For several years, Germany has been a popular destination among international students who are pursuing postgraduate studies. From bachelor’s degrees to Ph.D. programs and PostDocs, it seems that more and more students are looking to Germany for study opportunities. If this sounds like you, then you have come to the right page!
Germany has more than 400 universities that welcome international students, and about 60% of those universities have study programs in English. What’s more, is that International students can choose from any university in Germany they like as long as they meet the 3 study requirements. These requirements are a language certificate, a visa, and a first academic degree. It’s that simple! Of course, there are some more difficult parts of the journey, but luckily for you, our study counselors at MyGermanUniversity have an informational article over every step of the application journey.
If attending a German university is so simple, then surely the universities are overcrowded and second-class, no? NO. While German universities are open to all students from around the globe, they are still competitive to get accepted into. Germany ranks 3rd in the world for the highest internationally ranking universities (behind the US and the UK). Because public universities in Germany dominate higher education (more than 60%), the top-ranked universities are all public.
Why is it important that the top-ranked German universities are public? It is incredibly important and relevant for international students as public universities in Germany do not charge tuition. In Germany, education is treated as a public good and something that should be accessible to all of its inhabitants. This concept transcends in different aspects of education such as education in childcare through kindergartens and grade schools; these are all free. This article serves as an outline of the different German universities available for students seeking an MS degree, highlighting the internationally top-ranked universities.
The Internationally top-ranked universities in Germany
Attending an affordable university doesn’t mean that you should have to sacrifice any quality to your education. Even though public universities in Germany are free, they are still internationally top-ranked with some of the most prestigious programs around the globe. The top-ranked German universities in this section cover an array of topics and study programs for international students. Whether students wish to study in English or German, there is a great variety of programs to choose from.
Because Germany’s higher education system is topic-specific, there are some universities that are the best in their field though they didn’t make the international rankings. These nationally top-ranking German universities are also highly competitive and offer a first-class education. Therefore, be sure to also explore them in your search. Click below to see each university profile along with the English-taught programs, admissions requirements, and more!
How to get into a top-ranked MS program
While there are three simple requirements that make one eligible to apply to an MS program, this doesn’t mean they will be guaranteed acceptance. The amount and affordability of top-ranked institutions in Germany make them quite competitive to study at. There is no magic formula to guarantee a student acceptance. However, there are additional factors which universities consider in addition to a first academic degree and a language certificate.
These are just the bare minimum you need as an international student to study an MS in Germany. Our study counselors have taken the liberty to enumerate some additional qualifications that students should keep in mind when applying to their MS programs. This can be especially useful when applying to a top-ranked German university. Take a look at them below:
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.
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 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.
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.
Cost of a top MS study program in Germany
Students should be aware that there can be some costs to any study program though there are no tuition fees. This is not a “deal breaker” or “hidden cost” so this section serves to clarify any misconceptions about education in Germany. The following is still true:
Generally, public universities in Germany do not charge tuition fees.
Every university in Germany charges a semester contribution. This contribution is to cover some administrative fees from the university, but most of it is invested back into the student. If you are paying it, how is it invested back into you? This is how:
- Social Services such as the AStA (a university student committee which protects/represents students from discrimination or unlawful treatment), subsidized meals, campus services like libraries, sports facilities, etc.
- Semester Ticket: a transport that students receive for free (included in the price of the semester contribution) and allows students unlimited access to local and regional public transportation (busses, subways, trains, etc).
- Administrative Costs: processing of application and enrollment paperwork, etc.
As you can see above, the semester contribution is for your benefit as a student. It is a marginal cost (200 - 300 €) which gives students a great deal of access to different services and travel. None of the contribution pays for your education which is how it differs from tuition. Additionally, universities that charge tuition still charge additional fees that are covered in the contribution. A brief breakdown is below:
Costs in German Higher Education
|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. 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.
Keep in mind that while some programs are not tuition-free, that you shouldn’t overlook them on your master’s program search. Remember to search for programs that are best suited to you and your study interests. 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.
Attending a tuition-free university doesn’t mean that students should sacrifice quality in their study programs. International students can choose from any of the tuition-free internationally top-ranked universities in Germany for their MS program. Remember to keep the following in mind:
- Students can study in English or German: If you don’t speak German, there are many English-language programs at top-ranked universities. International students need to simply make sure they meet the MS eligibility requirements.
- To get into an MS program: Students should not simply meet the bare minimum eligibility requirements. There are additional factors that admissions offices will take into account. Make sure to prepare in advance.
- Public universities are generally tuition-free: There are some exceptions to this rule (private universities, the state of Baden-Württemberg, and professional MS programs). However, 60% of the overall programs offered are free of tuition.