts, music, and film in Germany are dedicated to the training of artists and the cultivation and care of the arts. As such, they seek to give talented students space and freedom to develop their unique artistic style and personality. Often, students are given lots of choices regarding their courses and projects. This is one of the reasons why this type of higher education institution in Germany has a great reputation - within Germany and internationally.

Which degrees are offered at academies of arts, music, and film?

african woman thinking about something

Generally speaking the most common degree formats in Germany are bachelor’s and master’s degrees. While they were largely introduced at the other two types of higher education institutions in Germany, the degrees offered at academies of arts, music, and film are slightly different.

 

At many fine arts schools in Germany, there are specific fine arts degrees offered. One of them is the title “Meisterschüler/in” (translates to master student, but is different from a master’s degree). It is awarded to students who perfect their artistic talent in so-called “Meisterklassen” (English: master classes) where they get taught by renowned artists. This title is awarded after students complete studies that are comparable in duration to finishing both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree (5 years in total).

 

Additionally, some academies of arts, music, and design also (or only) offer degrees in the bachelor’s/master’s format. For music students, for example, there are bachelor’s and master’s of music (B.Mus./M.Mus.) Similarly, there are bachelor’s and master’s degrees of fine arts (B.F.A./M.F.A). This degree indicates that the graduate completed a study program that focused on artistic training rather than scientific training and should therefore not be confused with a bachelor or master of arts (B.A./M.A.) which indicates that a student obtained a scientific degree in the fields of humanities or social sciences.

 

On top of specific fine arts degrees like the Meisterschüler/in, the B.F.A. and M.F.A., some academies of arts, music, and film also offer scientific degrees related to the arts, most often in B.A. or M.A. formats. Note that if you are planning on pursuing a Ph.D., you should have a scientific first degree, not an exclusively or largely artistic one.

Which subjects are taught at academies of arts, music, and film?

Analogously to the degree formats that are offered at academies of arts, music, and film you find different types of subjects that are offered at these academies. On one hand, there are artistic subjects and on the other hand, scientific subjects dealing with the arts.

 

Depending on the focus points set by each academy, the artistic subjects or disciplines differ. Academies of arts, such as the Städelschule that we introduced to you above, often focus on areas such as painting, sculpting but also on more specific artistic fields. In the winter semester 2020/21, the Städelschule, for example, offers courses in textile printing, woodcutting, web design with Adobe InDesign, and photography. For students at academies of music, students may be trained in classical or modern music, on various instruments and/or conducting. Academies of film and media may teach courses related to filming and producing visual content, but also game design, sound design, or screenwriting.

 

No matter what the specific focus of these academies is, students typically also take some scientific or theoretical courses to further substantiate their position as an artist with relevant knowledge. Recurring back to the example of the Städelschule, this training is organized in the Institute for Art Criticism, which teaches philosophical positions regarding the arts and enables students to reflect upon their industry and their role as an artist.

 

Scientific subjects offered at academies of arts, music, and film treat different aspects related to understanding and studying arts, such as musicology, curatorial studies, or art history. On top of that, academies of arts, music, and film often have a focus on training art or music teachers and additionally offer courses and study programs in art pedagogy. While academies of arts, music, and film are of course a very popular destination to study such subjects, it is important to notice that scientific subjects related to the arts, and in some cases even artistic subjects are also offered at some universities or universities of applied sciences.

Can I study in English - or are German skills mandatory?

book with a yellow cover with the words "everyday English" written on it

Generally speaking, for many academies of arts, music, and film, German skills are mandatory. Especially for programs such as acting, or directing as well as for scientific courses high levels of German skills are required.

 

For other fine arts courses, for example, if you apply at an academy of music with a musical instrument, the German language requirements are often not so high. Some academies even offer solutions for international students who portray high artistic talent: They may be able to apply with a lower level of German skills and then have the opportunity to improve this throughout their first semesters of studies. This means, it is worth checking out the specific conditions of schools you are interested in, even if the education is primarily in German.

