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The German university system

Excellent education opportunities 

The German higher education system stands out with the wide range of different kinds of higher education institutions: 400 public and nationally accredited universities offer a total of 18,000 degree courses.

Karte Hochschulen-in-deutschland 01

What are the characteristics of German higher education?

German universities offer a wide and diverse range of degree programmes, many of them with English as language of instruction. The excellent training offered at German universities is based on the close unity of research and teaching: Leading researchers teach at the universities both in undergraduate and graduate courses and thus pass on the very latest knowledge to their students. ( more )

How can I find the right programme for me?

Germany is currently introducing two-cycle, internationally-recognised academic degrees (Bachelor's in the first cycle and Master's in the second). These replace the traditional German academic degrees of Diplom and Magister. Postgraduates holding a Master's degree with outstanding results can in a third cycle go for a doctoral degree (Dr. or Ph.D.)

Bachelor's programmes last for at least three years (six semesters), Master's programmes in most cases for two years (four semesters).

A database provided by the German Rectors Conference listing all degree courses will help you find the right programme for you (click here ).

University or ''Fachhochschule''?

There are basically two types of universities in Germany: The Reserach University (''Universität'') and the University of Applied Sciences (''Fachhochschule'' sometimes also called ''Hochschule''). Research Universities are focused on research and take as a rule a more theoretical approach. They offer opportunities for doctoral research and award doctoral degrees. Some Research Universities with a very strong focus on technology are called University of Technology (''Technische Universität'')

Universities of Applied Sciences are focused on the application of research findings and cooperate closely with the local industry and public institutions. Internships are mandatory. Graduates from Universities of Applied Sciences are excellently trained specialists with very good carreer chances.
Of course, there are also a number of specialised universities.

To learn more about the different types of universities in Germany and their degree system, please click here .

What is the best university in Germany?

All German universities display a high standard of research and teaching and offer degree programmes of comparable qualitiy. Thus, ranking of universities has no tradition in Germany. Each study programme has, however, a characteristic design and general study conditions vary from institute to institute. The DAAD, together with the Centre for Higher Education Development ( CHE ) and the German weekly news magazine " DIE ZEIT ", now offers you the most comprehensive and detailed university ranking in Germany (click here ).

Tip: The biggest university need not always be the best one for you. Smaller universities also offer excellent study conditions.

How can I get admitted to a German university?

Undergraduates: To learn whether your pre-education is sufficient to apply directly for admittance to a Bachelor's programme at a German university, please click here .

Graduates: To get admitted to a Master's programme at a German university, a pre-education of 16 years is required.

A step by step guide can be found here.

Doctoral candidates: To get admitted to a Ph.D. programme or to be accepted for doctoral research at a university, 18 years of pre-education (M.Phil. or equivalent) are required as a rule. (For more information about doctoral studies in Germany, see ''Research in Germany''.)

What about the costs?

You should count on a minimum of 700 Euro per month as cost of living - including books, public transport and health insurance. For some programmes, additional tuition fees apply.

Before deciding for a programme, mind that living costs vary from town to town. As a rule, the north and the east of Germany is less expensive than the south and the west.

Admittance to a degree programme does not include accomodation. To get started, it may be a good idea to stay in a students hostel. You should apply, however, as early as possible since rooms are highly requested and their number is limited.

To learn more about living costs and fees, please visit our section 'Costs for students'.

Are there scholarships?

The DAAD offers a number of scholarship programmes . Please be aware that chances to get a scholarship after you have resumend your studies in Germany, are extremely low. For undergraduates, DAAD does not offer scholarships at all.