Scholarships for international students in Germany (2020/21)

A list of study grants for universities in Germany: DAAD scholarships, Studienstiftung, Deutschlandstipendium, Erasmus+ etc.

At MyGermanUniversity (MyGU), our team members have many years of experience in counseling international students who are interested in studying in Germany. Be it in Italy, Peru, or at the international office at one of Germany’s universities, one question and worry is on the mind of most international students:

How can I finance my studies in Germany?

You may have heard already that you can study for free in Germany since many programs offered at public universities are tuition-free. Still, the question of how to finance your masters studies and life in Germany remains important - and we find that often it is difficult for international students to get an overview over the manifold options there are for them to get study grants for Germany.

With this article, we want to provide you with an overview regarding:

  • Which options for financial aid and study grants there are - from fully funded scholarships for international students in Germany offered by one of the most important scholarship providers, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), to over 20 other options.
  • Funding organizations by name - we breakdown their scholarship options and their main goals. You’ll discover new funding options you didn’t even know you had.

Many international students who are looking to come study in Germany think only of the DAAD when it comes to funding their studies. While they are indeed a key organization to keep in mind when searching for scholarships, international students should be aware that there are a multitude of other funding options available to them.

Did you know that besides DAAD there are 20 other scholarship organizations that finance thousands of students at German universities each year?

Our goal is to provide you a first overview of various study grants available for international students. If you want to dive deeper into the different scholarships click “more info”.

DAAD - the biggest scholarship organization of them all

DAAD - German Academic Exchange Service

  • Category: Scientific
  • Affiliation: German Universities and student bodies
  • No. of fellows: 145,188 (2018)

(c) MyGU GmbH

The DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) is the largest German funding organization for international academic cooperation and is, therefore, the largest scholarship provider for international students looking to study in Germany. It finances approx. 150,000 fellows per year. 

The DAAD is a private entity funded by the federal government and has many different scholarships and grants geared towards international students looking to come to study in Germany. It is an association of German universities and student representatives that advocates for the internationalization of the German Higher Education landscape. The organization is politically and ideologically neutral.


The DAAD is the first address you should turn to when looking for funding for your studies in Germany. There are funding options available for different levels of education and experience - Whether you are looking to study your bachelor's, master's, or Ph.D. As a rule of thumb, it is going to be hardest to find funding for your bachelor's degree. Additionally, there are different scholarships depending on your field of studies such as musicians and artists, as an example or depending on your nationality.

Why to apply for DAAD scholarships


DAAD scholarships in brief

  • Levels: Bachelor, Master, Ph.D., Post-doc
  • Main selection criteria: Academic performance, motivation
  • Amount for master students: 850 € per month
  • Amount details: Under special circumstances, a monthly rent subsidy
  • International students allowed: Yes
  • Available for: (In general) all German universities, all subjects

Main DAAD scholarships for students

Scholarships for master students

Scholarships for Ph.D. students

See all DAAD scholarship programs

DAAD funding guide

Advice Box

Given the broad diversity of DAAD scholarships, you should familiarize yourself with the expectations  and conditions attached to the individual funding options:

  • Sometimes the scholarships are connected to demands, such as that the scholarship holder has to return to their home country to work for a specific time after their studies in Germany.
  • Application deadlines may be very early. We recommend you start your scholarship search with the DAAD at least 1 year before taking up your studies in Germany.
  • Some scholarship programs may be connected to certain master programs.

The 13 sponsorship foundations (Begabtenförderungswerke)

In Germany there are thirteen organizations that provide sponsorship for the “Promotion of Young Talent” or Begabtenförderungswerke in German. Each of the thirteen organizations supports young talented adults who show societal, political, cultural, and or social commitment.


Each respective organization has its own affiliation on diverse topics that range from philosophical, political, denominational, or business-oriented topics. They look to support individuals who can identify with the values the organization stands for. Successful applicants will not only have to present good grades, but also social commitment in the form of volunteer experiences, special talents, or experiences.


Despite their differences, these thirteen funding organizations operate under the same legal frameworks given by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and also are primarily funded through public means allocated by the BMBF. Overall, there are approximately 226 million euros available annually for the thirteen organizations’ funding programs which is used to fund over 33,500 scholarships.


Because of the legal framework provided by the German authorities, the 13 organizations share certain similarities:


  • The scholarship schemes are similar and often include funding for bachelor's and master's levels as well as funding of doctoral studies.
  • Scholarships for doctoral candidates are often available to people from all nationalities. Bachelor’s and master’s levels are partially restricted to EU-citizens or permanent residents of Germany.
  • Financial stipends for the bachelor’s and master’s levels are allocated depending on the financial need of the scholarship holder (up to 1044 €).


