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Education & Germany: An Overview
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Germany is positioned as the sixth most developed country in the world with a Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.947. HDI is a statistical compilation index developed by the United Nations (UN) to calculate a country’s economic development based on four main parameters – human life expectancy (long and healthy life), education (average number of schooling years completed), per capita income and general standard of living. Germany’s quality of education is one of the main factors contributing to the country’s overall economic development. Education in Germany is financed and administered by federal states, which provide free and quality education to children from ages six and upwards. The cost of studying in Germany is free until lower secondary school.
Post-secondary level, the students will incur certain costs depending on the program and the type of university they enrol into. In this article, we will be reviewing the overall cost of studying in Germany from an international student’s perspective, particularly the cost of pursuing a Master’s program at a German university.
Tuition Fees in Germany
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German universities are primarily public or private universities. The German Higher Education System is categorised into three types of universities: Academic Institutes (Universitäten), Universities of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschulen) and Academies of Art, Music and Film. The tuition fee depends on the university (private or public), university type (Academics, Applied Sciences or Specialised Academies) and also on the program (Bachelor’s, Master’s, vocational, specialisation, etc.). While private universities charge tuition fees, public universities are free of tuition fees and only charge a nominal semester fee.
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Germany has 300 plus officially recognized public universities that offer over 1000 programs. More than 90% of the student population study at public universities. In 2014, the government of Germany scrapped tuition fees from all public universities. The federal states of Germany have since borne the responsibility of financing the public educational institutes. Although public universities do not charge a tuition fee, the students have to pay a semester fee (Semesterbeitrag) that covers Students Services (Studentenwerk), the Student Government (Allgemeiner Studierenden-Ausschuss, AStA) and other administrative costs. Some universities also include a fee for a semester ticket that allows the students to use public transportation within the region.
While 15 of the 16 federal states in Germany do not charge any tuition fee, the state of Baden-Württemberg reinitiated tuition fees at public universities for non-EU students. Effective 2017, all public universities in the state of Baden-Württemberg charge a semester fee of 1500 euros for international students from the non-European region. Top public universities such as the University of Freiburg, University of Mannheim, Heidelberg University, University of Stuttgart, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), etc., located in the state of Baden-Württemberg charge a yearly fee of 3000 euros for international students.
The average tuition fee of public universities from other states ranges from 250 to 1500 euros per semester, which is a reasonable rate for the excellent quality of education that the public universities provide. The cost of studying in Germany is deemed inexpensive if international students obtain admission at a public university.
Breakdown of Semester Fee Contribution for Technische Universität Berlin for Winter Semester 2021/22
Technische Universität Berlin
Note: For international students who make the semester fee payment from their home country, some banks may charge additional fees for foreign transfers.
Source: TU Berlin
Top 10 Public Universities in Germany
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Less than 10% of the total student population in Germany are enrolled at private universities. Germany has 100 plus private universities that charge a tuition fee for both EU and non-EU students. However, the tuition fee is significantly lesser than in countries like the USA, UK or Australia. Since public universities are preferred in Germany due to low tuition fees, private universities offer specialized programs to attract students and withstand the competition. Studying at a private university offers a few advantages like focused learning and personal support (small student groups), superior infrastructure and focused internship opportunities.
Tuition fees at private universities range from 5000 euros to 10,000 euros per semester, with a cumulative cost of 15000 euros or more to complete an MS program. The overall cost of studying in Germany will be relatively high if you choose to pursue your education at a private university.
Top Private Universities in Germany
Cost of Living in Germany for International Students
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We should also consider living expenses when calculating the cost of studying in Germany. While tuition fee is a separate entity, living cost is another significant expense that includes accommodation (rent), food and supplies, local transportation expenses, healthcare, insurance, and other miscellaneous expenses. Although cities like Munich, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Heidelberg are expensive, typically, the cost of living in Germany is comparatively lower than other study-abroad destinations like the US, UK, or Australia.
Summary of Living Expenses in Germany for an International Student
Cost of living in Germany averages between 700 to 1200 euros a month based on the location. Generally, a student can live comfortably on 850 euros a month which the German government also recommends to be deposited in a blocked account. If students take up part-time jobs, the earnings can cover major living expenses. Another way of saving while studying is to use your Student ID to get discounts at supermarkets, malls, retail outlets, public transportation, cultural institutes, food joints and entertainment outlets like cinemas, theatres, sports events, etc.
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Cumulative Cost of Studying in Germany
If you are a student from a non-EU region studying in a public university in the 15 federal states that do not charge tuition fees, your overall cost of studying in Germany will come to 800 to 1000 euros a month. This also depends on which city you are living in. As mentioned earlier, the cost of living is high in large cities like Munich, Berlin, Stuttgart, etc.