 

Of course, there are also fine arts programs taught in the English-language in Germany. The Städelschule is one example of an institution that offers training in English, and you can find more options in our StudyFinder. If you skip ahead in this article to the chapter on how to gain admission you will furthermore find a full list of academies of arts, music, and film in Germany that offer the opportunity to study in English.

Which opportunities are there to pursue a Ph.D.?

In the German higher education system the right to award doctorate degrees is traditionally reserved to the university type. In some cases, there are also opportunities to pursue Ph.D. degrees at universities of applied sciences.

 

On top of that, the majority of the academies of arts, music, and film have the right to award doctorate degrees, as well. In these cases, they remain their own type of higher education institution but are on equal footing with universities when it comes to the right of awarding doctorate degrees.

Academies of arts, music and film that award doctorate degrees in Germany

City School Right to Award Ph.D.
Berlin Berlin University of the Arts Yes
Bonn Alanus University of Arts and Social Sciences Yes
Braunschweig Braunschweig University of Art (HBK) Yes
Cologne Academy of Media Arts Cologne Yes
Cologne Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln Yes
Detmold Detmold University of Music Yes
Dresden Dresden University of Fine Arts Yes
Dresden Dresden College of Music Yes
Düsseldorf Kunstakademie Düsseldorf Yes
Düsseldorf Robert-Schumann-Hochschule Düsseldorf Yes
Essen Folkwang University of the Arts Yes
Frankfurt (Main) Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts Yes
Freiburg im Breisgau Freiburg University of Music Yes
Halle Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design Halle Yes
Hamburg Hochschule für Bildende Künste Hamburg Yes
Hamburg Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg Yes
Hannover Hannover University of Music, Drama and Media Yes
Karlsruhe Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design Yes
Karlsruhe State Academy of Fine Arts Karlsruhe Yes
Karlsruhe Hochschule für Musik Karlsruhe Yes
Kassel Kunsthochschule Kassel Yes
Kiel Muthesius University of Fine Arts and Design Yes
Leipzig Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig Yes
Leipzig Hochschule für Musik und Theater “Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy” Leipzig Yes
Lübeck Musikhochschule Lübeck Yes
Mainz Kunsthochschule Mainz Yes
Mannheim Mannheim University of Music and Performing Arts Yes
Munich HFF Munich Yes
Münster University of Fine Arts Münster Yes
Offenbach University of Art and Design Offenbach am Main Yes
Potsdam Film University Babelsberg Konrad Wolf Yes
Rostock Hochschule für Musik und Theater Rostock Yes
Saarbrücken Hochschule der Bildenden Künste Saar Yes
Saarbrücken University of Music Saar Yes
Stuttgart Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design Yes
Stuttgart State University of Music and the Performing Arts Stuttgart Yes
Trossingen Trossingen University of Music Yes
Weimar University of Music Franz Liszt Weimar Yes
Würzburg University of Music Wuerzburg Yes

 

At many of these academies, doctoral students can decide whether to pursue a scientific doctoral program or a scientific-artistic one. Just follow the links to the respective universities for more information. On top of that, students interested in obtaining a Ph.D. in a science related to the arts, such as art history, may also find good opportunities at the first type of higher education institution in Germany: Universities.

 

Some academies of arts, music, and film in Bavaria also offer a cooperative doctoral studies model, that allows for students to do their research and doctoral work at an art academy but get the degree awarded by a research university. This model is common for doctoral studies at Universities of Applied Sciences. For more information, check out the pages of the respective universities:

Academies of arts, music, and film that offer cooperative doctoral studies

City School Info about cooperative doctoral studies
Munich Academy of Fine Arts Munich See here
Munich Hochschule für Musik und Theater München See here
Nürnberg Nuremberg University of Music See here

 

How do students learn at academies of art, music, and film?

guy playing piano being evaluated by his teacher

Before we answer this question for you in more general terms, we need to mention that it is absolutely important that you check out the organization of studies and curriculum for each program and academy of arts, music, and film individually, since each school follows its own teaching philosophy and style.

