Germany is sought out by international students from all over the globe as a study destination. In addition to a booming economy and a strong higher education system, Germany openly welcomes international students. What makes Germany stand out among other countries that have a top higher education system, is its willingness to make such institutions available to all students - even non-EU students.
Public universities in Germany dominate the higher education system. All nationally and internationally top-ranked study institutions are public. Because public universities in Germany are tuition-free, this opens the doors to anyone who wishes to obtain a master of science degree. As stated above, even non-EU students can study in Germany - for free! So if you are pursuing an MS degree in Germany, then you are on the right page!
This article will serve as an overview of universities in Germany that offer MS programs. It will illustrate the universities which international students can attend, the different types of MS programs and study institutions, and also cover costs of attendance and living. To complement this piece, we have also written a similar article highlighting the internationally top-ranked universities in Germany for an MS program.
More than 400 universities in Germany for international students
International students are often concerned that universities only allow local students or charge higher fees for those coming from abroad. While that may be the case in some universities (which we will discuss later in this article), the general rule is this: Public universities in Germany charge no tuition fees to their students, regardless of whether they’re from Germany, the EU, or abroad.
While all of the more than 400 universities in Germany welcome international students, about 60% of those universities have study programs in English. That’s right, more than half of the universities in Germany offer English study programs. This makes German a preferred destination for students from all over the globe who are pursuing an MS degree.
International students normally seek out English-taught programs. However, they are also welcome to apply to other programs that are taught in German. As long as students fulfill the requirements for a master’s degree, they are welcome to apply. Whether students are interested in a program taught in German or one taught in English, they can apply as long as the language requirements for the respective MS program are met.
Students only need three basic things to be eligible to apply for an MS program: a language certificate, a visa, and a first academic degree. However, universities also look for extras which make a student stand out from the other applicants. Things like volunteer work, extracurricular activities, or special projects are a few examples of activities that can brighten your CV. Carefully read our MS in Germany article for further details on what MS programs are looking for.
Further ReadingColleges in Germany: A guide for US and other international students
MS programs: which university is the right one?
You should know about the different types of institutions there are in Germany. We have an extensive article about universities in Germany which you’re welcome to check out. However, the basic information for anyone interested in MS programs is below:
Research Universities (Universität)
Are focused on academic work (i.e. research) in various subjects. These universities offer a range of Masters and Ph.D. programs.
Technical Universities (Technische Universität)
Specialize in science, technology, and engineering research. However, they offer programs in other subject areas.
Universities of Applied Science (Fachhochschulen)
Focus on practical subjects such as engineering, business, or social science. However, they also may offer programs in other subjects.
Colleges of Art, Film and Music
Focus on practical instruction in creative disciplines.
So which university is the right one for you? Well, that all depends on what you’re looking for in an MS program. Master’s degrees are offered by many different types of institutions. Therefore, you should discover the type of approach you want for your master’s education.
Keep in mind that one university type is not more advanced or “better” than another university. This simply depends on the specifics of your degree program and the style of learning you are seeking. Alternatively, you can browse through all universities in Germany with English-taught master’s programs and see if your favorite made the list!
The cost of an MS degree in Germany
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.
It is important to recognize the difference of what each of the very different charges above is paying for. Universities that charge tuition, often also charge a contribution, processing and administration fees, room and board, etc. However, the semester contribution is not used to cover your education and study program; Germany treats education as a public good that should be free. The most valuable asset which the contribution pays for is your semester ticket which provides students with unlimited use of the local public transportation.
Further ReadingHow Much Does it Cost to Live in Germany?
Nationally top-ranked universities
Studying without paying tuition fees does not mean that you are going to have a second-class education. Germany ranks 3rd in the world (behind the US and the UK) for internationally top-ranked universities. All of the top-ranked universities in Germany are public universities, meaning that they generally do not charge tuition fees. Take a look at a few of the top nationally ranked universities below and click on individual universities to see the study programs and more. Each page includes facts and figures about each university as well as a list of their English-taught programs.
International students have many options in their pursuit of a master of science degree in Germany. MS can be found in English and are open for anyone to apply! Below are a few key takeaways from the information above:
- Any student can apply to a German university: as long as students fulfill the requirements for a master’s degree, MS programs are available to all. Our StudyFinder lists additional requirements for each specific study program. Additionally, our MS in Germany article reveals more details on what really gets you accepted.
- More than 1,700 MS 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.