Recent years have seen a surge in the number of international students wanting to study in Germany. Factors behind this surge include the solid reputation of Germany’s universities, living standards and economy, combined with the fact that undergraduate studies are currently free for all – though fees will be reintroduced for non-EU students at some German universities in autumn 2017.
While most programs are taught in German, there are opportunities to study in Germany in English, with a growing selection of English-language programs designed for international students.
English-language programs are already fairly common at master’s level, particularly within the social sciences and business-related subjects. They’re now also becoming more widely available at undergraduate level – so with a bit of patience and research, you too might get the chance to study in Germany in English.
How to study in Germany in English…
International students who do not sprechen sie Deutsche may find it hard to gather the right information on how to study in Germany in English, particularly at undergraduate level. Although many students attracted to study in Germany are motivated by the free tuition, finding free English-language programs at public universities is not easy. This is because the majority of undergraduate courses at German universities are taught in German.
The International Program search tool from the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) currently finds 98 bachelor programs taught completely in English, many of which have the word ‘international’ in their title. When the search is narrowed down to show only bachelor’s degrees with no tuition fees, only 55 programs remain.
So, you may need to pay tuition fees at a private university in order to study your chosen course in Germany in English. This is not necessarily a catastrophe – the fees may still be lower than those in other popular study destinations.
Another search tool, offered by Study-in.de, currently finds 196 English-taught bachelor’s degrees in Germany. Again, some of these are offered by private universities who set their own fees, many of which are below €10,000 (~US$10,500) per semester.
As an example, the private Jacobs University Bremen is the only German university to appear in the search tools offering an English-taught bachelor in mathematics program, with tuition fees of €20,000 (~US$21,000) per year. The university also offers the only English-taught undergraduate psychology degree to appear in the search, again at €20,000 per year – although you can study a business management and psychology degree for free at Furtwangen University, offered for the first time in the summer semester of 2017.
You’ll notice than some subjects are more often offered in English than others. For instance, there are a good number of English-taught options in subjects such as business, English/American studies and engineering.
Other options to study in Germany in English
There are alternative options. For example, the pan-European business school ESCP Europe offers the chance to study in the capital cities of three countries (London, Paris/Madrid and Berlin) on its Bachelor in Management program for €13,100 (~US$13,750) per year. ESCP Europe also offers graduate programs taught in English across all five of its European campuses (in Berlin, London, Madrid, Paris and Turin), including the Master in Management and the Master in European Business programs.
To study in Germany in English for free, you might want to look beyond the most famous universities in Germany, to consider institutions which are perhaps smaller, specialized or vocational in focus. For instance, you may consider Germany’s Universities of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschulen), which offer more specialized pathways of learning to create highly skilled graduates in the science and technology sectors. This option can be good for those who already have a career path mapped out and wish to get practical skills in their field alongside a recognized degree.
Before applying, make sure to do some research regarding the institution’s reputation in your chosen field. You should also ensure that the institution offers the right qualifications for your career, as some only offer diplomas, rather than full degrees.
German universities offering undergraduate English-language programs
There are currently only a limited number of undergraduate English-language programs at top universities in Germany. Due to the scarce nature of these programs, if you really want to study at a leading university, you may have to be a little bit flexible on your choice of program.
Below is a short list of the opportunities available for undergraduates to study in English in Germany at universities featured in the QS World University Rankings®. This is by no means a comprehensive list, and new courses are being developed continuously, so it is important to conduct additional research yourself – using online searches, the DAAD, rankings, student sites/forums and other organizations offering advice and guidance.
As well as offering a range of English-language master’s programs, Universität Freiburg is also one of few German universities to offer a bachelor-level degree program taught in English, allowing international students to study for a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BSc), depending on their major. Universität Freiburg has a strong international reputation, ranked 163rd in the QS World University Rankings® 2016-2017.
Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, at joint 177th in the world rankings, offers a BSc in Molecular Ecosystem Sciences which is taught in English. The school also offers a number of international graduate programs.
You can study for a BA in American Studies and a BSc in International Physics Studies in English at Universitat Leipzig, which is currently ranked 501-550 in the world rankings.
Not solely an English-language program, but worth a mention, the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, ranked 421-430 in the world, offers a BA in Modern China that is open to students who are bilingual in Chinese and English and also speak some German. This program is run in cooperation with Peking University, one of China’s leading universities.
All programs are taught in English at this University of Applied Sciences. However, you will need to pay tuition fees of €7,200 (~US$7,530). The English-taught courses available are BA degrees in Business Administration, Graphic Design & Visual Communication, Product Design and Interior Design.
Universities in Germany offering international graduate programs
- Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg – International master’s programs in English
- Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München – Graduate ‘English-taught courses’ (ETC)
- Technische Universität München (TUM) – International graduate programs in English
- Universität Freiburg – English-language master’s programs
- Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) – English-language graduate programs
- Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin – International master’s programs in English
- Georg-August-Universität Göttingen – International graduate programs in English
- RWTH Aachen University – International master’s programs in English
- Freie Universität Berlin – International master’s programs in English
- Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn – International graduate programs in English
- Universität Hamburg – Bilingual and English-language master’s programs
- ESCP Europe – International business and management master’s programs in English (based across ESCP campuses in Berlin, London, Madrid, Paris and Turin)
- Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg – A range of master's programs taught fully or partly in English
Please note that this is not a comprehensive list. For the full list of German universities featured in the QS World University Rankings 2016-2017, visit this page. You can also find more information on international graduate programs offered at Germany’s leading institutions on the TU9 website, which has a list of courses available at the nine engineering and technology-focused universities which comprise the TU9 group. The DAAD’s international program search tool can help you find the right course and institution for you.
For answers to all your queries about studying abroad in Germany, see our list of Frequently Asked Questions About Studying in Germany.
This article was originally published in February 2015. It was updated in January 2017.
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