Germany is one of the best places in Western Europe to study as a foreigner for a number of reasons: the country is beautiful, the universities are ranked as some of the best in the world, and the cost of living may be cheaper than what you’re considering at home. Naturally, your choice of university will depend on the program you’d like to study as well as how much cultural immersion you’d like to undergo while in Germany. Regardless of your German ability (which you can test here) when you enroll, Germany has universities with programs for everyone from the beginner to the fluent speaker. Here are some top choices:
Freie Universität Berlin (Free University of Berlin), Berlin
Ranked number two in Germany, and 150th in the world, the university boasts award winning scholars (including Nobel Prizes), an extensive international network spanning over 100 world wide university connections in countries like Egypt, Russia and Brazil, and a diverse selection of courses. The university offers 171 degree programs, 21 of which are at PhD level. It is also one of the largest schools in the country with a little over 28,000 students, and with 12 faculties from Earth Sciences to Law, there is bound to be a program that interests you. You’ll also be living in the exciting city of Berlin, where there will be more than enough to see and do!
The Freie Universität Berlin offers different ways for international students to study with them. You can apply directly to the program you would like to study, but be aware that many of these programs require a working knowledge of German. You can also study here through ERASMUS if you are European, or through other exchange programs for anything from a few months to a year depending on the program you are currently studying, as well as the university in which you are currently enrolled. You can also attend a specialized summer program called FU-BEST which is specifically geared toward North American students. Fees are virtually non-existent for any EU student, though you will be expected to be able to pay for your own living accommodations (through the school or found independently).
Technische Universität München (TUM), Munich
Technische Universität München also known as TUM is the highest ranked University in Germany, and is located in the beautiful, stately city of Munich. With 13 departments to choose from (from sport to architecture), they also have three integrative research centres, that combine multiple faculties for a unique educational experience.
Rankings-wise, TUM is the best Technical University in Germany, incredibly well respected in the field of Sciences and world renown for its research. TUM has a large student body with approximately 35,000 students, and a record of 13 Nobel Prize winners as well as 16 Karl Leibniz prize winners. Recently, Dr. Andreas Bausch and his team at TUM have created an artificial cell that is capable of changing shape and moving on its own, a groundbreaking event in the world of science.
You also don’t have to study in German at TUM, there are programs available that are taught in English. Much like at the Freie Universität Berlin, costs are low and limited. You will be expected to pay for your student Union costs (around 111 Euro, but this changes every year), living costs and books as an EU student, but not much more. TUM offers a lot of information on funding options and scholarship options that you can check out based on your own situation.
Universität Heidelberg (Heidelberg University), Heidelberg
Heidelberg University is Germany’s oldest, founded in 1386, and also one of Germany’s most prestigious universities. It’s considered to be the home of Humanism where Martin Luther’s public defense of his Ninety-Five Theses had a large impact. Greats like Robert Bunsen, Hermann Helmholtz, Gustav Kirchhoff and Max Weber studied and researched here. You’d also have the privilege of living in the incredibly small and beautiful city of Heidelberg, a town known for both its warm heart and huge hill that is both painful to climb and stunning once you reach the top.
Heidelberg University has a total of 12 faculties, two of which are medical. Considered world class institutes, the medical school at Heidelberg was also the birthplace of plastination – the preservation of bodies through replacing fluids and fat with plastics. In fact, creating a bit of a media storm worldwide, the BODY WORLDS exhibitions could be coming to a city near you where you can see the gory glory of plastination in person.
If you’re going to study here, you will absolutely need to have a working knowledge of German, as most courses are taught in German, although they do offer options for those who need to bring their German up to fluency level.