 

Students who are enrolled in fine arts degrees and programs at German academies of arts, music, and film often get to enjoy a lot of freedom when choosing their individual study programs. Often, academies of fine arts and music are organized in thematic classes focusing on certain techniques or styles rather than according to their years of study. The class system of the Städelschule that we described to you above is a good example of this.

 

Students are typically granted access to studios, materials, and workspaces so that they get to work on their own projects and visions. This typically happens under the close supervision of advanced artists who teach at academies of arts, music, and films. At academies of music, students often have one-on-one lessons with their teachers, too. The atmosphere at these academies is often more familiar and students and faculty are acquainted with one another.

 

On top of this rather practical and artistic side of the training, students are also taught theoretical backgrounds to support their development of relevant knowledge. It may be worth considering whether a school teaches self-management and business classes too, as they can be helpful for students who plan careers as independent artists.

 

Additionally, German academies of arts, music, and film also offer scientific degrees and programs that are more pre-structured. Programs leading to educational degrees and teaching qualifications often include a mix of practical training and educational science subjects.

What are the teaching staff requirements at academies of arts, music, and film?

Your teachers and professors at academies of arts, music, and film may have reached their position in one out of two ways: Either because of their artistic oeuvre or because of their academic qualifications. At this type of higher education institution, you will find both: Artistic personnel and academic personnel.

 

Regarding the academic qualifications, you will find faculty that holds the title of professor, or doctor, which is the same as for research universities. Equipped with this academic staff, academies of arts, music, and film are also able to conduct significant research related to arts.

 

Artistic personnel gets tasked with teaching at a university based on their artistic oeuvre and reputation. Before you apply to one of the fine arts academies it is therefore worth checking out which artists teach at the school because it gives you an idea of their expertise and focus points.

Who runs the academies & what do they cost?

lot of different coins

The majority of German academies of arts, music, and film (and higher education institutions in general) are public. Public universities enjoy an excellent reputation in Germany and one of the best parts about them is that they are largely free and do not charge tuition fees. All that students are expected to pay is a small semester contribution each year and for this type of university (in some cases) an application fee for taking part in the entrance examination.

