Germany is a country which is traditional and rich in history, as well as trendy and extremely modern. Famed for its efficiency, free-thinkers, beer festivals, and beauty, Germany has something to offer every international student. Whether you’re looking to live in humming Berlin or quaint Heidelberg, Germany is a destination which is full of opportunity and excitement.

What’s more, tuition fees at public universities in Germany are practically nonexistent. You can gain a world class education and enjoy a high quality of life in one of the central hubs of Europe, all with minimal financial risk.

Furthermore, each major German city has at least one university which is ranked highly in the world. As a leader in higher education, and with its commitment to increasing access to education, Germany proves that it’s an excellent place to get the degree you want.

Without further ado, Willkommen in Deutschland!

Why Study in Germany?

Germany is one of the top destinations in the world for international students. Its universities are prestigious and globally-renowned, and have virtually abolished all tuition fees for local and international students alike. The only fees that most universities require you to pay are administrative and cover the costs for a semester.

In terms of being a leader in providing high quality higher education, Germany is the fourth most popular destination for international students (after U.S., UK, and Australia) and offers some of the lowest education costs in the world.

According to statistics from DAAD (the German Academic Exchange Service) the average cost of studying in Germany for one year is about $10,520. This breaks down into $540 for administrative school fees and $9,980 for living expenses (accommodation, food, transportation, entertainment, amenities, etc.).

It is important to note that these figures are an average. The precise cost of studying in Germany will vary depending upon your location, institution, and a variety of other factors.

Most universities in Germany charge an administrative fee every semester. This fee varies and can be anywhere from $170-280.  Included in this fee is the Semesterticket which is a public transportation pass for students.

Popular Degrees in Germany

With a large number of higher education institutions in Germany, students have a wide range of choices when it comes to choosing what degree to pursue.

In particular, Germany is well known for STEM degrees, that is science, technology, engineering, and math. Here, students will benefit from high quality science initiatives, standards of practice and instruction, and hands on practical learning.

In addition, programs in the humanities, international business and economics, as well as foreign language study also rank highly in Germany. 

Where to Study in Germany?

If you’re confused as to where to go in Germany, some of the most popular destinations for students include:


Berlin is a cultural and creative powerhouse. Here, you’ll find everything from museums, theaters, art galleries, festivals, fantastic restaurants, and cultural sights. It also happens to be a multicultural hub and living here can be quite inexpensive.  

Universities here include:

  • The Free University of Berlin – Internationally renowned for its excellent research in the natural and life sciences, humanities, and social sciences
  • Humboldt University of Berlin – The oldest university in Berlin, and considered to be one of the most prestigious institutions in Europe
  • Technical University of Berlin – Has the largest number of international students and is globally known for its highly ranked engineering programs


Munich is famous the world over for its annual beer festival, Oktoberfest. While Germany no doubt has a famous beer-brewing tradition, Munich has so much more to offer than just that. It has the largest student population in all of Germany and features stunning architecture and gardens.

Universities here include:

  • Technical University of Munich – Ranked 60th in the world
  • Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich – One of Germany’s oldest universities, and considered to be an ‘elite’ institution


Frankfurt is the economic hub of western Germany and is a global center for education, commerce, tourism, and culture. In fact, it is also home to the European Central Bank. Frankfurt is both futuristic and traditional. On the one hand you have the modern metropolis which has a rich history and features a skyline filled with skyscrapers. Then, just a short ways away you’ll find the quaint medieval Altstadt or old city.

Here you can enjoy locally brewed apple wine, wander along the Zeil (the largest retail street in Germany), check out museum and art galleries, or indulge in all the delicious local cuisine. Frankfurt also has a thriving nightlife scene and is home to a huge international student population.

Universities here include:

  • Goethe University Frankfurt – The New York Times rated it among the 10 best universities in the world by employer choice. It also went on to say that it was the best university in Germany as well as in Continental Europe
  • Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences


If you’re looking for a city with rustic charm, Heidelberg, with its quaint baroque Altstadt, red-roofed buildings, ancient castle, and stunning riverside location is the perfect place to be. Surrounded by a dense forest, Heidelberg is the oldest (and arguably most beautiful) university town in the country.

Universities here include:

  • Heidelberg University – The oldest university in Germany, this highly ranked institution has connections with more than 50 Nobel Prize winners


Cologne straddles the Rhine River and is known for the beautiful and famous Cologne Cathedral, or Kölner Dom. This idyllic riverside town is a cultural hub in the Rhineland. Here, you’ll find over thirty museums and hundreds of art galleries. Cologne is also centrally located with direct trains which run to Amsterdam, Paris, Luxembourg and Brussels. It also features an eclectic student community, and the town itself is very liberal.

Universities here include:

  • Universität Köln (University of Cologne)– One of the oldest and largest universities in Europe

All about Germany

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Germany for international students is very reasonable, and is on average the same as it is in other European countries. Prices are liable to vary depending upon where you choose to live as well as your lifestyle. In the bigger cities like Munich, your expenses are likely to be higher than if you choose to study in a rural or smaller town.

On average, a student in Germany needs 800 euros to get by. This figure covers:

  • Rent
  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Phone costs
  • School supplies
  • Semester contribution
  • Health insurance
  • Transportation


The public transportation network is fast and efficient. Popular modes of travel include:

  • Buses
  • Trams (Strassenbahn)
  • Local and national trains and railways
  • Suburban Railway (S-Bahn)
  • Underground Railway (U-Bahn)
  • Bicycles – This is a very popular option among international students, and getting a bike is quite economical

Generally, when you pay the ‘semester contribution’ to your university, you will be given a public transportation ticket. This allows you to use all modes of transportation both in and around the university.

