Study in Germany for free: What you need to know

Germany is one of the best countries to study abroad, and consequently topped our Country Ranking 2017 – it even outranked other popular destinations such as the United Kingdom or Holland.

Germany is home to some of the best universities in the world. But you can study there for free. If you want to learn more, check out our list of frequently asked questions about tuition fees in Germany:

Who can study in Germany for free?

Everyone! That’s right: Germans, Europeans, and all non-Europeans can study in Germany free of charge – without tuition fees. It does not matter if you are from the EU or EEA. This applies to almost all study programmes at public universities. There is a tiny catch: If you are from outside the EU, you will need a residence permit before you arrive in the country; and you will have to finish your studies in Germany.

Why do public universities in Germany not charge any tuition fees?

Almost anywhere in Europe and the world, universities charge tuition fees – if only from foreigners who come to that country for their studies. Germany is one of the few countries in Europe where you can study for free, even if you are from Asia, Africa or elsewhere.

Germans generally believe that education should not be treated as a commercial product, and that free access to higher education ensures economic growth and welfare for the greater population. In the recent past, there was legislation allowing public universities to charge very modest tuition fees of 1,000 euros annually. But after years of public protests, the tuition fees were abolished again in 2014.

Also, Germany’s governments of recent years have realised the economic and social benefits of immigration. Germany wants to get the smartest minds to study into the country, and ideally to stay after graduation; and that is why they generally oppose tuition fees for foreigners, as well.

If tuition is free, does that mean the universities are not very good?

Far from it! Germany’s universities are among the best in the world, and you can expect to receive a world-class education as a foreign student. Many of the larger institutions regularly rank among the top 100 in international rankings. The fact that higher education at public universities is tuition-free is a purely political decision by the German government. A degree from a German university will be respected around the world and open many doors for your career choices.

Are there any tuition fees in Germany?

Generally, you can study in Germany for free – but there are a few exceptions:

  • Only public universities are tuition-free. If you study at one of the roughly 100 private universities, you are expected to pay, and those tuition fees are on par with what you would pay in countries such as the UK or Ireland. However, because of their competition from the cheap public universities, private schools in Germany tend to offer specialised programmes, and other benefits so that you get your money’s worth. And of course, you might be eligible for a scholarship.
  • German universities distinguish between “consecutive” and “non-consecutive” Master’s programmes. Consecutive programmes are those that you can enroll in immediately after you finish your Bachelor’s degree. Non-consecutive programmes, such as “Executive MBAs”, usually require that students have many years of work experience. Such non-consecutive study programmes usually cost tuition fees, even at public universities.
  • From 2017 on, public universities in the state of Baden-Württemberg can charge tuition fees from non-EU/EEA students. That includes the universities in Stuttgart, Karlsruhe, Mannheim, Freiburg, Heidelberg, and some other cities. The tuition fees are set at 1,500 euros per semester – which is still much more affordable than in many other countries in Europe.

What other costs do I have to consider when studying in Germany?

While there usually aren’t any tuition fees at public universities, you might have to pay something called a “semester fee” or “administrative fee”. But that’s a small amount: often around 300 or 400 euros for the whole semester. This then also covers a public transport ticket for your city and sometimes even the surrounding areas, at a fraction of what you would normally pay for such a ticket. Other than that, Germany is one of the more affordable Western European countries. You can get by on 800 euros per month, give or take a bit, depending on what city you study in. Larger cities like Munich, Frankfurt or Hamburg are known to be more expensive than smaller towns.

What scholarships are available to study abroad in Germany?

There are many scholarships for foreign students in Germany.

Can I stay in Germany after I graduate from university?

Yes, you can! And that applies to all students, regardless of the country of origin. If you are from outside the EU, you can apply for an 18-month residence permit for after graduation. With such a “job seeker visa”, you can search for a job that fits your qualifications; and you are allowed to take any job during those 18 months. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy offers more information about the graduate residence permit.