List of public academies of arts, music, and film in Germany

City School Focus on
Berlin Berlin University of the Arts Acting, fine arts, media, music, costume design, creative writing, teacher training, etc.
Berlin Weißensee Kunsthochschule Berlin Design, art.
Berlin Hanns Eisler School of Music Berlin Music.
Berlin University of Performing Arts Ernst Busch Acting, directing, choreography, screenwriting.
Braunschweig Braunschweig University of Art (HBK) Design, fine arts, performing arts, communication.
Bremen University of the Arts Bremen Art and design, music.
Cologne Academy of Media Arts Cologne Media, fine arts, film, television, literary writing.
Cologne Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln Music, dance.
Detmold Detmold University of Music Music, teaching qualifications, musicology, music management.
Dresden Dresden University of Fine Arts Fine arts, restoration, stage setting & costume design, theatre, art therapy.
Dresden Palucca University of Dance Dance, dance teacher, choreography.
Dresden Dresden College of Music Musicology, music medicine, musical teaching and learning, new music.
Düsseldorf Kunstakademie Düsseldorf Fine arts, arts-related sciences.
Düsseldorf Robert-Schumann-Hochschule Düsseldorf Music, music and media, musicology, church music, composition and music theory.
Essen Folkwang University of the Arts Music, theatre, dance, design, academic studies (in the fields of music, photography, arts & design).
Frankfurt (Main) Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste Frankfurt am Main (Städelschule) Fine arts.
Frankfurt (Main) Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts Instrumental studies, performing arts, teaching degrees.
Freiburg im Breisgau Freiburg University of Music Church music, musical theatre, new music, musicians' medicine, historical performance practice.
Halle Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design Halle Art, design.
Hamburg Hochschule für Bildende Künste Hamburg Fine arts.
Hamburg Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg Music, theatre, cultural and media management.
Hannover Hannover University of Music, Drama and Media Music, theatre, media.
Karlsruhe Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design Art research, media philosophy, exhibition design, scenography, communications design, product design, media art.
Karlsruhe State Academy of Fine Arts Karlsruhe Fine arts, education degrees.
Karlsruhe Hochschule für Musik Karlsruhe Music.
Kassel Kunsthochschule Kassel Visual arts & communications, product design, art education.
Kiel Muthesius University of Fine Arts and Design Fine arts, art teachers, industrial design, communication design, interior design, scenography.
Leipzig Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig Book & graphic design, photography, painting, printmaking, media art.
Leipzig Hochschule für Musik und Theater “Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy” Leipzig Music, drama, theater.
Lübeck Musikhochschule Lübeck Music.
Mainz Kunsthochschule Mainz Fine arts, education degrees.
Mannheim Mannheim University of Music and Performing Arts Music, performing arts.
Munich Academy of Fine Arts Munich Fine arts, art education, interior architecture.
Munich HFF Munich Film, TV, media.
Munich Hochschule für Musik und Theater München Music, acting, dance.
Münster University of Fine Arts Münster Fine arts.
Nürnberg Academy of Fine Arts Nuremberg Fine arts, graphic design, communications design, jewelry and artefacts, art education.
Nürnberg Nuremberg University of Music Music.
Offenbach University of Art and Design Offenbach am Main Fine arts, design.
Potsdam Film University Babelsberg Konrad Wolf Film and media.
Rostock Hochschule für Musik und Theater Rostock Music, theatre, acting.
Saarbrücken Hochschule der Bildenden Künste Saar Art, design.
Saarbrücken University of Music Saar Music, musicology, music education,
Stuttgart Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design Fine arts, architecture, design, conservation.
Stuttgart State University of Music and the Performing Arts Stuttgart Music, performing arts, teaching degrees.
Trossingen Trossingen University of Music Music, teaching degrees.
Weimar University of Music Franz Liszt Weimar Music.
Würzburg University of Music Wuerzburg Music, instruments, musicology, composition.

 

There are also private academies of arts, music, and film in Germany. Some praise private academies for excellently preparing students for life after their fine arts studies and for leaving them with a good professional network and professional skills after their studies. Others criticize privately-run arts academies for not focusing enough on the artistic aspects of the studies.

 

We want to introduce the following list of state-accredited private academies of arts, music, and film in Germany as excellent choices for your studies in Germany. Through accreditation with the state, the degrees they offer are recognized in Germany and internationally and enjoy a good reputation. Keep in mind that most private academies charge tuition fees. An exception to this rule is the Barenboim-Said Akademie which, on the contrary, pays its students a generous scholarship.

 

You will also come across a list of other private institutions that offer courses in acting, music, or arts. Before you choose one of them, make sure to find out which status they hold and if they are accredited with the German state as a higher education institution.

List of private academies of arts, music, and film in Germany

City School Focus on
Berlin Barenboim-Said Akademie Music.
Bonn Alanus University of Arts and Social Sciences Fine Arts, drama, eurythmy, curatorial studies, art therapy & education.
Essen Hochschule der bildenden Künste (HBK) Essen Fine arts, photography, sculpting, game design, digital media.
Ottersberg Hochschule für Künste im Sozialen Ottersberg Art therapy, theater pedagogy, art and theatre in social contexts.

 

Furthermore, you will find some academies of music in Germany that are run by the church and focus on church music. While they do not charge tuition fees, access is often restricted because only members of the respective churches are allowed to take up their studies there. Please contact the respective university if you have questions. Also, note that (contrary to church-run academies of fine arts) church-run universities and universities of applied sciences are largely open to students of all religious denominations.

How to gain admission to a German academy of arts, music, and film?

guy with his right thumb up

Admission to this type of higher education institution differs from admission to other types of higher education institutions in Germany. The main reason for this is that normally, applicants have to prove that they have a special artistic talent and/or get invited to an aptitude test.