Some aspects to consider for international students, especially those who do not hold EU citizenship, are that some foundations offer scholarships specifically for you! These scholarships include a higher monthly stipend (850 € on a master’s level) that matches the amount of money you need to present for the visa application.


Furthermore, to apply for these scholarships, German skills from a B2-C1 level are required in almost all cases. One reason for this is that the 13 funding organizations not only offer financial aid but also workshops and ideational training and discussion spaces usually in the German language. This is great to build networks and broaden your horizon outside your studies.


If you are looking to apply to one of these organizations, you should pay close attention to application processes and deadlines. For many organizations, you need to be in Germany to take part in the selection process and may only be informed whether you can secure funding after the start of your study program. Therefore, you may need a backup plan to finance your studies in the period before the funding would be available to you and also should you not get chosen for sponsorship.


In the following section, we present the thirteen funding organizations, their affiliations. Additionally, at the end of each section we outline one scholarship from each foundation which is most applicable to international students. However, depending on your position, it is worth exploring the organizations’ other scholarship options which we provided links for!

1) Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes - The biggest and only ‘neutral’ foundation

Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes e.V.

  • Category: Scientific (non-religious, apolitical)
  • Affiliation: Neutral
  • No. of fellows: 2,360 (2018)

The Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes, or the German National Academic Foundation, is Germany’s oldest scholarship foundation. The foundation is non-political, non-denominational, and ideologically independent.


It supports students whose talents and personalities give reason to expect special achievements in the service of the general public. They encourage scholarship holders to formulate and implement goals of independent academic and personal development. Sponsorship includes 300 € allocated every month plus additional funds between 590 € and 744 €,  depending on parents’ income, and is reserved for EU-citizens and permanent residents.


Doctoral students of all nationalities can apply and receive 1,050 € per month plus 100 € for books. The German National Academic Foundation also has many funding opportunities for scholars to go abroad during their studies. The selection process for scholarships is rigorous and reserved for students who demonstrate outstanding academic and personal achievement and potential.

Studienstiftung scholarships in brief

  • Levels: Bachelor, master
  • Main selection criteria: Promising potential for future success/leadership quality. Good academic and intellectual performance/social commitment and engagement
  • Amount for master students: 300 € + max. 744 €
  • Amount details: Depends on your status (family income, etc.)
  • International students allowed: EU-students, refugees, Non-EU students who lived in Germany for at least 5 years
  • Available for: (In general) all German universities, all subjects
  • Restrictions: German skills (B2), age < 35 years

Facts & Figures


Scholarships for students

For bachelor and master students (restricted access for international students).

Scholarships for Ph.D. students

See all Studienstifung scholarships

More info

2) Stiftung der Deutschen Wirtschaft - A foundation representing the employers’ side

Stiftung der Deutschen Wirtschaft

  • Category: Economic
  • Affiliation: Representing private company/economic perspectives
  • No. of fellows: 1,929 (2018)

The Stiftung der Deutschen Wirtschaft (SDW) or the Foundation of German Business was founded in 1994 and is committed to providing educational opportunities for particularly high-performing students, doctoral candidates, pupils, and disadvantaged young adults. It aims to support young people throughout their education to provide them with the best conditions for a successful educational and career path.


They hold close ties with other business-related foundations, companies, and business associations. The Klaus Murmann Study Promotion Agency of the SDW has scholarships that are aimed at students and postgraduate teachers (Studienkolleg) and students of childhood education. The foundation also has a special opportunity to receive 15,000 euros in funding subsidies for dedicated young adults looking for help with a start-up.

Stiftung scholarships in brief

  • Levels: Bachelor, master
  • Main selection criteria: Academic performance in the upper third of your cohort, social commitment, and engagement
  • Amount for master students: 300 + max. 744 €
  • Amount details: Depends on your status (family income, etc.)
  • International students allowed: EU-students, refugees, Non-EU students who lived in Germany for at least 5 years
  • Available for: (In general) all German universities, all subjects 
  • Restrictions: German (C1)

Facts & Figures


Scholarships for students

For bachelor and master students (restricted access for international students).

Scholarships for Ph.D. students

3) Hans-Böckler-Stiftung - A foundation representing the Trade Unions


  • Category: Economic
  • Affiliation: Union & workers' perspectives
  • No. of fellow: 2,740 (2018)

Photo by Hans Böckler Foundation. CC BY-SA 4.0.

