Updated: 2020-07-31 | Duration: 6:30 min.

Master’s Degrees in Germany for International Students (2020/21)

All of your questions about an MS in Germany, answered!

Studying in Germany holds many benefits to students. Not only is Germany’s higher education system internationally top-ranked, but the study institutions here also offer programs to any student who wishes to attend. This means that in addition to German or even EU students, international students are also welcome to attend. Master’s degrees in Germany are offered to all students, including international students from outside of the EU.


German higher education institutions offer a variety of study programs and degrees. Depending on the subject area and the teaching method you are seeking, the institutions vary as well. From research-based universities to more hands-on and practice-approached universities of applied sciences, there is an institution for exactly the program you are looking for.


A significant factor that attracts many international students to master’s programs in Germany is the fact that public universities in Germany are tuition-free. More than 60% of the study programs are free of tuition since public universities dominate higher education in Germany. Moreover, there are a plethora of programs in English! Not only can you study for free, but you can also study in a language you are comfortable in. Our StudyFinder has more than 1,700 English-taught master’s programs for you to search through. The rest is in the article which serves as your introduction to a master’s degree in Germany.

Requirements for an MS program in Germany

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To qualify for an MS program in Germany, you need to make sure that you meet the minimum requirements for an MS. While each different program will have different standards in respect to grades, certificates, and experience, there are general requirements to meet. At the very minimum to know if you qualify for any master’s program, you should make sure that you have the following:


An Undergraduate Degree

A first academic degree is always required. German universities accept bachelor’s degrees or equivalent degrees from other countries. A first degree should have lasted at least 3 years or be equivalent to a workload of 180 credit points.


A Language Certificate

International students have the option of studying in English or in German. Regardless of the language, a certificate to prove one’s proficiency in the language is mandatory. While there are various language certificates recognized in Germany, two examinations are accepted by almost all German universities: the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and The International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Other well known certificates are not recognized by all universities (e.g. Cambridge Assessment English, GRE Subject Tests, etc.) so inquire with your top choice study program, to see if they will accept your certificate.


A Visa or Residence Permit

For international students who are coming from outside of the EU, a visa or residence permit is a must. Be sure to take note of the student visa requirements you will need.

The requirements above are the most basic factors that an international student needs to take into account in order to apply. Additionally, some universities and study programs have more intensive application and may require additional steps, such as an interview. Normally, there are no interviews to be accepted into an MS program. Interviews are usually reserved for scholarships, but students applying to more competitive programs may be asked to do a short interview.

Getting accepted into an MS program

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The three requirements enumerated in the previous section capture the absolute bare minimum you need as an international student to study an MS in Germany. Naturally, there are additional factors that can benefit your application when applying. While these are not official requirements, we have illustrated some factors below:


Extra-curricular Work

Additional work like being part of an academic or social club can sometimes add color to your resumé or cv. This also should include any special projects you worked with as part of a research group or student representative of your class.



It is common for master’s programs to look for (or require) an internship during their undergraduate studies. While this is not mandatory for acceptance into an MS program, it will highlight your skills and experience and always brightens a resumé or CV.


Volunteer Work

Depending on your field of study, volunteer work can be vital to your application. Students should generally feel compelled to engage with their community and take part in some sort of volunteer experience. However, if you are applying to a program in humanitarian entrepreneurship, for example, then you should likely prioritize volunteership as an experience before applying.


Academic Achievement

Academic achievement is one of the most important factors for getting accepted into a great program. However, it is not the most important. While all universities will look at grades and academic achievement, students who don’t have the best grades in their class should not be discouraged. In the end, various factors are taken into account, but academic results should not be ignored in preparing your application package.


Motivation Letter

The motivation letter is arguably one of the most important parts of an application package. This is where students can “lay it all down” and write what their resumés and CVs don’t say. If students don’t have the best grades, here they can explain why that is and argue why they are still a qualified candidate. Perhaps there is a life-changing experience or unique learning curve which hindered them from achieving the highest results? The motivation letter is where students can stand apart from the crowd.

Internationally top-ranked universities for MS programs in Germany

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Over 200 universities in Germany offer English-language MS programs to give international students opportunities to pursue a postgraduate degree though they don't speak German. The English master's programs available all have English-speaking faculty and staff as well. A variety of masters programs are available to you, from film studies to political science to chemistry!


Universities in Germany are aware that being able to study in a German-language program requires a lot of work and is near impossible for international students to achieve outside of Europe. Even internationally top-ranked universities in Germany are tuition-free and offer programs in English for international students. Check out the top-ranked universities below:

The universities are just a few of the well-known universities in Germany. There are even more universities that are nationally top-ranked German universities. If you aren’t sure what university type may be for you, be sure to also read our article on colleges in Germany to learn more.

Cost of an MS program in Germany

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As stated above, public universities in Germany do not charge tuition. This applies to all students who choose to attend, including non-EU students. Like many other countries, Germany also is home to private universities that offer great study programs. These private institutions charge a tuition fee to all of their students to attend. Be sure to keep this in mind on your search.


In addition to private universities, there are a couple of other exceptions when it comes to free tuition to note. For professional master’s programs such as Master of Laws (L.LM) or Master of Public Administrations (MPA), among others, there may be a tuition charge. This can apply even though the programs are at public universities. The state of Baden-Württemberg in the south of Germany also charges a tuition fee to all non-EU students. All of these costs are illustrated below:

Costs in German Higher Education

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


Summary Box

International students have many options in their pursuit of an MS in Germany. Master’s programs can be found in English and are open for anyone to apply! Below are some useful tips to keep in mind:


  • There are 3 requirements for an MS in Germany: A first academic degree, a language certificate (for the language you plan on studying in, either English or German), and a visa or residence permit.
  • More than 1,700 MS study programs are offered in English: international students don’t have to worry about learning German to study in Germany. There is a great variety of MS programs available in English for students to choose from.
  • Public universities in Germany are tuition-free: all students, even non-EU students, can attend a German public university without having to pay tuition. Even Germany’s nationally top-ranked and internationally top-ranked universities are public and tuition-free. There are 3 exceptions to keep in mind: private universities, the state of Baden-Württemberg, and professional master’s programs.