If you are studying at a public university in the state of Baden-Württemberg, tuition fees of 1500 euros per semester will be an additional expenditure along with your living costs. It would cost anywhere between 1000 to 1500 euros a month to study in the state of Baden-Württemberg.
If you are studying at a private university, apart from an average living expense of 800 to 850 euros per month, you will have to keep aside a tuition fee of 15,000 to 30,000 euros for a Master’s degree.
All things considered, an international student will ideally need around 20,000 euros to pursue a 2-year postgraduate program in Germany. According to German law, all non-EU students need to block 861 euros per month in their blocked account, amounting to 10,332 euros for the whole year. Having a blocked account with sufficient funds is a mandatory visa requirement to prove that the students can financially support themselves throughout their stay in Germany.
Scholarships Opportunities in Germany
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There are plenty of scholarship options for international students to study in Germany. The scholarships could be funded by the government, a private benefactor or university-sponsored. They can provide either partial or complete funding and support you through the length of your stay in Germany. The scholarships can cover your university tuition fee, living costs, health insurance, travel, and other miscellaneous expenses. Students with excellent academic performance and German language proficiency can apply for these scholarships.
Top Scholarships for International Students in Germany
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, all students can study for free at German public universities. Whether you are coming from the European Union or belong to the non-European group of international students, the public universities in Germany do not charge tuition fees.
Even though public universities do not ask for a tuition fee, you are required to pay a semester fee to cover your enrollment and other administrative costs.
The average semester fee at public universities in Germany ranges from 300 to 1500 euros, depending on the choice of the program.
As of 2017, the state of Baden-Württemberg scrapped the ”no tuition fee” rule and started charging a tuition fee of 1500 euros per semester for non-EU students. International students studying at public universities in Baden-Württemberg have to pay a yearly tuition fee of 3000 euros.
Apart from semester fees, you have to support your living cost, including rent, healthcare, food, local transport, study material and other miscellaneous expenses; this comes to 700 to 1200 euros a month, based on your location.
As stipulated by the German government, all international students must deposit a yearly sum of 10,332 euros in their German blocked account to support their study and living costs. To complete a 2-year Master’s degree, students need to block about 20,664 euros (approximately 18 lakh in Indian rupees).
Private universities in Germany do not receive funding from federal states or government bodies. They run solely on the funds received from tuition fees and other private sources. Hence, they need to collect fees from the students to run their institute.
There is no compromise on the quality of education offered by public universities despite the ”no tuition fee” rule. Some of the best public universities in Germany are ranked among the top 100 globally for the excellent quality of education and practical training.
Germany remains a popular choice among international students for higher studies. Germans are well known for their hard work and diligence and excelling in various sectors that contribute to their economic progress, i.e., education, employment, industry, infrastructure, innovation and technology, health, safety, security, etc. Education is one of the biggest drivers for the country’s overall development. The federal states of Germany are responsible for providing free and quality education for students of all origins. The cost of studying in Germany is thus affordable as public universities do not charge any tuition fees. International students have to bear only the semester fee to cover enrolment and administrative costs along with their living expenses. Students with outstanding academic performance also have the option of applying for scholarships. The scholarships can support semester fees as well as living expenses. With so many options and opportunities, Germany stands out as one of the best and affordable global destinations for higher studies.
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11 thoughts on “How Much Does it Cost to Study in Germany”
What is the earliest period (prospective month) to start application procedure for any German university?
It depends on the university. But admissions for winter semester starts on October and for summer semester, it starts on april
For winter semester, deadlines can be as early as January 15. It is always better to be prepared by the end of December. But no need to panic if you are a little late.
I am planning to apply by may 7th for winter semester… is it possible to get admission??
Yes, winter deadlines are till 15 July. You can certainly apply and get an admit as long as university deadline is not passed.
The winter deadlines are till 15 July. So you will get an admit as long as you apply within the application period of any particular university.
Sir can u suggest german universities for admission with cgpa of 7.89
Dude iam from chennai, pursuing final year ug mechatronics. iam very much interested to study in German universities. Due to my sports activities i have only 7cgpa till 6th semester , how i can find the easily available universities for masters – mechatronics.can you guide me step by step.
Is it too late to apply for 2018 Summer Intake? Most of the university has 15 January as deadline. But do they provide admit on first come first serve basis?
It is not like you can’t apply…..But possibility of getting admission in one of the good universities is less.
is it true that north rhine westphalia is reintroducing tuition fees from the year 2018…is there any information about this??