Germany’s capital city can stake a credible claim to being one of the coolest cities in the world. During recent years, its cultural scene has flourished, turning it into a major center of design, fashion, music and art to rival even New York or London.
Ranked 9th in the world and 1st in Germany (two places ahead of Munich) in the QS Best Student Cities 2016, Berlin offers both unbeatable culture and a hot financial market, making it as perfect for history buffs and art aficionados as it is for budding financiers. But big money is not the case when it comes to tuition fees, thanks to recent legislation making all undergraduate higher education (and some postgraduate programs) free across the nation, even for international students.
Climbing seven places to feature within the top 10 of the current QS Best Student Cities list, Berlin is also the most affordable student city in the world’s top 10, thanks to its combination of low living costs and zero tuition fees.
While the German capital is not an academic hub on the scale of cities like London, Paris or Boston, three universities in Berlin feature in the QS World University Rankings® 2015/16. The highest ranked of these is Freie Universität Berlin at 119th in the world, followed by Humboldt-Universität Zu Berlin at joint 126th.
Berlin is also gaining a growing reputation as a destination for international students due in part to greater provision of courses in English, particularly at graduate level. With a high quality of living, affordable costs, a liberal atmosphere and a happening party and music scene, the German capital has a huge amount to offer international students of all backgrounds and interests.
QS ranked universities
More about Berlin
Number of universities ranked by QS
Top ranked institution
Freie Universität Berlin (119th in the world)
Students (% of total population)
1.6% (based on ranked institutions)
16.0% (of students at ranked institutions)
Average tuition fees
Global Liveability Ranking
20th (out of 140)
Mercer Cost of Living rank
106th (out of 214)
Cost of a Big Mac
Cost of an iPad
Numbeo safety rank
118th (out of 446)
Numbeo pollution rank
220th (out of 300)
Transparency International score
12th (out of 177)
Sources: QS World University Rankings; Global Liveability Ranking (The Economist’s Intelligence Unit); Big Mac Index (The Economist’s Intelligence Unit); iPad Index (Commsec); Cost of Living Survey (Mercer); Corruption Perceptions Index (Transparency International).