Updated: 2021-03-30 | Duration: 5:00 min.

Study Online in Germany as an international student

An overview of degree courses available online from German universities

The interest in online study programs has grown exponentially in recent years. With mere access to the internet, students now have the ability to study and top-ranked universities around the globe from the comfort of their own homes! Online courses have always been an attractive study option for many students who have jobs, children, or other engagements that prevent them from following a traditional education style.


While online courses from German universities are not a new phenomenon, the recent global pandemic has created a high demand for online study programs. This is especially relevant for international students who may be unable to travel to Germany at the moment due to pandemic travel restrictions. However, students can enroll in quality degree programs from top-ranked institutions, all from home!


This article will serve as a guide for students who are interested in online degree programs from German universities. It will introduce you to different types of online course methods, types of degree programs available online, and much more. Studying from your home country also means that you don’t have to deal with the stress and hassle of getting a visa. So what are you waiting for?! Get started now!

What is an online course like?

guy studying an online program in a coffee shop

The term “online course” or “online studies” already seems to be a category on its own in regards to degree programs. However, even online study programs vary depending on the degree and the university from which they are offered. Many German universities have a select few programs which are available online. However, there are also universities like IU which are 100% online universities - even though they have a campus (in Berlin & Bad Honnef).


The learning processes of online courses use a combination of platforms and methods online for workshops, lectures, and seminars. These methods are supported by different mediums that vary among study programs. Some examples of online learning methods include:


  • Interactive collective activities with classmates,
  • Independent and personalized tasks,
  • Multimedia projects and activities,
  • Webinars and videoconference,
  • Online chats,
  • Video platforms (e.g. Zoom, Skypes, etc.),
  • Support from tutors.


The features enumerated above are just an example of the many different techniques which are implemented in online learning courses. Some programs may even allow students to choose how interactive their courses are by allowing them to have less one-on-one sessions and more pre-recorded lectures. Below we will provide an overview of the different styles of online learning typically implemented.


Further Reading

English-Taught Online Universities in Germany

Online course structures

woman showing two fingers

Whether students are enrolled at a traditional “brick and mortar” university or a fully online university, also influences the styles of online courses they will have available to them. Generally, there are two different structures to online study programs: full online studies or blended studies. Full online means that there is no in-person interaction in the program. The blended learning can include in-classroom studies in combination with online studies. The two structures are elaborated below:

Full online learning

For students who are interested in studying remotely, there are some different styles their online program may follow. Distance learning means that all of your courses are done online and that you have no in-person interactions. Below are two different teaching structures that online degree programs may follow:


Group learning

Online group learning programs are modeled more closely after traditional in-person learning styles. This can involve course participants attending online courses and, at the same time, interact with one another. Additionally, instructors can give lectures to the class online and provide time for group discussion. These live-streamed lectures and virtual classrooms are examples of what a group learning course would look like.


Independent learning

Online independent learning programs provide an added amount of flexibility to students. There may be a more limited amount of live interactions with the rest of the course and the instructor. Lectures are typically pre-recorded for the student to watch on their own time. Participants can study at different times and go through assignments at their own pace and along with their own schedule.

Blended learning

This form of online learning is exactly what it sounds like in that it bled online learning with traditional “in person” or “in classroom” learning. This means that students may have some courses which are either only online or mostly online and meet in-person every so often. Blended learning programs are popular in online study programs as they combine the benefits of both learning styles. Keep in mind that this option would not be suited for students who are interested in studying remotely i.e. 100% online.

Online courses: Pros and cons

woman wearing glasses thinking about the pros and cons of studying an online program in germany

There is a significant amount of flexibility in online learning programs. The amount of flexibility depends on the type of online course chosen, as illustrated above. However, there are some students that may miss the ease and routine of having more traditional in-classroom courses. Below we have listed a few pros and cons that students tend to weigh when considering whether online learning is a fit for them.