Entrance examinations and aptitude tests

To study fine arts, design, or architecture, students often have to hand in a portfolio of their previous works. Whether this has to happen digitally or per physical mail is detailed on the website of each academy of arts. Successful applicants are then often invited to a second round of the application process, where they have to show up in person and complete a fine arts task and undergo an interview. Check out the universities’ websites to find out if they have alternative solutions that save international students the trip to Germany or regarding the covid-19 pandemic.

 

Similarly, students who are looking to start their studies in music or other performance arts such as acting or dance have to prove their artistic talent. In the first round, they often have to send in videos of themselves playing their instrument or dancing, and then if they manage to convince in the first round, get to present themselves again in a live audition. Again, you should check for details with the specific study programs.

 

No matter how the application process looks in detail, it is safe to say that getting admitted to one of these academies is highly competitive. If you make it through the application process, you can definitely be very proud of yourself and you will most likely have poured a lot of time and hard work into it. Make sure to start preparing early enough so that you have enough time to really give it your best. Some view this high competitiveness as a sign of the high quality of the German academies of arts, music, and film.

 

The high importance of students’ artistic talent is furthermore reflected in the fact that sometimes, talented students can even begin their fine arts or music studies without presenting a secondary school leaving certificate that qualifies them for higher education studies. Of course, this looks slightly different if you are looking for one of the more traditional scientific degree programs and not at one of the fine arts programs.

Language requirements

When it comes to the language skills students who want to study arts, music, or film in Germany have to present, there is another difference to most other subject fields in Germany. While for most fields of study you find many English-language options in Germany, not every academy of arts, music, and film offers English-language programs.

Academies of arts, music, and film that offer programs in English

City School University control English programs
Berlin Barenboim-Said Akademie Private. Yes.
Berlin Berlin University of the Arts Public. Yes.
Bonn Alanus University of Arts and Social Sciences Private. Yes.
Bremen University of the Arts Bremen Public. Yes.
Detmold Detmold University of Music Public. Yes.
Dresden Palucca University of Dance Public. Yes.
Frankfurt (Main) Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste Frankfurt am Main (Städelschule) Public. Yes.
Frankfurt (Main) Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts Public. Yes.
Hamburg Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg Public. Yes.
Mainz Kunsthochschule Mainz Public. Yes.
Potsdam Film University Babelsberg Konrad Wolf Public. Yes.

 

For all other programs, note that German skills will be required. You should, however, not let that discourage you. For fine arts programs, the language requirements are often not higher than a B1 or B2 level of German and many academies give applicants the opportunity to apply with basic skills and then present a more advanced level of language skills when they enroll or after their first semester or year of studies.

 

If you are looking for arts and design-related programs that are offered at universities of applied sciences or universities in English, you can also find many options in our StudyFinder.

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Summary Box

What are the best academies of arts, music, and film in Germany?

Providing an answer to this question is actually not that easy, because what counts as the best university lies in the eye of the beholder. Here we give you two strategies of how you might find the best academies of arts, music, or film for YOU:

  1. Try to work with artists who you like: At academies of fine arts or music, you will have artistic teachers, i.e. renowned artists, that will be advising you - and influencing your style. Therefore, you might want to pay close attention to which academies have teachers whose work you admire and whose personas you like.
  2. Analyze the program structure and learning philosophy: Are you a type that strives in rather free environments, or do you enjoy getting a lot of input in more strictly organized settings? Look up how courses are structured at different academies. Depending on how you like to work, and also depending on whether you already have found your area of specialization or if you are looking to try out new techniques, can influence your decision on which academy to choose.

At the end of the day, you can make use of the fact that there is only a rather small number of this type of higher education institution in Germany. Therefore, it is possible for you to gain a good overview. It is also recommendable to apply to more than one program and university because the competition is high and aptitude tests are not a piece of cake. Sending multiple applications significantly increases your chances of getting admitted.