If your university doesn’t offer a semester ticket, you can purchase a travel pass from public transportation companies. They usually offer good student discounts on travel cards.

If you’re interested in exploring the rest of the country, you may want to purchase a Bahn-Card. If you purchase a yearly card, you may be entitled to a 25%, 50% or 100% discount (the equivalent of a free ticket) by virtue of your status as a student.

Health Insurance

All students who wish to study in Germany need to have health insurance. Be sure to check if your health insurance policy back home covers medical treatment costs in Germany. If not, you will need to insure yourself in Germany. 


One of the best ways to experience the cultures and traditions of a new country is by sampling all of the delicious foods that it is known for. When in Germany, be sure to try:

  • Wiener Schnitzel – A flattened piece of meat coated with flour, breadcrumbs, and a beaten egg fried to perfection
  • The Wurstsalat – A traditional sausage and meat salad
  • Bretzel’s – Or German pretzels
  • Currywurst – Sausage covered with curry powder and tomato sauce
  • Black Forest Cake – This world famous dessert originated in Germany and by law, must be made with one essential ingredient; Schwarzwalder Kirschwasser, a specialty liquor
  • SPEZI – A combination of orange soda and cola
  • Rote Grütze - A warm preserve like mixture of raspberries, blackberries, blue berries which is best eaten à la mode with vanilla ice cream


Every country has its own unique culture and customs. Things which are common in one country may be unacceptable or looked down upon in another. That’s why it’s always better to familiarize yourself with the unique culture and ‘quirks’ of your host country.

In Germany:

  • The elderly are always respected –  Make sure you refer to someone who is older that you with ‘Sie’ (which is the formal way of saying you) as a sign of respect
  • Pünktlichkeit – Also known as the art of being on time. Punctuality is very important
  • Recycling is a big deal –  The Germans are very environmentally conscious
  • On Sunday, most things are closed –  Don’t be surprised if you walk out and it looks like the whole world has ended
  • Sprudelwasser is more common than the water you’re familiar with –  This is carbonated, fizzy water with carbon dioxide dissolved into it
  • That stereotype of Germans being very efficient –  It’s all true
  • Be prepared for people to be very direct because the Germans prefer a direct communication style. Don’t get offended, it’s just the way people communicate here


German is spoken throughout the country but varies from region to region. There are different regional German dialects which have been influenced by the regions unique history, culture, and traditions. Therefore, you may notice that not everyone who speaks German sounds the same; in fact, it may sound like distinct languages to you.

It is advisable that you have a basic understanding of German if you plan to live and study there. While many people in Germany can speak and understand English, there are also those who cannot.


The climate in Germany is temperate with warm summers and cold winters. There are generally no extended periods of hot or cold weather. Rainfall is quite common and reaches its peak during the summer months.

In the coastal regions the climate is best described as maritime with warm summers and mild winters. Further inland the climate is continental and has greater seasonal variations. In the southern Alpine regions the higher altitudes result in cooler temperatures and more precipitation. There is also a phenomenon known as "föhn", or warm wind which takes place in the Alps. These winds are common in autumn and winter and are strong enough to cause damage.

Things to do in Germany

There is so much to do in Germany, from exploring historical sites, visiting museums and art galleries, sampling locally brewed beer, and eating delicious foods. Irrespective of where you decide to study in Germany, be sure to explore all of the exciting things the country has to offer.

You can add the following to your list of things to do in Germany:

  • See the Berlin Wall
  • Take in the history at Nuremberg
  • Visit the magical and enchanting Fussen Castle
  • Take a walk around  Brandenburg Gate in Berlin
  • Take in Germany’s natural beauty at The Berchtesgaden National Park
  • Visit Aachen Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in all of northern Europe
  • Go on a tour of all the breweries. Germany is famous for its beer
  • Go to Oktoberfest in Munich
  • Ski in some of the best facilities in the world
  • Visit many famous Christmas markets during the holiday season
  • Take a trip to the Black Forest

Visa and Residence Permits  

Students who are applying to Study in Germany from EU Member States as well as Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland don’t need a student visa to study in Germany. All they need is proof of EU citizenship.

Students who are applying from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel, and South Korea also don’t need a student visa to study in Germany. Instead, you will be required to apply for a residence permit at the local Alien Registration Office (Bürgeramt or Einwohnermeldeamt) within the first two weeks of your arrival in the country.

The residence permit is what entitles you to stay in Germany for study purposes.

You will need to submit the following documents at the time of application:

  • Proof of health insurance (private or public)
  • Certificate of enrollment at a German university
  • Valid passport
  • Tenancy agreement
  • Proof of adequate finances
  • Visa (if you have one)
  • Certificate of health
  • Biometric passport sized photos
  • Application fee (check with registration office)
  • If your degree is in German, you may be asked to provide proof of language proficiency such as a TestDaf or DSH score
  • For degree programs in English, you may be asked to provide a TOEFL or IELTS score

Residence permits are typically valid for two years and should be renewed once they expire if need be.

It’s easy to see why Germany is a top pick for so many international students. Here, education is extremely affordable. Students will get the chance to gain a world class degree and enjoy the benefits of living in and exploring one of the most exciting countries in Europe.