Pros Cons
Flexibility: no set place or time. Requires a strong & reliable internet connection.
Learning is at the student’s pace. Technological equipment computer, camera, etc.) required.
Lessons and lectures can be repeated. Limited interaction with instructor and classmates.
Adjustable learning styles: various multimedia formats. Requires discipline and self-initiative from students.


Which degree programs are available online?

There are a variety of degrees and topics available for online studies in Germany. Our StudyFinder features more than forty different online study programs which are taught in English. Students who are able to study in German would have even more programs at their disposal. From chemistry to human rights or business administration, there are various study subjects in addition to some specialized degree programs. Below are a select-few featured degree programs:

You can click here to view all online study programs available on our StudyFinder. It is important to remember that an online degree program does not mean you are sacrificing quality in your education. Many top-ranked German universities offer online degree programs. Be sure to look through them in our Online Universities in Germany article.

Cost of attendance

As you may have heard, education in Germany is free for all students. In Germany, public universities do not charge tuition. Because most online study programs are specialized degree programs, these are typically not tuition-free. Online study programs are likely to charge a decent tuition fee as it takes more equipment to maintain an online course (e.g. purchasing access to only platforms to make the online learning possible). Tuition fees vary among degree programs, however, below is a general overview of tuition fees in German higher education:


  • Most online programs have a tuition fee; only 2% of online programs are free.
  • Tuition fees for online study programs average 3,000 € - 5,000 € per semester.
  • Fees vary among study programs; even universities may charge different tuition fees depending on the online study program.
  • Especially private universities with online programs may charge higher fees (e.g. up to 10,000 € per semester).

Remember to search for programs that are best suited to you and your study interests, so don’t skip over the tuition charging programs. Many private universities offer scholarships for students to put towards tuition costs. 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.

How to apply

text with the word steps highlighted

Applying to any study program can be time-consuming. The collection of official documents that needs to be submitted is the culprit of this long process. Therefore, we advise that you develop a timeline for your application with personal deadlines dated weeks before the actual deadlines from universities and admissions offices. We have simplified the steps as much as we can to provide you with a general overview of what the application process looks like for someone who may not know where to start:


Search for your study program

This process requires a significant amount of research as well as knowledge to know how to find a great comparison of different online programs. We have taken the liberty to do this entire step for you and collected all of this data (language requirements, admissions requirements, deadlines, program info, etc.). Our StudyFinder is the largest database of English-language study programs in Germany, so make sure to use it at your disposal.


Collect required documents

Once you have narrowed down the selection to your top programs, you should observe all of the requirements to apply and submit all documents by the submission deadlines. Be sure to begin this process early as some documents, such as official notarized documents and certified translations, may take longer to acquire. Be sure to inform yourself on how the application process is via uni-assist should this be relevant for you.


Submit application

The final step is to submit all official documents to your desired universities. If you are applying via uni-assist, then you only need to submit such required documents once. If you are applying directly to universities as well as other programs that use uni-assist, be sure to submit requested data to all parties. This may include the submission of hard copies via mail as well as digital copies. Consult the admissions office at your preferred programs for further process inquiries.


Summary Box

Online study programs are a very attractive option for international students to study at a German university from the comfort of their home country. Whether it is due to family, a job, or any other reason, online studies provide students the flexibility to learn at their own pace. Some things to keep in mind:


  • Online learning styles: Online study programs are diverse in their teaching style. Students can choose from group learning, independent learning, or blended learning programs that combine in-person and online courses.
  • Pros and cons: Online learning is not for everyone and though it is flexible, it also requires discipline and self-initiative from students. Check out our pros and cons to see if an online degree program is right for you!
  • Cost of attendance: Be aware that while public universities in Germany are tuition-free, online study programs typically charge a tuition fee averaging between 3,000 € - 5,000 € per semester. This is because online-degrees are specialized and also require equipment and technology to maintain the course (paid access to online platforms, extra data security, etc.).