The Hans Böckler Foundation is the institute of the German Federation of Trade Unions (DGB) and is committed to promoting research and studies in Germany. Their scholarships are sponsored by the DGB’s scholarship program for talented young students. Funding is awarded to German students and students residing in Germany. There are different sponsorship opportunities depending on the level of education ranging from scholarships for master’s students to doctoral students.


Scholarship holders study at universities and technical colleges. Scholarship holders should be active young adults who are committed to socio-political issues which should be demonstrated through involvement in associations, initiatives, youth organizations, party affiliations, or at a university. Applicants will be evaluated based on their level of engagement with such issues (political, socio-political, politico-cultural, eco-political, etc).

Hans-Böckler-Stiftung in brief

  • Levels: Bachelor, master
  • Main selection criteria: Academic performance, political/social commitment
  • Amount for master students: 300 + max. 744 €
  • Amount details: depending on your status (parent’s income, etc)
  • International students allowed: EU-students, refugees, Non-EU students who lived in Germany for at least 5 years
  • Available for: (In general) all German universities, all subjects
  • Restrictions: German C1, students older than 35 need to provide convincing biographical reasoning for support

Facts & Figures


Scholarships for students

For bachelor and master students (restricted access for international students).

Scholarships for Ph.D. students

4) Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung - A foundation related to the Christian Democratic Union


  • Category: Political foundation
  • Affiliation: CDU (Christian Democratic Union)
  • No. of fellows:  3,432 (2018)

Photo by Stefan Knauf.

The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) is a political foundation with ties to the Christian Democratic Union political party of Germany. They also hold offices abroad and take charge of over 200 projects in more than 120 countries. The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung awards scholarships to students and graduates of exceptional academic achievement and outstanding political and or social commitment.


The scholarships program is aimed at international students and doctoral candidates who have already successfully completed their studies and wish to take up further studies (postgraduate or master’s degree), a doctorate or a research stay of at least three semesters at a German university. Note that German scholars are expected to endorse Christian Democratic social and political values. Proof of German language skills with a minimum B2 level is required to apply for funding.

Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in brief

  • Levels: Master, Ph.D.
  • Main selection criteria: Academic performance, political/social commitment
  • Amount for master students: min. 850 €
  • Amount details: Depending on your status (family income, etc)
  • International students allowed: Yes (non-EU, primarily from so-called developing and emerging countries)
  • Available for: (In general) all German universities, all subjects
  • Restrictions: German skills (B2), age < 30 years

Facts & Figures


Scholarships for students

For bachelors and masters level (restricted access for international students).

Scholarships for Ph.D. students

For Ph.D. students (restricted access for international students).

5) Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung - A foundation related to the Social Democratic Party


  • Category: Political
  • Affiliation: SPD
  • No. of fellows: 2,876 (2018)

Photo by Gerd Fahrenhorst. CC BY 4.0.

The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) is named after the German politician of the Social democratic party (SPD) of Germany, who was the first democratically elected president of the Weimar Republic. The foundation is associated with the SPD and its political convictions, which the FES specifies to be social democracy, justice, and solidarity. It was founded in 1925.


Something to note about the FES is that they have an international presence through offices in various countries all over the world. This can be a good way for you to reach out and inform yourself about this foundation. Especially interesting for international students is that the FES offers a scholarship program especially for internationals so that many of the national restrictions (EU-citizenship, residence in Germany) that are in place for some other scholarship applications do not apply for scholarships offered by the FES.


For the scholarship for internationals, master students receive 850 € per month and bachelor students 830 € per month, this sum is sufficient so that applicants qualify for a visa. Even if you are looking to study in English, to qualify for this scholarship, you need to prove excellent German skills (C1-level).

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in brief

  • Levels: Bachelor and master
  • Main selection criteria: Social commitment and engagement in line with social-democratic values, excellent academic performance
  • Amount: 830 - 850 € + cost of health insurance
  • Amount details: Other variables not relevant in determining funding amount
  • International students allowed: Yes
  • Available for: Students who are not from an OECD country
  • Restrictions: German (C1)

Facts & Figures


Scholarships for students

Scholarships for bachelor's and master's level (restricted access for international students).

Scholarships for Ph.D. students

Scholarships for Ph.D. students (restricted access for international students).

6) Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung für die Freiheit - A foundation related to the Free Democratic Party

Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung für die Freiheit

  • Category: Political
  • Affiliation: Free Democratic Party (FDP)
  • No. of fellows: 1,245 (2018)

Photo by karstenknuth.