Updated: 2020-09-15 | Duration: 4:00 min

Berlin University Alliance: Leading Berlin Universities

An overview on the alliance, partnerships, and unique opportunities for students

The Berlin University Alliance (BUA) is one of many university corporations in Germany. The four universities which make up the alliance are top-ranked universities in Germany and, therefore, are often sought out by international students. However, students should be sure to consider partner universities of such associations, but also note that these alliances should not play a significant “make it or break it” role in choosing a study program.


If you are interested in studying in Germany, you should familiarize yourself with the many different university alliances, e.g. TU9, UA Ruhr or UAS7. Universities in Germany have many different alliances, associations, and partnerships. The members of such coalitions depend on the topic focus of universities (technical focus, arts, business, arts, etc). These alliances are meant to foster cooperation among universities and therefore many students seek out institutions that are part of a multi-university alliance.

What is the Berlin University Alliance

photo of a woman wearing glasses thinking about something

The Berlin University Alliance (BAU) is an association of three research-intensive universities and a medical university in Germany’s capital.  As previously mentioned, many German universities create networks with nearby universities or topically-related universities in order to optimize competitiveness with other university corporations in Germany. Established in 2016, one of the main reasons for the BUA’s creation was to improve its chances as a university group in the German Excellence Strategy (an award which the alliance won later in 2019). The BUA universities have a joint academic collaboration with Oxford University in the UK and in 2020, the Berlin Senate passed the draft law for the establishment of a cooperation platform of the Berlin University Alliance (BUA) as a public corporation.


The BUA universities, like many other alliances, have research centers and cooperate with industry partners to create opportunities for students such as internships and traineeships. Additionally, all three universities are public. In Germany, public universities generally do not charge tuition fees, even for non-EU students. Therefore, anyone can apply to an alliance partner university. The following article will provide a brief overview of the BUA universities and English-taught programs for international students.

Berlin University Alliance Members

The Berlin University Alliance is made up of three universities (and one joint medical school, Charité), which are all very research-intensive. This section will provide you with a brief university overview of each partner university below. Click on each profile to see stats on each university such as admissions requirements, rankings, and English-taught programs:


Further Reading

Berlin University: A guide

Berlin University Alliance English Programs

a book with a yellow cover with the words "everyday English"

The Berlin Alliance University partners are not exclusive for German students. Not only do they welcome international students, but they also offer a variety of courses in English. To make the search process easier for students, we list the more than 70  English-taught master’s courses from Berlin University Alliance universities on our site. Alternatively, you can click on the universities below to see the English-language courses they offer:

Free University of Berlin

Humboldt University of Berlin

Technical University of Berlin

Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin

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.

The Berlin University Alliance as Winner of the Excellence Strategy

photo of a golden trophy

The German Excellence Strategy is a prestigious award program that promotes high-achieving research clusters and universities. The 533 million euros it is annually endowed with comes from the federal government and from the states where the universities are located. Universities and associations of universities in Germany are eligible to apply within the Excellence Strategy. In 2019, the Berlin University Alliance won funding as a group in the Universities of Excellence funding line of the German government’s Excellence Strategy. The university partners submitted a joint proposal entitled “Crossing Boundaries toward an Integrated Research Environment”. As of 2019, the research projects are being funded for an initial seven years, each with up to ten million euros per year.

The Oxford-Berlin Research Partnership

two men shaking hands

In 2017, the members of the Berlin University Alliance created a partnership abroad with Oxford University in the UK. This cooperation includes areas of research including academic research as well as a collaboration of museums and libraries. Moreover, exchanges and visits for researchers, students, and academic staff are also incorporated into this collaboration. This allows Oxford academics and researchers to spend time in Berlin and vice versa.


The Oxford-Berlin Research Partnership also provides Oxford University the opportunity to establish an office and legal presence in Berlin. Additionally, partner universities host funded workshops to bring researchers to the partner institutions in order to create a cooperative academic exchange. The senate of the city of Berlin plans to establish a Berliner Haus in Oxford for academics and graduates from the BUA members in the future.

Cost of Attending a BUA University

lots of different coins over a table

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 master’s 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:

German Higher Education Costs

Tuition Fee vs. Semester Contribution
pays for the study program   pays for administrative costs, social services provided by the university, local public transportation ticket for unlimited use throughout the semester
averages 5,000 - 7,000 €  per semester averages 200 - 300 € per semester
charged by private universities and specialized professional degrees (e.g. LLM, MBA, etc.)* Charged by all universities

*In the southwest of Germany lies the state of Baden-Württemberg. Baden-Württemberg has a mandatory tuition fee of 1,500 € per semester to all non-EU students.

Keep in mind that while some programs are not tuition-free, 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.


Further Reading

How Much Does it Cost to Live in Germany?