Length of study in Germany

  • Bachelor’s degree programme: 3 years
  • Master’s degree programme: 2 years
  • Doctorate/PhD: 3 – 5 years

Benefits of studying in Germany

  • People everywhere recognize “Made in Germany” as a seal of quality. You can benefit from Germany‘s long and famous university tradition, especially in the fields of engineering and science. A German university degree is highly respected by employers around the world.
  • There are almost 450 state-accredited universities with some 17,500 degree programmes in Germany. German universities offer degree programmes in every possible subject and academic level – be it Bachelor’s, Master’s, state examinations or doctoral degrees. General universities focus strongly on scientifically-oriented study in a wide range of disciplines. Universities of applied science, on the other hand, are very practice-oriented. If you’re more interested in artistic subjects, you can enroll at a college of art, film or music.
  • More and more courses and degree programmes are being offered in English, especially at Master’s degree level. This is good news if you don’t know any German or if your German isn’t good enough yet.
  • Around twelve percent of students at German universities come from foreign countries. The universities offer support to make your start in Germany as easy as possible. There are many mentoring programmes available.
  • As an international student with outstanding academic achievement, you have good chances of receiving a scholarship to finance your studies in Germany. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) is one of the largest scholarship organisations in the world and offers countless scholarship programmes.
  • Beaches and mountains, medieval city centers and pulsating metropolises, and above all, lots of nature. Germany is a diverse country with many facets! Within a couple of hours by train or plane, you can experience an entirely different culture and language.
  • Compared with other European countries, the cost of living in Germany is reasonable. The cost of food, rent, clothing and cultural activities are equivalent to the European Union average.
  • Public higher education institutions normally waive tuition fees for most Bachelor’s and many Master’s degree programmes. Fees are charged for certain Master’s degree programmes and private universities also charge tuition fees – but most of them offer scholarship options.

Admission Requirements

Undergraduate program

  • O level result
  • International passport and data page
  • 2 colored passport photograph with white background
  • University transcript ( If Available)

Masters program

  • International passport and data page
  • 2 colored passport photograph with white background
  • Bachelors degree certificate
  • Transcript of result
  • NYSC certificate
  • CV (Curriculum Vitae)
  • Academic Reference & Recommendation letter (Optional)

Ph.D

  • Summary of master thesis
  • Academic Reference & Recommendation letter (Optional)
  • International passport and data page
  • Master degree certificate
  • 2 colored passport photograph with white background

Visa Requirements

  • Valid passport +2 copies of its data page
  • 2 identical passport pictures
  • School Leaving Certificates of Primary and Secondary School/ WAEC-Certificate
  •  Proof of previous academic studies/professional training/ work experience (if
    applicable)
  •  Birth Certificate from National Population Commission or Declaration of Age deposed
    to by head of Family (Please note that an NPC birth certificate may only be accepted
    if the applicant is born after December 13th, 1992)
  •  Biographically old documents (older than 5 years) to verify identity (such as library
    card, baptism certificate, vaccination card etc.)
  •  Letter of admission to the university/ Confirmation of registration for language course
  • Proof of knowledge of the German language, if applicable
  •  A “WAEC-direct access card“ (scratch card to access WAEC results online, available
    e. g. at Spring Bank and Wema Bank)
  •  prepaid courier envelope by any major courier service
  •  letter of motivation
  •  Curriculum Vitae stating all visited schools, universities as well as listing all employers
    until date of visa application
  •  Proof of financial means for one year by one of the following options:
    a) Confirmation of blocked German bank account bearing an amount of
    minimum 8.640,-€.
    b) official German declaration of sponsorship („Verpflichtungserklärung“) for the
    purpose of studies/ language course given before the competent German authority
    (Please note: Financing is usually only secured if declarant resides in Germany)
    c) proof of scholarship of a German/ European organization covering the arising costs

Our Services

  • Admission procurement
  • Enrollment service
  • Accommodation reservation and booking
  • Visa application and assistance
  • Documentation for Visa Interview
  •  German block account opening and funding

Waiting/Processing Duration: 3 months

Program entry date:

  • September/October for winter semster
  • March/April of every year for Summer semester

Application Deadlines

  • Winter Semester – July 15 of every year
  • Summer semester – January 30 of every year

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